Transcript for “Softness – with Josh Nierer”

Episode, Softness – with Josh Nierer

00:00.00
Craig
Hello I’m Craig Constantine welcome to the movers mindset podcast where I talk with movement enthusiasts to find out who they are what they do and why they do it. My guest today is Josh Nierer welcome Josh how are you?

00:15.30
Josh
I’m pretty good. How are you.

00:34.92
Craig
As I say to everybody I’m excited but doubly excited because I was like how have I never talked to Josh with microphones before but we’ll circle back to that before we get started the last few episodes I’ve been mentioning the move nyc event. What’s that you’ve already got your tickets. Oh okay, you can skip ahead. Otherwise. On the weekend that is may 27 through the twenty ninth Josh will be at the move and Nyc event in Manhattan move nyc was imagined into existence by the movement creative for information and tickets run to their website. The http://movementcreative.com and click precisely on move n yc at the top. So there’s that

Craig
anyway back to Josh I was saying we’ve been like you know a couple of events together I I would kind of say we trained the same community but quite honestly you are one of the people who started the community where I fell into see what I did there fell into parkor. Um, so we’ve trained like 67 Sundays to Christmas and back and it’s been super fun to see like every coach has their own fingerprint. Um, but it’s super fun to see you get a chance to teach because um I don’t want to say you light up the room because that’s kind of dorky. But. But you have this fun way of of like really being honestly energetic about what you’re teaching and your session has I don’t want to give away too much. People need to go buy their tickets but your session has the word soft in the title softness plays into the title and I’ve but I was trying to jog my memory and i. Believe I’ve seen you do sessions on that I’m not sure that I’ve been in them which maybe I should but my none thought is when somebody has something that is less common like that I think was there something that you’ve seen in your past like did you see someone move with what you thought was softness or was there something like what is it about. Softness in movement that hooks your attention.

04:12.14
Josh
Yeah, so surprisingly I actually was never a very soft mover I actually pretty much was always a very power hungry very like how far can I jump how big of a movement can I do because that was always you know what caught the attention. But then what ended up happening is that I would look up and I think it was um oh what is his name min from Germany and I watched one of his videos and he was just such a beautiful mover doing everything so elegantly doing his flips doing his other tricks. But. You know his video audio was just him moving and it was just so quiet and I was just so fascinated by it and he actually had the opportunity to come to Pennsylvania and train with us and he ran a session and I just watched him move even more and that’s where I just like kept diving deeper into this idea of. Why is he able to do this movement so quietly because you know the way I think of it is softness is just how much force your body is taking and me being an engineer I love the idea of you know, calculating things and finding out how much force something takes how much can it take. What’s the biomechanics that we can follow and what we shouldn’t follow and of course of all those reasons I dove pretty deep into the idea of let’s actually do the numbers I broke out my calculator and wrote out like how heavy am I how far can I drop and how am I able to do these things without breaking my body every single day. And eventually I was able to say wow I was doing these movements actually slightly incorrect. Yeah I can do the movement but I’m not utilizing my body to its fullest extent yet and.

07:58.68
Craig
Are there like common I don’t want to say? Yeah, yeah, yeah, so give it to me in one words but are there common things that people do wrong like ah you know like my assumption would be oh if I want to. Be moving more quietly then I should just get stronger because then I’d be more comfortable when I’m moving like that’s actually literally literally a train of thought that Craig has Craig is not a quiet mover if you’ve never trained with me Josh has um, but are there other like really like that to me seems that’s probably wrong. Are there like things that we generally get wrong that we could at least look at.

08:41.92
Josh
Ah, yeah, so the main 3 that I’ve tried to simplify it down to and to be honest, you’re going to hear it from any parkor coach. The none one is repetition I mean you hear it all the time you got to practice your movement until it’s muscle memory. But the real reason why we want it to be muscle memory is because of something I actually dove pretty deep into which was ground reaction time. So it’s the way I like to describe it is the signal at which the our feet making contact with the ground sending up to our brain which happens at about none time it takes for you to blink so it’s point one five seconds and then for you to retranslate a message back to your feet to start or your muscles to start doing something the problem with that is is if your brain’s still trying to figure out what to do that signal is delayed. And because of all that you know there’s this like jolt almost that ends up happening and that jolt is what causes that initial slap that slap of the shoes or the feet hitting the ground in some way shape or form and because of all that you know you’re making a lot more noise than you ever need to because your body is not reacting the way.

10:55.86
Craig
Um.

11:13.56
Josh
You need to train it to and it doesn’t take big big drops to do that. Just hundreds of small drops or jumps or any type of other movement even just placing your hand down for a step vault or a safety vault depending on where you’re in the world. You are just ah, a few hundreds of just reaching your hand out. And knowing where it is to then be able to get it to be that muscle memory so that’s usually the first one is repetition. The None one. Well it is it is strength it it is you do need to be strong enough to be able to do certain things. So. This also then came down to the numbers. So this is where I sat down and I was like okay how much force does a human being take when they drop so for fun I actually wrote out a couple equations here for anyone who has paper and pen if not, it’s okay so let’s say if someone’s taking a two meter drop none give or take. And they weigh about £185 that amount of force is equivalent to twelve hundred foot pounds of force so and for those who go by different unit that’s sixteen hundred Joules that’s a lot of force I don’t know if anyone’s going to the gym and squatting. £1200 but somehow we’re able to do this and it goes somewhere and the first one is the classic. You just bend your legs like this is the situation if you just locked your knees out as all of us hopefully cringed a little bit that’s pretty much what happened.

14:06.20
Craig
Dissipate that it goes somewhere.

14:21.24
Craig
Do.

14:19.76
Josh
Everybody knows you drop two meters and you lock your knees lock your body something. Bad’s gonna happen. Something’s gonna break. So the second part of it is of course you gotta go through the range of motion but the secret is distance or what I like to tell my students is. We’re gonna start time traveling now because if we can take force. And divide it out through distance or time that ability for us to take that force divides it out so far that it just dissipates it down to something that’s very manageable for all of us so classic movement. We all do is roll. Okay now I don’t know about you guys. But you don’t roll. Learn a role in the none day you don’t it takes hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of roles for it to be perfect. So comes back to that of course repetition part of it but does anybody like really look at why or what direction we roll? Do. We just roll down our spine. No, we already know that doesn’t work. Ah yeah, at none few and then at the same time. Why does a hot dog role not work. The classics sideways. The main reason is the roll from hand down elbow shoulder across to the ah other hip and.

16:31.16
Craig
Maybe the None time I did that once.

16:45.98
Craig
Right.

16:52.31
Josh
Off to the opposite foot. The reason that works is because it literally is the longest distance. Our body can have and because of that distance you’ve now dissipated all of that £1200 of force over. Let’s call this person like None 10 n six feet tall whatever it might be. Over like seven feet and now you’ve been able to dissipate this down to just maybe a hundred or two hundred pounds of force that they’re really taking and it’s it’s amazing. So it’s the same way that you can walk on hot coals and not burn your feet. You’re you’re taking that that heat let’s call it just energy and you’re. Dissipating it as you’re walking and you’re that small part of your foot touching that hot hole only a split second which is why we’re able to roll because that split second of force doesn’t really ever happen or yeah, so.

18:49.40
Craig
Manageable in each muscle.

18:39.52
Josh
Ah, so yeah, exactly we don’t need just our quads to be able to take the £1200 of force but we can have the rest of our body help dissipate all of it. so so yeah there is of course that strength element. There’s that repetition part of it. But yeah I mean I guess there’s those are the big 2 to be honest.

19:29.68
Craig
Um, but it it points to mindfulness like it’s None thing to say I’m gonna do a bunch of squats and then it’s another thing to say I’m going to do squats I’m gonna pay attention to how much strength I have well you know when you none begin squatting? Yeah okay, that’s fine. But how much strength do I have down at the very bottom like can I make the squat go really slow or do as mine do at the very bottom I kind of collapse into the hunter’s squat onto the balls of my feet and sort of drop into resting on on my glutes laying on the back of my ankles and. That’s an opportunity to be like whoa. That’s drastically weaker than like my mid-range power and I like how you point out about ground reaction time because it it makes you um I’m having flashbacks to having once tried six feet drop on the concrete and it was like that’s high enough that I had time to go.

20:48.82
Josh
Oof yeah.

21:14.60
Craig
Mistakes were made you know and like if I’m still waiting for the ground. You know it’s a long way to go? Um, but your your point about the ground reaction and the time to respond is if you’re prepared for the first you know like landing feelers to just touch the ground that might give you you know four more inches like know that I got my. My Quads engaged. Um, so I Really think you’re onto something about obviously about you know that can that thinking about that softness can lead you to being mindful of reps of repetition. So cool.

22:09.50
Josh
yeah yeah I mean I yeah know I honestly what I’ll do is I’ll also train with my eyes closed so that it’s yeah I’m taking those drops. You know we’re talking like a foot or maybe two feet at tops so that my brain.

22:27.24
Craig
Let me sure I’m not cutting you off.

22:47.24
Josh
Literally looking for that as opposed to relying on other senses. So if I’m relying on my site to tell me when I’m about to take an impact the moment I go outside when it’s dark out to train and I don’t have that to be 100% now my landings don’t exist anymore. So.

23:03.32
Craig
Um.

23:23.86
Josh
I’ll rely on these other senses to hopefully you know pick up where I take away one of them and and to be honest, you know you hear about it all time those people who take away one sense. All the others pick up a little bit more and that is very true with my training I’ll train eyes closed as much as possible and that. Helps me fix a lot of my and my hard landings issues and of course my fluidity also makes me not be able to see myself so I don’t have to see how rigid I am with my movement.

24:36.14
Craig
I hate every once in while I shoot a video like oh I’m trying to do a kong take a video i’s like oh my god delete that and delete it out of the deleted pile. You know what? not even wait thirty days that has to go now I’m wondering about um without starting a holy war about shoes.

24:29.86
Josh
Yeah, yeah.

25:11.76
Craig
I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on. Um I Personally don’t like a lot of padding and shoes. So the shoes that I love most which they no longer make I pull the insoles out and just run around on a couple millimeters of rubber but I do actually carry the insoles with me when I’m traveling or I know it be off for days.

25:12.44
Josh
Yeah, yeah.

25:47.12
Craig
And I’ll slip them in because I’m like okay I need to I need to bring some padding in here because this is gonna be a long day. But when I go running normally which isn’t often I take them out. Um, and I’m just wondering if you have any other thoughts on like I mean I don’t want to like preach to the choir but you know marshmallow shoes are bad. And I’m just thinking because your point about ground reaction plays right into that like if you try some small drops barefoot You get a whole new world. Yeah, about that when do you actually feel the ground because you can actually feel it. Um.

26:35.24
Josh
Yeah, yeah, and I and I think you’ve actually way back in the old days taken a few of my you know shoeless classes where we go barefoot We we run we? Yeah yeah.

27:09.94
Craig
Um, probably the None place I ever did anything barefoot in park horror was some crazy thing with you on sunday.

27:10.72
Josh
So and that was during a time period where I spent I think it was Austin and I we both spent as much time during that summertime barefoot training and pushing ourselves to you know how much can we actually train getting back to a sense of normality without shoes that we would if we did have shoes.

28:00.78
Craig
Yeah.

27:49.62
Josh
But the with shoes conversation is to be honest, it’s so so polarized you either really love the thicker shoes or you don’t and I personally have always stuck to the thinner shoes only because I actually started with thicker shoes when i. None started training and I noticed myself twisting my ankles getting a lot of twisted ankles whether it’s ah we call them quakeways or whatever it might be just like oh that really hurt now I got to sit out for ten fifteen twenty minutes just so I can get back. Whatever strength I have or maybe I have to call it today so that extra height was ah.

28:48.24
Craig
M.

29:04.56
Josh
Disadvantage for me in the earlier parts now. We can also argue that my my muscles were not strong enough at the time in my ankles but at the same time you know all that extra lift took away my ability to feel and then when I was landing I lost my mechanical alignment of just. Now my ankles twist None way or another and it’s game over so but I would definitely say I like the softer I’m sorry I like the thinner shoes but I still like to have a soft rubber which means I wear through them a little quicker. Yeah.

30:28.00
Craig
Yeah, that’s that’s a good point I’m like I like barefoot I try to be barefoot as much as I can just during the day normally. But yeah, when it gets rainy metal railings get slippery and cold and and like it you know I don’t um, horrible visual I don’t do park or naked because I like not to get sunburner I like to be warm or so there’s.

30:46.10
Josh
Yeah.

31:07.14
Craig
You know I’m definitely a tool user like all people are so I definitely believe you know the right shoe for the for the job I think it’s just a question of being intentional about what you choose like you know I like this rubber it sticks really nice sticks better than my feet would stick the thing So I’m going to go with that. Yeah cool.

31:22.38
Josh
Yeah, yeah, but ah I know there’s a Geho from Korea Amazing! Mover Super duper soft with his jumps and he does massive jumps all the Time. He’s an individual that I would probably put in the category Of. Ah, he has such quiet movement with such thick souls not because of the souls of course but he he doesn’t then have to react as much when he does those gigantic Jumps I’m not specific I don’t know exactly what shoes he wears but he has such amazing fluidity and.

32:49.80
Craig
It clearly works right.

32:39.20
Josh
Power. Yes, So he he’s the opposite side of the spectrum where he has a little bit of a thicker so type of shoe and I Honestly think if I was doing a lot more massive jumps on a regular basis I Probably also would you know pick much larger shoes but you know he he does it. He makes it look Amazing. He makes it very smooth. He Also I’m sure has a great training routine that you know he’s built up to over Time. So but.

33:43.16
Craig
Yeah, I’m kind of thinking like wearing a helmet generally would increase my safety but it’s kind of really important on high-speed drag racing you know because like the chances of needing the helmet go up so it it sounds to me like it’s um, if 1 is intentional about yes I’m going to be doing. You know these things I’m going to wear.

33:44.12
Josh
Yeah.

34:22.52
Craig
You know these protect these particular shoes or I’m doing this activity I’m wearing a helmet I’m doing that activity I’m going to put gloves on or whatever. So yeah, oh what do you want to talk about in the last few minutes you want to talk about engineering you want talk about parkor obstacles I probably could get about an hour out of you about building parkor obstacles.

34:33.35
Josh
Um, ah oh yeah, but.

35:02.34
Craig
Um, maybe the few let’s see. Um, what is it about a lot of people build park or obstacles. But you’re like definitely in the crime Del crime you’re like in the top of the echelon. Um, but what is it? What? what itch does that scratch for you creating obstacles.

35:06.92
Josh
Yeah, yeah, so it comes from 2 different areas my grandfather he worked at Bethlem Steele a local um you know business that was back in the you know early None s and seventy s that shut down. Amazing for their carpentry work and he taught me everything about carpentry and I I value those lessons so so much so I’m always constantly innovating and creating and building stuff with my hands I can’t stop even if I tried and with that. You know the engineering degree allowed me to now you know use softwares and stuff and bring my imagination to a canvas. You know some people paint some people ah draw some people write I can’t do any of those things but I do love designing and I actually. Just started ah this past two weeks a new engineering role I’m a lead engineer at a local company now who does amazing things where we create technology for the department of defense and they just literally handed me the reins and they’re like you know what? just. Design run with it. You know, just meet their needs and we’re happy with it. So I literally am just always loving the idea of how can I solve a problem but in my own way and thinking outside of the box. So ah, yeah, yeah, so um.

38:13.82
Craig
No pun intended ha.

38:11.70
Josh
So whenever I’ve actually designed a lot of parkor gyms throughout the country up to this point people have the option through Parkour Generations Americas to reach out and say hey I want a design you know I’m handing you guys the reins here’s my space here’s an empty canvas build me something. And I always tell people or I always ask them I should say right from the beginning give me a scale of 1 to 10? How complicated you want it to be because I can give you a one which is like here’s a box and a box and a box and you know any dad with a hammer any dad with a hammer can build it and then I say there’s a None

39:28.74
Craig
Zen. Yeah.

39:23.74
Josh
Which is you’ve given me the reins and I will tell you how to build it I will give you the blueprints but you know what you know it’s going to take a really skilled you know, ah carpenter to be able to really put this together. So no, one’s taken a 10 yet the highest I’ve gotten is a 4 ah, so one day if someone is listening and they really want a ah parkcor gym. You know out of None I’m always happy to go that route. Yeah but but at this point it’s just I love the idea of just building creating and you know.

40:30.56
Craig
Reach out cool.

40:35.26
Josh
I double reinforce I overengineer something so that it never has just one purpose if you ever come to our gym every object in that place has been flipped around twice 3 times and has been used 8 different ways because whenever I build it. It is structurally strong in every single way.

41:27.10
Craig
Clearly clearly scratching a creative itch for you write up your engineering alley and also creative all right Josh well I’m just watching our time take away I I think I will just say and of course the final question 3 words to describe your practice.

41:12.66
Josh
So Every stay safe. Yeah, yeah.

41:45.76
Josh
Yeah, um I mean whether it comes to ah when I build something or specifically the the session I’m gonna be running at and Nyc is ah longevity repetition and purpose.

42:37.70
Craig
Nice I’m scribbling sweet Josh it was a pleasure to finally get a chance to sit down and talk I was almost thinking you know we could ah well it’s easier to do it over the internet I’m like you’re not that far away all right cool.

42:47.68
Josh
Yeah, so.

43:08.96
Craig
Um, it was a pleasure to talk to you I’m looking forward to getting a chance to jam a little bit. There’s a couple of coaches sessions that we get to play in and I’ll see you in a couple weeks and I hope everybody else catch a chance to catch your session as well. Thanks Josh.

43:22.92
Josh
Yep, Thank you.