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.
Got bored with CrossFit. Wanted to do something more dynamic with jumping and higher risk. Most importantly it had to be fun. Had heard of parkour years before, searched for groups that trained in Boston, and found Parkour Generations.
My first foray into interesting kinds of fitness actually began with rock climbing about a year before I had even considered Parkour as a possibility. A friend of mine had taken me rock climbing and I was instantly hooked. At the earliest opportunity, I found myself an online deal for a membership at a rock gym that was probably a bit unreasonably far for me to be going everyday, but that didn’t really matter to me at the time. But by the time my membership was expiring, I realized if I wanted to keep this up, I was going to have to find some place just a tad bit closer. Lo and behold, there was a rock climbing gym less than two miles from where I lived.
Looking back at that now, I was probably a bit hasty in picking my gym. Anyways, a while after my switch, I started noticing the signs (I suppose flyers would be more apt). Weekly Parkour classes every Thursday, they said. I didn’t immediately jump at the idea at first. I was a bit apprehensive because it was hard to imagine myself doing something like Parkour. I mean, it was in all the movies, all of the video games, it was so hot right then. I waffled on the idea for a couple months until a new flyer popped up for the start of a new session. By then I was out of excuses and signed up for a drop-in. I walked into class, not knowing what to expect. Blake, the big man himself, was the coach that evening. He instructed us in some simple vaults, rail balancing, and some small precisions. Very basic stuff, but to me it was some of the most fun I’d ever had. I was instantly hooked.
After class, Blake told us about an event they were having called the Boston “Tea Party” Parkour workshop to help say goodbye to one of their guest coaches, Chris Keighley. When I got home that night, I immediately looked up the info and resolved to be there. That Sunday, with its perfect weather, I probably worked harder than I’d ever had up until that point.By the end, I was completely exhausted but extremely satisfied. The next few days, I was sore all over but that didn’t stop me from going to every class I possibly could that week.
And thus began my journey into the world of Parkour.
I got into the health and fitness game late in life; for some reason I waited until my early 30s to think about training in any consistent way. From age 30-37 I focused on getting stronger both physically and mentally through CrossFit and the olympic weightlifting. It felt great to develop power, strength and mental fortitude, but all those skills weren’t really getting used outside of the gym. The thought of doing something like parkour or MovNat had crossed my mind, but, honestly, I had so little time between work, kids and the rest of life to learn about anything else.
In 2015 I attended a conference in Austin, Tx, and joined a friend in a parkour workshop. The movements and practice was simple, something anyone could do, yet I managed to injure myself (a trend I have yet to break in my parkour practice). None of it mattered – that the movements were simple, or that I left with a bloody toe and a bruised knee – that weekend I fell in love with parkour.
I looked up the San Diego parkour community the minute I got home, and signed on for a weekend workshop in Boston later that summer. I knew I was hooked, because I was willing to challenge any insecurities I had about being a women in a male dominated practice, or being nearly 20 years older than most of the people I trained with. It didn’t hurt that those things were never brought up as issues among the people I trained with.
What I loved and still love about the practice is that feeling of possibility: it’s being 39 and knowing I can scale a wall, it’s the grace of the movement (at least the way I picture it in my head, I’m pretty sure the reality of my movement doesn’t match my vision), it’s the fact that I can train along side 17 year olds and together we are joined in a common love, the love of movement.
A friend in my freshman year of high school kept nagging me to check out this thing that was like ‘skateboarding without the board’. I was a skater at the time, and he thought it would be a good fit for me because of that and since I was already visiting the school roof for funsies.
He finally gets me to watch Oleg Vorslav’s “Russian Climbing” video, but I wasn’t convinced until they dragged me out to the outdoor seating to try some straddle vaults on a stone bench. As reluctant as I was to even consider I’d like anything better than skateboarding, it felt awesome to try and move past something with purpose.
At the time, my dad would pick me up from school and take me to his workplace for a couple hours before going home, so I started looking up different parkour techniques on the old Urban Freeflow website and practice them out back on lunch tables.
Eventually I met up with the local community based around the University of Georgia, and through them I learned more about how to train. Until that point, I’d basically just been practicing vaults every day. They were just then going through shin splint issues, so they were very big on teaching me about conditioning, good technique, and listening to my body. This was back around 2008/2009.
I had stumbled upon many videos of Russians, 3Run, The Cambridge Traceurs, and Yamakasi. Watching athletes perform such great skills caught my attention enough to lead me into pursuing the same movements. A friend and I begin practicing a great deal of push-ups, pull-ups, quadrupedal, and standing jumps. A year or so later, we then begin the movements we sometimes see in parkour today.
I started training randomly in 2009! I was playing a soccer game with a couple of friends back in Italy and since I kicked the ball out of the field I offered myself to go get it back, in front of me there was a huge wall that i wallran with no problems, when I came back with ball eveybody froze from the surpising action and asked me if I ever trained parkour…I answered asking what that was? And a couple of people took me to the main training spot and since then I never stopped.
Back in Naples I had a routine of going for a jog at 6 AM (mostly weekends), right across the street where I lived in a huge park in a circular shape. I would do a couple of laps until getting tired to then condition until 11-12 and then go back to sleep ! I would wake up with my father since he had to go to work around that time. In the weekdays instead if I had no school I would train at least 5 hours at day with my little community there. I had the bad habit of burning fats as soon as I would assume them, I always had urge to move and train eventhough I just had an incredible meal ! (don’t make the same mistake xD )
Spring of 2011, my last year of high school, we were going to perform the musical “Cats” and the director wanted us to be jumping around on stage and in the audience. She knew Andy Keller who had graduated two years ago and invited him to come back. The very first thing I learned was how to QM like a cat. The second was how to mount and dismount the stage in a roll. I wasn’t an athletic kid, but it was the seed that started a wild adventure. That summer Andy invited those of us that trained with him during the spring to a park for a big group session. It was my first outdoor experience and introduced me to the possibilities of human movement. I wasn’t anywhere close to their level but I loved simple vaulting and balancing on rails.
I trained once more that summer before going to college at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. At this point I am by no means a traceur, just someone who enjoys running, jumping, and climbing. However, as a new college freshman who is being introduced to entirely new people, “I do Parkour” makes me look cool. Conveniently, I ended up meeting a girl on my floor during orientation who also did Parkour. At this point, I was locked into actually doing Parkour. I had told everyone I did Parkour and I had someone else who wanted to train with me. It also helped that I had a crush on this girl and I had enjoyed Parkour in the past so it’s not like I was really complaining. We started a club at the school together and trained weekly during the year. I still wasn’t very good; it was basically the blind leading the blind. We had fun but nobody besides the two of us were really interested in the Parkour lifestyle and mindset.
The following summer I improved more than I ever have in such a short time period. I trained with Andy and the gang in Lancaster at least once a week and was able to learn how they trained. I came back to Pittsburgh changed. I saw jumps and routes I had never even considered before and had gained a new teaching style. We partnered with the neighboring club at the University of Pittsburgh and began training more often. It would take another year before our club took off and had people truly interested in Parkour. When it happened, I underwent another period of serious improvement. There were several people who began coming regularly who were more naturally athletic than me. The only advantage I had was experience and technique, a gap that was quickly fading.
After graduation, I moved to Madison, Wisconsin and met up with Wisconsin Parkour. I began teaching classes with them in the spring of 2016 and also met people at my workplace who train.
My training began in the spring/summer of 2013. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time, because I had a gradual introduction. I met Andy Keller, and through the course of our conversation he explained to me what parkour was, and invited me to come try it with him and a group of people with whom he trained. I decided to give it a shot, so I met them at Long’s Park for one of their Monday night training sessions. The first couple times that I went I felt so out of place because everyone else there was so good, and they were all great friends, and I was just this random girl. But I didn’t want to quit (despite crying in the shower when I got home), so I just kept showing up.
Eventually I got to know people, I learned that they had been training for quite a while, and I didn’t feel quite so out of place when I showed up to their training sessions. Three years later, I’m still training, and I really don’t know what my life would’ve been like if I had quit after my first day at the park.
I was introduced to parkour in the Fall of 2014 when a friend was attempting to give me break dance lessons. I wanted to learn how to break dance as a way to connect with inner city kids and also as part of a feature movie project I was producing. My friend and I got a little side tracked from basic break dancing and he started teaching me a little parkour at the gym (which was an extremely padded and soft gymnastics gym). Since I have no rhythmic feel and was making painfully slow progress in dancing, I decided I enjoyed the parkour aspects of our “lessons” way more and might should focus on that and leave dancing behind. I also saw parkour as a unique element that could replace the dance story line of my movie project and increase the market value of the finished product.
If I was going to produce and act in a movie with parkour, I figured I should explore this world before production started (which was set for Summer 2015). I began frequently making the 2 hour trip from my small East Texas area into Dallas for classes at a real parkour gym (Fugitive Fitness). The coaches at Fugitive Fitness welcomed me with open arms and launched me on an exciting adventure! My eyes were opened as I saw people in real life doing things I had watched on YouTube and I continued to get excited about so many elements of parkour. The movie’s filming got pushed back to Summer 2016 and I took advantage of the extra time to learn and explore parkour in order to influence the script and acting portrayals to be authentic to what parkour really is. Somehow, I thought after a year of exploring and training in this area I would be all set to film an authentic parkour movie ;P . (Now I keep realizing how in depth and broad the scope of parkour and its lifestyle is, so no more ambitions to quickly learn all about it!).
In April of 2015, a child in East Texas expressed interested in parkour classes. Realizing I didn’t know much at all of what I was doing with parkour, but not wanting to tell the child no, I decided I should attend a coaching class. With limited knowledge about parkour certification programs, I searched online and explored websites. All of which I struggled to no end to find any available local classes. Apparently most of the parkour certification programs were having website issues (or I was using the websites wrong ;P ). I found broken calendars and classes offered in the UK (I didn’t realize there was a separate sight for PKGAmericas). I messaged the info help account from Parkour Generations and finally got connected to a people in America who were very helpful! A few weeks later I attended ADAPT Level 1 in Tulsa lead by Andy Keller, Andy Pearson, and Adam McClellan. I was excited to see how deep and influential into other parts of life parkour could reach besides just physical fitness. I also really appreciated the passion for the discipline the coaches exhibited. I was encouraged to keep exploring parkour and working on adjusting the script of the movie. Realizing I still had no idea what I was doing with parkour and that I had no idea what I should research about it, I embarked on a crazy adventure of quickly completing my Level 1 required coaching hours and attending ADAPT Level 2 several weeks later in Kutztown. During the Level 2 course, I learned a lot about the mindset of parkour and many different elements. I was introduced to elements of training such as breaking jumps and extremely long endurance activities. At one particular moment, after being told we would QM way more than I ever had attempted, I was about to raise my hand and tell Andy Pearson, “I don’t do stuff like that”. But he beat me to it and told us if it seems difficult, it’s supposed to be. He left no room for excuses :). After this intense research trip, I returned to Texas to continue training and working on the movie.
In the Fall of 2015, due to several set backs in the movie production process, I realized it would be best to stop rushing the project and take time for more development and research and rewriting. But I got hooked in the process. I am excited to learn about the discipline of parkour so I can soon take what I learn to inner city kids. Also, in a few years when the time is right, I look forward to completing the movie which started my journey:)!