017 – Interview with Travis Tetting

Episode Summary

Travis Tetting joins Craig for a heartfelt discussion of his coaching journey, community, and building things from the ground up. Along the way he describes his love for his community and the rewards of coaching. Travis explains how his bond to his family and Christian faith have given him the strength to get to where he is today.

References

Guest Introduction

Craig: [00:26] Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.

Travis: [00:32] Hi. I’m Travis.

Craig: [00:33] Travis Tetting is doing everything one can possibly do, and it’s a good thing. He draws his strength from his deep Christian faith and his wife and children. He has a knack for building things from the ground up, family, community, and even parkour obstacles. Welcome, Travis.

Travis: [00:46] Hi, Craig.

The Journey to ADAPT Level 2

Craig: [00:48] Tell me about being stuck in the airport on the way to American Rendezvous.

Travis: [00:52] Yes. Yes. So original flight, I’m not gonna give any names. No names. Okay? Not gonna be a flight bias, ’cause …

Craig: [01:01] We only name the guilty.

Travis: [01:02] It was … Yeah, it was almost completely because of the weather in Boston. So we can blame Boston.

Craig: [01:07] Okay.

Travis: [01:07] That’s okay.

Craig: [01:08] Yeah.

Travis: [01:08] Yeah, we’ll point the finger at Boston. So 7:40 PM flight from Chicago, and I live in Wisconsin. So about an hour and half drive, so, I mean, you can’t just adjust and say, “Okay, I’ll stay at home.” Right? I got email when I was at home saying it was going to be delayed 15, 20 minutes. So not a big deal.

Craig: [01:25] Sucker. Right?

Travis: [01:27] Go down to the airport, maybe … I don’t know, 5:30, 6:00 I get there, check in, everything’s fine. Then, about every 15 minutes, where you hook into the airport wifi …

Craig: [01:38] Right.

Travis: [01:38] You’re sitting there, and you get a … You’re looking, also, at the screen, and it says, “Flight delayed another 15 minutes,” and ding. You see on your phone, “Oh, my flight’s delayed.” So ’til about … Maybe ’til about 11:30 PM, those continued. So you’d be sitting there …

Craig: [01:55] Every 15 minutes, ding.

Travis: [01:56] Yeah, you’re sitting there for, like, 14 emails, right? You’re sitting there, and people are dropping away. Right? There’s like, “I’m gonna get the 6:00 AM flight,” and they go out and get their hotel. You’re just looking around and you’re like, “Yeah, we’re the patient ones. We’re the strong ones. Hold strong. It’s coming. It’s coming.”

Craig: [02:10] The hardcore terminal …

Travis: [02:13] We keep asking the poor ladies up at the desk, and they’re not supposed to be there, either.

Craig: [02:16] Yeah.

Travis: [02:16] So they’re tired. They’re fatigued. “What’s going on in the flight?” It was sitting on the tarmac for, like, two hours. Right? Then us with sympathy, we’re like, “This isn’t so bad. I can walk around, and people are stuck on the plane in a thunderstorm without anywhere to go for, like, two hours.”

Craig: [02:33] Whoa.

Travis: [02:34] So, eventually, they bring the plane back. Everybody gets off the plane in Boston, because after a certain amount of time on the tarmac, they have to let them off.

Craig: [02:40] Right.

Travis: [02:41] Then there’s something wrong with the plane, so they get a new plane. Again, this is all true, 100% true. They get a new plane, a new pilot, new crew, get the people back on, and, eventually, at, like, 1:00 in the morning, the flight … No, maybe, like, 12:30, the flight takes off.

Craig: [02:58] From Boston to come to you, right?

Travis: [03:00] To come to us, right. This is the flight we’re waiting for. We’re so excited. There’s rejoicing in the terminal. The flight gets there, and we’re all weary. We’ve gotten our beautiful, free, blue, baby blue blankets and our pillow, and there’s so many canceled flights that the entire airport at O’Hare is broke out in cots. So it’s become a shelter.

Craig: [03:21] Tentville, right?

Travis: [03:21] It’s become a shelter. The flight comes in. Everybody’s getting off, and we’re kind of like giving ’em fists in the air. We’re like, “Yeah. You finally made it.”

Craig: [03:31] They’re as weary as you are …

Travis: [03:32] Right.

Craig: [03:32] … just to get there.

Travis: [03:32] Right, right, right. So, finally, the last people to come off are the pilots and the crew, and they just keep their heads down and just walk quite quickly past everybody.

Craig: [03:43] Right, right.

Travis: [03:44] We’re all sitting there, and we kind of look at the concierge people. The concierge people look at us, and she just puts her hands together. She’s like, “Hmm. It’s probably not good.”

Craig: [03:54] Right, ’cause shouldn’t they be on the plane getting ready to go back?

Travis: [03:56] Yeah, we’re like …

Craig: [03:57] “Aren’t you driving?”

Travis: [03:59] … “Where are they going?” So now we were complaining about the plane before. We have a plane, but now we have no pilots.

Craig: [04:03] Great. Sorry. Careful what you ask for.

Travis: [04:09] So they make some calls, and, obviously, at 2:30 in the morning, there’s not a terrible large selection of pilots.

Craig: [04:14] … of additional flight crew to pick from.

Travis: [04:16] That’s right. They have a standby, probably, but …

Craig: [04:17] Yeah.

Travis: [04:18] But, I believe, those people were the standby from Boston, so … So then the letters go across the board, “Canceled.” Canceled.

Craig: [04:29] Oh.

Travis: [04:29] Wait for, like, 12 hours and cancel. At this point, I give up hope. I was totally fine with before. I was like, “Yes. Bring on the challenge,” like, “This is Level 2 ADAPT,” like, “Hit me with tiredness. Hit me with fatigue. Go into the fire and battle.”

Craig: [04:44] Right, ’cause people are wondering, “Why is Craig starting with a story about an airport?” Right …

Travis: [04:47] Yes.

Craig: [04:47] … and I’m like, “No, this matters, ’cause you’re gonna get a lesson about Travis.”

Travis: [04:50] So Level 2 ADAPT, which … Previously, we should know that I’m a stay-at-home dad with my three kids, and then I teach classes in the evening. I get to see my wife for about an hour each day. When I come home, she’s sleeping.

Craig: [05:03] Right. Tag-team, right?

Travis: [05:03] Yeah. When I come home, she’s sleeping, the kids are sleeping, and when I get up, she’s already gone. So in order for me to get in morning training, which I realized I needed, because everything I have done is evening and late night, I need to be prepared to see what my body is like early in the morning. So I was getting up before she would go to work to go do my 5K, to go do a bunch of the physical requirements.

Craig: [05:25] Right. Sneak out of the house quick.

Travis: [05:26] So, most of the time, I’m going to bed midnight, whatever, once I get, actually, my work done. So, for me, now five hours, and then by the time I get back from doing my physical, I’m not going to go back to sleep. Then my kids wake up, and I have now begun my day …

Craig: [05:41] Right.

Travis: [05:41] … and I’m on very limited sleep. So it wasn’t too …

Craig: [05:45] It was like a regular day, right?

Travis: [05:46] It wasn’t too bad.

Craig: [05:48] Just more indoors than usual, right?

Travis: [05:50] Yeah. So the concierge lady, poor lady, she gets then, like, mobbed by people. “You need to call somebody.” Then we’re all sitting there, like, “She can’t do anything.”

Craig: [05:59] Right.

Travis: [06:00] ” Leave her alone. It’s a storm.”

Craig: [06:01] She wants to go home, too. Right.

Travis: [06:02] Yes. So I get put on the 9:00 flight, which is not good, ’cause 9:00 my time …

Craig: [06:08] Right.

Travis: [06:09] … is 10:00 Boston.

Craig: [06:10] Right.

Travis: [06:10] So I’m already now an hour late, and I haven’t even left. Now I’m missing the first half of the day.

Travis: [06:16] I just go up to her. I just get real close, and I say, “Is there a list, like for the 6:00 AM? I know it’s full, but is there like a standby list?”

Craig: [06:25] Yeah.

Travis: [06:25] Then she’s like, “Hold on a second.

Craig: [06:27] “Let me check.”

Travis: [06:29] She didn’t wanna alert other people …

Craig: [06:31] Right.

Travis: [06:32] … and be mobbed again. She was like, “I put you on the front of the list. It’s not guaranteed.” She slides me over a little standing-by boarding pass.

Craig: [06:39] Travis plays the blue eyes card, right?

Travis: [06:45] So I’m looking at the different flights, ’cause six months of my past training has led up to this.

Craig: [06:52] Yeah, he’s focused on this one event.

Travis: [06:53] I do not want to miss this, in any sense, if it’s a little bit or completely, the first day. I mean, it’d be tremendous, and to not have people then doing it with you, now you’re just doing it individually with a coach, entirely different feeling, entirely different mentality. It’s not … Like I said, I wanted to go into battle.

Craig: [07:09] Yeah, there’s an esprit de corps.

Travis: [07:09] Yes.

Craig: [07:09] There’s a team aspect to any sort of certification, and you kind of miss that. Obviously, you miss it if you’re not there, but you … In your heart, you miss that, ’cause you draw strength from those other people. Just like in a community or in your family, you draw strength from the other people with you. So 6:00 AM flight, short list.

Travis: [07:31] Yeah, so I look at the other flights, and there’s another 6:00 AM flight on a different airline, 170 bucks, guaranteed, and it’s going out. Well, as guaranteed as any flight.

Craig: [07:42] There is a caveat there.

Travis: [07:44] So I call my wife, and I just say, “I can either get on this flight or kind of bank that I’m going to be on this.”

Craig: [07:50] Yeah.

Travis: [07:51] So I go up to the concierge lady, and, once again, I get real close. I kind of look at her. I was like, “In your experienced and professional opinion, how likely is it that I’m going to get on the 6:00 AM?”

Travis: [08:01] She’s like, “I can’t guarantee it.” Then she just kind of nods and looks me in the eyes.

Craig: [08:06] There’s often one seat that slips in.

Travis: [08:10] So I was like, “All right. All right.” So I just trusted her.

Craig: [08:13] Yeah, I’m not gonna hold you to it. I understand.

Travis: [08:14] Yeah, got on the 6:00 AM and got out. I was only an hour late. Rubbed my quads a little bit.

Craig: [08:21] Then off we go.

Travis: [08:22] Dan Edwards looks at me and says, “Are you going to be able to do this?” I was like …

Craig: [08:25] “We’re gonna find out.” Right?

Travis: [08:26] Yeah, right. So everybody’s running the 5K, and I don’t know. For me, I’ve talked about it with some other people, but, for me, to not be there at the beginning, it’s such a core value of what I teach. It’s such a core value of what I hold that not starting together and having them run into battle and then me being at the tent, like, “Who didn’t wake me up? Wait, guys. I’ve been training, too” … It just feels so wrong to then jump in at the second exercise.

Travis: [08:57] So that part, I think more than the fatigue or anything else, I really didn’t like going into it that way, coming into the second exercise fresh …

Craig: [09:06] Fresh.

Travis: [09:07] … where everybody else is …

Craig: [09:07] Right.

Travis’ Practice

Craig: [09:07] It almost sounds like … For those listening, this is why I brought up the airport story. It almost sounds like you had a vision or an idea of what ADAPT Two would be like, what any assessment would be like, and this is like the exact worst-case scenario.

Craig: [09:27] Everything else was under your control. You had a year to train. You had six months to train. You chose the flight. You picked where you were staying. You picked that you were going this year, not next year. Then the curve ball that you get is, “So sorry. You’re stuck in the airport for 12 hours. Now deal with it.”

Craig: [09:40] So, in a way, it’s the exactly perfect bit of training to … Your ADAPT assessment happened in that first hour. You got there late. How are you going to emotionally and physically and spiritually react to, “Sorry, you have to be the guy who looks like overslept and missed the run. Go”?

Travis: [10:01] Yeah. My … I’ve been told by people, and I suppose it’s true, that my patience is insurmountable.

Craig: [10:08] I would definitely vote yes on that proposition.

Travis: [10:12] In my younger kids’ classes, the mothers that know me, know personally, they just don’t get it, how I can be with three very young … I have two four-year-old boys and a two-year-old boy, and that I can do that all day and then come teach just a little bit older kids and somehow still have patience and excitement and kindness. They’re like, “We kind of come to this because we’re kind of done for the day. You’re done for the day, and now you’ve begun another day of patience.”

Travis: [10:44] So I don’t know. Sitting in the airport, you realize the two sides of the fence, that the grass is always greener. When you look at it and you desire it and then you’re given it, sometimes, then, you don’t appreciate it. Here I am for how many of … the last four years of my life, not having time to just sit and stare.

Craig: [11:08] Right.

Travis: [11:09] I’m 100% on-duty all the time, and I’ve been wanting to just have time. Not to do anything …

Craig: [11:17] Yeah.

Travis: [11:17] … to do nothing. So I’m sitting at the airport, and I have my options. Right? I have two phones. I’m a phone guy.

Craig: [11:22] Right.

Travis: [11:22] I have my two phones and whatever else, and I just sit, like, “Okay, I’ll put one Instagram post.” Yeah, takes me a couple minutes, but in the scope of 12 hours …

Craig: [11:35] Right.

Travis: [11:35] … sitting at an airport …

Craig: [11:36] “This is so they know they I’m alive. Right? Okay.”

Travis: [11:39] … honestly, I just sat. I just sat and people-watched and made little conversations with people and just was. It was really nice, because I had the choice either to be like, “Wow, what a waste of my time” …

Craig: [11:54] Yeah, you have to go find engagement.

Travis: [11:55] Right, or to say, “This is what I’ve been wanting for four years. Now I have it. Appreciate it, because you don’t know when the next time this is going to be.”

Travis: [12:05] I don’t know. I’m a huge preacher of the half-full, half-empty. Same glass. I could be up here, like mobbing the concierge and being so upset that there was a storm, which is out of anyone’s control.

Craig: [12:17] Right.

Travis: [12:17] The tired pilots don’t want to kill us.

Craig: [12:20] Yeah. They’re not allowed to. I’m sure there are rules.

Travis: [12:23] Right, on a flight, which are unreasonable things to be upset about. There’s much more important things for my energy than …

Craig: [12:31] Yeah.

Travis: [12:34] … complaining to get what …

Craig: [12:35] Yeah, the poor person who happens to be in front of me at this moment.

Travis: [12:38] Right, right. Realizing that that’s a person, also, that I’m yelling at and demanding things from, that they’re not in control of that, either. So, yeah, it’s just a choice.

Travis: [12:47] So, yeah, coming into Level Two, it was a choice. I can either complain about this and use it as an excuse, right? Going into it, that was one of my things in my head, like, “I can either really talk about this with everybody, be like, ‘Yeah, I didn’t have sleep’ or ‘I missed that because I’m a little tired,’ whatnot. Maybe afterwards, I can reflect on it and say, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely, that had a physical effect on me.'”

Travis: [13:09] But to use it as a continual excuse through things, to be like, “Oh, normally I can do this, blah blah blah,” was, definitely, I knew, going to be my tendency, because I like to complain.

Craig: [13:22] I’ll drink to that, right? I’m with you.

Travis: [13:25] But just to not. One of … The image in my head … So I’m fairly old-school, but the image in my head is a story that was shared … I can’t even tell you who shared it with me, but it was a Yamak training event, just the Yamak.

Travis: [13:43] Williams Belle, right? Always strongest, always kind of out in front, doing more, and, for one of the sessions, he wasn’t. He was second, third, fourth, right? In everything, finished a little bit slower and much more gassed, much more sweating and everything.

Travis: [13:56] At the end of the however-many-hour training session, then he takes off his sweatshirt and he takes off his weight vest.

Craig: [14:01] The weight vest, right?

Travis: [14:01] He takes off his ankle weights. Right, right. To be that, to embody that, of, “I have all of this extra stuff that nobody can see. Why make it … Why complain about it? Why boast about it? Just deal with it and help it to make you stronger instead of using it as a crutch.”

Travis’ Gym and Community

Craig: [14:25] I have to say that your parkour gym (Axiom Parkour), there’s something about the way that your gym construction is layered. I don’t know. I always feel like I’m looking at Norwegian or Swedish furniture. I mean, it looks like an Ikea done correctly. I wanna just go there and, like, “Look, it’s a table during the day, and it’s a parkour obstacle at night.”

Craig: [14:43] There’s just something about that, about the aesthetic that you build, and I’m guessing that that just called to you, too, so that’s why you build things. But you seem to have this cavernous space, and you just keep throwing toys into it. So what are you doing with your community there at the gym, and where are you going with that?

Travis: [14:57] So there’s two driving focuses of the gym and the build and the design, really, of it. Unfortunately, one is frugality.

Travis: [15:14] So, for anyone who hasn’t seen, it’s dimensional lumber. Everything is constructed from dimensional lumber, mostly two-by-sixes – stud-grade two by sixes, but if you order enough of them, there’s enough premium that you can …

Craig: [15:27] If you nail enough of them together, they get straight.

Travis: [15:30] Yeah. Yeah, you can face. You can face enough good, solid boards. Right?

Craig: [15:36] Enough square board feet, right.

Travis: [15:38] For all the facing for things. It allows me to build things for the future as well. It’s not perfectly permanent. If I glue and I perfectly round the edges of plywood to this size box, that is the size board that it’s going to be. If I have an untouched – other than a little bit of sanding or whatnot – two-by-six, I can take that two-by-six off and use it as framing. It’s not perfectly permanent. Right? Where it is, it’s not going anywhere. It’s not moving. But I can Lego it.

Craig: [16:15] Repurpose it. Right.

Travis: [16:15] I can deconstruct it to be able to do more. Yes, that’s a tremendous amount of work and probably not even worth it in the time vs. the the money thing, but it’s an option. Through my builds, I’ve kept that as a focus of a universal usability, that, “I can use this, but I can also deconstruct it. I can put it in my car.” More of a versatile design.

Travis: [16:40] So, when given the option to fill a gym space, it was difficult, because I can make up my own rules. If I have to fit things into a closet, now, there’s constraints.

Craig: [16:52] Right.

Travis: [16:52] But without constraints, it’s writing the term paper on anything you want, and it takes you forever to figure it out. But if you have … Right? If you have a tiny, specific thing, you can write 20 pages about it, because you’re confined.

Travis: [17:05] So what I did is I created an anti-object, I call it – one that you see and you don’t know what prescribed movements to do on it. It’s not great for a vault. It’s not a great length for precision. It’s not a great height for things. It’s not great for anything. So it kind of breathes innovation, because you have to re-adapt. You have to re-apply to it.

Craig: [17:33] Yeah, mental flexibility required. Otherwise …

Travis: [17:35] Right. I learned everything outdoors. It’s where parkour is supposed to be. It’s where the heart of it is. It was difficulty, opening an indoor space, ’cause conflicting, ’cause I don’t really want to.

Craig: [17:51] Right.

Travis: [17:52] But there’s a necessity to do it. So how can I embody the sense of exploration, the sense of innovation, that you normally find when you just come to a new spot in the city and say, “Okay, how can I apply the movement to this space?” Right?

Craig: [18:04] That’s a good point.

Travis: [18:06] I wanted to try to bring some of that in. Through the design, I’m finding out now, a year and a half, almost two years in, through the design of the modular equipment has, I think, more to do with it than maybe the actual design, physical design of the equipment, ’cause this current setup that I have at the gym right now, I think we can leave for a little bit more.

Travis: [18:27] Usually, I rotate about every three months, for curriculum- wise, keep things fresh. Once we’ve completed the challenges, “Okay, it’s a limited space.”

Craig: [18:34] “We know this spot. Okay, let’s make this spot” …

Travis: [18:37] Right. Right, right, right. But the thing that I have now was more loosely designed on curriculum and more so just designed to replicate an urban sort of planter setting that we all love.

Craig: [18:49] Oh, planters.

Travis: [18:50] Ooh, planters and stairs.

Craig: [18:52] Something more architecturally recognizable. Right? I just had a flashback to Government Center. There are these really cool stairs and planters in Government Center. Anyway, sorry.

Travis: [19:02] Yes. Oh, yes. But that’s what it’s supposed to be.

Travis: [19:07] But, yeah. While we’re on this topic of conversation, I’m at a bit of a conflict right now, where I’m pouring in so much time and energy to build this community where there was nothing. Okay? The nothing called me to this area to build the gym, except for God, except for through prayers. He says, “This is the direction that you wanna go.” No business sense – okay? – to do what I did.

Craig: [19:38] Right.

Travis: [19:38] Zero. It was a terrible business and entrepreneurial decision, but it all worked.

Craig: [19:45] But you … That’s where your passion is, ’cause if you go the business sense-ical way, you’re not gonna have passion. If you have passion, you can pretty much do anything, if you have the passion to get behind it.

Craig: [19:57] So the gym is, I guess, relatively convenient to where you live, but what you’re saying is there isn’t a huge community of normal, regular people.

Travis: [20:03] Zero, yeah.

Craig: [20:05] Zero.

Travis: [20:05] I mean, not parkour people, just in how many people live nearby.

Craig: [20:07] Right, right. So Walworth County. If you would like to go look it up, Walworth County is like that’s where they export the cornfields from?

Travis: [20:17] Rural. Without exaggeration, in most places, there aren’t curbs. So for what I call interactive architecture, places to jump on that are sturdy enough to jump on or wheelchair ramps or anything like a simple spot completely does not exist. Beautiful kettles and moraines. Beautiful woods. We have a gorgeous ski hill over there. But just … It’s not built up.

Craig: [20:50] Absolutely no space.

Travis: [20:53] No close urban city settings, in the least bit, in Walworth County, and nobody was asking for classes. I did not have a slew of people, like, “Let’s start a class down in Walworth County.” The opportunity came up. The right people came up. The right price came up.

Craig: [21:08] Space was there.

Travis: [21:09] It made no business sense, so I was just like, “Well, I believe in what I’m doing. Like you said, I have the passion to do it. I believe I have a quality product. So if I can get a family in, they will tell a family, and they will tell a family.”

Craig: [21:24] Sure.

Travis: [21:25] “That’ll be that.” Truthfully, that’s how it’s all grown. The people that are with me that were there at the beginning, I mean, I can’t get them to stop talking. They just find people on the street and, like, “Listen. Even if you don’t like parkour” …

Craig: [21:43] They become evangelical about it. Right?

Travis: [21:44] They have.

The Rewards of Coaching

Travis: [21:45] If I can share one boastful …

Craig: [21:48] You can share as many as you like. It’s our podcast episode.

Travis: [21:51] “This is me, and I am amazing.” At the YMCA that I teach at, there was a complaint … I had talked to a different person from a different class. They weren’t ending on time, which was greatly impacting my setup period. I had 15 minutes to set up.

Craig: [22:09] Right, right.

Travis: [22:09] So if they end five minutes late, they get their people out five minutes …

Craig: [22:13] Yeah.

Travis: [22:13] Now I have a little less than five minutes to set up.

Craig: [22:16] Four minutes and 32 seconds.

Travis: [22:16] Right.

Craig: [22:17] “Go.”

Travis: [22:19] It was quite stressful. I waited 10 class periods to …

Craig: [22:22] Yeah, call the management…

Travis: [22:24] … be forceful. I had talked to them many times. “Listen, this isn’t really working.” Like, “Ah, it’s fine. We’re getting used to the new schedule.” Eventually, I just said, “This … Next week, you’re done. This is the time.”

Travis: [22:35] Another student heard this. Right? Older, adult, and she was livid and complained to the YMCA. But … Now onto the boastful compliment. So the director that took this complaint from this person said, “Listen. People come to Travis even if they don’t like parkour. They hear about him as a teacher, and they will put their kids in his class.”

Travis: [22:56] It was neat to hear somebody say something like that, because, so often with parkour, the most unrewarding part is you get to see them for an hour. You get to see this person for an hour, but the changes that come about through parkour are so transcendent through their life. Sometimes a parent will come back or a student will come back and say, “Listen. This is how you’ve changed me.”

Craig: [23:20] Right.

Travis: [23:20] “This is how” … You’re like, “Oh.”

Craig: [23:23] “Wow. Thank you for sharing that. I hadn’t even noticed that.” Right?

Travis: [23:27] Right, right, because you don’t get to see it. You get an hour out of their … however many hours they get their week.

Craig: [23:32] You only see one asset or one facet of their life.

Travis: [23:35] Correct.

Craig: [23:35] You only see them physically moving, unless something really exceptional happens. You only see them physically moving, and you might see the changes in their body, but you don’t know what their home life is like and what their job is like and all those other parts.

Travis: [23:46] Every once in a while, you get that feedback, and it’s just … It’s an ounce of what you do, but the … How rewarding it feels to just hear that impact. I don’t know. Those are the things that I hold onto when things get difficult, when time is not available to …

Craig: [24:06] Yeah.

Travis: [24:06] You’re just kind of at your end’s wit.

Craig: [24:08] You feel stretched. Right?

Travis: [24:09] Right. You realize, “Remember, this is why I’m doing it.” It’s not about the jump. The jump is important, but the jump is like the method to get what we really …

Craig: [24:18] Yeah, the jump is a piece of your tool set, but it’s not the work.

Travis: [24:20] Right, right. It’s not the point. You come in and can lift the one leg, and, okay, maybe you can’t jump. Maybe you come in with no legs. You can’t jump. It’s not about the jump. It’s what you get through it. We can get caught up in it. We can get caught up in the physical and just the visual spectacle of it and forget that that’s not what it’s about. That’s not originally what the training was for. It’s how we got …

Craig: [24:48] Right.

Travis: [24:49] Right. It’s how we progressed. It’s how we got to where we are now. But it was never the original point, to just be a good jumper.

Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share

Craig: [24:57] Right, right. So I often ask guests if there’s a story you would like to share – if you’ve been listening for a while, you know I say because when people share stories, you get a glimpse into their passions and their inner lives, and it really gives you a good glimpse of who they are. So, Travis, is there a story you’d like to share with us?

Travis: [25:11] Absolutely. Short story. So I have a background in early childhood education, so I went to school for … Did it for three years. Was wonderful. I have a passion for teaching, but I learned that the passion …

Craig: [25:24] Clearly. Right.

Travis: [25:26] … was not in public education. I needed to find my niche, and I chose to do parkour full-time. I believe this is where I’m supposed to be right now. However, I am a teacher. I recognize teaching as a profession, and it’s something that’s very difficult to turn off.

Travis: [25:44] So, with three children and an early childhood background, my children, as every parent probably says, are very smart. However, my children are very smart. So, four years old, and they’re reading pretty well – not because it’s really been taught, but just because it’s an everyday sort of thing. When they’re curious about something, I use those teachable moments, and I let them go. Once they resist with that direction, then I pull back, so …

Travis: [26:16] They can read clocks and all these wonderful things, and they know that Dad works late. He comes home late, and he needs rest, ’cause not only do I work late, but it’s physical late. My body, quite literally, needs to recover. It’s a huge deal. So they know that, ’til about 7:00, they are supposed to stay in bed. They are supposed to stay quiet. That does not work all the time.

Travis: [26:42] So a recent morning, from a dead sleep, Travis is laying in his bed, wakes up, and just silent. Yeah. “Hey, Dad.”

Travis: [26:52] “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m awake.” Here we go.

Travis: [26:55] “It’s not 7:00 yet.”

Travis: [26:58] “Thanks, buddy. Are you gonna go back to bed?”

Travis: [27:06] “No.”

Travis: [27:08] “All right. I guess we’re up.”

Craig: [27:11] “We’re off.”

Travis: [27:12] That was it. This is how my day has begun. No sunshine, no alarm, no I need to wake up ’cause I need to use the bathroom.

Craig: [27:19] Right. Just “Hey, Dad”

Travis: [27:22] Quite literally mid-conversation, as if I was perfectly awake. “I’m just gonna talk to you real quick, Dad.” That’s … I mean, that’s one. That’s just one instance. Sometimes I wake up to … Once again, another recent thing, I woke up to a rustling bag. By the way, I’m a fairly good father. I woke up to a rustling bag, which is not a regular sound, and so I pop out of bed, once again, from a total sleep, and go head out there. The child has eaten the bag of yogurt-covered Craisins that we had from a vacation. “I was hungry, Dad.”

Travis: [28:07] “You ate the entire bag.” My stomach hurt.

Travis: [28:14] So this is normal. This is life, and it’s good. It’s good. Like other things, you see it as something good or you could see it as something bad that’s disruptive and whatnot. But what I continually tell myself in my mind is, “There is going to be a time when this doesn’t happen.”

Craig: [28:32] Right.

Travis: [28:32] “There’s going to be a time that I wish” …

Craig: [28:33] These are actually precious, rare moments …

Travis: [28:35] Right.

Craig: [28:35] … that you are lucky to encounter.

Travis: [28:37] Right, right, that I wouldn’t have … These huge now problems that I’m dealing with … “I thought the child waking up at 7:00 or before 7:00 was an issue, but, man, I wish I had that back.” The grass is always greener.

Craig: [28:51] Right.

Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share with Us?

Craig: [28:53] Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us?

Travis: [28:57] Yeah, if … A message that no matter what your faith is or if it exists or what your beliefs are, I think something that can be universal is a heart of thankfulness. Yes, it’s resounding and very important in the Christian faith, but changing your heart to just appreciate everything, everything, because it’s shaping you. It’s an opportunity.

Travis: [29:33] I had a terrible college experience. I had a lot of what I called first and last semester college professors, because I was early childhood. So a lot of second-, third-grade teachers heard from a colleague that you can make really good money teaching night classes, I’m assuming. So then you come and you’re like, “You are not a college professor. You are probably a fantastic grade school teacher. You have no idea how to talk to adults.”

Craig: [30:03] So bending over with their hands on their knees, “Now, this is what we’re gonna learn.”

Travis: [30:06] Yeah, right. So I was … I went to a private college, and I was paying a lot to be there, to have that experience. After the first, second one, where I could’ve been upset about it, I just realized that there’s something I can gain from this. In the most terrible circumstance, there’s something that I can use to help me improve.

Travis: [30:35] I think, at the heart, at the core of a heart of thankfulness, is that ability to see what’s shaping you and what’s improving you. I just … I don’t know. The people that I meet and I encounter, I try to share that, that idea that that’s going to provide you with perseverance and patience and positivity. Like I said, whether it’s a Christian faith or not, it’s just … It’s important to do that, to be the giver, not the taker, to say, “Thank you so much for this” instead of “You can do this better,” taking away from it.

Craig: [31:17] So that strikes me as a sort of ability to choose your perspective on what’s going on. Where did you get that skill from? Can you take me back to a time when Travis just didn’t have that perspective? How did you get from there to where you are now?

Travis: [31:36] So many uncustomary things have happened to me. I taught in public school for three years. Through prayer, I asked God for advice on the direction that I should go, and I thought I heard what was a clear, “Leave your hourly rate. Leave your job security. Leave your guaranteed insurance. Go do this parkour. This is the path that I want for you.” I thought that was clear to me.

Travis: [32:12] I broke my leg a week before summer ended in a kickball game. I slipped in the grass. Students vs. staff kickball game. I broke my leg at school, right before parkour. Summer, there’s a big bang of classes and everything …

Craig: [32:29] Right.

Travis: [32:29] … that this was about to begin. I didn’t get it, because, like I said, not that I heard God’s voice, but I was just trying to listen to the different ways that He can communicate with you and said, “This is the path.”

Travis: [32:43] I said, “Why? Why would you” …

Craig: [32:45] “Break my leg right” …

Travis: [32:46] … “tell me to do something and then take away my ability to do that?” With how bad the break was, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t move. I just sat on a couch, and I had nothing to do but think. What I learned is that He needed to me how to ask others for help.

Travis: [33:06] So one of the huge personal drawbacks of going … Before choosing to follow Christ and now was my arrogance, that I can just always do it, that I don’t need your help, and like I am great and it’s me. It was still lingering, that idea, and He took away my ability to walk.

Travis: [33:28] For everything, I needed help – for everything. I couldn’t stand up. The swelling was too much, and it would be too painful. I had to crawl around. I couldn’t really bathe. I couldn’t really get myself food – like, “That’s the counter. I have to stand up,” and it was too painful.

Travis: [33:42] I saw, then, once I learned how to do my first jump again, which was a whole ‘nother experience and wonderful. Wonderful to reset your training from the ground. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t jump, and I did my first rail precision, like five years after I had already done my first rail precision.

Craig: [34:00] Right. Yep.

Travis: [34:01] It was so neat to go through the emotions again.

Craig: [34:04] Yeah, when do you ever get to have a second first?

Travis: [34:04] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I saw, then, in the next few years how I needed to depend on others and how I would not have been successful if I hadn’t been taught that lesson through breaking my leg.

Travis: [34:19] So I’ve had to learn lessons like that in life in really difficult ways, but understanding that it’s a lesson and not just this huge wall that’s in front of me that I just have to wait until it passes. It’s my method of being taught. I mean, oftentimes, we refer to God as your Heavenly Father, and I see it more so in less of that term and more so as like my Father who has raised me and knows me best and does the things that I hate. “You have to be home at 10:00.”

Travis: [34:52] “Why? Why do I have to be home at 10:00?”, not seeing that, all of the terrible things that can happen after 10:00 in your city or what it might be.

Craig: [34:57] Right, and you need to go to sleep so you can do tomorrow. Right?

Travis: [34:59] Correct. You don’t see those things, and you think, “Oh, what a terrible thing.”

Craig: [35:05] Authoritarian. Right.

Travis: [35:05] Right, right, right. Then you get a little bit older and you realize, “Wow. That was a great decision for me that I couldn’t make for myself.” So that heart of thankfulness is through those really difficult experiences that I’ve seen now, years passed, why I needed that. When you’re in it …

Travis: [35:25] I use this for people in parkour, like, “Okay, we have one hour. Hey, guys, we’re just going to start at this end, and we’re just gonna end at the other end, that other end that we can’t see. Yeah, we’re just gonna crawl. We have a 50-minute time limit.”

Travis: [35:42] “What?”

Travis: [35:46] But the lesson taught is, like, “During it, you’re going to want to stop, and you’re not going to remember that there’s an end. You’re to going to remember that there is a finish. You’re going to be so caught up within the movement itself and say it’s never-ending. You have these infinitive talks to yourself, like it hurts so much and there’s no end to it.”

Travis: [36:07] “To remember that there’s an end result, there’s a goal, there’s a place that you are going, and at the end, you are going to be so happy that you’ve gone through this. During it, you’re going to hate it.”

Travis: [36:18] People get caught up in that, through life and through certain exercises and whatnot, that they just think that this is what it’s all about and don’t really see where this is leading them – to be present in what you’re doing, but understand where you’re going.

Three Words to Describe Your Practice

Craig: [36:35] Of course, the final question: three words to describe your practice.

Travis: [36:38] All right. Can I do three fake words and then …

Craig: [36:41] Do whatever you like. This is your interview.

Travis: [36:44] So three fake ones, not really for me, just for everything: Dragon Ball Z, Jackie Chan, and Bruce Lee. Yes, those are just three words.

Craig: [36:51] Those are six words, but … Hyphens are free.

Travis: [36:56] They’re names.

Craig: [36:56] Right.

Travis: [36:58] But I think three words for me, specifically … Maybe it’s just going to end on one word. I don’t … Yeah, making up rules now. But one is phoenix, the rebirth from the ashes.

Craig: [37:12] Right, right.

Travis: [37:12] There’s a lot of things I don’t wanna talk about, but a phoenix is maybe all we need to know, that, through everything, it can come out new and it can come out greater, and that … I don’t know. I can keep pushing on, and maybe it’s not going to be the same, but if I keep putting the time and energy into it, it’s going to be new and it’s going to be better – different, but better, more fitting. So phoenix.

Travis: [37:53] Maybe the next one is love. So much of it in the heart of what I do that drives it.

Travis: [38:05] So when I was leaving my wife, my wife was getting emotional as I left Wisconsin to go to Chicago, and I haven’t seen her like that. But it’s good. Then I think perseverance is the last one, or maybe … Yeah, maybe perseverance. Share. Okay, four words. Perseverance, just keep going. Just keep going. But also share, that … Just give. Give to other people and share what you know. Seek places where people want to do that, where people desire to just give everything.

Travis: [39:13] I tell people that in the extremes, you can see two worlds. Yes, I know this doesn’t work this way, but I think of it as two worlds – one in which everybody has to do everything themselves. Every time you are sick, you figure it out. There’s no hospital. There’s no mother. There’s no person making you soup. You take care of yourself.

Travis: [39:34] Or the other world, where nobody takes care of their self, and everybody looks after someone else, that there is never a single time that you need something, because it’s always provided.

Craig: [39:48] Thank you very much for sharing, Travis. Your passion for your movement and your family and your community obviously shines through. It’s a pleasure talking to you.

Travis: [39:56] Thank you very much, Craig.

Craig: [39:58] Want more? Check out moversmindset.com/insiders for a bunch of additional features. This was Episode 17. For the show notes and full transcript, go to moversmindset.com/17. Thanks for listening.

How did your training begin?

Simply put, I saw this amazing guy jumping about at the beginning of Casino Royale and knew it wasn’t just stunt work. After a bit of research I discovered Sebastian Foucan and David Belle. I traded my rock band practice time for parkour training in my first year of college. I embarked on what I call “The Invincible Years” where I would watch a video and naively tell myself I could do it. Not surprisingly I hit a plateau and sought the Yamakasi and Parkour Generations to shape my training into what it is today.

How has your practice affected your life?

My parkour practice has helped me to understand the lessons we are taught in life, and some that are not. Parkour has enabled me to physically experience verbal lessons in a completely metaphorical sense.
Here is the wall. We are trained so see the wall as a barrier to somewhere else. Here is how to get on top of the wall. The wall has become a passage to that other place. What was once a wall is now a passage, a stop is now a go, and a barrier is now a launchpad. Here I deliberately use words that can apply to both parkour and life. The line between them has been blurred which has led to a more authentic version of myself.