Coaching and Genetics

Sebastien: [13:07] I want to talk about the coaching. I want to talk about do we have more … does anyone come up with a new idea, new game, new stuff for foot eye coordination?

Craig: [13:18] Right.

Sebastien: [13:18] How much we can push the … be more specific. That’s where I am. Okay. That’s why we didn’t talk.

Sebastien: [13:26] This idea of a simple move. Okay. Like cat pass for example, or kong they call it. They shouldn’t call it kong but, anyway. Okay. It is the way it is. Then to cat pass to precision. For those that don’t know it’s like you, I don’t know how to describe that but, cat pass to precision which now is … it bring you two things. Also, when you do cat pass to precision often if it’s not a bar if it’s a wall there is this notion of blind jump. You have to run and jump into this. There is all this stuff that happens with the brain and the visualization and everything. All this stuff is really interesting. Okay. That’s what I’m talking, this is real technique. Now we get into the-

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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.”

Sebastien’s Movement Journey

Craig: Just to be clear, I heard what you said and I want to make sure that they also understands [00:06:30] that that wasn’t a miss-choice of words. You said to move from discipline to discipline and you didn’t mean, you mean literally to move from one discipline to another. You’re interested in looking at tachi or martial art. Parkour for you is one piece of that larger journey. I only point that out because some people who are listening, that’s going to sound unusual. They’re going to think that freerunning is just a new label that you put on something you were already doing. [00:07:00] I think it’s clear to me that freerunning for you is this journey of exploration.

Sebastien: Yes, absolutely. As I say it’s like there is now officially there is three current. There is Parkour. There is freerunning and there is ADD. All related to those who were here at the early stage of the discipline. People [00:07:30] need to understand also my background because I’ve got a background of a traditional sport. I’m an artist, so I love everything related to art and I like to draw. I like to paint. I’ve got a background also with martial art, which I’m very interested in martial art. Not so much of the combat form, but more about the philosophy behind it and the direct application for your life.

[00:08:00] That’s influenced what I try to do with the idea of moving from Parkour to freerunning. No moving from Parkour or L’art du Deplacement because I came up with the name L’art du Deplacement and then to freerunning.

Craig: Let’s dig even deeper into this explorer idea. Tell me more about your journey as you see it and like where did the journey begin and where are you now? Where do you see it going?

Sebastien: I grew up in a family with [00:08:30] four brothers one sister. I think when you grow and you’re in the middle, you always try to find out who you are. Because you’ve got older and then younger and you always try to detach yourself to have your own personality. I think it’s also that’s part of my journey. I’ve always never been bold and audacious and had vertigo. I had a lot of things like kind of introvert [00:09:00] and you see a lot of people like this in Parkour. However, now I know better so I can explain. Now the map is clearer because for me it’s a journey and the journey for me is how can I get better from the mind, from the body and the environment because ultimately we are caterpillar who are crawling. All our life, we’re struggling and we want to become that butterfly.

All my [00:09:30] training, practicing, whatever I do is related to how do I become the better version of myself. It goes with what I call the eight roots of the trees, which is bodies, periods, or mind. I don’t know, no, it’s not exactly the same. Body, mind, environment, energy, protection, relation, liberation and instruction. It’s [00:10:00] something also I try to write a book. I’m still struggling just to write my book.

Craig: Writing is hard.

Sebastien: Yeah, definitely. It’s something dear to me a lot and for me Parkour is really within the mind, the body and the environment. For me everything I talk is about life and is more important than I will say Parkour. For me, it started with the idea when I started like in [00:10:30] 1989, around that with my friends to do this physical activity. I’ve got a background of traditional sport. My Dad wanted me to be a soccer player, which we say football-

Craig: Football.

Sebastien: … in Europe and to make a career with that. It was same with my brother, but we never did and I practice gymnastic. I did a lot of traditional sport before. Then I met David Bell, which was very driven.

Craig: [00:11:00] He was very driven.

Sebastien: He was really driven because he wanted to succeed and to show something to his father. That’s the first time I’d been introduced to this form of movement, natural movement called Parkour. But now I wasn’t looking for Parkour. David was, he had a goal which my goal was just to be with my friend, but at the same time I wanted to train myself to become better. [00:11:30] It was just a body aspect at this time with the physical aspect like if you watch rocky or if you watch Bruce Lee while he was training.

How do you move forward?

Craig: Yesterday we were talking about the East Coast of the United States, which some of us call the Northeast Corridor and it tends to be very aggressive, very mechanistic, very get out of the fast lane. You’re slowing me down type of thing. [00:15:30] That presents a certain kind of challenge and then you go west where you’re going next, you go west and then things are very comfortable or there’s like a whole different vibe there. That environment that’s beyond your control, but you choose how you react to it. How do you move forward?

Sebastien: That’s it. The last one is yourself. It’s the hardest part because it’s about trusting yourself also more than that is to start to understand intuition is a sense and as well as [00:16:00] I can see, I can smell, I can taste, I can hear and I can touch. It’s only through exploring and moving from one discipline to another discipline that you can find out there is a common truth and that’s it. Then you start to tap into it because you start to realize that’s what I was looking for.

Rather it’s from aikido rather from martial art in general, a lot in Asian [00:16:30] philosophy, but also a lot within the artist. If someone is a pianist or someone guitarist like a guitar and anyone with music. We always relate it to sensitivity and feelings and it’s something normally people want to after very tangible, but feelings exist and intuition exists too. As I say, we try to find this truth. At the beginning, [00:17:00] Parkour or whatever people want to call it is literally the activity we are doing when we’re children without any founder and everything. That’s what we do.

Now we’re more mature. We just find out like this is the way of, there is an education here. Parkour is the best tool to reconnect with your body, with your mind and with your environment. That’s why I say the three ones. That’s can [00:17:30] help you to become that butterfly. I think that’s why it’s linked with freedom and that’s why people get so addicted to it.

Craig: And so excited.

Sebastien: The thing is, when you’re with the environment, basically the environment is the teacher because it’s almost like it give you some problem to solve. Some people as I say they can just go, like what I call tracking, if you go to one place to another place from [00:18:00] point a to point b is good, but a certain point, you’ve got an obstacle course. That leads you to how do I overcome that obstacles and there is different type of character. Me, when I was with my friend, my friend, they could push themselves, they could break the jump. That’s how we call it, the breaking the jump. As you’ve got kind of a very aggressive way like you say like, I command, I’m the mind, [00:18:30] I’m powerful.

Craig: I command myself, not I command you. I command myself, ready, go. We have a button for that.

Sebastien: Everything I’m saying is literally like is by yourself. You’re outside, you’re just by yourself. There is a disconnection between the mind and the body. Sometime in martial art they try to explain that. But it’s very hard if someone is in front of you and punch you in your face. For you is this is my opponent, but the beauty with Parkour, the opponent is the environment and that’s why you start to realize, “Oh my [00:19:00] God, there is something very deep there.”

It’s almost like meditation, but it’s so much in action and it’s so much in you. You come up like say something in me say I can do this jump and there is another part, “Oh my God,” and you feel stuck. As I said, there is people who can go through that through like getting pumped and everything and then break the jump. For me it never work, so I have to come up with what I call waving and the waving technique is literally get used to. It’s like instead of [00:19:30] force it, you just let it go. But you have to come regularly and practice. It’s like someone’s got fear of water and you bring them one day. They just put their feet. Just their feet.

Craig: Accustomization.

Sebastien: Accustomization.

Waiving the Jump

Craig: Do you have a French phrase for waiving the jump? What do you call that internally?

Sebastien: No, I use it in English.

Craig: You use it in English.

Sebastien: Because it’s universal. As I say with the word, because I come up with the word, so I believe someone is [00:20:00] gonna come up with a French word.

Craig: Can you unpack it a little bit more? Like can I use this technique if I’m only training once a week or like how?

Sebastien: Basically everything is linked with my concept because when I started with everyone, it was pretty organic. Everyone’s got their method and they go outside they practice. For me, I need to find like Bruce Lee say I need to find the cause of my ignorance, so I need to write it down everything. That’s why I started to do the classification within Parkour. Try to really understand what am [00:20:30] I doing and what is my problem. I come up with a lot of concept as you can see. I say talk about the mind, the body, the environment, the three major obstacles, the eight roots, which we need to master or to work on it in order to get to this idea of peace.

In my concept, I say follow the season, I’ve got a grade system, I’ve got [00:21:00] a maturity level. You see, so I keep on working on that and the waving technique is one of them because when I start to getting opportunities and I had some obstacle, some challenge to face, like people will say, okay, I want you to go in this building and doing this jump.

Craig: Jump for some consequence or-

Sebastien: Me say, “Oh my God. How am I going to do that?

Humble beginnings

Craig: Right. And one of the things that I think is interesting about your story, is that you’re on your one, two, third iteration of the gym. So, the gym started inside a gymnastics space, and then, I’ll let you tell the story, but you’ve moved through three iterations, which is pretty unique, I think. Most people are happy if they can pull it off once, so what I’m interested in really is, there is a huge, [00:07:00] I think, a huge number of people in America who are islands, just because of where they live. America is a big place, so I went to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, one time and there was a group of five people who were super into this, and we showed up and it wasn’t that they were better than I was, but it was…I did a weird climbing challenge and it was just like this seed idea and then they were off on it for forty-five minutes. I’m exhausted, and I moved on. So somehow you managed to go from a guy with this urge that drew you off the sofa… [00:07:30] and how did you get to opening the first gym and then…what’s the actual story with the second gym and then the third gym?

Dylan: The shift where I eventually started thinking that I might be able to share this discipline with others professionally was actually when I got invited to do the level two course. When that first happened and then when I went there and had that experience and it was so amazing, I started to think, “Oh, wow, if[00:08:00] other people who I respect so much can think of me in this way, that I might be in a position to share this with others then maybe I can think about myself in that way as well.”

Craig: Community pulling you up kind of concept.

Dylan: Right. A couple months after taking the level two course, I founded the organization, Innate Movement. At the beginning times, there was literally just a handful of us. But it did occur to me, there was the catch-22 that I think a lot of people face when they’re thinking about [00:08:30] building a gym or trying to build up a community. I’ve heard a lot of people ask, “Oh yeah, I want to create more of a community where I am, how do I go about starting it?” Because there’s the catch-22 of there’s some people who are down to come to their first parkour class outside, just meeting in a random park. That’s awesome. That is sort of self-selects for a certain type of person, which is maybe the most…people for whom parkour-

Craig: The stereotypical parkour practitioner-

Dylan: Right is the type of person who would do that-

Craig: Park in a random parking lot, show up with a bag, not know what’s going on, have the wrong [00:09:00] shoes, and still have fun.

Dylan: Right, exactly. But then there’s the rest of everybody who would much prefer to come to a space that seems very official and padded. So there is that catch-22. Basically the way it was is it started with a regular outdoor class, and then started renting space in the corner of, like you said, a gymnastics gym. At that time, I set it up with them where I was like, “Okay, I’m going to give you 50% [00:09:30] of everything I make, so if I make eight dollars this month, I’ll give you four, and it’s all good.” I was still working full-time and just doing it on the evenings and weekends, and in the early times, one of the important clutch things was just having a few ringers at the classes, like my now wife, Rayna, would come to every single class, and my dad. Just so that it wouldn’t be weird and awkward when a new person would come and be like-

Craig: Wait, wait, why are you running, come back!

Dylan: Exactly, “It’s just me and you in this room, and like, it’s not weird, come back, please!” Yeah, so, we would-

Craig: Just somebody [00:10:00] balancing changes the whole dynamic.

Dylan: Right, exactly, just someone else in the room training so people feel like, “Oh, this is something that’s happening I can get involved with.” It was one of those fake-it til you make it things in a way-

Craig: If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, that’s what we call a duck.

Dylan: Right, exactly. Then, slowly but surely, some people started getting involved and a few months into that initial process, the fellow who had had the gymnastics place that we were renting time out of [00:10:30] announced, “I’m not gonna do this anymore, I’m just gonna close up shop and you have a couple weeks, so good luck.” It was this really existential crisis moment where the organization faced dying in the crib type of thing. At that point we looked around for other spaces, and we hadn’t grown enough where it really made sense to get somewhere huge. I was just too scared by promising to give someone so much money for five years-

Craig: 35 hundred square feet is a lot of money to sign up for five years.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Craig: That leads me to the thought that it may be that doing things wrong, maybe for years and wrecking your health, may be the path that you need to follow. [00:19:00] There’s a whole bunch of questions that spring to mind that really are good at digging into, they seem obvious, but when you dig into the answer, it gets much more complicated. One of them is, if you had a time machine and you could go back to your 25, 20-year-old, 15-year-old self, what advice would you give? Tell me where you were at that time, too.

Dylan: I was a really angry kid. When I was like 15, I had this episode where I smashed my head [00:19:30] through this plate glass door in the front of my parents’ house out of rage. I got super cut up. I still have scars on my face and my neck where it was one of those classic things where the doctor was like, “If this had been a millimeter deeper, you would have bled out.” It was really bad-

Craig: And the bolts on your neck are hardly noticeable.

Dylan: Right, Frankly, I was pretty angry, and I partied way too hard during my [00:20:00] college and twenties and stuff. I think that if I could go back and give some advice, it’s funny, but honestly, I would probably just try to convince my younger self to start training sooner.

Dylan: [20:17] Because one of the things that parkour has been for me… it’s funny, advice, right… I’ve found that ideas… In my life, just having [00:20:30] an idea in your head often times doesn’t do the job, you know? If it’s an abstraction, you know, “Try to be more like this…” but like, what the heck? How do I do that? Where as, one of the beautiful things about parkour is that…in a certain way…even though it’s a philosophy, and even though it’s, like you said, a lens, that’s a great way to think about it, to a certain degree, the methodology of it is what has really been successful to me. It’s like, “Go do this thing.” [00:21:00] Like, when in doubt, QM. When in doubt-

Craig: As trite as it sounds, the obstacle really is the path.

Dylan: Right, exactly. I feel like for my teens and my twenties I was trying to think my way into happiness, and I couldn’t ever find it because I would just lose the thread and get back into dissatisfaction and-

Craig: Destructive behavior.

Dylan: Exactly, self-destructive behavior.

Craig: And you don’t have a lot of resources at that age. It’s not like you could just take ten grand and “I’m gonna go to France and find myself.” You’re really [00:21:30] physically constrained as well as mentally.

Dylan: Absolutely. The thing that really changed everything to a large degree was just parkour. Where just the doing, it’s like, “Okay, go do this thing and then see what happens.” And what ends up happening is that the joy sort of rises to the surface. It naturally emerges from doing this thing, rather than trying to think these thoughts. Maybe [00:22:00] one way of saying it is before I was trying to think thoughts and create actions, and now what I do is do actions and have the positive thoughts surface. So probably the advice I would give my younger self is just start training parkour.

How has your practice affected your life?

Craig: In Parkour, we all talk about fear as a thing that we work, we try to make it an ally, try to use it. And some people talk about the phrases, “Breaking the jump.” And a lot of people who maybe don’t do Parkour, who might listen to the podcast, wouldn’t that be great, those people might have no understanding at all about the fear or this breaking the jump idea. So we stand at the edge of a bridge and [00:15:00] it may or may not scare us, because I’m thinking, “I could actually do a turn vault here and it’s a long way down.” And then that suddenly scares me.

Somebody who would never climb on a railing in any context isn’t the least bit scared. So, it seems to me that this whole idea of fear and how you try to break jumps is something that you don’t even realize that that is there, until you begin doing Parkour. So my question is, is there a similar type of fear or the need to break challenges, maybe, inside the artistic creative process?

Jonny: [00:15:30] Absolutely. Yeah. So people look at what you do, when you’ve got 10,000 hours of work into it, and they go, “Oh, you must just do that stuff fairly effortlessly.” And the fact of the matter is, every new painting, I specifically pick, essentially, a jump to break. I specifically make sure that it’s engineered that there’s something in there that I have no idea how to do it. And none of my skill set has prepared me for it. And you get started, and then eventually you kind [00:16:00] of work around the challenge little bit. And eventually you’re like, “Okay, we gotta do this now.”

Craig: We gotta do this, right.

Jonny: And you may fail miserably. It may be a painting that you leave out on the sidewalk, which I’ve done before after working on it for a full month.

Craig: Let me know where it is the next time. I’ll pick it up.

Jonny: It was gone in twenty minutes. Because I regretted it, I thought about it, about thirty minutes later, I went, “huh.” I peeked out the window and I’m like, “Yeah, it’s gone.”

Craig: It’s gone.

Jonny: And then I did it again. And again. Yeah, I don’t learn from my mistakes very well. But [00:16:30] yeah, you may fail miserably, or you’re gonna break through it, you’re gonna learn something new about yourself, and you’re gonna develop a new skill out of necessity that you didn’t have at the beginning of the painting. So that’s what keeps me excited about making paintings, is because I couldn’t do the same thing over and over again. I have to manufacture some sort of potential failure there.

Craig: Do you have, let’s call that a drive. Do you have that drive before you started doing Parkour?

Jonny: Yes. Absolutely. Yeah, I feel like I’ve lived with the spirit of Parkour before I ever knew [00:17:00] that that was a thing.

Craig: Well that’s interesting, because people come to Parkour from different walks of life and different experiences and different things call to them. And I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone say that the breaking the jump part of Parkour, which scares people to death, when you first start doing this. You’re like, “Seriously? You want me to do what?” I’ve never had someone say that was the part, like, All right.

Dear Diary, today someone said breaking … I mean, I’ve seen lots of different aspects and everybody who does Parkour [00:17:30] for a length of time eventually comes to understand what we mean about breaking the jump and they understand why we do it and why it’s valuable. But I’ve never had somebody say, “Oh yeah, I’ve found that over here in painting.” I’m not laughing at it. That’s awesome.

Jonny: Yeah. Well I’ve sought that out in every other, you know, before Parkour I was deep into kickboxing. And it was the same thing. That fear of.

Craig: I was like, “How do I write the biography for this?” Like, um, do we skip the part where he was hustling in Scotland? Yeah, let’s skip that part.

Jonny: So many stories. But [00:18:00] yeah. Kickboxing, I started when I was really young. I was super drawn to it. Because I was terrified of fighting.

Craig: Being kicked in the head?

Jonny: Yeah. Well no, just fighting in general. You know, I got bullied a lot in school. Just unfortunate, I don’t know if I was necessarily a target over anybody else, but just maybe quieter, nicer than some people, you know? So I’d let people do whatever. So I was terrified of fighting. I didn’t do anything back to people that were bullying me because I was like, “Oh, I don’t know. What happens if you get in a fight?” You know, it was just this fear of the unknown. And then so I was like, “Screw [00:18:30] that, I’m just gonna go take some martial arts and see what happens. Let’s go do it in a safe…”

Craig: I’m gonna pay someone to kick me in the head!

Jonny: Sounds like exactly my life plan, right there. Yes. So I went in and I started doing that kind of stuff, and it scares the living shit out of you to get into a fight with another person. You never know what they’re capable of, whatever. But I like doing it with no anger involved. It was just the, “I don’t know what you’re gonna do to me, I don’t know what you’re bringing to the table here, but let’s find this out.”

Craig: There’s a whole parallel right there between Parkour, if you’re emotional about [00:19:00] the jump. For those of you who don’t do Parkour, we’re not necessarily talking about literally jumping but whatever the thing is you’re trying to do, we call it a jump. The moment when you’re trying to, “Should I do it? Should I not do it?” And you get terrified and emotional? That might be the lesson right there. To just realize that it terrifies you and you’re emotional and then walk away.

So to be able to find that same, that’s a common thread, in the martial arts that you did, in that martial arts thread, you were interested in, the obstacle was, “What’s this dark spot in the corner over here? I don’t know what’s going on. Let’s go over there in the corner.” So that’s [00:19:30] a great parallel there too. So I think you were pretty much destined to be into Parkour. I don’t think you had a choice.

Jonny: I think so.

Craig: You thought you were an artist, no.

Jonny: The moment I met these people.

How has your practice affected your life?

My life changed so dramatically it’s hard to sum it all up! So many opportunities have become available. There are obviously physical benefits, but I am stronger in many ways. It has taught me to overcome adversity and challenge logically and systematically. But there was I time when I wasn’t supported. I was even told that it wasn’t a good life choice to dedicate myself to the practice because I couldn’t turn it into a career. The money never mattered to me, It was the training I was in love with. Now I’m a Senior Coach for Parkour Generations Americas, Boston and I couldn’t be happier.

How has your practice affected your life?

Moreso now than when I was actively training, a few of the ethos of parkour have really shaped my life. Specifically, the ideas of “leaving a place better than how you left it” and “saying I can’t really just mean it’s not a priority for me right now” have really become the go-to sayings in my life. Those two sayings alone have driven me to pursue higher education, do awesome projects in the tech world, and all-around be a better person.

Years later, those two sayings have stuck for me.

Also, I think that the overall openness and friendliness of the parkour community is still something that I seek out in whatever kind of job or organization I am working in.

How has your practice affected your life?

Parkour is, without question, the best thing that has ever happened for my mental health. I’m transgender and autistic(though I didn’t realise the latter until fairly recently), with a side order of depression and anxiety. When I first found parkour, I was a mess. I was very isolated at the time; there were a lot of people I called friends, but socialization was difficult enough that spending time with them, when I did, often just made me feel more lonely. Out of college and the effortless social contact that dorm living and student groups provided, and in a career with inconsistent work, I rarely left the house, which did nothing to help my depression. I had dealt with the worst of my gender dysphoria by then, but I was still far from comfortable with my body; we’d reached an uneasy truce at best.

The change when I started training was immediately noticeable. As nervous as I was at that first class, as impossibly sore as I was the day after, I was /happy/. And for the next few days, I stayed happier and more functional than I’d been in a long time. So I came back. And kept coming back. There were days, early on, where I would walk to class almost in tears except I couldn’t figure out how to let them out, and once class started I’d be happy enough to have coaches commenting on how consistently cheerful I was.

Classes let me trick myself into getting much needed social interaction; I wasn’t going to talk to people, after all, that would be scary, I was just going to learn things. But the people there included me anyway, shy and quiet as I was, and before I knew it I had been absorbed into the parkour community, a community which has countless times been there to support me when I’ve needed help, and for which I am endlessly grateful.

Parkour has given me tools to face difficult situations in my outside life as well. Starting conversations is not so different from breaking jumps, and talking in front of people can be approached much like balancing at height. The focus on adaptation in parkour has led me to be more comfortable making adaptations in life that work for me, rather than trying to fit myself into the models society expects. The confidence I’ve gained from succeeding(and failing) at the challenges parkour presents has done a lot to help me find the courage to attempt challenges elsewhere.

Training has also completely changed my relationship with my body. My body had never been something I actively liked. As a child it was just kind of there, the way my family’s dinner plates were, and not something to care about one way or the other. When I started questioning my gender, and later transitioning, it was a source of distress. I thought of my body in terms of how it appeared to others, of which undesired feature might cause some hopefully well-meaning stranger to inform me that excuse me, this was the /men’s/ restroom. I hid in oversized t-shirts and tried to avoid being seen. When I started training, I started seeing my body instead in terms of what it could /do/. Why should I care if my hips are wider than might be expected when I can climb over a wall or land on a rail? Parkour introduced me to a whole world of fascinating possibilities, and suddenly my body, rather than being an unwanted burden I carried around with me, was my partner in achieving them. For the first time, I see my body as truly a part of me, and a part I’m glad to have.

How has your practice affected your life?

Training parkour has affected me in many ways. I’ve gotten stronger. I’m getting older, but I’m definitely in the best shape of my life, which is great. The biggest effect of training has been changes in my perception of what I can do and what possibilities are open to me. We often focus on looking at jumps that are scary or at the edge of our ability and assessing the challenge against our skill sets to convince ourselves that we can do what might at first appear out of reach. After analyzing my own training for so long you start to analyze other parts of your life and find what other obstacles you have held up as insurmountable.

The biggest of these was a major career change. I’ve been a software engineer for a number of years and about a year ago was fed up with office life. I was unable to work, sleep, train, coach, and have a social life. After a lot of thought and debate I decided the thing that needed to budge was work. I was comfortable where I was, but needed to push my boundaries to see what I could really do. So, I left my comfortable office job and now coach parkour, as well as a few other odd jobs to support myself. Training has both supplied me with a new career path as well as a framework for continuous self improvement.