Sandro’s Thesis

Craig: Right. Which leads me to the next question so your master’s thesis is, and can you remind me, like I know you can tell me in German, but that doesn’t help [00:15:00] me. You said it was the effect of one’s philosophy on one’s coaching.

Sandro: Exactly, exactly.

Craig: And I know you’re still in the middle of it, so we don’t have a definitive answer. But can you sketch out the types of data you collected and maybe where you think the research might lead you?

Sandro: So I basically did a questionnaire about this and send it to all the Swiss coaches. So not only in the German part of Switzerland, but also in the French part and the Italian [00:15:30] part. And as I was doing this, I was aware that if I only send the online questionnaire, I won’t be able to collect much feedback. So I actually visited all the groups in Switzerland. So there were like 23-25 groups. And I visited all of them and with some I did some training, with the other ones, I watched some classes [00:16:00] of them.

Craig: Observed them, see how they do.

Sandro: Observed them. Exactly. And so I basically went everywhere just to motivate them to fill out the questionnaire. And that was, I think that was a good move, because I got around 80 answers. And that should be maybe around 70% of all the coaches in Switzerland. So I got basically- [00:16:30]

Craig: That’s really good coverage.

Sandro: -representative data there. Now I only have to watch if I asked the right questions. No, but I basically collected a lot of data about the age, about the experience of the coaches as well. Male and female, so gender. About if they had a pedagogical education [00:17:00] before-

Craig: Yeah, what’s their background before they came to parkour.

Sandro: Exactly, exactly. And then the second part of it, so there was the first part of the questionnaire. The second part of the questionnaire was about the philosophy where I took the work of Johanna Herrmann, I think she’s from Australia. She did some work about the philosophic side of parkour free running, ADD [00:17:30] and how it evolved. And I took some of the words from her, or some of the-

Craig: Sort of used that as a map of or a framework of like this, and then you can try and ask these people if they feel they fit on that tree, that family tree, maybe?

Sandro: Exactly. Yeah, yeah. And I took some of them, and I took some of the … some wordings? [00:18:00] So basically like I follow my way, or [inaudible 00:18:06], and stuff like this. And then I said, well I tried to collect the reasons why they’re doing parkour. And gave some reasons by myself, some possibilities of answers, and left some open so they could fill in their self. So there was the second part. And the third one was about the [00:18:30] methodolic-

Craig: Methodology?

Sandro: Methodology. So I did the methodology part and I was first like, “How are their classes?” So what are they doing in class, doing warm up then the main part, or strength trainings.

Craig: Cool downs.

Sandro: Cool downs. And then I was about how do they work with coordination stuff? So [19:00} do they do balance, do they do relaxation part stuff? Do they have other kinds of coordination things? Then conditioning like endurance, strength training. How long do they do it or do they do strength training? Exactly. Then the main, I think, methodology aspect was about three different concepts I had researched them a little bit more. [00:19:30] And I think they fill in very good with parkour and free running and they …. So it was basically learning from a model.

Sandro: And there was the first one, learning by observing. Second one was differential learning. So as parkour guy, you have always different obstacles, different conditions, different like stuff. [00:20:00] Like there’s different heights, different challenges. And as you go to challenge, the third one was problem solving and methodology like that. And over these three concepts, there were little concept of competence, are you working with competences as well? So that you move from the parkour class as well to the life [00:20:30] so that they can transfers the … topics of your parkour class into life?

Craig: We would say translates, you want to be able to move the concepts. I’ve learned it in this context and I’m moving it to my whole life, translating it.

Sandro: Exactly. So if they could translate the competence from parkour class into life. And the second one was about if they’re fixed on [00:21:00] open or closed exercises. So if they leave space for the students to develop their own concepts of tasks.

Craig: Yeah, maybe are the students building their own game, or are you always giving them all of the instructions.

Sandro: Exactly, exactly.

Craig: Okay, that’s open versus closed?

Sandro: Open versus closed, exactly. That were basically the things I asked for. Now I’ve got all the data and I’ve got to analyze it right now. [00:21:30]

Craig: Figure out what the answer to the question really is.

Sandro: If there is a connection between philosophy and their style of teaching.

Craig: And their style of teaching.

Sandro: Or if there are other like the age or the experience that are more-

Craig: Or the coaches that have a larger impact in performance than their philosophy.

Sandro: Exactly. So that’s basically what it is.

Craig: Well, I’m looking forward to hearing the answers to these questions.

On training methodology

Craig: I don’t normally [00:02:30] share my stories on the podcast but I’m gonna let this one in. There was a thing, which we affectionately call the Williamsburg Bridge QM Challenge and when we got up at the ‘O dark thirty hour to leave for that, you were asleep on the floor and had absolutely no interest in joining us.

Elet: None. None.

Craig: Up until that moment, I had always thought that maybe you were this gung-ho accepter of challenges and now I’m realizing you have a very particular way that you approach things and I’m wondering if you could [00:03:00] unpack a little about your personal training methodology and how you approach thinking about training.

Elet: I guess this is gonna be a little bit of the parkour origin story. It’s gonna have to cross that road. As dumb as that gets in interviews, as often as it’s done in interviews.

I ran into parkour first through a military fitness forum. I got into it through the idea of using it to complete obstacles and complete goals, complete missions, [00:03:30] that type of challenge. As my interest in it grew, I got a different idea of it and as I grew, I was really researching into the ideas surrounding physical education through peek athleticism. I became a personal trainer at the age of 19. I went to school to study physical education as a pre-athletic training degree. I was really, really interested in understanding [00:04:00] how we react to challenge biologically and physiologically.

There’s also sports psychology, there’s all of that. These are kind of the things that the scientific communities that surround our talk of embracing challenge is these are the things that happen. We have the subjective experience, which is our embracing of challenge and then we have the objective result, what happens to you. Getting up that early and QMing that far [00:04:30] and knowing what that’s gonna do to my body and the subjective experience of the rest of that day and understanding where I want to go with my training, it just doesn’t take me there.

You talked about earlier that people would describe me as intense or driven and it’s like, absolutely sometimes if it’s something, frankly, I give a shit about. If I don’t, if it’s not inline with my goal because I have specific set goals, then it’s not a thing that I’m gonna spend [00:05:00] the energy on. We have a finite amount of energy, we all do. We have-

Craig: Finite time.

Elet: Yeah. If I want to spend my time training for the enjoyment of my subjective experience, I’m not gonna take myself out there and do that. Whereas, if it was a long hike in the woods that I go all day without food and water, sure, I’d love that but to go crawl around on the cement in the city in the rain, it just wasn’t where I was that day. That’s not to say that another day I wouldn’t be down to do it, it was just that day and it changes every day.

Yeah, I have [00:05:30] a particular idea of where I want to go with my training and I’ve done enough studying and research to be able to understand the progressive steps that will get me there.

Craig: I think there’s an old children’s story about the city mouse versus the country mouse and it occurs to me that the difference between the quadrupedal challenge across the Williamsburg Bridge versus an all day walk in the woods with no food or water, that’s a perfect example of the difference in the two and I’m wondering why you’re drawn to one versus the other and what iS the value difference that you see [00:06:00] in those two approaches.

Elet: I think that’s a really interesting thing and one that has kind of always separated my practice from a lot of other people’s is most of what I do is out in nature. Not necessarily in the ‘Evolve. Move. Play‘, Rafe Kelley, MoveNat, Erwan Le Corre type but it’s just where I am. If we’re looking at parkour as an answer to challenges or puzzles or things that we put in our way [00:06:30] then the challenges in front of me exist here and they’re the ones I enjoy.

Also, when it really gets down to it, what’s the point of all of it? It’s because we enjoy it. This is just happens to be what it enjoy. It could be history, it could be predisposition. It could just be what I’m used to. When I’m in the city, I’m not enjoying myself most of the time. When I’m in the country, I’m enjoying myself. When I go on a long duration [00:07:00] challenge like that, I end up having way more fun in the woods and when I come home, the feeling that I have is very different than after a day in the city.

The big part about that too, is when you’re on the flat ground, when you’re on the concrete, there begins the idea of repetition. When you’re in the woods, there is no repetition. No step is the same.

Craig: Trail running versus path running.

Elet: Yeah and I don’t pound pavement, man, I don’t road run. I never did, I never grew up doing that. I hate it. It’s [00:07:30] mind numbing to me.

For me, being outside is in and of itself rewarding. When I do my practice, when I practice my parkour outside it’s doubly rewarding. I’m interacting with — I’ll make a little value statement here — where we should be and where we are made to be. Where our 10 fingers and toes and big monkey brains evolved and that is fulfilling in and of itself but then also I’m getting stronger, also I’m flexing mental [00:08:00] muscles solving problems.

When I’m constantly stimulated in that sense and not overstimulated. I’m a very auditory person and man, if we’re gonna go QM across a bridge, I’m gonna be hearing trucks and cars the entire time, I’m gonna be hearing other people, I’m gonna be rubbing my hands in their shoe gunk on the ground. That’s not my understanding of a good time and not to take away from anybody’s whose is. We are all here pursuing our own idea and that’s great for you. It’s just not me.

On motorcycles, and taking things (and knowledge!) apart

Craig: I think those who know you, know that you really love motorcycles and I’ve noticed with a lot of people, myself included who are really into parkour are also really into fixing things or taking things apart and understanding the nuanced details.

I’m wondering, first of all how you got into motorcycles and what your thoughts are and how those two loves sort of dovetailed so well.

Elet: [00:15:30] I got my motorcycle when I was 17 years old. I had seen this particular Nighthawk 700 that I’m working on right now in a book at the age of 10 or 12. It was a book, The Beginner’s Motorcycle Guide. I read a section on … it was printed in the ’80s this bike was new at the time, this was a 1984. They were saying, here’s the top 10 beginner motorcycles. This was on the list. For whatever reason, I was 10 years old, I don’t remember the details but it just [00:16:00] stuck in my mind.

Craig: It became iconic, right.

Elet: I loved the way it looked, I knew it was a good beginner bike and then one of my best friends bought a motorcycle when he was 18, I was a year younger and I rode it a few times and I decided, “Hey, I need to get my own bike.”

I’ve ridden dirt bikes on and off and stuff but never like really, really into it. I bought this bike from a guy up in Pennsylvania and fell in love. It was something that I just continued to pursue all over and I didn’t have a big budget [00:16:30] so I started to work on it myself and I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I needed some experience. This particular bike got ridden for four years, thrown in my parents garage and Then ignored for the next five or six. I’m just getting back to it now.

It kind of grew from that and I think the big thing that attracts me to working with my hands, whether it’s motorcycles, whether it’s bushcrafting, whether it’s building, woodworking, I kind of do all of this different stuff with my hands is [00:17:00] the understanding of the world around you through the nerves in your hands. This is a big thing in parkour.

Craig: … tactile feedback that physical knowledge.

Elet: Yeah, we crave that. We crave contact. Contact with the physical world. This is a very intricate process but one that is very understandable when you get into it.

I don’t think … There’s no mystery to being a mechanic. There’s no mystery to woodworking. There is just getting in touch with a process, embracing that process and the beginning to understand where you are and just getting familiar. [00:17:30] It’s so nourishing mentally.

Meet the team

I’m passionate about sharing stories. We are hard-wired to love stories, and they are often the gateway to terrific conversations. Understanding each other is the key to successful societies, and the podcast is my way of helping you to better understand both those who I interview and, through introspection, yourself.

~ Craig — Project creator and voice of the podcast

What are you working on now?

Craig: So I gather that movement has always been something that you’ve been drawn to. You don’t strike me as the kind of guy who suddenly discovered Capoeira, and then started moving.

Paul: No, definitely not. I’m the youngest of four by several years. So, as a tag a long little brother, I was always moving to [00:05:00] catch up with my siblings, as they receded into the distance on the bikes that they knew how to ride-

Craig: Literally trying to keep up.

Paul: Yeah, we got to live, my father was Air Force, lived remote for a year when I was three. I turned four there, 1986 and ’87. We lived in a mountainside in the rural Oneonta, Alabama and I got to run through the woods and play at age three and four. I’ve never really stopped doing that, climbing trees, running through the woods, playing in the water. In elementary school I always loved [00:05:30] everything to do with recess, that time. When I was in fifth grade a friend of mine gave me a Super Nintendo game for my birthday, but my mom would never have allowed us to own something like that, so we took it to Toys R Us, and exchanged it for Jeffrey Bucks, in store credit, because we didn’t have a receipt. I’m surprised they let us do it. I bought my first pair in-line skates. Roller derby in-line skates, black and purple, these beautiful things, and some pads. I’ve been skating ever since. Is a huge … That was my emotional escape, [00:06:00] my physical escape. Just going to you can’t stop, many, many miles. I think that’s really, it’s also a complete loaner activity. Always alone, I only had one or two friends that ever skated with me. I think that’s really what was in line … in line, ouch-

Craig: No, that’s good, I like it-

Paul: I’m only upset because I didn’t mean to do it. If I had meant to do it, I be really proud of myself right now. It was being able to say okay, here is another way that I can start exploring other things I like, [00:06:30] music, and dance, and things like that-

Craig: Right Capoeira, you mean when you discovered that.

Paul: Yes.

Craig: And then, you divorced yourself from Capoeira, however you want to put that, and you moved on and discovered parkour. What was it about parkour that drew you in?

Paul: So in 2000, I don’t know, ‘1 or ‘2, I had just gotten into college, and I had a friend. We were outside playing around. We had climbed on the buildings at college, and all sorts of stuff, but if you’ll notice that date, it was several years pre YouTube. So one day we were out running around, and he ran and did a stall on his hand on a wall, and he was like, [00:07:00] “Freestyle walking, it’s like skateboarding without a skateboard!” That was the first time I ever heard of parkour. That right there, that moment.

Craig: I think there really is a thing called no-boarding. I think Julie Angel has a video on no-boarding. I think it’s people skateboarding with no skateboards.

Paul: But it was also like … I’m sure that was kind of a niche thing, because people were already doing movement outside. We were climbing buildings, we were playing Ninja Turtles, Jackie Chan. We already had examples of these things for ourselves, but I had not seen … Actually, [00:07:30] it was probably that long ago that we started seeing Joe Eigo I believe it was, and there were a couple of videos I remember seeing on the internet those days, again, pre YouTube, that were passed around of people doing really cool things.

Capoeira became my life, and so I thought it was really awesome once I started seeing videos, like ’06, ’07, the Dvinsk Clan, the free running, some of these other things. These videos were super cool, but I didn’t … I would try a few things, like, “Yeah, this is like those things they do, only way more so,” but I couldn’t divorce it … [00:08:00] I was so into Capoeira that I wasn’t going to take on another passion. It was like seven days a week, several hours a day. Where was I gonna fit it?

Eventually when I left Capoeira, I was like, “I’ve always wanted to try this.” And it turned out a friend’s sister was dating a guy that no one had ever heard of named Jereme Sanders. I had never heard of. I started going out to classes. A year or two later, I’m teaching the classes with him. A year or two later, I’m the director of member services of Parkour [00:08:30] Visions. A year later, I’m teaching Capoeira for movement at Art of Retreat in New York City. So yeah, it kind of snowballed from there. It escalated quickly, you might say.

What are you working on now?

Craig: We often on the podcast ask people what they’re working on. And I know the answer to this, I’m just going to plug it right out. One of the things you’ve been working on is your recent book. It’s your first book as I far as I know, right? Unless you made one and then threw it out. And The Parkour Road Map [00:05:00] is now out, and if you haven’t read it, shame on you. We will link it. The book is, if you’ve read it, I hope you’ll agree, the book is scholarly yet approachable. And what I mean by that is it’s got references. You need to stop reading and go spend an hour and then oops I spent my whole day off on this one side track. And he says right in front in the introduction that it’s meant to be a road map. You’re meant to take those little side journeys. So it’s scholarly and approachable, and you hit that one out of the park.

Max: Thank you.

Craig: So I really [00:05:30] loved the section on the history of Parkour because it links off to so many of the fun and … They’re still innovative, but really were innovative at the time, those videos. So it actually gives people a history lesson without it being a boring history lesson. And that in and of itself would make the book worth while, but that’s just the beginning. So, again, people really want to go look at that. One of the things that I want to throw out is … I want to just … I’m going to read a piece of your book to you.

Max: Okay. Uh-oh.

Craig: No, this is good. This is good. So [00:06:00] in the podcast, I have been asking people deeper, more philosophical questions about where is Parkour going? And things like that. And you specifically said, page 124 if you want to look it up that: “Paying attention to what you’re doing is one of the most important things you can do in your everyday life and the most important thing iN Parkour. Studies have been done linking mindfullness mediation to an increase in one’s ability to recruit higher-order pre-frontal cortex regions in order to down-regulate lower-order brain activity. [00:06:30] In short, by paying attention, you can train your brain to bypass the knee-jerk fight or flight response when reacting to stress. This means you’ll experience few responses, sweaty palms, elevated heart rate, decrease in fine motor … when assessing a challenge. Which is a nice thing to have at your disposal if you’re deciding whether or not it’s safe to commit to a jump.”

So I just want to bring this paragraph in because this is not Max sat down and wrote 50 pages of anecdotes. He also goes into some of the science behind this and talks about things that are done. So I’m wondering if you can [00:07:00] unpack a little bit of why you think, as I believe you do, why you think Parkour is unqiue in that it inherently brings people to that lesson, that lesson of the paragraph that I was just reading?

Max: I don’t think that it’s unique. I think that there are a couple of other sports, like climbing for instance which was something we were talking about earlier.

Craig: Yeah, at length.

Max: Before the podcast. Yeah, so anybody that doesn’t know, I’m very into rock climbing and bouldering and so is Craig. So we had a good conversation about that. Actually, one of the links in there is from an article about Alex’s Honald’s brain. [inaudible 00:07:30] [00:07:30] So Alex Honald, the free soloist, who does every other [crosstalk 00:07:34].

Craig: That’s a good book to read, too. If you’re really into this kind of cerebral aspect of Parkour, go read Alex’s book. That’s a good [crosstalk 00:07:40].

Max: Alone on the Wall. Excellent read. Actually one of the articles that I linked in that section though was about a study that was done on his brain. And basically it was his … His amigdala was essentially conditioned to not fire as quickly or as powerfully when [crosstalk 00:07:56].

Craig: They stuck him in a magnetic resonance imaging system and then [00:08:00] showed him images that would make a normal person’s brain light up a certain way as fight or flight. And they show these pictures to him, and he’s just like, “Yeah. Okay.”

Max: Yup.

Craig: Which makes sense. Because if you’ve seen the kind of climbing that he does …

Max: And so it’s like a process of habituation which is something that we are all constantly exposing ourselves to stimulus and then we habituate. We get used to it and we’re like, “Oh, cool. This isn’t scary anymore.” And for Parkour, the best thing about it is, it’s not like climbing where you have to sometimes do that 700 [00:08:30] feet up in the air. It’s accessible in the sense that … When I started training, when I was fourteen, I remember going up on a 5 foot wall and thinking about jumping off and it terrified me. I couldn’t do it. I was like, “Nope. This is too hard.” And so for me, it was like … Balancing on a 3 foot rail was the limit of my extent … [crosstalk 00:08:50] It was the extent of my comfort zone. And then I just gradually kept pushing it a little bit every single day, and that’s something that I think a lot of Parkour practitioners talk [00:09:00] about. Is pushing that envelope slightly every single day. And with Parkour, there are so many ways that you can do that, right?

Craig: Right.

Max: I think the other thing, too, that’s cool about Parkour … Is just really quick that it … Because it’s so diverse, you kind of learn to abstract that concept of fear; breaking down a challenge to everything.

Craig: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Max: Whereas in a lot of other sports, it’s very specific. It’s like, “Climb this.” If you’re not climbing, now it’s like, “Oh, I’m scared of jumping into water from 10 meters up.” It’s kind of a different thing. [00:09:30] Whereas in Parkour, we do it with so many different things. Like, “I want to balance on this. I want to jump here. Now I’m jumping to my hands. Now I’m jumping to one foot. Do a rail. Now I’m falling.” [crosstalk 00:09:38]

Craig: You can jump to your hands. I’m not jumping to my hands.

Max: Yeah. So I think …

Craig: But I get your point.

Max: I think you learn to kind of abstract that more quickly than you might in other sports.

What are you working on now?

Craig: So one of the projects that you’ve worked on recently with Jesse Danger was to go and work on the … I’m going to call it the “water project” because I want to let you explain it a little bit.

Max: Okay.

Craig: So just give me the brief [00:10:00] version of what you did and why you went to Africa and why you were there.

Max: Okay, yeah. I’ve been working a lot with Know Obstacles, the Parkour clothing company for the past year and a half or so. And this is something that … So those of you who don’t know, Francis Lyons is the one that runs KO. Really amazing person, he’s the one that kind of initiated this whole project. He had been to Africa working with a water and sanitation kind of non-profit three years ago. And it [00:10:30] was something that really effected him. And Francis and I had talked for maybe the past two years about using Parkour in some way to benefit other people. And the first thing that we realized we could do with this project is that we could basically use Parkour as a flashy thing to get kids interested in raising money. So we went to a couple schools in the north east. Brought, you know, our gear from … With the Movement Creative…

Craig: Yeah, set up, right?

Max: Set up and we ran these little classes and some events. Brought some Ninja Warrior people. And these kids were like, “Wow, this [00:11:00] is so cool There’s all these amazing athletes that are passionate about water and sanitation improvement in developing countries. Let’s help them raise money.” And the teachers loved it because it’s math and science and phys-ed. [crosstalk 00:11:12]

Craig: There’s only six reasons why the would love that. Kids are interested? One!

Max: Yeah. So that was the initial thing and then basically the company, the non-profit that was helping us, organized where the money was going and found schools that were suitable to send the money over. You know, where it would do the most good. That [00:11:30] non-profit basically said, “We would like to send you to Africa to work with some of these schools that you’ve been helping. Teach Parkour there. Have that first-hand experience that you can be a more powerful ambassador when you come back to the US and keep working with these other schools.” So we went out there and we coached at five schools, which was an amazing, mind blowing, really cool experience because it was so similar to coaching in the US, while also drastically different in a handful of ways. But you really do get that whole, “Wow. Everybody’s [00:12:00] the same. And everybody likes Parkour.”

Craig: One of the things we were discussing earlier had to do with how Parkour is maturing. And we went off on a long discussion about climbing. But in this particular context, it seems to me that you need more than the money that you could raise through smaller outreach demonstrations and things. So was the project also funded with actual … ‘Cause as soon as you say non-profit, then corporations are like, “Here’s a cheque.”

Max: Yeah, so actually the way that we did it was that all the money that was raised by these schools was matched [00:12:30] by a large corporation, corporate donor.

Craig: Okay.

Max: So they agreed to match any donation. So I think that we got a few thousand dollars from one schools, and then this donor agreed to match that. And then that ends up being enough now instead of being able to supply new water infrastructure for a pre-K [crosstalk 00:12:50], you can now go and do two or three schools with that same amount.

We went to one school, Charles Dune Elementary School. And they originally had … I think it was [00:13:00] 400 students that they had. They had one water source that they used for making the lunches, everything. Washing hands, et cetera, et cetera. The sanitation was non-existent. And that was a school that Francis visited three years ago when they had started putting the infrastructure in. We went back. They have now bathrooms that were as clean as any in an American middle school or elementary school. They had a great lunch program. They had a chess team because they weren’t worried about water and sanitation. They were able to buy computers. So they have kids [00:13:30] that are learning international business so they can compete in a global market. And these are the same kids that meanwhile, they go home … And their homes still have no electricity. No running water, no sanitation, no plumbing, no trash pick up. They just leave their trash wherever they can because there’s no services.

Craig: Right, there’s no infrastructure for that. [crosstalk 00:13:51]

Max: And so these kids now have a school that’s kind of a safe-haven for them, where they can go. They have a community that’s supporting them, inspiring them to [00:14:00] become better forces for good in their community. And once we saw that, it’s like … Who really … As long it’s not drug money. Where’s this money coming from? Obviously you want to question it a little bit, but at the same time, when you see where … How much good it’s able to do in the right hands, and that’s what the non-profit that we were working with was making sure that it was going to schools that were … There’s no corruption, and that the money [crosstalk 00:14:26]

Craig: Money would actually be used for the infrastructure that was going to be for.

Max: Exactly. And so seeing that [00:14:30] was just so powerful that it kind of put me in that place of like .. Wow, I’m speaking from a place of privilege saying, “Let me question where this money is coming from.” Like I have the ability to do that.

What are you working on now?

I’m also working on a website about parkour myself. I eventually want to have a community like you do, but right now I’m mainly focused on creating informative and actionable content so that people can get into parkour and freerunning or improve their skill if they’re already a practitioner.

The aim of the site is to bring awareness to and teach parkour as well as inspire creative and mindful movement through cinematic freerunning videos. Other goals include spreading the love of the movement, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and breaking down the stereotype that parkour is a dangerous/reckless sport while showing that parkour is for everyone and practicing it can really change your life for the better.

Right now I post a new article every Wednesday and every now and then I add a video to compliment guides and tutorials. After a while, the site will be a source of information on all things parkour and freerunning, including resources to get started with the discipline. The end game is to have a community of JOEKAs (Just Overly Enthusiastic Kreative Acrobats) where openness, togetherness, and playfulness is encouraged as we all share, learn and grow together.

If you like you can take a look at the site.

Editor’s note: We don’t publish links inline. Readers will find Kamari’s project linked at the top of his contributor’s page.

What are you working on now?

Craig: Let’s start off by talking about The Movement Creative. I know that one of the things that it does is teach just regular Parkour classes, what most people think when they think of Parkour classes. I know that you also a lot more, so maybe give us a couple of examples of what The Movement Creative is really about.

Caitlin: Sure. We started out very focused on Parkour because that was all of our backgrounds, me and the two other founders, Nikkie and Jesse. [00:01:00] As we kind of grew in our community and really wanted to start getting all the generations moving and teenagers moving, and realizing that Parkour had a bit of a disconnect due to its stigma by the media. We’ve been moving more towards the arena of play and natural movement.

Craig: Give me an example of a project. Something that you’re working on now. You and I before had been talking about movement snacks, I believe it was?

Caitlin: Movement snacks is this [00:01:30] small little project Jesse and I started. It’s basically these little invitations to play that we put into parks, public spaces, or even schools which is where we started that project. An example of a movement snack would be may be maybe there’s a painted line on a curb and some words saying, “Can you balance here without falling off?” Or, next to a bench saying, “How many different ways can you get over me?” [00:02:00] They get tucked away in plain sight and people might come across them as they’re walking. There’s no rules as to who uses it, and it’s in a kind of a question, can you do this? All of these snacks — these really tiny little opportunities to deviate from your every day — they’re always designed to be super accessible.

What we’re trying to do is find new forms and ways we could [00:02:30] invite people to play. That’s the movement snack idea, it’s you’re walking by and you’re invited to balance. You’re invited to climb or to whatever it is… jump. Without those invitations, a lot of people … There’s like a social stigma to play, especially as you get older. It’s the whole idea of, “Quit playing around, get back to work!” These are little phrases that even penetrate our everyday life that affects the way we perceive [00:03:00] movement, perceive ourselves in relation to play. We need to find ways to say, “Hey, actually it’s okay to play, and it’s okay to play here.” That’s what movement snacks are. That’s what our programs are, and we teach people, “Hey, you can find places to play everywhere and the way you want to play.”

Craig: Right. Once they’ve re-discovered that inquisitive mindset, they start to look at their environment differently and then they go back to the way they did as a child.

Caitlin: You playing in public space, at your age, [00:03:30] at my parents age, you give other people permission to play. …yeah, because you’re so old.

Craig: Don’t do that.

Caitlin: Again, it increases like … Julie Angel talks a lot about his. You want to put images forth, normalize through visual experiences.

Craig: Yeah. What each of us … I’m talking to the listener. What each of us is sharing. We’re creating an image of the thing that we’re doing. [00:04:00] If you only share a certain type of image or only tell a certain type of story, or only let a certain type of your personal Parkour be spotted in public, then that’s what you’re creating.

Caitlin: Correct, and that the same thing about all of our public spaces. What do you see people do in our parks? They lay around. They sit on benches. They use recreational fields specifically for their purposes, but there’s nothing supporting play for adults. You don’t see adults often playing in public spaces, so there’s no permission given for it in our [00:04:30] experience of public space. That’s what we’re trying to do through programs. We bring adults into parks, and we’re playing in front of other adults, and by other adults seeing it, it’s giving them permission. Then, they may do it, and they get other adults. It’s hopefully a snowball effect.

What are you working on now?

Craig: So, you have these goals. You’re working on your book, and then the goals get bigger and start shifting, and how do you break that apart? How do you accomplish that task and move toward this huge goal that you’re not really even sure how to wrap your brain around yet?

Thomas: Well, the way that it works for me is that I see the finished [00:17:00] experience, and I think, “I want to have had done that,” right. So, it’s in the past in a way in my mind, of like, “Oh, I want to have had done that,” and then I’ll be like, “How do I do that?” And then when I sit down and start breaking it down, I’m really good at kind of looking at the whole process and saying like, “Well, okay, first I’ll outline a book, and then I’ll make the outline, and then I’ll think a little bit about each part,” and usually somewhere around there I’ll [00:17:30] stop, and I’ll have done it in my mind enough that I feel kind of done. At that point I require these other people, and the other people are all the people in my life who have the skills that I don’t have, who often don’t have the same skills that I have, and we find each other. And together we are able to complete all of these tasks that we wouldn’t be able to do alone. So, I’m great at the big vision. They call [00:18:00] it, the people that I work with call it like, “Come into Thomas’s mystical dust, and explore the unlimited potential possibilities of what we want to do together.”

Craig: Right. There are no walls. There’s no box. There’s just this thinking space.

Thomas: Exactly. And then at some point they have to stop because they get really overwhelmed, because they’re thinking about how much time it takes to do every single part.

Craig: Yeah but, yeah but, yeah but, yeah but… how do I [crosstalk 00:18:23].

Thomas: Like The Bridge with Kevin Courtney, it has like nine different pieces to it that [00:18:30] we will probably never do, that I talk about all the time because, for me, they’re done if I’m thinking about them. So, I have people that keep me on task, I have, I mean, my wife saves me all the time from my own self-sabotage of just not getting things done. She’s like, “Did you get those chapters in, yet? Hun.” So, to know where your strengths are, and then find people who have the skill sets you don’t have and bring them [00:19:00] into the project. That realization that nothing is done alone that is great. That’s is always tons of us together that like make big things happen.

Craig: Those people are really treasures when you find them, because it’s not just they have the skills, they also have to fit, or they have to be accessible to you.

Thomas: Right. Yeah, because often they aren’t, right. Like if they have those other skill sets, you’re the kind of person that drives them crazy.

Craig: Right. Good luck with that collaboration.

Thomas: Yeah. But it’s, when you find them, it’s true, it’s really lucky, and it’s kind [00:19:30] of amazing because usually there’s enough crossover in the two personalities that you each have something that the other person wants to understand or wants to have in themselves as well. So, you kind of unlock it for each other even though you can’t do the other task.

Craig: Right, right. Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be, we’re talking about goals here like at this big grand scale, and this little micro-scale here of knowing that you have an unknown and you need to find somebody who can work with you. That works at like the daily practice level. There have been countless times where [00:20:00] people have said something to me, and I’ve been like, “What? You find that inspiring? What are you talking about? I hate that. I wish I could figure out how to stop doing that,” and they’re like, “I don’t understand how you do that,” and just like these little moments. You like to jump on rails, and this person is scared to death of rails, and suddenly you have the greatest three minute session on rails, and the two of you find something new in that space. So, it doesn’t have to be a goal like, “I want to be the first person on Mars,” or something; it can be a very localized, small goal.

Thomas: Yeah. It’s a really good point, actually.

What are you working on now?

Craig: So, I read about that course. I’m reading and reading, and I’m like, “Wait, what did that say? Did that just say what I think it said?” So… in fact, you tell the story. So you’re sitting in a meeting, and Jesse is pitching to a school, and they’re like, “We want to come in and we want to teach. Here’s how we run our programs…”

Jonny: Yeah, and they’re listening to these ideas, and I’m just seeing the stone face [00:09:30] of the lady on the other side of the desk, and she’s a very tough nut to crack. And she’s trying to explain to us all the reasons why these classes won’t flourish in this particular school.

Craig: Yeah, she’s just watching the pitches. Nope, nope, nope, nope.

Jonny: Exactly.

Craig: Not swinging. Not swinging.

Jonny: And Jesse and I had talked about how cool it would be do to do this class that would involve drawing and anatomy in a Parkour setting.

Craig: I immediately picture people running with scissors and running with pencils. This is gonna work well! All right! It’s gotta be better than [00:10:00] that.

Jonny: It couldn’t be worse than that, let’s put it that way. So, threw it out there in the meeting and she bit. She was like, “Mmm. M’kay, write up a proposal. Let’s see what this looks like.” So I went home and kind of freaked out for a minute, then I was like, “Okay, no no, we can do this.”

Craig: Right, so we’re gonna teach kids. We’re gonna teach them how to … What is it, sketching, coloring?

Jonny: Just sketching.

Craig: Sketching. We’re gonna teach them sketching and anatomy and at the same time we’re going to teach them Parkour.

Jonny: Yes.

Craig: Okay, so just [00:10:30] give me a quick … How does this work?

Jonny: So, generally I’ll give them a little bit of an anatomy lesson at the beginning, with a little bit of demonstration. Up in the front, where I’m talking about, we don’t get into Latin names for muscles or anything like that, but I will talk about masses, like a ribcage, a head, a pelvis, things like that. The two types of opposing muscles, flexors and extensors. Supinators, pronators, things like that. And then kind of how to put that into play for yourself. So, [00:11:00] what keeps you balanced? How do we jump? Where is our center of gravity? What’s safe for rolling?

You know, things like that, that I think I wish I had known when I was a kid. I wish somebody had explained to me a little bit about my body. I think we’re all mildly freaked out about things that we should never be freaked out about when we’re kids because we just don’t know.

Craig: This did not come with a manual. Not that anybody would read the manual, but this didn’t come with a manual.

Jonny: I remember grabbing my Achilles tendon and thinking it was a bone, back there, when I was a kid. I just didn’t know, you know? Just, no clue.

Craig: Could I run faster if I cut that?

Jonny: So, I like teaching [00:11:30] them a little bit that I feel is going to be helpful for them and actually understand their movement practice better as well. So hopefully that they become their own teachers. They’re able to ask better questions, leading questions of themselves, and explore that with the information they get from this class.

Craig: Wow, okay. So now we have the instructor of the course, who’s, we didn’t mention this, but, he’s got many years of … How long was the course where you dissected cadavers in Philadelphia, right? I’m not making that up. So you have extensive [00:12:00] anatomical knowledge from both the aesthetic / analysis, you know, look at the painting. That’s a well-drawn figure. But also extensive analysis from a this bone is connected to that bone type thing. So you’re standing in front of these kids, you’re distilling out of thousands of years of physiological knowledge. You’re distilling out one relatively simple thread. You present this to them. You, I’m assuming, point to it, you know, like, “Here it is on me, and it makes my leg do this.”

Jonny: Yes.

Craig: And then you give them the scissors [00:12:30] and tell them to run?

Jonny: Then, I will introduce some sort of game that’s gonna force some new type of movement or movement challenge, and try to divide the class in half. So that half are spectators to this game and half are participating in this game. And the half of the class that’s spectating is now gonna try to draw what I’ve explained in the anatomical lesson. So that nobody’s bored. Everybody’s doing something and we have models and we have artists.

Craig: We have artists. So we have [00:13:00] eight kids who were doing some crazy, “stay under this lowering roof” Mission Impossible game and the other kids on the side are looking for where the three center of mass is or how are these people building stable triangles even though their masses aren’t stacked.

Jonny: Exactly.

Craig: Spectacular. I’ve never heard or seen anything like that, and the description I read of the course doesn’t give any of that away either. It’s almost like, “What?” But that’s brilliant. I mean, that’s, to me, that’s the kind of thing, when you take two completely different skillsets, you know, painting with [00:13:30] a capital P, and mix that with movement. And then people go, “Well, how do you even connect those two dots?” Well, there you go. When you connect them, I think your Parkour practice would then be much more deeply informed. That’s your personal, like Jonny’s classes. Jonny’s personal practice is much more deeply informed. At one level you take it all apart, you’re thinking, “Where’s my head? Where’s my torso? What’s my pelvis doing?” And then you put it all back together and integrate it.

Jonny: Yeah. And drawing, alone, I think is a really neglected form of communication that [00:14:00] is super vital. Like in this class, we’re not worried about making pretty drawings in any way, shape, or form. We’re just drawing for understanding. In the same way that an architect can draw out a building, their passion isn’t drawing, they don’t sit at home practicing drawing from a model or anything, but they can convey an idea accurately. The same person that came up with an iPhone, I’m sure they had to draw it first, or they contracted someone that could think visually.

I think it benefits us all to understand visually what we see and we can translate it into some sort of communicable symbol on a piece of paper. [00:14:30] It doesn’t have to be your main passion, but I think it will inform just the way you look at the world and the way you think about things. I think it’s really important for kids.

What are you working on now?

Mentioned in this section:
Müv Magazine

Craig: So what are you working on, other than the class that you’re teaching and obviously it’s gorgeous today, it’s 80 in the middle of February and people want to go out and run. But aside from the obvious things you’d be working on, do you have a big painting project, a commission, or you’re trying to figure out how to move to Idaho and, I don’t know?

Jonny: Well, one thing that I should at least just mention, I feel bad that we’ve gone this whole podcast [00:25:30] without ever talking about it, is that I do work for Müv Magazine, which is a Parkour magazine. I’m the editor-in-chief at Müv.

Craig: Right, right.

Jonny: So that is a big project that we work on quite a bit.

Craig: So what’s your role there? Are you writing?

Jonny: I’m the editor-in-chief.

Craig: But yeah, that’s on the door. But like what do you actually do?

Jonny: Well the boring part is all the proofreading stuff, you know. Like pulling slightly better stories [00:26:00] out of first drafts, things like that. I do also write. I’ve got a handful of articles out there, and I’ve also done illustrations too, for other people’s stories. So anything that I like to do, I can do. It’s a very open forum there.

Craig: Yeah, I’ve heard of the project. Do you see that as a side project or is it something that you really see, like “This has a lot of potential, and I really think that we could do this and this and this” and you’re sort of just hamstrung for resources?

Jonny: Both.

Craig: It’s both.

Jonny: Certainly both, yeah.

Craig: Oh well, [00:26:30] I tried…

Jonny: Because my life is a series of side projects. I never have a main project. I have too many projects to consider one the main. So it’s just another project. Unfortunately the real dilemma in Parkour is that almost no one makes a living from Parkour. We have a weird subculture that is a little bit resistant towards monetization. There’s a lot of judgment when that comes in, largely because it hasn’t been handled super well by the few groups that have made it to a larger scale.

So [00:27:00] we’ve had some bad examples, but I don’t think that that needs to happen at all, you know. You look at what’s going on in climbing right now and it’s amazing.

Craig: There are plenty of good examples we can find in the Parkour community. You can look at how they do it in France. People, that’s their full-time job is to run Parkour gyms and teach and it’s a completely legitimate profession. There are people here in the United States who say things about the tide is rising. People now, you can say the “p” word and the average citizen, 50-50 chance they know what you’re talking about now.

Jonny: Yeah! Exactly.

Craig: It’s just like, “Oh, this is so much easier.” And [00:27:30] they’re beginning to understand it’s a physical thing to them, it’s not very much of a deep thought. But they recognize it as a thing, so as soon as we know it’s a thing, then of course you get paid for it, because it’s a thing. How do you live. So yeah, I think we’re beginning to see maybe the United States catching up with the rest of the world in that sense.

Jonny: It would be a wonderful thing to see that happen because you look at almost any of those other subcultures like surfing or skateboarding or climbing and it’s fairly accessible to the average person. Most people of that age, [00:28:00] the average 15-year-old could pick up a TransWorld Skateboarding magazine and be pretty excited reading it whether or not they’re into skateboarding. It’s a peer into an exciting world that Parkour has, up to this point, been so fringe that most people don’t know, maybe, that there’s a lot of things they’d love to hear people talk about. This podcast is one of them. You know, I think this is broadly appealing to a lot of people whether or not they train. I think the same could be said of a lifestyle magazine.

Craig: So what do you see, since we’re talking [00:28:30] about the magazine, what do you see as an immediate need, like “If I had a dream, it would be that everybody listening went out and…” Submitted something? Or took a picture and sent it in? Or volunteered the …

Jonny: Yeah, for sure start with submitting. Because that was one of my main visions for it, was that it gives a voice to everyone. Up until now, we have sort of Facebook as the voice. Unless you have the, yeah exactly. You’re making a face like, “Good Lord, save me.” And that’s exactly the face that I make. Facebook is like a party that I don’t even want to be at. And I keep wandering back [00:29:00] in from the backyard going, “Why? What am I doing here?”

Craig: I call it Book Face. I hate being on Book Face. I do my best to keep up, but I’m falling behind.

Jonny: So that’s a terrible forum to give everyone a voice. And then the video thing is fairly inaccessible to a lot of people. Because you’ve gotta have the right equipment, you gotta know how to edit, you’ve gotta be out, in my opinion, ruining your training sessions to make videos. I hate filming during a training session.

Craig: We’re going out and we’re gonna videotape, everybody’s like, “No, I don’t want to go.” But yeah, you have to go out and do that on purpose.

What are you working on now?

I am working on developing more sustainability in my movement practice and training. I am trying to work through a chronic injury or at least learn to work around it better. I am also trying to learn patience with this, reminding myself that I have my whole life to train…if I maintain myself well. I am continuing to develop the foundation for a lifetime of movement, training, and playing. I am learning to balance training and recovery and my individual recipe for self-care that will hopefully sustain my ability to use my body the way I want to. I am learning to listen to the subtle cues when my body is asking for something and then make accommodations for this. It is frustrating to feel limited, but the limitations wax and wane and I learn that my body is different from one day to the next. Its needs are different from one moment to the next, but if I listen well and I adapt as necessary then I am able to continue moving along as intended. I used to see (or hope that) progress was a forward projection, but I’m realizing more and more that progress is not linear and that challenge has many forms. When I adapt to receive both the ebbs and the flows more gracefully I better align myself with my goals, in spite of any set backs. It is all part of the same path. I have to remind myself to be grateful for all of my vast capabilities and not be so hard on myself for the areas where there is still much room for growth. With the proper approach I have the opportunity to experience anything I want to. I am trying to create an enlivening and worthwhile experience in the way I use/experience my body- a lifelong and sustainable experience.