Is there a story you would like to share?

Craig: I say all the time that one of my favorite parts of the podcast [00:22:00] is asking people to share their stories because when you hear someone tell a story, you learn not just the story, but you also get insight into the person telling the story. So is there a story that you would like to share?

Sandro: Yeah, sure. It’s basically the story of my first class of ParkourONE. We did with Felix and the other guy, Silvio. So Felix was, he was one of the first traceurs in Switzerland, or one of the main ones. And I was [00:22:30] really looking forward to it, to the class. And Silvio was also already an experienced traceur with ParkourONE stuff at that time. And I was a traceur as well at that time, for like two or three years. But I was never, or I wasn’t so much into classes, I was often being training by myself and training with other people.

Craig: But you hadn’t been exposed to like a systematic classroom [00:23:00] setting, right?

Sandro: Exactly, exactly. So there were basically the two of us, and Felix was teaching. And everything was really okay, it was really good, and then we came to the conditioning part, and we did an exercise where somebody holds one leg of the person in front. And the person in front has to jump with the other leg, and the other person in behind resists. [00:23:30] So we were basically, Silvio and I were jumping, and Felix was standing beneath it and watching that everything we did, we did well. So yeah, and we did some other exercise, I don’t remember. But after this class, I was so tired, I was so … I was just finished. I think I never got to this feeling again anymore [00:24:00] than I was after this class. Because I was like, I was going home and there was like shaking of exhausting. Exhaustion. It was so crazy. And after that, I always knew I have to stick to the class because that’s what I want to do, that’s what I want to be able to do without getting this exhaustion afterwards.

Craig: Right saw something there that really drew you.

Sandro: Actually, yes. [00:24:30]

Sandro’s experience with parkour in America

Craig: So as I mentioned in the beginning, we just finished American Rendezvous, and one of the great things about podcasting is you get a chance to listen to, basically talk to people that you wouldn’t normally run into. So right off the top of my head, is there anything about American culture or ARDV or the way we train, or just that perspective, you have a completely different point of view from Switzerland. So what jumps out at you?

Sandro: Yeah, actually I was just really really surprised about the food. [00:25:00] We had so healthy food here, it was so crazy. When think of Americans, I think of the big burgers and the-

Craig: Ouch, ouch.

Sandro: Yeah, that’s just the picture we have, I think, in foreign countries maybe.

Craig: I think we exported that now and I apologize.

Sandro: It was so, Blake did such a good job by getting us to so diverse places. And we had so good food there, it was really amazing. And I was really surprised about that. [00:25:30] But actually except from that or what is more important, I think there’s not many difference about the culture of the people, of the parkour people. Because I think what connects us really is that we are standing over the borders of our country, or something like this. That we have kind of an open mindset to [00:26:00] every new participant or participant coming from another country as well. And that was really nice to see that there were so many open mindsets and so much tolerance in this American Rendezvous, I really liked that.

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.

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 a story you would like to share?

Craig: So today’s episode is, of course, brought to you by coffee and Tesla. Say hello, Tesla.

Dylan: She’s such a quiet dog.

Craig: She’s lying next to me, never barks. She’s a total pit-bull love hound. She keeps sneaking up to me asking for belly rubs, so I have trouble reaching the microphone while I’m scratching the dog. [00:22:30] So while I’m scratching Tesla, Dylan, is there a story you’d like to share with us?

Dylan: Yeah, definitely. The story…I mean, there’s so many with parkour, ’cause, you know, obviously for all of us there’s, you know, “every session is a journey, man.” The one that kind of pops to mind is when I was first training, like I mentioned earlier, you know, at first I was just literally by myself, and then I was like many of us early on we become parkour evangelists. It’s just like, “This has changed my life, like you should train, like everyone should train.” I’m telling the mailman

Craig: [00:23:00] Do you come with a speed slow down?

Dylan: Exactly. Early on, I’d taken a few buddies out training who were athletic and I was like, “You should try this, it’s gonna be awesome.” My one friend from grad school, we were out training, and I did a wall run and she tried it and her foot slipped down and kind of smacked into the wall. She was like, “How did you do that?” And, you know, I explained it in the best way I could, [00:23:30] and then she tried again, and then she did it right away. She was all pumped up. That was like the first, and this was very early on in my training, it was before level one or any of that, and that was the first moment where this kind of spark…this little voice in my head was like, “You’re good at this. You could-”

Craig: “You could share this.”

Dylan: It first occurred to me that, Wow, the experience of sharing it and trying to help guide people through the process of self discovery and watching and diagnosing movement from the outside [00:24:00] and being able to give feedback, and be like, “Oh, you’re hips aren’t high enough,” or “lean back more,” or whatever. Saying a few words based on that, and then having the person…having something click and then they could do a thing that the couldn’t do five seconds ago. The feeling of excitement that is showing on their faces. I just got so juiced up from it. I was super-stoked.

Craig: There’s that bliss.

Dylan: Right, exactly. That was the first time I had this echo of this voice being like, “This could be a think that you could do.” At that point, I was halfway through [00:24:30] my MBA and working…at that point I was on track…trying to be the marketing director of my organization; I’d been climbing the corporate ladder for ten years. Training was just a hobby, but that was the first moment where I was like, Oh. Some very faint voice, because it didn’t make any sense at the time. My life was not set up to do that-

Craig: Be a coach-

Dylan: Yeah. From the outside, in a lot [00:25:00] of ways, pursuing parkour as a career was a terrible idea. I had a mortgage and I had been becoming successful in the traditional sense. The idea of switching gears even though I had all this student debt from grad school, and being a broke parkour coach was a terrible idea. But some voice in my head was like, “This is what you want to do.”

Craig: You keep hearing it, right?

Dylan: Right. I like that story because it [00:25:30] was the first time I heard that voice. Then that voice got louder and more consistent to the point where I was like, “All right, screw this, I’m gonna Peter Pan it and just quit my job and go be a parkour coach all the time.” But that was the first moment I heard that voice. So that’s the story I like to share.

Transitioning to parkour as a career

Craig: I think I remember the Facebook post the day you actually quit your job. It was like this, “I quit…I hope this works.”

Dylan: Exactly. It’s like, “Okay, I’m gonna go do it.” That was an exciting day. Driving home from work that day, the day that I…because like I [00:26:00] said, I-

Craig: [26:00] Driving home from where you used to work…

Dylan: I got that job, literally, the day after I graduated college. Graduation was on a Sunday, I started working there on a Monday, and then ten years, my entire life had gone by in the intervening time. The last time I drove home on the commute from that job it was one of the best days of my life. I can’t really describe the feeling driving away being like, “I’m never going back there! This is [00:26:30] my new life.” It was super cool. All of that, I would be remiss without mentioning, thank you, Rayna, my wonderful wife, who none of this would have been able to happen without her.

Craig: [26:49] Without a partner. Without a sounding board. Without somebody-

Dylan: That’s another thing too, when there’s been a couple people who have asked for advice or have been curious of “How can I go about [00:27:00] going from being a person just training by myself to-”

Craig: The person who starts the community or the person who starts the gym.

Dylan: Exactly. The Johnny Parkour-seed of this area. There’s a few key factors and one, that we touched on earlier, of slow incremental growth and not ever biting off more than you can chew. You can’t go from being by yourself…Renting a 5,000 square foot space by yourself is a [00:27:30] terrible idea. You should build it up slowly and incrementally, step by step, keeping costs low at the start. Also, I would definitely recommend just having a partner with a real job. When I was first going…now things are going better… but at first, it was like, “Okay, I feel comfortable doing this because I have a partner who won’t let me starve.”

Craig: Who will not change the lock.

Dylan: [00:28:00] Right, exactly. So that was a huge key to being able to have the freedom to make the leap. When you’re doing things on evenings and weekends and working full time and burning the candle at ten ends, you can only add so much until you reach this critical threshold where it’s like, “Okay, this isn’t grown enough to support myself entirely from it, but I can’t add any more time. I can’t have it grow any more without making this leap.” [00:28:30] That’s another one of the catch-22s, just like if you don’t a gym, you can’t have people and if you don’t have people you can’t have a gym. If you don’t have time, you can’t have enough classes, and if you don’t have enough classes you can’t quit your job and create the time.

Dylan: The two ways that I was fortunate to be able to solve those catch-22s was renting a little time and getting a slightly bigger space. [00:29:00] I would definitely recommend, if anyone has someone who will give them tens of thousands of dollars, they should definitely just skip…because every time you build a gym it’s so hard. It’s definitely a lot of work. So if anyone has a rich uncle who would just buy them a gym, I definitely recommend doing that. But for the rest of us, you have to go through a bunch of iterations, but also, the other solution is having a partner who will support you during that transition.

Is there a story you would like to share?

Craig: As I say often say, one of my personal passions is collecting stories from other people, because as I say all the time, the passion that comes through when someone tells a story really gives you a glimpse into what makes them who they are. So is there a story you would like to share?

Jesse: Yeah, I had just started parkour, I was [00:24:00] maybe a few years in, and my parents were always really supportive of me. They always gave me a lot of freedom, they let me build crazy stuff in their backyard. I’m not sure why. And they also let all sorts of people from all over the world stay with them. Sometimes lots of people. And the story I want to talk about is PKNY. So it was like, this big national gym. We had like 60 people at my parents’ house and we were barbecuing and we were [00:24:30] hanging out, and people are sleeping on the stairs and…

Craig: And your parents have a 7000 square foot rambling ranch, right?

Jesse: No, no, they have like a typical New Jersey suburban house.

Craig: Right.

Jesse: So yeah, there’s people crammed in the corners and we’ve got a couple old futons, and people have tents in the backyard. [00:25:00] And all these people have come, and this has become kind of normal to me. It doesn’t seem out of the ordinary or anything. I’ve now gone to other people’s places and slept on windowsills. And this is just, this is parkour, this is normal, this is what we do.

And I’m like, okay, I’m thinking about going out and training it at 2 a.m.. You know, we had trained all day. Everybody’s super tired. [00:25:30] The first day of a jam always gasses everybody out, and they always believe that they’re going to have some sort of magical energy…

Craig: Like a superpower I didn’t know about.

Jesse: But we talk about doing a 2 a.m. conditioning session, and I talked to a couple of the other guys who have been around a little bit longer. And they want to each teach and coach something. And at 2 a.m. I get up, and this is also something I did all the time. [00:26:00] It was just normal for me. Like, I’m gonna get out of my house, I’m gonna go, I’m gonna walk down the street, I’m gonna get to the train tracks. These train tracks, it’s a closed line, and you can balance on the train tracks for miles. And just going, we go to a schoolyard, we jump around, we climb around, we go, we’re balancing. And this was two or three times a week, this is not a weird thing for me.

So we’re going, we’ve got like 45 people. It’s 2 a.m.. We’re in a New [00:26:30] Jersey suburb. We go to a football stadium, and we’re doing a reverse quadripedal on the stairs and we’re climbing on the walls, and we’re carrying each other on the football field, and we’re like crawling, and climbing, and fighting, and playing, and challenging each other for just like, a few hours. And so now it’s like 4:30, and we’re heading home. And people wanted [00:27:00] to quit, people cried, we lost a few. There’s no great organizational structure, and no cell phones.

So people did know the way. They were like, “Oh, I’m gonna go to the bathroom. Just wait for me a second.”

Craig: Come back, everybody’s gone.

Jesse: Hour and a half later, they find their way back to the house. And the reason I’m telling this story, is because now I can piece together that that was not, that was a little atypical. [00:27:30] That wasn’t a thing that people did all the time. But a friend of mine said, “Oh, that was a really meaningful experience for me. I still think back to that.”

And that was like a riddle to me. Like, “What do you mean, you think back to that?” So yeah, now I think back to it too.

Is there a story you would like to share?

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

Craig: One of my favorite questions is something that I call the story time project, which is where I ask people, Andy, is there a story you’d like to share with us?

Andy: I could talk about this nice young … This 5-6 year old [00:32:00] autistic girl, who was non verbal, has been coming to our gym for a while and I’ve been coaching for a long time, but I haven’t worked with special needs. Not really. And I sat down with her and I tried to learn who she was a little bit and she’s been coming back with her parents, thought that we worked well together.

Because she couldn’t hold her weight up with her hands, her feet kind of turned in, she had stump feet [00:32:30] in the sense that she couldn’t point her toes, her feet looked fine. Maybe they were a little bit slanted, but she didn’t use them. So, she’s been coming in for a while, maybe a couple months after we opened and she would just come in for open gym.

And I would say, “You know what let’s … She needs to be able to hold to this bar” and her mom’s like, ” Well, she can’t hold her bar, she’s special needs.” And I’m like, “Well, first thing that we’re going to is teach her that she can’t climb with knees and elbows in here”. And every [00:33:00] time … I would just sit there with her for 15 minutes or so, she’s trying to climb on top of stuff and I wouldn’t … Every time she put her knee up, I wouldn’t let her.

And eventually I put her feet up there and then take them down, then she’d put her feet up there and she got it. And we’d hang her from a bar, we’d put her hands on a bar, I put my hands on top of her hands and just hold them there and just let her dangle there.

And now from just teaching her body how to move as opposed to trying to talk to her or anything like that, [00:33:30] she is now able to hang and swing from a bar. She is jumping up and down on the trampoline, she can jump into the foam pit. She couldn’t jump at all, she can jump two things now, she can climb up on top of everything in the gym and climb down. She uses the knees and elbows now and then still, but we’re working on it.

Craig: That’s Andy’s pet peeve. No knees and elbows.

Andy: Yes, the big one. But she is now because of that way ahead of her schedule, she’s made [00:34:00] huge improvements. And she is talking here and there. She will- Randomly when you catch her off guard, be able to say words, but then you ask her to repeat it and she can’t, because she’s thinking about it too much. But her parents have just sworn by us and we’re trying to figure out how to develop that into a special needs program and work with the little people more. But it’s been [00:34:30] huge for her, for sure.

Craig: And hugely rewarding, I’d imagine, too, right?

Andy: It’s pretty cool.

On why he stopped doing Ninja Warrior

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

Craig: One of the things that I am passionate about is collecting other people’s stories because I think having people share something they’re passionate about really gives people a glimpse into who you really are. Is there a story you would care to share?

Elet: Maybe the story of why I stopped doing Ninja Warrior.

I was filming for my submission video for what would have been my fifth season on American Ninja Warrior. I had a very, very surprising [00:18:00] experience. I went out to a woods near where I was staying at the time, it was along a river in Laurel, Maryland and there was an old dam there, this used to be a mill town and that dam had a tower on the one side of it that’s maybe 40 feet tall. It’s a man made wall, off to the right hand side is the wall of the dam itself, which is about half the height, about 20 feet.

It was something I messed around on bouldering on before and [00:18:30] man made walls are great to climb because they got a lot of big handholds but they’re also interesting because a lot of times, especially with old walls, the grout disintegrates and makes a lot of sand on all these holds.

I was up there for the day and I was gonna film and I just set my phone up to film this one climbing route and I just started bouldering up and I got to a point where I was like, “Alright, this is high enough, I’m gonna exit right out onto that dam wall.” And as I start to traverse off to that side, I caught a bad handhold with a lot of sand on it. My hand [00:19:00] popped and I’m 25 feet off the ground and down below me is a boulder field of rocks. Ankle breakers, back breakers I mean some serious stuff and I started to barn-door off and I just said, “Nope.” So I just pushed off the wall.

I’ve got a video of it, I’ll have to send it to you. Ended up falling 25 feet. Landed straddling a rock, full compression on the landing, my tailbone was probably an inch and a half off of this giant limestone boulder and I came within an inch and a half of paralyzing myself and walked [00:19:30] away absolutely fine, not a scratch, not an ache.

In the shock that followed as I walked back to the apartment and as I sat there by myself thinking about what the hell was I doing, what happened, what took me there, I got into the idea of why was I filming that? What prompted me to get up into that, what was motivating me. I realized I put my life on the line for something that I didn’t necessarily believe in 100 percent. I’ve been doing [00:20:00] Ninja Warrior for years and years and it was a big production and there was good and bad. I met a lot of great people through it, I had good experiences but then at the same time, we weren’t getting paid. We were helping a show that last year made 750 odd million dollars and we didn’t see a penny. I was perpetuating that. I was involved in something that didn’t necessarily represent what I wanted to represent and here I was risking my life to get back on it.

I [00:20:30] kind of just had to balance that and that was the day I kind of decided I’m not gonna do that for a while. I backed away from it. It was just a really interesting thing because I always talk about analyzing risk and consequence. Consequence exist all of the time. Being alive implies the consequence of possible death. Parkour implies the consequence of possible injury, death, always.

There are a lot of people that like to say, “Oh, parkour’s safe.” Parkour is not safe. It’s not safe and it will never be safe. We can make good decisions. We can manage [00:21:00] risk, we can mitigate risk but its not safe. If it was, it’d be boring. We enjoy that dance. There’s consequences that’s real, which is the juxtaposition to the majority of things we do in our day to day life. The reason we don’t care about them, the reason we’re disenfranchised is because it’s not real.

If we lose it, that’s fine. Oh I’ll keep going, I can still put food in my mouth, I’ll still be alive. How many of us have been in a situation where we’re facing off with death, where we’re facing off [00:21:30] with real consequence, where we’re facing off with real social consequences. Because if this goes, I lose my job, I can’t feed myself. Mostly none of us and we avoid those places as much as we can.

Parkour is our way to play with that and that’s fun because it’s as high or low a stakes as you want to make it. We got this analogy of risk versus consequence here and we interact with that daily in parkour. Your decision making abilities, your technical training abilities, your ability to reiterate a jump again and again and again is [00:22:00] your ability to manage and mitigate risk.

I went and I took on this climb that always, a climb has a consequence of falling and I thought I could mitigate that risk and I was wrong because that’s the game you’re playing and occasionally you come up wrong and man, I walked away from it okay. I don’t know what it is, 15 years of parkour training helped me take a 20 foot, 5 foot drop straddling a boulder, inches a way from the goods and the end of my spine. That was a very serious day. [00:22:30] That’s something I just always like to talk about is this risk versus consequence idea with all things in life. It’s the game we’re always playing whether it’s social, whether it’s physical, whether it’s putting food on our table with our jobs or anything like this. We are always playing that game.

When you can separate that idea and say, “Well here are the possible consequences, here’s how I’m gonna mitigate the risk,” and you can begin to formulate a plan around things. Kind of ties us back into the begging of being very particular about the way that I train. It’s always that analysis of, here’s possible consequences, they [00:23:00] could be good or bad consequences of course.

Craig: I choose this challenge or do I move …

Elet: Or do I move to another one. That’s just kind of my take on how we approach challenge, how we approach life’s issues, obstacles, actual obstacles, because what we do in parkour is not interaction with actual obstacles. None of those are obstacles. You can go around them, we put them there, it’s a challenge, it’s our own choice.

Real [00:23:30] life obstacles, real life problems, it’s the same analysis and that’s one of the fantastic things about parkour is it gives you the tools to manage that, so you can approach it with the same mentality that you do these situations that have the consequence of life and death. You are more well equipped.

Is there a story you would like to share?

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

Craig: One of the questions I love to ask people is, is there a story you would like to share?

Sasa: Yes of course, everybody has a story, yes?

Craig: Yes. Well, is there a story that you [00:07:30] can share that we’re not going to look things up in a law dictionary.

Sasa: Oh, that story. You need to be more precise because I have different stories.

Craig: Okay, can I have a story about Laurent?

Sasa: Oh yes, that story. What I wanted to say, there is a bunch of stories we have, and for some of the stories you need kind of the trigger to pull them out, but for some stories you don’t need a trigger. Like just stick in your mind forever. This is one of the stories that I think probably I’ll never forget. I had the luck [00:08:00] to spend a lot of time with Laurent and also that period of training with him was … whoa! you know… like completely changing your mindset about everything. It’s like okay, restart. One of the these stories. It’s January, very beginning of January in Milan super cold, minus five, seven, I don’t know. Didn’t [00:08:30] really care.

Craig: We’ll go with, “cold.”

Sasa: It’s about zero, it was a little bit snow. It was snowing that day. We had this routine that we go every day, outside to train. Mostly conditioning in the morning, afternoon we teach or move with him, but this day was special. It was super cold, I just wake up and so to doing the … I look at Laurent and at the moment like, “Do we really train today?!” [00:09:00] He said “Yes, of course.”

Craig: Why is today any different, right?

Sasa: Yes, and then “Yes, but like, what do we do?” He’s like “101, you know,” that’s like super exercise. Training that you spend over one hour down. So I said “Okay, whatever.” We go out, super freezing, super not in the mood for training. That happens to everyone. Just [00:09:30] environment and all this stuff will happen at the moment like, I really don’t want to do it. I didn’t tell to him I don’t really want to do it. I think I said that …

Craig: Yes, you don’t want to actually say it, right.

Sasa: No, I think I even said like, “Oh, why?” I start kind of complaining and all this stuff.

Craig: How did that work out? Now he’s going to go sooner right.

Sasa: Yes, that was the point when he said, “Okay, so we don’t need to do it with the breaks or [00:10:00] … we do it with no stop.”

Craig: Maybe you should quickly unpack what 101 is. I’m laughing because I know what it is, but what’s 101?

Sasa: 101 is like you have eight exercises and you repeat each of these exercises 101 times.

Craig: Right, and the eight exercises are all …

Sasa: In quadrapedal, yes.

Craig: Yes, they’re all quadrapedie, hands and feet on the floor. That’s eight exercises, none of which are easy or relaxing.

Sasa: Yes, yes, no, when you go for 101 you don’t stop … The key of this exercise, when you go for one, in original training you go do one and you kind [00:10:30] of rest a little bit and then you go for another one and then you rest and go further and blah blah blah. You go through all eight of these, and then when you finish you kind of again take a short break and then you do a pyramid of these eight exercises, then you do eight exercises by 11, 21, 31, 21, 11 again.

Craig: Right, of each exercise.

Sasa: Then 101 is kind of over, yes. Then I know that because I do this already every week at least once, and it was fine. It was all these muscles burning and you’re [00:11:00] always like “Oh fuck, this is hard.” Then you survive, because you did before, you know how everything works. You will survive it again, but this day was completely not for that. I was so much complaining and telling how I would, kind of myself that I wouldn’t do it, and then in that moment something go through my mind, like I don’t want to do it. My body don’t want to do it, my mind don’t want to do it, why I am here? What’s happening to me? [00:11:30] Then Laurent just. “Okay, let’s start.” He just started, and then I didn’t have a choice. I start or I go home.

Craig: Right, go home home. Not just back to Laurent’s, go home.

Sasa: Yes, yes, but like what am I doing? I’m here, so let’s just start. I started and the moment I put my hands down, like “Fuuuuuuuuck, why?”

Craig: It’s cold, right?

Sasa: Yes. Go ahead and try it, and you will see, like everyone just going and trying it. You will see how hard it is. [00:12:00] He’s starting, he’s doing it, I’m following a little bit slowly, but following, and then he, at like until 20 minutes or 22 minutes until first part of all exercise by 101 time. I was a little bit behind him and I couldn’t believe it. I was pushing to myself, okay, I will do this set and I’m quitting for sure. I am not going further.

Craig: Yes, I am doing 101 but I’m not aiming for the pyramid.

Sasa: Yes, and then [00:12:30] I will still be happy to finish this part. It’s going to be around 25, 30 minutes. I’m super happy with this. I did it, and like okay, I will go home, and then I look at him and he’s already doing the pyramid.

Craig: Yes, no break, it’s just like … It’s cold, so we’ll just put it all together.

Sasa: Just do it until you know you have energy or heat-ness, whatever. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t even look at me, you know what I mean, he just …

Craig: Kept going.

Sasa: Yes, and I’m like “Fuuuuuuck!” I’m like, “I need a [00:13:00] break.” On that break, like, again, like why I am doing this? Like why. I couldn’t understand at that point, and I just continued. I didn’t know how or what, but you know. I had that feeling that I don’t have a …

Craig: Yes, your hands are numb. Nothing below the wrist.

Sasa: Yes, I have feeling I am crushing with the bone, directly into the …

Craig: Like making a fist right?

Sasa: Yes, like just the bone, this one.

Craig: Oh, right. Yes.

Sasa: I had that feeling that I don’t have a hand, I felt like [00:13:30] just a stick.

Craig: A stick. I’m on my Radius and my Ulna …

Sasa: Yes, just sticking this stick in the ground and like, fucking cold. He did it, he finished it, and I’m trying to keep up. I am almost done the pyramid and he’s like waiting [for] me in a handstand. It’s like he don’t say anything, you’re just like …

Craig: He just like sticks it up there, I’ll wait for you, right?

Sasa: Yes, yes, like “Come on Sasa.” Like [00:14:00] don’t say anything but I know. I can not explain how that was motivational, because if he wasn’t there I would never do this. This person pushed me so much, just being there, just following him was something incredible and magical that you cannot get always with …

Craig: Yes, it doesn’t happen with everyone.

Sasa: It doesn’t happen with everyone. Everybody can motivate [00:14:30] us in different ways, that’s true, but this special moment is something that I will remember forever. Because I did something that I really didn’t want to do, I kind of refused it with all my body, with everything, and when we ended I think I hugged him so hard, I was so happy doing this, and then we went for like a cup of tea. I think we discussed [00:15:00] about what we did and how awesome that was, but you know. I did crazy other challenges with quadrapedie and all this kind of stuff, and it was always hard, but this is something that just …

Craig: First time you ever faced a challenge that you honestly didn’t want to do.

Sasa: Yes.

Craig: Don’t want to do this.

Sasa: Yes, that’s kind of like the story. I don’t know, I want to say just thank you Laurent for making me much durable and resistible and …

Craig: Yes, and making [00:15:30] you realize that you really could do it. He saw that.

Sasa: Yes, when I now need to do like 2K crawl or something, pfft, you know.

Craig: Dude, it’s above freezing, the suns up, what the …

Sasa: Yes, like [inaudible 00:15:41], nothing.

Craig: Right, this is awesome!

Sasa: Now I don’t have that like death mindset, which is builded in my head after that one, it’s incredible. Just after that I did like a building, 30 floors, quadrapedie backwards. Okay, you know, no raining, no minus 15.

Craig: [00:16:00] It’s warm, right.

Sasa: Yes, like just get a little bit sweaty, a little bit tired and that’s it.

Craig: Just did you just say reverse qm 30 floors, get a little bit sweaty …

Sasa: Actually, I will correct myself, 31.

Craig: 31, oh, wonderful.

Sasa: It’s the tallest building in Belgrade. Of course no stop, no getting up.

Is there a story you would like to share?

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

I was hesitating to drop this personal story. I am always aware I could hurt someone’s feelings or so. But I think each reason for practise is personal. Some need to prove something to the self. The fact is, we all interact on totally different levels.

When I started squatting, it was after 9 years in Parkour and straight after separation with my ex-girlfriend. I will save you the story about that relationship, I will tell just “this is how you learn to back someone”.

When I went squatting, it was to extend philosophy of “impossible”. I don’t know many people in here I think, hardly anyone knew me before my transformation. The weakest, with curled back, glasses, diction disfunctions, child of an alcoholic. I didn’t have friends. I wasn’t “cool”. I was drawing for whole days, knowing I can afford hardly anything. Here, in Poland, we have german prices and ukrainian salaries. I was escaping home. I was sad. More books I read, more aware of something wrong around I was.

My first pk team… I loved guys for the passion. At some point there were about 22 of us. But nor for long. Lack of time (“I need to go for a beer!”), energy (“but I like smoking!”), knowledge (“my back used to be like this for my entire life!”) made us fall apart. Then we created first ever polish sports club that treated about Parkour.

And here I am getting towards important things.

Lack of any knowledge and any older practitioners made people that jump a bit further think they are better than anyone. I am doing this for 12 years now. I used to play basketball before. I had to become stronger, more endurant, more jumpy. I started Parkour trainings, because I have learned that is training method that could improve any skills. Other, non-sportive skills were waiting for their order at that point.

I got supported from Parkour Generations. Some say they wanted to use me. Some say I was fit for this crew. The fact is, while my other colleagues were like “come on , just jump”, they were happy to give me tasks, put some responsibility on me, finally I git involved as a coach, when we realised I can explain, show, break other person fear. For me, who comes from total darkness, it is relatively easy. In 2013 Adapt was hard I have heard. I missed 0.04% to get 100%.

Squatting was real school. I knew who I am. That time I wanted to learn. I knew there are people who already don’t want to deal with money anymore. We built from what we found. Ate what we got. Helped local communities. Involved many people in different activities. We turned some homeless guys into serious artists and any other kind of activists. After 5 months I found I am on constant holiday, that was time to get back and help my mom. During ghat 5 months I did 2 big workshops in Poland. That’s how my country learned there is someone who actually can push stuff forward.

Unfortunatelly, after coming back many people were like “who da fuck you think you are?”. This is how I got separated from the scene I had built. Biggest gatherings, shows, tv interviews, but never any dirty business – no shit ads, promoting any organisations or activities I wouldn’t agree with. When I found what honesty actually is, I started transforming – my back got straight, shoulders strong, my belly went back, even my sight got improved. I got rid of most of toxic behaviours and stopped being where there are still present (yep, that includes my closest family).

I knew I am not going to force and push between ones that haven’t experienced what I did. I seem crazy for many. Regardless, I run my own academy, set from A to Z by myself. I still keep high standard and I often see people are not ready for this, but ones that are, come back stronger, more confident, they get healthy in less than two months! All of them – rich, poor, kids, adults, sportives and non-sportives. I teach performers and actors. I run school classes now.

I was opposed to polish federation, as competition was “the only” to be presented. And there is about 5 fairly working academies around my country. Now I got that nice feeling when that association (I honestly don’t know if it is official now) got opposed fig. We are all growing up and see easy ways are to trap us.

By all this I am trying to say, Pakour is way more than just a performance. I know we tried to promote it as a sport (which is a huge promotion from ‘spiritual’ ones), but for me, despite I can fairly call myself “an expert”, term “training method” suits better. We can improve literally anything this way. And I proved you can survive, create and have fun without sacrificing yourself. So far none of “big sports organisations” succeed. Examples? Motor sports – ads of energy drinks and ciggies. Football? Everything that is bad. The most fair disciplines about advertising are lifting competitions, as performers “don’t do anything spectacular”, and we live in world of constant show and instant gratification.

I see ones defending Montpellier show, I can hear voices about “progression”. From my perspective, it is like we were trying to exchange one illness for other. We are here to encourage each other, not to prove that “I am the best”. Noone is! How would we compare? What are the standards? Better start conditions? Cleaner life? Longer legs? Power of the worldwide community lies in unity and different skills of different people. I have passed stunt school. My notes were so high I got into stunt crew instantly. I see no reason to tun around screaming “I an the best!”. That is what you supposed to hear from your students, you know.

I think our miscommunication and lack of trust comes from lack of specific experiences. I did everything I could to see if I can fully trust myself and what are situations Parkour would be really useful. You’d need to see me getting squats, without using any help, any tools, in the middle of the day. Laurent reminds of ethics often. Some people are not honest against themselves. Some do everything to please parents or other people. Some get asked – you train for so long and you get nothing? I understand motivation of some. After all, when you jump, you are alone.

Some people don’t get sense of “we start together and finish together”. Some get pissed off because people around think slow. Some get this mad they shut people down instead of opening them. And some are constantly surrounded with friends that have no issues, they only want to jump. And use the opportunity, when cannot create anything in their own.

When it comes to Adapt, I think that is the best accessible tool I have experienced. I have heard a lot about it, money issues, trust issues. Have heard Yamakasi hate PkG. in fact, it makes people meet, learn and give the responsibility, and that is why I want it in Poland. I don’t mind “competition” when it comes to other schools. Yep, capitalism, yep, something, but or we create, or build ourselves to get sold to someone that is going to exchange us when we are tired/injured/old/independent. Parkour/ADD as a tool to build the better self, right? We can base on personal experiences.

I’d be happy to see “ethic commision” or something. Trust is not easy to gain. I see no reason to trust anyone that only gives money. Personally, if I wanted to be a prostitute, I’d chose classic way. Much love you all!

An experience of urban exploration

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

This is a story of an urban exploration adventure I had with parkour people, going to the top of a big bridge in NYC.

The way up was exciting but very safe. We had to a little easy beam balancing and climbing when we realized we were on the wrong side of the freeway to reach our access point and then some very simple and unexposed climbing. After that it was a night hike, ascending a metal staircase that was almost a ladder. With every level we climbed, past crisscrossing girders and huge cables like harp strings, more of the city revealed itself. At the peak of the stairs, we climbed a ladder that went through the center of a dark, vertical cave of metal in the ceiling. Through that cylindrical hole we emerged into a dusty metal box of a room with no lights and graffiti covered windows. I thought we’d reached a dead end, but then saw one side of the room was lit by moonlight filtering through a space big enough to climb through. We pulled ourselves up through that gap and then squirmed out a porthole window into the fresh night air on top of the bridge.

I tested the ground beneath me to see how strong, how slanted, how dusty it was, how far in each direction until the world dropped away. Then, satisfied that I could relax and enjoy, I let the panoramic view of the city wash over me.

My first impression was just a mass of twinkling lights: shimmering reflections on the water, the massive yellow moon low on the horizon, and clusters of dark geometry implied by shining windows. The bridge commanded my attention below like an epic, sci-fi version of yellow brick road. I felt like Spider-Man up somewhere so impossible, where in my peripheral vision a red light flashes intermittently to warn away airplanes.

Then the epic scale of the human project around me really hit me. I had read that day that 8.5 million people live in New York City. To see the length of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens; mountains of metal, hundreds of docked ships that carry cargo from around the world so the city can subsist; to see cars pass by underneath each with a driver going somewhere important to them, and in every direction more windows into someone’s home or workplace than I can count… to then realize NYC is small compared to places like Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai… to think about how transformed the human experience is in these huge cities on a millennium timescale… I felt the scale of it like a thrum in my chest. It hit me with a visceral power that I don’t think I would have get if I’d been in a crowd of tourists on the top floor of the Empire State Building, although I can’t explain why.

I settled into a good vantage point facing Manhattan and the nearly full moon. The members of our little group navigated their experience of this epic, transgressive moment: one friend challenging himself to experience the height with more risk and exposure; a couple of us balancing the desire to preserve with photos against the unfiltered “authenticity” of raw experience. We chatted about the view, about why people are so drawn to vistas, and soon we were just joking around like we might do anywhere. I realized I kept forgetting to really see what was around me, but there’s only so long I can sustain amazement, and sometimes it’s nice to just chat with a background view.

Eventually, it felt like time to come down and go to bed; at this point it was about 4am. We went back through the window, through the gap, down the ladder cave, down the winding, steep stairs, and did our little bit of climbing to cross back into the boundaries of everyday life.