On what’s been lost in the current parkour media

Steve: So, what I would say to that is there has been a sort of counter culture to the hyper-polished runs and only movements that you find perfect with the rise of the dailies like Jamey Davidson when he started those 365 challenge or even just a month-long challenge where he was just his movements. I think originally, the idea behind it was good because it just shows a day in the life of a traceur. It shows not the banger challenges, not the crazy challenges that you put in a compilation video or submit to whatever casting agency to show that you can do these crazy things.

Steve: It shows today I worked on rail flow. Today I did one side flip. Today, I did a handstand. Today, I did conditioning, and I think that stuff’s super cool. To your point, though, I think that what’s happened is people got used to the idea of seeing parkour content every day. What I see from some of my peers, to some of my friends that are high-level athletes is they’ll have one good training session and they’ll film 10 different challenges that are all crazy. Then, they’ll say, “We’ll have content for the next two weeks,” because I have one post every five days or a post every day for five days for two weeks. I don’t know if that’s really what the idea behind that challenge was and I think it’s kind of distorted the way that people consume parkour content. They’re used to seeing more and more content every day. Now, they only want to see the biggest and baddest and best tricks every day.

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On directing parkour athletes

Steve: It’s like, “Oh, good joke, Steve. That’s funny.” But usually, when I’m at a shoot and I’m trying to convince someone to do something that I think is in their level. It’s like, “Oh, well, I could do this.” And then like, “Oh, well, what about this?” Like, “Well, I think it would look better if you did it this way, because for the photo, your hips are going to be this way and your face is going to be towards the camera or the light is coming this way so I want you to face this direction.”

Steve: So, that’s kind of where it comes in for me, at least, but generally yeah. I’m not really sure if anything that I’ve done is really photo worthy most of the time. And I think that kind of loops back into one of the reasons why I delve deeper into parkour photography in the first place is because I wanted to find a way to contribute to the community and feel like I was a part of this larger group without being a high-level athlete.

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On photography influencing his movement

Craig: Right. Steve, we’ve talked about the process of creating and we’ve talked a little bit about editing but now, I’m wondering, do you think about the photography, the video part of it when you’re moving so are those two different people. Is there the Steve the mover who goes out or do you find that mid-movement, even though you’re not being photographed, you’re thinking, “How would this frame up,” or, “This is a nice day to be shooting this.” Or, do those two minutes just stay separate or, if they’re entangled, what pieces call to you?

Steve: Well, I think I’m always thinking about composition and a specific quality of light when I’m outside and when I’m looking at things. I was mentioning to you earlier that when I’m looking at photos on the wall or advertisements, I’m thinking about how do they get this shot. When it comes to my movement, first of all, I hate being photographed. I hate being filmed. I’m getting better at it because I’m filming myself, but I think that’s a pretty common narrative with people that are behind the camera for a lot of the time. They don’t like being in front of it.

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Three words to describe your practice

Craig: And of course, the final question, three words to describe your practice.

Steve: I thought about this before, because I was listening to your podcast and-

Craig: It’s become a thing.

Steve: … I was like, “What am I going to say for this?” Going around our entire conversation, especially around the culture of struggle and effort, I think what I would say for my three words is embrace the suck. Not in like a dirty way, in like a just lean into being bad at something because you’re not going to be good at everything you try the first time. I certainly wasn’t for parkour or for photos or video or anything. It took a lot of time for me to get good. I think you just need to embrace that and enjoy it. I mean, it’s going to be frustrating. It’s going to be terrible. You’re going to hate doing parkour. You’re going to hate other athletes. You’re going to hate the obstacles. You’re going to blame other people and other things and it’s slippery or I’m tired or I’m sore. But you should really just embrace it because it’s part of the process. I think part of the reason why I love parkour so much is because I have sweat and blood and tears to prove that it’s been an 11-year-long journey of me just struggling my way through this and being happy with some movements and being unhappy with others.

Steve: But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have some of the best friends of my life through this movement. I’ve seen things and traveled places I never would have gone had I not been connected to these amazing individuals and amazing athletes. I think just really … You can’t skip that part of the process. There’s no shortcuts, really. You have to embrace it and you have to work through it. Eventually, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel where you’re going to be satisfied with your movement but there’s still going to be days, even the best of athletes at the top level are going to have off days where they feel terrible but the beauty of parkour is just figuring out the process to get through that and find a way to be happy with your movement.

Craig: Thank you very much, Steve. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you.

052. Steve Zavitz: Full transcript

Craig: Welcome to the Movers Mindset podcast, where I interview movement enthusiasts to find out who they are, what they do, and why they do it.

Craig: In today’s episode, Steve Zavitz shares his passion for parkour, photography, and film, from his transition to freelancing, his process, and what he likes to create. He discusses the changing style and culture around parkour videos, and the impact social media has had.

Craig: Steve reflects on the evolving culture, audience, and growth of parkour, and what that means for communities today.

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Meet the team: Kristen

I love the Movers Mindset project because it gives me the opportunity to connect with movers from all over the globe, and interact with people I would never have gotten a chance to meet otherwise. I think the project is very unique in that way; it uses the resources each of us has and gives us a platform to connect on a deeper level.

~ Kristen – Project manager


052. Steve Zavitz: Freelancing, artistic process, and parkour culture

052. Steve Zavitz: Freelancing, artistic process, and parkour culture

 
 
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Steve Zavitz shares his passion for parkour photography and film: from his transition to freelancing, his process, and what he likes to create. He discusses the changing style and culture around parkour videos, and the impact social media has had. Steve reflects on the evolving culture, audience, and growth of parkour, and what that means for communities today.

Continue Reading…

What are you doing?

(This question is part of the “What are you doing?” project.)

I’m doing parkour and a lot of people actually recognize parkour. So I train in New York and when I’m walking around the city, training outside with my people, a lot of folks know about parkour from the office, from Ninja Warrior, from … some people from James Bond. So a lot of times when they see us doing it, then they’ll shout parkour at us–sometimes derisively, sometimes encouragingly. But usually it’s accompanied by a horrible cartwheel or someone sliding and jumping around, pretending to flip. The good with the bad, I suppose.

But for folks that are actually a little bit more interested in parkour and don’t necessarily know what it is or what to expect and had never seen anyone actually doing it outside for real, like it’s not on TV, usually I’ll tell them that I’m training. So … typically they’ll ask me something like, “Oh, like what are you training for? Why are you doing this?” And, a lot of times I’ll just tell them … personally, I’m not training for Ninja Warrior. I’m not training for competitions like NAPC or Air Wipp or anything like that. You know, I’m not trying to be an elite athlete. I train for myself. And so usually that’s what I tell them is, “I’m training to get stronger. I’m training to break mental barriers, to break jumps, and also ’cause it’s fun.”

You know, it’s my form of exercise that I enjoy doing. Some people like doing SoulCycles. Some people like jogging, biking, things like that. And for me, parkour is that. You know, that’s my fulfillment. It’s my stress relief. And typically, I don’t get that in-depth with people. Usually, they just have a quick question and they’re like, “Oh, what are you doing?” But, usually if I had the chance to actually explain to them, that’s what it would be.