How did your training begin?

Mentioned in this section:
The “first Tempest video
Jesse Danger
The Movement Creative

Craig: Tell me the story. You’re at school at NYU and you go to?

Jonny: Well, I didn’t go to NYU. [crosstalk 00:00:56] Let’s not make them think I’m a little smarter than I am.

Craig: I’m sorry. I keep saying it. We’re leaving that in.

Jonny: [00:01:00] I went to art school, so it’s about 27 notches down the ladder from NYU.

Craig: It’s still a Masters of Fine Art.

Jonny: Yeah, yeah. I do have a piece of paper that calls me a master. But, so I’m in art school in New York and I’m back home visiting family in Los Angeles when a friend of mine sends me the first Tempest video on YouTube. And I realized it was about a mile away from my mom’s house. [00:01:30] So I ran down there, took the class, stayed for open gym, and just went back every night for the rest of the trip. Went back to New York and just had this, like … It was like an alcoholic drying out, you know? I was just not about to go a day without doing this.

Craig: Where’s the gym?

Jonny: So, yeah, well so of course I’m out just exploring every park and there’s not too many sightings in the wild of traceurs, so I’ve got my eye open. I’m looking for anybody. Somebody even pushes [00:02:00] the crosswalk differently, I’m like, “Is he training? What is he doing over there?” I’m just looking for anything. Someone. And when that didn’t work, I couldn’t just roam the wilds of New York hoping to stumble across somebody, so I started doing some searching online and I found a community session called Get Strong, which is like conditioning for Parkour.

Craig: Right. And that’s run by?

Jonny: Jesse Danger.

Craig: Right. And the group is? Name drop.

Jonny: The Movement Creative.

Craig: Okey dokey. So I’ve always wondered, “How do these two guys know each other?” [00:02:30] That explains that. So you went to every one of those courses, I’m going to guess, every class.

Jonny: Oh, man. Yeah, I went there and found just a bunch of savages. I was like, “This is my world.” It felt like Fight Club. It felt like at night, I’m in there with these people that are doing just dangerous things that really aren’t actually dangerous, but you know what I mean. That feeling of living dangerously. Like, “Ooh, I’m not doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. I’m climbing up on this thing. I’m jumping off,” or whatever, but then it was also, it’s not like beautiful, sunny [00:03:00] Los Angeles. There was snow, and rain, and all kinds of other stuff going on.

Craig: Bubblegum and rain.

Jonny: These guys are out there doing it.

Craig: Broken fortune cookies, right.

Jonny: I’m seeing people throwing up, you know, I mean it was just intense and I was like, “This is it. I want to test myself.”

Craig: This is the Parkour scene in New York. Yes. I have caught glimpses of it.

Jonny: Yeah, there was no cushy trampolines or spring floor or any of that stuff. It was all pretty gritty and I was in love with it.

I made the greatest group of friends I could have ever known here in New York, from [00:03:30] training. That is actually the only common thread, is that we train. Other than that, our lives couldn’t be more disparate. And that’s in stark contrast to everything that I had known before that, where my friend groups were based around art or music or whatever, we were all living pretty similar lives.

Craig: Right, and that group, that community, even if it’s not living in the same place type of community, but that community of people, seems to me that you [00:04:00] meet artists, you’re doing similar things, but some people you just don’t like. You’re just like, “I do not like this person.” And the Parkour community, I don’t know, I’m curious what your experience has been, my experience is the exact opposite of that. Not just the Parkour-specifically named communities, but in anything that you would even classify vaguely as Parkour. Those people are very different from that community.

Jonny: I couldn’t agree more. Yeah. And it’s not specific to [00:04:30] any one city. That is definitely the community at large. So you can go to San Antonio, Texas, you can go to Beaverton, Oregon or wherever you want to go, and you’re gonna find a similar type of person to the one that you’ve been training with. To the type of person that you’ve connected with in your community, whatever it is. And I haven’t traveled abroad to do Parkour, so I can’t speak to the global community outside of what I know from videos and Facebook and stuff. But it appears to be that it’s very much a global commonality.

Craig: Yeah. And the people that you meet, [00:05:00] you might not become best friends with them, you might not click, where you’re, “Oh, wow, three hours have elapsed and we’re still in the corner talking.” It might not meet all the people like that, but you find that when it doesn’t click, the two of you were trying, it was like, “Oh, we didn’t really have a ton to talk about but I really kind of like that person even though I didn’t really click with them.” You know, those little, what was that from Fight Club, single serving-size friends on airplanes?

Jonny: Yes.

Craig: Which I love. So the single-serving-size friends, even single-serving-size Parkour friends, they’re actually a really pretty [00:05:30] good friendship, even for 30 seconds and you forget their name two minutes later.

Jonny: Yeah. I’ll even take it one step further. Even, a lot of times, those people who you’re not connecting with on a conversational level, you start moving together, though. And you find a very deep connection. All of a sudden you find, “Ooh, they look at things similar to the way I look at things,” or, “I love the way they look at things, it’s nothing like the way I look at things.” And now you’re moving in their world or they’re moving in yours, or whatever it is, but you found this other way to connect with somebody that you would have never known if you just worked with them or whatever the [00:06:00] case may be.

Craig: A completely different language. Right.

How did your training begin?

Initially, I had seen the prototypical videos of kids jumping off of buildings and doing crazy awesome flips and was always too scared to try them myself. I believe one day I actually ran outside at 2:00 AM after watching hours of videos of wall flips and had located the closest tree at full speed, ran up a step or two, and proceeded to fall directly onto my shoulder blades—pinecones, sticks, rocks, and all.

After a few more similar events in my teenage life, I had found a group (Lehigh Valley Parkour) taught by Adam McClellan, Andy Keller, and a few others. Soon after two or three courses, I had realized that all of the videos that I used to think were so awesome were a bit misleading. I had learned much less about doing awesome flips and more about self-discipline, perseverance, and overcoming physical and mental fear. I think at that point my training really “began.”

How did your training begin?

I’ve always been an active person. Running and jumping and climbing on things has just been what I do, but it’s taken a lot of different forms over the years. I started down the path that lead me to parkour when I was in middle school, I was into roller blading, skate boarding, and BMX.

Eventually that petered off and I was looking for a new thing to fill the void. I happened to stumble across a YouTube video, not of Parkour, but of this thing called jumping stilts, which are these contraptions that you strap to your legs that you stand about 18 inches off the ground. It has a big fiberglass leaf spring so you can jump, it compresses and you can jump 6 feet high and do crazy acrobatics.

So I saw a video of a guy doing this and just doing backflip backflip backflip backflip down the street and I thought: I want to be able to do that! So I ordered a pair of those immediately, and I basically spent the next 5 years diving head-first into that.

I did that in college, and when I moved up to Boston in 2009, I was looking for a gym that would let me in on stilts in order to learn more acrobatics. I found this gym that said, “Yeah, that’s cool, you can do that.” They happened to also be starting a Parkour class, and asked would I be interested in that and I said, “Yes I would be! I’m going to do that too!” Well, turns out it wasn’t really a Parkour class, it was just an adult gymnastics class and they just called it a Parkour class to get people to go.

I started doing that. It took me towards one of my goals of learning standing backflips and better air awareness which is what I wanted to learn at the time. And then, probably, 6 months later that gym went out of business, because cheerleading gyms are not viable business models.

I continued down the parallel paths of still doing jumping stilts, and now doing Parkour. I found some of the local community at the time, but it was pretty small and disorganized. I got together with some people, and was mostly still training in gymnastics gyms at time because I was more interested in the acrobatic side of things.

After a couple years of self directed training I wound up taking classes through the same coach that was teaching that adults’ gymnastics/parkour class at another gym. After a couple months of that, a new guy showed up, and said, “Hey I’m Blake! I’m from Parkour Generations and we teach classes in Boston now, and we’re running an instructor certification class in a couple of weeks. So I wanted to come meet everybody and tell you that’s a thing.” I ended up riding the subway home with Blake and we had a good conversation.

I met Blake, probably three weeks before they were running the first ADAPT level one coaching course delivered by Parkour Generations Americas here in Boston in 2013. I didn’t think anything of it on the day that I met him, I was thinking, “Oh, there’s another Parkour group here in Boston.” But over the next 2 weeks I had 3 or 4 friends not in the parkour community independently find the Facebook event for the ADAPT course and sent it to me saying, “Hey, I thought you might be interested in this”, and I was like ‘meh’. “Hey, I thought you might be interested in this”, meh… “Hey, I thought you might be interested in this” Hey! …maybe I’m interested in this!

Then I was like, “well yeah, it’s only a little bit of money and a weekend, so even if nothing comes of it, I might as well try.” So I went over to attend one of PKGB’s classes, just thinking, well if i’m going to go learn how to coach from these guys, I’m going to go see what they do. I took a class and it was great fun! The Parkour Generations philosophy and the Yamak way of training is very different from the more gymnastics/acrobatic training that I’d been doing. But I think it was what I needed and has done very well for me over the past four years.

So, I took one of their classes, talked to Blake afterwards and I said, “Hey, remember me? We met a few weeks earlier, and I’d like to take that instructor course that you mentioned.” …and I’ve been working for him for four years now. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to get in on the ground level of the expansion of Parkour Generations in Boston.

How did your training begin?

My training began a few years ago but the question is why? The answer is, I don’t know. The beginning of my practice is pretty vague and I don’t really remember how I started. All I really remember is that I wasn’t a big fan of traditional sports like football and baseball (with some exceptions) and I just started to practice parkour. Ever since I started I haven’t stopped practicing, progressing, advancing my technique, etc.

How did your training begin?

When I was in college, the exchange program student group would periodically show foreign films as a publicity activity. In my sophmore year, on a recommendation from a friend, I went and saw the movie District B13, in French, with no subtitles. I was immediately hooked with the idea of parkour (despite not even really knowing what it was called yet), but for nearly a decade, despite occasionally trying to self-train and joining meetup groups, I never really managed to get into it.

Three years ago, a friend of mine called me up to say he’d read online that there was a place in Somerville that was offering parkour classes — it was only about a 15-minute walk from his house, and half an hour from mine — and there was a new session starting up the next week. I couldn’t make it to the first class, and I almost decided that I should just wait, it might be awkward or hard to start in with people who’d already had a lesson, and a hundred other similar excuses, but I remembered all the times I’d tried to train and talked myself out of it somehow, because of the difficulty, and I decided I’d at least give it a shot.

That was in the summer of 2013. In the spring of 2014 I took the ADAPT Level 1 course, and I’ve never looked back since.

How did your training begin?

Simply put, I saw this amazing guy jumping about at the beginning of Casino Royale and knew it wasn’t just stunt work. After a bit of research I discovered Sebastian Foucan and David Belle. I traded my rock band practice time for parkour training in my first year of college. I embarked on what I call “The Invincible Years” where I would watch a video and naively tell myself I could do it. Not surprisingly I hit a plateau and sought the Yamakasi and Parkour Generations to shape my training into what it is today.

How did your training begin?

My first foray into interesting kinds of fitness actually began with rock climbing about a year before I had even considered Parkour as a possibility. A friend of mine had taken me rock climbing and I was instantly hooked. At the earliest opportunity, I found myself an online deal for a membership at a rock gym that was probably a bit unreasonably far for me to be going everyday, but that didn’t really matter to me at the time. But by the time my membership was expiring, I realized if I wanted to keep this up, I was going to have to find some place just a tad bit closer. Lo and behold, there was a rock climbing gym less than two miles from where I lived.

Looking back at that now, I was probably a bit hasty in picking my gym. Anyways, a while after my switch, I started noticing the signs (I suppose flyers would be more apt). Weekly Parkour classes every Thursday, they said. I didn’t immediately jump at the idea at first. I was a bit apprehensive because it was hard to imagine myself doing something like Parkour. I mean, it was in all the movies, all of the video games, it was so hot right then. I waffled on the idea for a couple months until a new flyer popped up for the start of a new session. By then I was out of excuses and signed up for a drop-in. I walked into class, not knowing what to expect. Blake, the big man himself, was the coach that evening. He instructed us in some simple vaults, rail balancing, and some small precisions. Very basic stuff, but to me it was some of the most fun I’d ever had. I was instantly hooked.

After class, Blake told us about an event they were having called the Boston “Tea Party” Parkour workshop to help say goodbye to one of their guest coaches, Chris Keighley. When I got home that night, I immediately looked up the info and resolved to be there. That Sunday, with its perfect weather, I probably worked harder than I’d ever had up until that point.By the end, I was completely exhausted but extremely satisfied. The next few days, I was sore all over but that didn’t stop me from going to every class I possibly could that week.

And thus began my journey into the world of Parkour.

How did your training begin?

I got into the health and fitness game late in life; for some reason I waited until my early 30s to think about training in any consistent way. From age 30-37 I focused on getting stronger both physically and mentally through CrossFit and the olympic weightlifting. It felt great to develop power, strength and mental fortitude, but all those skills weren’t really getting used outside of the gym. The thought of doing something like parkour or MovNat had crossed my mind, but, honestly, I had so little time between work, kids and the rest of life to learn about anything else.

In 2015 I attended a conference in Austin, Tx, and joined a friend in a parkour workshop. The movements and practice was simple, something anyone could do, yet I managed to injure myself (a trend I have yet to break in my parkour practice). None of it mattered – that the movements were simple, or that I left with a bloody toe and a bruised knee – that weekend I fell in love with parkour.

I looked up the San Diego parkour community the minute I got home, and signed on for a weekend workshop in Boston later that summer. I knew I was hooked, because I was willing to challenge any insecurities I had about being a women in a male dominated practice, or being nearly 20 years older than most of the people I trained with. It didn’t hurt that those things were never brought up as issues among the people I trained with.

What I loved and still love about the practice is that feeling of possibility: it’s being 39 and knowing I can scale a wall, it’s the grace of the movement (at least the way I picture it in my head, I’m pretty sure the reality of my movement doesn’t match my vision), it’s the fact that I can train along side 17 year olds and together we are joined in a common love, the love of movement.

How did your training begin?

A friend in my freshman year of high school kept nagging me to check out this thing that was like ‘skateboarding without the board’. I was a skater at the time, and he thought it would be a good fit for me because of that and since I was already visiting the school roof for funsies.

He finally gets me to watch Oleg Vorslav’s “Russian Climbing” video, but I wasn’t convinced until they dragged me out to the outdoor seating to try some straddle vaults on a stone bench. As reluctant as I was to even consider I’d like anything better than skateboarding, it felt awesome to try and move past something with purpose.

At the time, my dad would pick me up from school and take me to his workplace for a couple hours before going home, so I started looking up different parkour techniques on the old Urban Freeflow website and practice them out back on lunch tables.

Eventually I met up with the local community based around the University of Georgia, and through them I learned more about how to train. Until that point, I’d basically just been practicing vaults every day. They were just then going through shin splint issues, so they were very big on teaching me about conditioning, good technique, and listening to my body. This was back around 2008/2009.

How did your training begin?

I had stumbled upon many videos of Russians, 3Run, The Cambridge Traceurs, and Yamakasi. Watching athletes perform such great skills caught my attention enough to lead me into pursuing the same movements. A friend and I begin practicing a great deal of push-ups, pull-ups, quadrupedal, and standing jumps. A year or so later, we then begin the movements we sometimes see in parkour today.

How did your training begin?

I've always been a very active boy, and I always did a lot of sports just for the sake of fun and improve myself (Soccer, Basketball, swimming, cycling, race, skateboard, Rugby, rock climbing and bouldering). It all started in may 2014 When the University that I was writing (Politecnico di Milano), He organized an event of Parkour and ADD under the leadership of Laurent Piemontesi. I was already aware of the world of parkour and ADD and I couldn't wait to try this discipline, but maybe out of laziness I had never tried to contact me on where I could train.
The fact is that after that day I started this new adventure in FormaInArte in Milan where Laurent still teaches.

A few months later I began to participate in workshops of parkour wherever possible go for two years now and I 14 workshops/events on the assets.

I train most days, mostly alone, in a small village in North Italy, and I'm doing everything I can to bring the Parkour and his mentality here is very little known.