Episode, Perspectives – with Robbie Corbett.
Hello, I’m Craig Constantine. Welcome to the movers mindset podcast where as I say all the time I talk to movement enthusiast to find out who they are, what they do, and why they do it. My guest today is Robbie Corbett. Welcome, Robbie.
Thanks for having me, man. Excited to be here.
Thank you for coming back. I’m so sorry. We did some actually did this before we had a really awesome 20 minute conversation about oops, nobody gets to hear it. No, we had a technology problem. And it was, it was like, oh, it’s almost here. And I listened to it. I’m like, Alright, the rule, my rule of thumb is if it’s going to be distracting, then I don’t put it out. So we didn’t put it out. But we had a great conversation. I’m happy that we had it. Then we had a chance to like get together with some friends and make lunch for a few 100 people. That was super fun. And I’m torn. But I think today I want to ask you about like the most recent thing that I’ve seen you that I’ve seen you do or talk about or publish which is this is like a tongue twister, the pop up Parkour. I don’t know whether to call it a construction project or space or longest dream that you’ve had realized. So you mentioned that it was a dream that you realize, so to tell me what comes to heart comes to mind for you when I say, Hey, that’s a nice Popup Parkour thing you got there?
Yeah, definitely, I would say I guess we’re really, I never thought that I’d actually get to do it. I guess that’s why it’s more of a dream that it was a goal at first. But I, I remember seeing my first videos about like what Parkour is and was like, oh, that’s what I have been doing kind of my whole life that’s a sport, or movement, or other people are doing it. So that’s really cool. And this is probably like, 2015 When I saw videos of it of other people in other countries doing it. And I remember getting more motivated by that, like, Man, I’m gonna go train it more and do what these people do.
And funny enough, I started going like, Well, where can I do that? Because I was mainly watching people in like France, or the UK, or Russia. And they have like, amazing architecture that’s not so designed for insurance scares like the US does, where everything’s built super safe. So I was like, well just go to the playgrounds I used to play on and I’ve done some tricks there. So let’s go. I hadn’t been there in a few years by this point. But as it goes, go check it out. And when I was doing that, and moving around and realize how much bigger I’d gotten since the last was at these playgrounds doing it, I was like, man, it’d be cool to build like, a space that was actually accommodating for people my size and kids and everybody to, to not have to come to this playground and make it so obvious, like, Okay, you go up these stairs, you turn right, you go down that slide, or you climb down that or it’d be more free flowing of you could do these general things. But here’s also an advanced way of doing it or some things like I’ve been to skate parks, and they have some ramps that are like modular, so you could show up and kind of scoot them over and build a little bit different for what you want it to train. So that’s where I guess I first had the dream of it. And it wasn’t until many years later of developing an equipment, working with equipment manufacturers to design equipment for gyms, that can also be used in competitions, since I know those kind of linked together for training compared to like on the field off the field or stuff like that. This was the first time that a school reached out and was like, you know, we want to build this for this school. And the idea is we want a place that they can be creative, and not just be forced to do like this by the book. Maybe they could build stuff, maybe, you know, maybe they can make new challenges. And you know, that’s when they said that, to me, I was like this, I knew I could talk to them right away. And it’d be a great working experience, which it was to develop this for, which is funny, too. It’s for elementary through middle school, which I generally designed for like middle school in adults. So yeah, when
they came to you and asked, you know, or came to you and said, What do you think about this project? I’m just thinking, I’ve had a lot of conversations where people have said, like you they said I want to build and then their question is always like, how do I pitch it to, you know, schools or groups or municipalities. And, and this story that you’re telling is really neat. And I’m gonna say it’s unique, I’m sure I’ve probably heard it before, but it seems way more rare for some organization to approach one of us and to say, Hey, could you and and I’m wondering if there’s anything that we can pick out of there like maybe like, what, what was the thing that you said to them that cinched it for them, like, Oh, this guy understands our vision or was there something in particular that they asked for that surprised you that you realize like, oh, well, okay, yeah, I can do that. Like I’m just looking for, like really interesting insights into their point of view on what they wanted, because that’s a very rare opportunity for people to like, actually have somebody approached them.
Yeah, honestly, it was very rare. For for me as well. Generally, I’m doing more exactly like you’re saying, which is I’m trying to find these odd situations. It’s, it’s very common for a gym or a special event to reach out. Well. Number one, I’m a co owner of the world free running and Parkour Federation. So if somebody types in the word Parkour, or Federation or sport that I think that’s what probably they did and came up with eventually. I think if they also type in like Parkour playground, we come up pretty, pretty fast. So I think that’s how they generally
found what’s, what’s their domain was a domain name. I don’t want to
WFPF would be the World Free Running and Parkour Federation. And it’s at http://wfpf.com/
I didn’t want to guess and say it wrong.
So a lot of these kind of a tongue twister.
You’re used to having people reach out through that context. But this this school didn’t reach out that way. They came at you from a different angle I’m asking
Yeah, yeah. So they were researching different playground options or play equipment on Google. And our equipment is sold on different websites, we have other we have one man made manufacturer, but we have other people that are a gambling. I can’t say the word but like salespeople, basically, for every seller and what we’re doing Yeah, yeah, like a wholesaler. And in between guy, and that’s how they move. That’s how they are right? Yeah, they started looking more at our website and seeing the competition’s we’ve designed seeing the Small Modular equipment compared to the big in gym. So when they reached out, it was it was honestly like, is this something you guys would be interested in? That’s how they propose it to me. And I’m like, Absolutely, we’re generally, it’s kind of the other way of people, you know, like, we hear about a gig or we hear about a competition, and people are trying to do it themselves. And then we end up showing them what we do. And they’re like, Oh, you guys should do. The thing that was most caught me off guard was the fact that it was a school. So I go in with preconceived notions of like, they’re going to want what every school has, they say they want something else. But they’re going to it’s going to end up being like, when I’ve designed parks or playgrounds, it’s kind of been the same. It’s like, we want a completely different and you start doing it, and then they’re like, Oh, what if it looked like this? And then you’re like, Okay, make it look. Yeah, I can make it look a little bit like that. And then eventually, it’s just becomes something else. Which that’s also very common, the film industry that I’m from, so I get used to that and feel those times. But this one, had a great conversation with the two kind of main project advisors. And then they’re like, we’ll do a, you know, make us a deck. So I did, because they were having trouble seeing the vision, and I sent him like a pitch deck. And then they go, let’s hop on another call next week. I said, Okay. And on that call, I didn’t know. But there was the studio bought the student body president, as well as the head of physical academics for the county. So I was like, Oh, I got to talk. Okay, well, I didn’t know how to talk into like that kind of hitch right yet. So I just did, and they were super accommodating the physical Ed, people were like, how would we use it? So I said, Well, I’m going to develop for you guys, like for less than four floor lesson plans and come up with games and stuff, and then just give you the idea. And here’s kind of some videos and he said, Okay, I think we could have a lot of fun with this. I was like, awesome. And then the student body president said, I think it’d be great for our kids. And then it honestly came into they said, Could you make it cooler? And I was like, Absolutely, because I think my first version was a bit more anticipated what you know, had always happened. So when they came back and said that I did another draft of that and they they loved it. So you know all about it too. It is a big construction because once again, the room was already built, I had to put things in this already pre existing room that I wasn’t allowed to change at all has to go away if they want for assemblies or things like that, which I was able to do very easy. The age gaps of size was a bit tough. I mean, I think elementary school and middle school I’d be super creative with the heights of things the kind of difficulty of things the soft compared to the hard stuff like that but um, it’s been a you know, it’s, it’s pretty crazy because I’ve designed a few part Some playgrounds that never actually ended up really getting built, this would be so this would be the first school thing or park or playground per se that. I mean, it’s it’s built, so I can’t wait for school to start and see how it goes.
That’s the I hadn’t thought before about in like, in hindsight only with duck Reg, I hadn’t thought before about you would need, like, you can’t just deliver the thing, you have to actually also show them how to teach using the space. I’m like, Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. I mean, I just automatically assume that people would figure out how to and I’m just like, oh, that’s a good point. And that’s a neat, that might be something that people need to consider. If they’re randomly pitching to organizations, it might be wise to include an example. I don’t know what your thoughts are about that about like saying, like, you know, here’s the space. And here’s an example of a lesson plan that you could use in the space to maybe the people will go like, I don’t know, but maybe I should hand this over to the PE department and the PE department was like, Whoa, yeah, that will take that I hadn’t hadn’t ever thought about it from that, from that side about how about suggesting to push the lesson plan to them? That’s really cool.
Yeah, yeah. So I mean, that’s something we had to start doing with gyms because somebody come and say, I’ve learned Parkour myself, I want to teach people now. And that’s where the WFPF Certification has come in, which is at the same website, as well as online, http://Parkourcertification.com . But those are for the difference between a talented athlete then understanding how to work with people that potentially aren’t as talented or more frayed, or not physically as capable yet to get them first through certain low level, you know, on the floor kind of skills, progressions, build the strength, and collect the data to assess if the safe for them to move on to more risky skills or levels of the sport. So we’ve been doing that for gyms and coaches will I have for over eight years now, because we’re the certifications backed by an international insurance company that provides the insurance for the gyms or the competition’s, things like that. So it’s pretty easy to then be with this physical coach to say, well, I can provide all that if you’re okay with that, because that’s also where we came into a weird gray zone, I couldn’t just say, I’ll certify you, because his county doesn’t recognize our certifications, since it’s in school education, not physical education. And they have their own insurance provider. And it’s, I’m sure it blows ours away, whatever school requires, I hope anyways, so so it was coming in this respectful way of being like, well, I could provide certain examples, I could give you guys a guide book. And and then you guys just have just like the kids, you’re saying, they can build whatever they want, you guys do the same. And we’ll show you kind of the pros and cons of the equipment. But after you play around with it more and more, you’ll you’ll probably know better than we do. So
super interesting. Left turn turn signal, not because I don’t wanna talk about that talk about that all day. But a different topic. I’m like, Well, I’m also I’m curious about your thoughts that are related to like, Where where is this all going? I don’t know. I mean, the pop up Parkour has been all of it. Parkour the whole moving thing in general, we have. We currently have an embarrassment of riches. We have indoor Parkour spaces. We’re all calling gyms. We have Parkour competitions. We’ve got you know, things on ESPN, we’ve got humongous jams. We’ve got tiny little gems, we have all this stuff. And it’s been like we’re coming up on 20 years here of like this really being a thing. And I’m just curious as to what your thoughts are like, okay, just taking everything that you’ve experienced. Just like, you know, getting the binoculars out and looking ahead, like, what do you think are the things that are coming for Parkour? Let’s maybe just say in the United States that you try and keep the same, but like, what do you think is coming that’s going to be like, this is really going to take off, or you really hope this takes off? And just curious about what your forward perspective would be?
Yeah, for the sport of Parkour, it’s actually tough to see where it’s going to go. Because there’s just so many other things that legitimately siphon from it, but don’t give it its credit. And what I mean by that is things like the film industry has Parkour in so many movies now, but they’re not necessarily hiring Parkour people. They’re hiring stunt people, as well as it’s not like a Parkour movie. It’s almost like a fight scene or a car hit or a fire burn. It’s just a stunt in a movie. So they’re kind of you know, taking a lot of the best athletes are trying to go over there because that’s where some good money is, but then they have to be stuntman full time. They don’t really get to be Parkour athletes. So it’s kind of similar to like when the rock left WWE to go do movies, it was a big hit to the pro wrestling industry. Another one is tag, basically Parkour Chase, but they call it tag. And that’s a simple, fun, cool way to do it. But it’s not called Parkour. And it’s not necessarily giving back to the Parkour gyms or businesses very much. It’s kind of just keeping it to itself, which I think it will eventually get back. But that’s how that is. The others Ninja Warrior completely taken from Parkour in a very dumbed down version where they don’t even really want the best athletes anymore. They’d rather have the new people with a story just to keep the show entertained. But it’s pretty much taking from Parkour so when you go talk to television show channels, which I have, you know, NBC, CBS Fox, they’re they see the Ninja Warrior, they see the tag and they’re like, well, those kind of already exists. Why would this be different than you tell them? What could be more risky? It could be more inside looking at the athletes, you know, it could be more like I don’t know, you could say like an ink masters or, which is like extreme edgy back in the day getting tattoos but they found a way to relate it to mainstream, even though it’s still people have to get tattooed every single episode, you know, so you go that way with it and it kind of scares them because like, oh, wait, you know people could get so this is like jackass, they think and you’re like no, these guys are less likely to get hurt because they’re trying to not get hurt. And they don’t quite get that. You know, they’re like, well, Ninja Warrior looks safe. It is it tag looks more safe. It is. So those are kind of taking from it where ESPN will be calling for Parkour, which by the way, we were talking with ESPN like 10 years ago, they just gave shitty budgets. So we were with MTV instead. And did MTV ultimate Parkour challenge it just sports show on MTV fail. But you know, nobody surprised. But configure right. But they gave away more money. And they said this would be cool because maybe we could transition to like we said we have the Jackass people. Let’s show the skilled awesome people. So they at least got it but it was the wrong channel for it. So where I see those siphoning is really tough because I see the sport growing, but it’s also INTAG. It’s a ninja. As far as competitions, the other big one for the sport of Parkour is Figg Federation international gymnastic, basically stole our sport, literally just said it’s theirs. And they’re doing the whole sports governance way of stopping competitions that aren’t theirs actively stopping world Parkour Championship, which is a federation that we own, and is the one that did the first ever World Parkour championship. They came in after and they said, This is ours. And they’ve blocked us out of getting any kind of money from the sports governance system to do any of those. So we’ve had to do it for profit and make it all happen ourselves. Which has been tough with COVID. But they’re actively even like USA Gymnastics has come in trying to take it over without working with us at all. And just taking it because they’re gymnastics program is dead. Boys don’t do gymnastics. I never did it. I taught it for like 10 years because I had to pay my bills. And I learned a lot from it. It’s very beneficial. But I never wanted to wear a leotard and do pommel horse and rings and move like somebody 30 years before me move to be judged. I liked doing it the way I liked doing it. And there was no way for me to succeed in that in gymnastics. So that’s now died, the men’s division, and they’re trying to take Parkour to syphon it to keep their budgets with the Olympic Committee.
So many, there’s so many pieces, right? What do you think? I don’t want us to have what I want to say is like so what can figuratively speaking for the listener? What can I do like is the best thing for each of us to do to sort of, like, relax, don’t worry about all the random catastrophes you see on the horizon that we see on the horizon, and instead find the piece of it that you love? Or is somehow each of us just following the thing that we love. That’s what created the whole mess of like, you know, the film industry can just step in and basically take advantage, I’m gonna say take advantage, but they can reap the rewards of all the skilled athletes by skimming the cream off. So is it is it like everybody should somehow come together or come together more or are we going to be okay, do you think if we just keep because it’s very individual, right? The Parkour people just tend to be very individualistic.
Yeah, I’d say traveling that they’re kind of more tribal and individual. For the majority, they kind of have their people they learned with or their little community and they want to keep it all to themselves. So it’s to me it’s a little bit of big fish in a little pond syndrome, which I grew up in a very small town in Florida. But there’s only a few of us doing it. And we realized there was just no other way to do it here. Two of us moved to Los Angeles to do it in the stunt film world. Very successful with it in that one of them still in the stunt and film world and doing great today. And I just want more the sports governance wakes, I look at it more as a sport, not just an entertainment thing. But so you’re always going to deal with that. And the the tough thing or with Parkour, too, is there’s no real it’s not like skateboarding where there’s, there’s a board that you can sell, you make the money, it pays for things. Anybody can do Parkour anywhere they want at any level, and call it Parkour. So it’s gonna keep growing in this individual logistic way, no matter even if somebody comes in like how UFC did with fighting, and they own the Pay Per View world and the big blockbuster fight world but what they don’t own at all is the gym world. There’s tons of gyms for just jujitsu just boxing all the above. They get no say in that. There’s also fighters that can go fight for any organization they want. Because what do you need to put on a fighting event? You just need two guys that say they’re going to fight. You know, there’s no real there’s no, there’s barely even a glove for that sport like boxing has so. So our sports in a weird place. As well as with how the media landscape of owning media and releasing media to make money is becoming more and more difficult to actually get money back because how easy it is to watch something for free or get it for free or somebody else share it. The good thing is though, it’s it’s opening more creative avenues like, like where we met with Jesse danger and his movement creative event. Like I’ve never seen an event like that be as successful as it was, there was no real. There was like a tad competition. There was seminars, there was lectures, there was a great rooftop, hang out to train, do whatever the base stores. Yeah, but it wasn’t promoted. Like anything else I’ve seen in Parkour that I’m sure you know that I’m sure it’s made that level of success. So that’s what like seeing stuff like that I had never seen. So that’s where I still see this, this is awesome that there’s still a space for people to do whatever they want something new and see if it’s successful, since it’s not like, hunkered down. And it’s wasn’t in the competition, real aspect. So that was really cool. And then I know there’s a few other things out there that are just jams like people just say this location, I’m buying a permit, anybody can come and we’ll just play. So that’s becoming a kind of big success for it as far as people getting together and being less territorial, and being more communal. So I think if the community, the top kind of people in the community come a bit more together that can ease the people that have their small, small community not to be rude, but like a small community to actually get everyone somewhat in sync. I think that would help the sport. grow in a more positive place. I don’t know if you know, and not be hopefully overtaken by like fig or another tag warrior.
Did you make about two dozen great points, which I have no clue how to summarize. No, I’m not complaining. But I’m just thinking that’s, that’s like a nice, a nice overview of a couple of things that I hadn’t thought of. And I think the point about the GM sector of the pie, I hadn’t really thought about how you know, the jams have been, you know, various jams. Not like this particular jam has been you ever hear but just jams in general, we’ve been doing this for so long that it’s gotta be getting easier for people to have a jam without the municipality just been like, Oh, my God, no. Oh, no, absolutely. And I like that is going to continue to make it easier for Parkour athletes, people who want to like ascend to professional something, and people who want to just do it casually for them to intermix, and I think that’s probably the great. The great power that we have is within Parkour, the power that we have is this ability to mix. And to really understand that yeah, I want to do it for this commercial or professional reason and other like I want to do, because I wanna get in shape, or I want to do it because it’s fun. So, yeah, I don’t know that I have a takeaway. I just think that’s awesome. Thank you for sharing. Yeah, no. No, I mean, you know, people can rewind, they can press slow down, and then they’ll probably spam the two of us with all the things that they think are wrong with what we’re saying.
But yeah, this is cool. Yeah, yeah, I go a bit far. It’s tough. I think our last one was a bit easier. Because we had like I was teaching spotting at that Jesse Jesse’s event. Was it move NYC? NYC. Yeah. Yeah, so we tweets I was better at staying on like one tonight,
I’m gonna push back. I’m not gonna say that you were better, you were better at staying on. It’s just the thing we were talking about was a clear threat. And this time we decided to bite off something that’s too wild to some things that are way more complicated. But as everybody listening knows, you could spend hours on any one of those topics talking about building spaces and talking about the future of Parkour. Oh my god. All right. Well, as much as I hate to say it, I’m watching the clock tick by to be mindful of your time. And I really hope this one comes out because the last one didn’t. So I would just say, Dude, it was great to get a chance to talk to you once meet you in person hang out for hours and hours and hours. That was super fun. Super fun. Super cool. And I would just say thanks a lot, Robbie.
Yeah, thank you. Let’s do it again soon.