Bigger and better things

Dylan: Exactly, so that’s when we started looking for bigger spaces, found the one that we found now, and we’ve been there since January first. That’s kind of the story of how I went from [00:13:00] training alone in an alley to having three different gyms in the course of a few years-

Craig: I think there’s a really interesting middle step there that I don’t know that I’ve seen anybody else do, which is the idea of, someone once said to me, “smallest set of features that can be defined as success.” So, not, “what is the dream?” Well, it has to have a door, it has to have a vault box, and it needs to have students, so what’s the minimum. So I don’t know that you were setting out intentionally to do that, but by picking a space that was… It was [00:13:30] clearly too small. By picking a space that was too small you set yourself up for at least avoiding the failure of having too much money hanging over your head. “I can’t make the rent,

Dylan: Right.

Craig: I can’t get… I need 70 people.”

Dylan: Right.

Craig: And then, or course, if it becomes a hot bed with six people show up and it crammed then they tell their friends, “Man, the joint is jumping!”

Dylan: Right, yeah.

Craig: That might be a good intermediate step for people to consider. Don’t think, “How do I start a 5,000 square foot parkour gym?”

Dylan: Right.

Craig: That’s almost insurmountable unless you have resources and assistance. And don’t think that, “Okay, I’m gonna go into teaching [00:14:00] in a gymnastics space,” as like, “I have to be there forever.” Picture your stepping stones, “I’ll be in the gymnastics space for a year and a half… I’m not telling them that, but I’ll be there for a year and a half, and then while I’m doing that I’m looking for the next space to make the leap frog, I’ll be there for another year or two.”

Dylan: Like An intermediate step. It feels analogous to if your band is just getting started out you should book an arena. It’s gonna feel empty. Get a small theater and then it’ll feel… it’s better to be in a tiny theater that feels full and people are standing room only, than to be in this huge space [00:14:30] with seven-eighths of the seats are empty.

Craig: “How we feeling in row two?”

On the value of challenge

Craig: If I remember correctly it was 14 and a half hours. Why would anyone want to put themselves through not necessarily that specific challenge but a challenge of that magnitude in general? What’s the potential payoff?

Chris: To learn something about yourself. Modern life doesn’t give you many chances of seeing what you’re capable of.

Craig: [00:06:30] Opportunities for growth.

Chris: Yeah. Seeing where your limits are. Yeah, I didn’t get better at muscle-ups that day for sure …

Craig: I think the quality went down.

Chris: Yeah. It was three days before I could do another one. I came out of it knowing that when things got really awful I could still keep going. Then when things got really awful I still had a bunch of great people around me that were able to [00:07:00] either …

Craig: Understand the viewpoint maybe?

Chris: Yeah. Also, I don’t know if it was inspire me or motivate me or just that energy kept me going. I wasn’t doing it because other people were there watching. I didn’t care what they thought of me. That was not the boost I got from having other people around. It was just other people in the space either going through the same thing or supporting us and bringing us cups [00:07:30] of teas.

Craig: Yeah, there were people helping.

Chris: Or doing their own challenges in the background or just staying awake, in the case of my, now the strongest Keighley, but at the time a much, much smaller, younger, and weaker Keighley.

Craig: Right away what comes to mind is where did you learn that lesson originally? You weren’t born with that lesson. Where did that come from? How did you learn that that was a good way to seek growth was to seek these kinds of really big challenges?

Chris: I [00:08:00] think that probably … Look, I can’t pinpoint when I came across that as a very specific, “Ah, this is eureka moment of this is the mindset I want to adopt”. I think it was a gradual influence of probably people and training over time. Guys like Stephane Vigroux when they were coaching in London and coming up with, “Yes, we’ll do some wonderful technical movement training” and we’ll just do some physical training but as a more common way [00:08:30] of just making yourself stronger.

But then just all these little challenges, whether it was stories of the challenges that they used to do … That’s how Stephane [Vigroux] started. He went to learn from David and he was just some scrawny little teenager. David [Belle] would be like, “Oh, go do 1000 pushups.” Steph would go away and do it and come back like, “What’s next?”

Craig: Then you’re on-call for seven days and whenever I call you or text you you do it immediately, right?

Chris: Right. The influence of those kind of people and probably the training they had coming [00:09:00] up as they were learning about disciplining themselves of … Yeah, this challenge is going to give you more than just the training of the challenge.

Just over time I’d see good guys like Steph [Stephane Vigroux] in London…

Thomas Couetdic… [otherwise known as] Thoma Dubois… was also in London…

Kazuma. Kazuma came and taught with…

It wasn’t even Parkour Generations as it was in the very earliest months. But, I’d say parkour coaching as it was in the first [00:09:30] three or four months and then eventually Parkour Generations.

For sure, Forest [Francois Mahop] and Dan as well.

A very strong ethos of both tough physical challenge but as a way of building you mentally as well as physically. I never went in search of that. I think it was definitely I went there to get stronger …

Craig: Slow discovery process that you realized, “This really works”, right?

Chris: Yeah. Both, “I want more of it” because [00:10:00] when you succeed in a challenge that you’re not sure about the sense of success and achievement is almost infinitely greater than succeeding in a challenge that you knew you’re going to do. I don’t think I was ever chasing that high but it certainly gives you a very strong feeling of pride in yourself and what you can do.

Craig: Right. Self-validation.

Chris: Yeah. I don’t know if I’d necessarily characterize it as validating it myself as [00:10:30] much of almost like a pleasant surprise about yourself. It’s like, “Ah, actually, I can do this.”

How did your training begin? (part 1)

Craig: Let’s start with your childhood. That’s the obvious place to begin. Just tell me a little bit about your home life and schooling.

Andrew: Yeah. I was homeschooled. My dad’s a professor at a university, and my mom homeschooled … I’m one of five kids. I’m the oldest son. [00:01:00] Kind of a different childhood than most people that I interact with. It’s always kind of been an identity for a long time. I guess as I’ve gotten older, childhood fades away and it’s not as much an identity as it used to be, but I used to … People asked me who I was. I’d say, “oh, I’m a home-schooled kid.”

Yeah, I was… A lot of times spent … My parents taught me very early on that it’s all about learning, it’s all about gaining knowledge. School was not about grades. I never even knew what my grades were. It was just about, “How much did you [00:01:30] learn? What information did you get out of it?” I did that a lot, just always reading, reading books, always family dinner table conversations, where discussions about philosophy or about … My dad’s a scientist, so we’re talking about the detailed mechanics of some scientific process or something.

Lots of that, and then my parents put a lot of value on music. We started music lessons really young. I started when I was six [00:02:00] and playing classical piano for all the way until I was a senior in high school, and then took up viola lessons, and then did a quartet with my siblings, and then played in an orchestra and was in a Brahms Allegro music club, piano competitions.

Craig: How did you get from there to here

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. It’s a bit of a switch, I guess. I started … My mom signed me up for swim team, [00:02:30] which I was so upset about at the time. I was like, “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to have to wear a Speedo. This is horrifying.” But, it was weird. I was hating it, and then I was loving it. I was the worst kid on the team. I was terrible, but something about that was also like I couldn’t quit because I was-

Craig: The challenge.

Andrew: I was so bad, I couldn’t quit. I had to prove myself. I had to get better. I went from being, the first year, I was the worst kid on the team, to second year, I was not the best but I was best at one thing, and I was like, “I’ll [00:03:00] take that.”

Craig: I’ll take that thing! From swimming leads you to soccer…

Andrew: To soccer, yeah. I moved to soccer, and kind of the same story. I was terrible at soccer, honestly. I did a tryout for a premier team, and I was not remotely good enough. I showed up without cleats. I had completely the wrong outfit on, and I didn’t even know what any of the terms were they were using.

Craig: Like, “[inaudible 00:03:25]” you’re like, “What?” [crosstalk 00:03:25]

Andrew: No idea. It would be a complete [00:03:30] embarrassment, but I just didn’t know enough to be embarrassed.

Craig: Just took it as a challenge.

Andrew: I was like, “I don’t know.”

Craig: That’s a great mindset.

Andrew: I was just like, “Coach, what can I do better? How can I make it on the team?” He was like, “Work on your foot skills.” So I went home and spent a year juggling a soccer ball until I could do it a thousand times in a row, and I came back the next year and was like, “Okay, I can do it now.” They’re like, “You still don’t know what you’re doing, but-”

Craig: That’s a small part of the …

Andrew: The coach is like, “All right, you’re trying hard, so I’ll let you on.” Yeah, I definitely had this drive to be … Being [00:04:00] the underdog is something that motivates me.

Craig: So in that whole experience of swimming and soccer and philosophy and classical piano … Where does Parkour come in to all of this?

Andrew: It doesn’t. I was forbidden from doing Parkour. My parents were really opposed to it. They viewed it as being basically criminal-like activity. The way they read it was, “Oh, you’re jumping … You want to be jumping on roofs, and that’s illegal, so you can’t do that.” It was not a part of [00:04:30] my childhood really, except for when I would go and would try and train with my brothers. We started jumping over a picnic table one day and spent a long time just trying to do vaults over a picnic table. Then there’s a playground right by my parents’ house, where we would go and we would just try and do jumps.

Craig: Became an outlet, right?

Andrew: Yeah. We’d go over there every day and jump around and enjoy moving. It was a real relief. We were all very attached to that playground. It’s kind of our [00:05:00] home in many ways.

Craig: And it’s still there, it’s right around the corner from here.

Andrew: It is. It’s been partially torn down. I put up as much of a protest as I could to the city when they did that and made a video memorial and all these things. Still, half of it’s still there, enough to have fun. That’s something.

What are your goals?

Craig: You touched on some of your goals before, so I want to circle back to talking about what your goals are.

Adam: Sure.

Craig: You are obviously an extremely busy person. Do you set objective goals for yourself? By objective I mean “I’m gonna do 437 pushups in an hour by November 3rd.” Do you set objective goals, and how do you stay motivated on longer-term projects, whether they’re personal projects, work projects, PK Gen projects, and how do you measure your progress?

Adam: The answer to that is a surprising no, [00:13:00] and as much as any person will tell you that specific goal setting, smart goals starts with specific. So you should have specific goals set out, and there is absolutely truth to those methodologies. However, you have to know yourself, and you have to know what your motivations are. I happen to know that the more specific my goals are, the less motivated I get about them because I like to deviate from goals when I see an opportunity to do something a little bit different or a little bit better.

So I set broad goals. I say “I want [00:13:30] to be better at X,” for the purpose of example. I’d say “I want to be better at breathing while I’m moving. I want to be able to control my breath better during movement and not be panting and be out of breath. That’s a goal that I want to have accomplished soon.” I’ll set a goal like that for myself, and what that does is I’ll wake up in the morning and go “Okay, how do I want to go about this exactly?” I’ll say “Well, why don’t I start by going for a run and seeing what my breathing’s like and how many breaths per step and for how long I end up doing.” I’ll pay attention [00:14:00] to that and give it my full attention and intention.

At the end of that run I’ll go “Okay, that’s where I’m at.” Maybe it’s better than I thought, maybe it’s worse than I thought. Then I go from there. I go “Okay, how can I improve this?” I’ll go out and maybe do some route training or I’ll go swimming and discipline myself to only breathe on every four or sixth stroke for as long as I can, or I’ll do some breath holding training or Google how to improve your lung capacity. Having the freedom to investigate different opportunities not only gives me more knowledge, more experience, and more fun frankly, but it also [00:14:30] gives me the tools that I can then share with other people.

So, again, my motivation isn’t necessarily just to improve myself. It’s to gather resources that I can share with the community around me. I learn a lot more by leaving myself open than I do by going “Must do X plus B divided by C equals my end result.” Either I got it or I didn’t.

Craig: Okay, and then you probably wind up with a constellation of those little goals that you’re working on. So obviously you don’t just have two, you have 57 different [00:15:00] things that you’re going in different directions. If this one calls to you today, that’s where we’re going today.

Adam: That’s exactly right.

Craig: That’s great. People that I’ve talked to have very very different ways of answering questions about goals. I’m like “I have a millimeter ruler.”

Adam: As it should be, Craig. As it should be. We’re all different people and we’re all motivated by different things. Any behavioral psychologist will tell you that motivation is one of the greatest variances of human behavior. You just have to know yourself well enough to know what motivates [00:15:30] you because setting a specific goal might be exactly what you need, or it might be exactly what tears you down.

Craig: Yeah.

Adam: So you just have to know yourself.

Craig: That’s an excellent point.

Whom do you admire?

Craig: Whom do you admire? Everyone has their sources of inspiration, people they aspire to emulate, people whose words seem to call to them elsewhere. You’ve expressed interest in Jackie Chan, Leonardo da Vinci, and Peter Parker. So could you give some of your thoughts either on those individuals if you want, or if you’d prefer to touch on some completely different people?

Adam: That’s hilarious. I won’t touch on those three people. [00:16:00] I wrote that almost mockingly as a college entry essay. You really dug at me there, Craig.

Craig: We’ll leave that as an exercise for the listener. Maybe I won’t even link that.

Adam: See if you can find it. Good luck. People from whom I draw inspiration or who I look up to, that has to start with my parents. Anyone who knows me and knows my charisma that you referenced earlier and my character, which I try to constantly improve, will [00:16:30] best understand who I am if they were to meet my parents. My parents are amazing people, and they are the perfect contrast that helps make me the person that I am. My mother is best described as a fireball. If there is any gas in the room she will ignite it. I mean that seriously. She’s a fearless woman. So much of my charisma comes from her. She was an actress and a model and a singer and author, and [00:17:00] you name it, she’s probably done it. A small business owner. So she’s always had that drive.

My father on the other hand, is one of the sweetest and kindest men or fellow I’ve ever known. He’s just an incredible guy. He would dedicate all of himself to anything if he knew the cause was pure. So that fire and charisma balanced with a sense of principle is where I draw most of my inspiration from, from my parents.

Beyond that, I’ve [00:17:30] been lucky enough to have incredible influences in my life. I mentioned my martial arts instructor, Paul Miller. Many of the other instructors in that school also who are now currently my friends and my peers I’ve always looked up to. In the parkour community there are some really incredible people I’ve met who have either amazing discipline or an amazing lack of discipline that leads them to being very interesting people.

Craig: Now I want to know whose name you’re going to drop for amazing lack of discipline.

Adam: Ozzi.

Craig: Okay, that’s what I figured you were going to say.

Adam: [00:18:00] No, Ozzi Quintero is indeed a disciplined man, but he’s a free spirit, and there’s a lot to be said for that. So, for someone like me, that’s an influence that was beneficial to see someone so free and so willing to break the rules to do what they believe is right is a cool influence.

I’ve just been very fortunate above all. I’ve had a great family, great friends, great coaches, great peers. So it’s led to a great life for me, and that’s because of those people.

Craig: Terrific. In the same similar vane, do [00:18:30] you have a favorite quote or a favorite inspirational mantra that you …

Adam: Oh, man. All the time, but they change all the time. I mentioned before how my motivation comes from constant change in freedom. So I’m not the kind of guy that would tattoo a phrase onto myself because-

Craig: I wasn’t going to ask about tattoos, but okay.

Adam: Because two weeks later I look at the tattoo and go “Yeah, I don’t know. That’s not the most powerful thing I’ve ever read anymore.” So, I don’t know. I would say above all, [00:19:00] if I had to choose anything at all, I would probably stick with the principle that you should work hard and you should follow your values. All of the inspirational quotes and things that I find are usually creative variances on the general concept of “Be good to people, and do things for others, and follow the values that are close to your heart, and never stop chasing them.”

Craig: Right. All branches from the same tree.

Adam: Precisely. So there’s my trunk.

What else would you like to share?

Craig: Hey, let me give you the wheel here for a bit. Is there anything else you’d like to share? Anything about coaching development, community development, or just random things I haven’t asked you?

Adam: I think coaching is the thing I’m most passionate about. That’s what I think I’m going to choose to share random thoughts on. There are a lot of parkour athletes in the world. [00:25:00] There’s a lot of them, and there are many that are unbelievably skilled. Just last weekend, you and I were both at an event, and there were a lot of dudes there who were doing a lot of really cool jumps. Many of them were doing things I would not even … Yeah, they jumped further than my peripheral vision [inaudible 00:25:16] watch them. It became a tennis game, turn your head side to side, watching. Incredibly skilled athletes, and that’s just the beginning.

Across the whole world there are Russians and Danish and [00:25:30] Korean and Chinese and Japanese, and there are athletes in Saudi Arabia who are doing things that I can’t do. It’s amazing how many athletes there are out there. What we have to ask ourselves is “Why are we even doing parkour, and what is it that we could do with parkour?” To me, if we’re not finding effective ways of sharing what parkour truly is, then we are sort of failing. By that I mean, while you as a specific athlete or a practitioner may truly enjoy parkour for yourself, [00:26:00] and it may benefit you,

I challenge you to ask yourself whether it’s benefiting those around you, and what perceptions are you creating to those around you when you make that show reel video, when you post your biggest move onto Facebook for all your friends to see? Just look at the comments. Read the comments from your friends, and ask yourself what exactly message is it that you are transmitting to everybody around you? Do they think you’re crazy? Do they think what you do is insane? Is it your aunt [00:26:30] telling to you be careful, and some random girl telling you how cool you are, or is it people being inspired by you? Maybe it’s a mix of those things, but look at those comments when you post that video and see really what effect you’re having.

If you see an affect that is maybe turning people away, either in the sense that they think you’re crazy and what you’re doing is dangerous, or even that they go “That’s cool, but I can never do what they are doing, so I’m just going to see parkour as this distant thing.” If you really care about the benefits that parkour has to offer, maybe take a second to think [00:27:00] about what influence you’re having on them, whether you’re drawing people in or pushing them away with what you’re doing.

So as a coach, as someone who’s passionate about involving people in the process of parkour, I’m challenging any and all listeners who are parkour athletes to consider if there are ways that they can learn to share the message of parkour and the value of parkour to the people around them. There are a lot of way to do that, and I’m happy to go into more detail, but even just the most basic coaching methodologies of how to share and how to listen and [00:27:30] how to see what people need, how to break down the movements that you know into bite-size pieces that they’re going to be able to enjoy and draw from as just a few examples of things that you can do to help share parkour in a more effective way.

If I could wish one thing upon the world, it would be that everybody had that mentality, because if they did we’d have five times as many people practicing this art and doing wonderful things in the world.

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.

Is there a story you would like to share?

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

This story happens during an intense physical challenge, but it’s not about the physical challenge. It’s about the ability of parkour to bring people together, and to make really good friends really quickly. When I did my ADAPT level two course three years ago now, it’s a five day course that is a lot of physical training, as well as learning a lot about coaching. On the last day of the course, we’ve been going for four days straight, eight hours a day. Probably more than that. They tell us, “All right, get up the next morning, and we’re not going to go to the spot we’ve been meeting all this week. Go to this other spot on the other side of the city.” Which fortunately for me the course is in Boston, and I knew what was coming when they told us to go meet at Harvard Stadium.

The other participants might not quite have known what they were in for. But this a standing challenge in Boston to run up the steps of this massive stadium, that I had known about, and been like “Nope. Not interested. I don’t want to do that.” But they brought us over there for the last day of this course. So, we’re given the challenge of running the steps of the stadium. We’re given a time limit. We’re slogging through. None of us had ever done this before, so we didn’t really know how to appropriately pace ourselves.

There were 14 people on the course. All but one of which I had never met before. This was our fourth day. You spend four days doing that kind of intense training with people, you get to know them pretty well pretty quickly. Then having this stadium be the ender to wrap up our last day. Everyone is exhausted. We’ve all got different pacing strategies. But we’re all there for each other, and we’re there to make sure that everyone finishes.

We came around to probably two thirds of the way through the stadium. I don’t remember if I caught up to Evan or Evan caught up to me, but we crossed paths. After the initial sprint everybody falls into their own pace and we were pretty far apart from each other. We crossed paths with each other, and we’re just like “We’re sticking together. We’re going to make sure each other finishes this thing. We’re going to get this done.” I wouldn’t have finished that stadium without Evan, and Evan has since told me that he would not have finished that stadium without me. The fact that we were just both there fighting through that together having just met each other four days ago.

He has since moved to Boston and now coaches with us. We are fantastic friends. Just the fact that we can forge our friendship through that fight against all those stairs has been a really great experience that I have shared again and again with a ton of different people through parkour which is great. Another reason that I highly recommend that people travel as much as possible and go train in other cities with other coaches with other practitioners. Find those challenges, because that’s where you make your best friends.

How has your practice affected your life?

Parkour has pretty much become my life.

Despite how strange that sounds, my passions in life now all revolve around Parkour and the economy that surrounds it. I’m proud to say: I make a living, doing what I love, because of Parkour.
I started working when I was 14. It was an outlet for me to escape life at home and a way to socialize with people I’d never met. Around a couple months, before I started working, I started training parkour. My whole reason for working in the first place was because I had this new obsession with Photography. I wanted to upgrade from the cheap point and shoot (I probably stole from my mom) to a big bad DSLR. It only took me half the summer to save. So with the next few weeks of awesome New England weather ahead, I took my camera with me to Boston every time I went out to train.

Then I was introduced to Hub Freerunning.

I liked Parkour, and I liked Photography. The only reason why a crazy group of freerunners and an awkward teen from Brockton met is because of those two things. And now after 8 years of roof missions, long car rides to quarries, parties in NYC and too many other shenanigans… I am coaching, managing, and designing for Hub Parkour Training Center.

When I was 10, I wanted to be an Aeronautics Engineer.
Wow, I was such a freakin’ nerd.

What does your practice mean to you?

Throughout the years I’ve thought of many things that parkour is to me. A way of thinking that breaks you out of the normal pattern of movement. A fun pastime, something that I can always have a good time doing. A great way to meet people, and a way both to stand out from the normal flow of our society and to fit in to a community filled with people of similar mindsets (in a certain regard.) I have been thinking of one thing more recently: Parkour allows us to be better.

Not necessarily in a prideful condescending way. I believe that all people are equal in importance. However, there is something about this art that allows you to take your body beyond the limits of common knowledge. If you need an example, just think of all the people that treat you like your crazy for practicing parkour, a thrill seeker with a desire to do dangerous things. “Normal” people don’t think of the human body, or their human body at least, in the way that we do. Before I practiced parkour, a 10 foot drop was in my mind an almost guaranteed injury. It was not possible for the human body to withstand such things. I would have never thought that my body was capable of so much more. I grew up loving superheroes and sci-fi. The idea of being something more than a normal human was, and is, intriguing to me. Parkour is my way to achieve that goal in the here and now. I can be better today than I was yesterday. I can do more than I thought possible today than I could years ago. I can be more than the average human. I can muster my strength and push my limits until I reach a level that no one thought possible. This art allows us to be better than average, better than just normal. I really admire that about parkour.

I am currently attempting to become a police officer, and I definitely feel that training in parkour has prepared me. I have trained my body so that it is able and efficient, and with that body, I can help other people who do not have the same mindset as me. I can not only show them that we as humans are more capable than we think, but I can use my skills to help keep them safe, and to serve them.

Practicing parkour means a lot of things to me. Right now, however, the focus is on bettering myself. I believe someone relevant to this conversation once said, “be strong to be useful.” That is what practicing parkour means to me right now.