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.

What are you working on now?

Craig: What are you working on now? Let’s begin at the largest scale, the global scale, the Parkour Generations Americas scale, and we’ll work our way inward from there. So, can you give me a glimpse into some big-scale things you’re currently passionate about?

Adam: Yeah, absolutely. Right now, something we’re focusing on from the Parkour Generations Americas perspective is creating new partnerships [00:01:00] that create new senses of value with the people we’re working with. So we’re in contact with large fitness corporations and trying to create connections with governmental organizations, whether that be military, whether that be school-based, whether that be Parks and Recreation, but we’d like to create those connections and start taking the value that parkour has to offer and using that to increase the value that they can put into the work that they do as well.

Craig: Okay, so do you see the role of Parkour Generations [00:01:30] as a one-by-one, where you’re approaching individual school districts? You named a bunch of different types of organizations. Or do you see that the role would be to develop some sort of national standard, something that the school board hiring a PE instructor would look for the check mark for “This person can teach parkour”?

Adam: I think the answer is both. I think first, you need to make those connections and you have to build trust, and you have to gain a reputation. You start by doing small events or small partnerships or providing them assistance for free just helping out, being a friend. [00:02:00] Then from there, you gain that reputation that gives you the accreditation and authority to say “These are the decisions I think you should make.” All the way to the point of eventually creating real systems that people follow.

That’s how Parkour Generations made its way through the generations, if you will, is that they started off doing things right, earned respect, and now organizations such as the American Council of Exercise, the ACE as we call them, use the standard of ADAPT as a way to regulate whether or not a coach [00:02:30] is in fact qualified. We’ll walk our way through that process and go from small to big.

Craig: Terrific. All right, and from a more community-sized scale … I know there’s a big community in Boston and the community here in Lehigh Valley. What do you see those communities doing in the last year that’s been different from previously?

Adam: I think the big change that’s happening across America, not just in the community such as Boston like just here in Lehigh Valley, but all over the US is that we’re starting to realize that a rising tide lifts all boats. Through events like Art [00:03:00] of Retreat, which is a gathering of all the coaches and community leaders of the US, through events like that we’re coming together and realizing that we can all benefit by working together. While competition is natural and in some ways healthy, our focus is collaboration and helping one another first. That allows us to compete in healthier, happier ways where we can involve more people into the process of learning parkour.

That hasn’t always been the case. America has for a long time been divided, and there’s been lots [00:03:30] of political and cultural differences.

Craig: Right, it’s our strength and our weakness at the same time.

Adam: Yeah.

Craig: We’re really great at going off and doing our own thing, but then we don’t come back at the end of the day.

Adam: Yes. Not only I think you’re exactly right Craig, but I think we are starting to come back, and that’s something that doesn’t happen a lot. It’s something that I think is so powerful about the parkour community, especially now, is that you can go to someone who does exactly what you do, and you can appreciate what they do. You can go to their event, you can give them a handshake and a hug, and go “Wow, you did a really nice job,” and you can mean it. Versus in corporate America, if you meet [00:04:00] someone that does what you do and they do it really well, you probably don’t like them for it.

So that’s a powerful thing, and it’s starting to move across the American culture. That is very special to me.

Craig: Okay, and back down all the way to the personal scale. What are you working on now, maybe in terms of training or even in terms of learning, languages, martial arts? We can go further afield if you like.

Adam: Yeah, I think for me, it’s about explaining the community. That’s where I get my highest level of return on investment. Community is always [00:04:30] what it’s been about for me. I like training. Training is a passion of mine, but I like helping others to train even more, which is, as you said, a strength and a weakness within itself. What motivates me, what engages my passion, is creating an environment where the community is that much stronger and that much closer and tighter and more beneficial to the larger community around them.

To be more specific, the current focus is seeing if there is a way to indeed open up our own facility, our own gym, and what’s involved in that, not so that we can [00:05:00] only train indoors, and not so that we can run tons and tons of classes. That isn’t the goal. The goal is “Can we have a hub?”, a place where people can meet, and when you got to park your car somewhere, you can put it there. When you want to just be with your friends and get away from the rest of the world, that’s the place to go.

That’s the kind of place I want to create. It’s a community center for the parkour community and anybody who could even be associated with it or wants to join it or learn more about it. So, I would really like to create that space, metaphorically and [00:05:30] physically, and that’s a goal of mine in 2017.

Craig: Okay. Maybe on an even more personal scale, what are you up to these days? Are you working on kong-pre’s, or are you running, or are you completely swamped by the work-a-day job combined with the running the parkour community?

Adam: Yes, yes, and yes. I’m very passionate about all my professional pursuits, even the ones that aren’t necessarily related to parkour, and I enjoy those. Those are going very well. I work in the childcare industry in addition to doing [00:06:00] parkour-type stuff, and that’s rewarding. A thousand children walk in and out of our many doors all across Lehigh Valley every day, and knowing that you’re making a difference there is powerful. I enjoy my day job, so to speak. However, making a difference in the parkour community is really where my heart lies.

Over the course of many years of training, you have your ups and your downs in a lot of different ways. You might really be focusing on jumps, and you get good at jumps. Then you might really decide to focus on flips, and you’re good at flips, but now your jumps aren’t as good. It’s [00:06:30] a very difficult juggle. You can’t be perfect at everything. I think having focused on community development and international and national involvement, some of my personal training is harder to keep up. Trying new ways to train in the winter, I’m swimming, I’m going to the gym and trying some different weight training methods that I’ve never tried before, I’m trying some training at home, just the smaller personal stuff. I’ve spent so much time [00:07:00] training with other people that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be within yourself and do some of your own training.

So that’s been happening for me in the past few months. I think if I can focus on that through the winter and continue to develop my own sense of training within me, then by the time it’s the spring and the summer when everybody comes out of the woodwork, I’ll be back to where I want to be in terms of my own physical training and able to share it in the full way. So that’s what I’m thinking right now.

Craig: Well, that’s an interesting idea of cycles. A lot of people come to that idea after they’ve gone [00:07:30] through a couple of years of training in parkour. They realize that they need to do different things at different times of the year. We’re in the northern hemisphere here. It’s gray and winter outside, so we’re all looking for ways to do heavier lifting and keep motivated.

What are you working on now?

​I’ve been spending a lot of time rock climbing, but I’ve also been applying that to my training outside. Climbing has changed how I see a spot. I was out training, and went to this cool spot, it was an old dilapidated building, and the first thing I see and immediately latched onto was this sketchy rusty, little tiny brick ledge. ​I was like, I need to do a cat leap to that and build a route around it.

Right now, I’m in a reflective period with my training. I’ve had a huge goal of working towards my ADAPT level two certification, which has been a three year process that I’ve been working towards, since 2013. I finally achieved that last June. ​I took the summer to rest and play. I took a step back from intense physical and mental training being my main focus. I worked on a couple of non parkour related side projects. My movement has been focused on fun, play, and enjoying movement rather than focusing on any specific technical aspect.

Now I’ve taken that four to six months to relax and enjoy movement, I’m swinging back into winter. It’s time to turn up the dial again. I must get strong, I must get better, I must jump further, higher, faster. Now I’m going to swing back into a sort of more intense training regime for the winter.

I haven’t really figured out what tack that’s going to take yet, or what specific goals I want to set for myself. I know my goal for this winter is just, train hard again, you know, filling any voids in my whole body strength and mobility.

What are you working on now?

Physically

I am Soooo weak. I have been building for a year every day. now that i finally have a gym I’m focusing on getting back into shape.

Mentally

I’m focusing on creating a functional set of parkour programming focusing on psychology instead of a movement progression. I’m working hard on creating new innovative parkour builds. On the scale of large gym/park space, And on the scale of small, repeatable, modular obstacles. Also working on uping the standard of parkour builds nation wide. Currently working on a way to help standardize marketing for other parkour groups.

Emotionally

I’m a pretty abrasive douche. some people get along GREAT with me and love my straight forward blunt style. So normally when i meet people they either love me or hate me. Both in extremes. Though I’m fine with being hated, I don’t know when I’m hated a lot of the time. so that sucks. I need to know, ya know? Also I would like to be able to control it if I choose. currently since I don’t always know who I’m offending, I don’t know WHEN I’m offending.