Craig: We were discussing that climbing has obviously made the transition from being grungy guys kind of trespassing in a state park, buying large nuts at the hardware store and throwing them in rocks and climbing on stuff and pounding in pitons and things. And has transitioned from that, let’s call it the late ’60’s, have transitioned all the way [00:15:00] now into not just a global phenomena with magazines and tech gear and main companies, but has also been accepted in the mainstream. People don’t go, “Oh, you’re a climber.” They … There are a few of those people, but vast majority of them … People go, “Oh, you’re a climber. Oh, you teach climbing. Then obviously you get paid. Or you own a climbing gym.” [crosstalk 00:15:19] Right, exactly. It’s like this totally legitimate straight-up thing. And it’s not just in America. It’s not like it’s only because it’s here.
So my question is, and the thing we were discussing before is, where do we see Parkour [00:15:30] going?
Max: I mean, I absolutely see this as being kind of the … The last four or five years, and then I think the next four or five years, I feel like are potentially the most important years in the development of Parkour on a global scale. And that’s kind of one of the reasons I wrote my book, for instance. That’s something I’m very passionate about in general. It’s just how do we keep Parkour something that is at least sort of similar to the thing that I fell in love with when I started training? And keep that magic alive?
So for me, the book was something [00:16:00] that I could do to help. It’s like, can I put together a bunch of the things that I saw in forums back in the day and kind of create just a list of resources for people that are jumping into the sport now.
Craig: In a sense, it’s a survey of Parkour.
Max: And how do we coexist among ourselves. You know, that’s something that I’ve also seen from the beginning, it’s such a powerful personal thing that you’ve seen basically as long as Parkour’s existed. There have been conflicts with people about how they want to express themselves through movement.
Max: And how they [00:16:30] … What they want to call it. Whatever the reason are. From the days with David and Seb and the Yamak, and until now, you still see that kind of stress. And for me, one of the most important things that I see … I want everyone to try and just chill out and mediate. So that’s something that I like doing in my own life and in my own training. I love taking different groups of people and just being like, “Hey guys. We do [00:17:00] the same thing. We all want to have other people do it safely and intelligently and be able to make a living off of it. Let’s work together instead of … ”
Craig: Yeah, and we’re finally getting to a point where … At least here in the States, you can walk up to a random person and when they say, “What are you doing?” There’s a 50/50 chance that they know the word Parkour, which is delightful. Five years ago, no one knew the word. You had to spend 10 minutes explaining [crosstalk 00:17:22]
Max: Have you see Casino Royale?
Craig: Yeah, I’m a little sick of saying that. So now we’re reaching a point where we’re really getting the knowledge penetration into the general global [00:17:30] public. And there’s sort of, I think, a flashpoint approaching where somebody’s going to grab a hold of the message. And maybe it’ll be a large publishing company who puts together a print magazine and just decides to put it on the check-out counter isle in every super market on the planet. And whatever we thought Parkour was … You can forget that. It’s going to be whatever they think it is in the magazine. And then we can have an argument where we … Like, where skating did, where they tried to split back off and have sort of a counter skate culture. So I agree with Max that the goal [00:18:00] here … And when I say here, I mean globally for Parkour. The goal should be to make sure that we understand the image of Parkour as a whole that we’re creating.
And that’s not an idea that I made up. Others have said that too. That it’s important that we think about, when we share an image or share a video or write something or don’t share an image or we don’t share a video or we don’t write things, we’re creating an image.
Max: Yeah, I mean, I would say that’s definitely true. Especially with media. The story that you tell people [00:18:30] is the story that they’ll believe. And that’s the story that you become. And so for Parkour, we have a bunch of disparate stories that are being told right now, where you have people that are doing their own thing. And I think the important thing also is that … You don’t want to suppress anybody’s creative rights. We want everybody to be able to express themselves. I just think that it’s important that the people who are doing so are taking responsibility for their impact that they have on the global [00:19:00] community and the way that Parkour is being viewed. And that’s something I think that Storror for instance has done a great job of recently. Storror and Storm both have kind of taken a change in direction with their media lately. Especially, in the last few videos, Storror made one with their New Year’s resolution.
It was like, “We want to teach people more about Parkour.” All these things. And so I think that it’s great because they’re obviously a group that has ton of influence, they make amazing content. They’re amazing athletes. They’re traveling all over the world. And to see [00:19:30] them make that roof culture Asia, which a lot of people in the Parkour community might be sniffing at. Like, “That’s … What is this … This is the exact type of thing that we don’t want to promote.” For me, I think it’s dope. And I’m like, “Heck yeah!” I like that they’re pushing it to a level that nobody has taken it to since the Yamak in terms of how novel it is [crosstalk 00:19:51]
Craig: Right, pushing the envelope of no one’s done that before.
Max: Yeah, and that’s amazing. That’s how … That’s the other way that the sport grows, right? It’s not just like … You can’t just have like, “Oh, we have gyms and a bunch of kids [00:20:00] are learning it. How to do vaults.” You also need to have those people that are doing gnarly stuff to keep it interesting. But at the same …
Craig: Research and development on the fringe.
Max: Exactly. But then you also have them balancing out, which they’ve been doing lately with just normal training uploads and a little bit more kind of talking about their goals. Things like that. And I think that’s amazing! I wish that every major group would just do that once in a while because they have such big fan basis that getting that perspective out there is really important.
And a lot of people that I’ve spoken [00:20:30] to … Other elite athletes from around the US, around the world are all … We’re all on the same page where everybody … Whatever your affiliation. Everybody’s just like, “I want to preserve what I love about this and I see parts of it kind of leaking away.” And everybody’s kind of just like, “How can we make this … How can we plug the holes in the boat?”
And this is actually … If you don’t mind, I’d like to take this in a slightly other …
Max: Slightly new direction. Where we were talking about the future of Parkour. And I do think that actually something … [00:21:00] The sixth chapter in my book is about kind of where I see Parkour going in the future, and that really got me thinking about how Parkour is evolving compared to other sports and kind of looking at kind of the history of other extreme sports, urban sports. And I’m very … I have a very positive view. I think the way that Parkour is going right now is actually really, really exciting for a few reasons. I think that for a long time, as athletes and business [00:21:30] owners, et cetera. Gym owners. We’ve been kind of looking at things and saying, “This is Parkour’s big break. Oh, Casino Royale. That’s going to come out.”
Craig: Here’s the moment. [crosstalk 00:21:40]
Max: And that’s happened for years and years where we’ve said, “Ninja Warrior’s getting picked up by NBC.”
Craig: It’s going to explode. [crosstalk 00:21:48]
Max: And then they look at it and they’re like, “Oh. It’s actually kind of suppressed Parkour and this thing. Build our own.” Which a lot of people have seen as being negative, and I actually see it as being so positive because what [00:22:00] it’s allowed us to do is the people that have been place from the beginning. You know, the Ryan Fords, the Blanes, the Yanns. Dan Edwards. Everybody like that. They’ve had time to invest money into building infrastructure to create their own gym instead of having to go to Cross Fit XY. Get money to have their own … So we’ve all kind of been able to do our own thing under the radar, and gotten just [00:22:30] enough support from these outside entities to stay relevant, but not too much where there’s any amount of control. So it’s been … To me, it’s really interesting because I think that we as a community still have the reigns. We’re still … We’re riding the horse and we’re in control, and it’s not like we have Red Bull on our back that’s got a switch hitting the horse’s butt.
Craig: In some way, the whole global Parkour everything … The amount of money being spent on it. The shoes, the clothing, all that stuff. It’s all so small [00:23:00] that sort of the corporate powers don’t really care yet.
Max: But I see that as being positive, and I ultimately see … Even if you look at competition, things like that. For instance, what you were saying about the market for all Parkour goods. Say you take the money that every major Parkour team makes off of selling merchandise and every Parkour company. That’s still maybe 1/1,000th of [crosstalk 00:23:26] of the amount of money [00:23:30] that [crosstalk 00:23:31]. Nike spends a thousand times that much on marketing one shoe.
Max: So they look at something like Parkour, and they’re like, “There’s no market for it.” And for me, I see it as … I would much rather have that be the case where these companies are like, “There’s no market for it. There’s no market for it.” Then, by the time they want to come in, all the gaps have been filled. It’s like, there’s already clothing companies that are grass roots. There’s competition formats that are grass roots. There are gyms that are grass roots. X and Y, and it’s all been covered by people in the community that have the community’s best interests [00:24:00] at heart. That have been training for fifteen years, that want to promote a safe practice of Parkour.
Craig: Yes, and that transformation where the … Whatever the sport you’re talking about. That whatever the activity is, that transformation is just a generic thing. It happens with every activity and every sport. And you get one moment where it explodes like that, and then the horse is out and it’s over. So I think you’re right. We definitely need… People definitely in the Parkour scene, in the Parkour community. They need to start [00:24:30] … You really have to sit down and say to yourself, “If I’ve gotten something that I value and appreciate out of Parkour, then I have a choice. I can either say thank you and go onward with whatever I’m doing. Or I can say, I have the responsibility to stop and to also allocate some of my efforts to passing that gift on.” And that’s actually how you save it. That’s how you make sure that Parkour maintains whatever it is that you think it has that’s great. You keep [00:25:00] that alive by keeping it alive.
Max: Yeah, I think it’s also … A little bit … For me, as somebody who’s trying to make a living off of doing this awesome, awesome practice that we do. It’s a little bit inspiring. I know a lot of other athletes that are working two jobs, working one job a week. Trying to train full-time, and they’re just like, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” And it’s frustrating to see amazingly talented athletes, people who are so passionate about what we do, and have the skills to [00:25:30] really be great ambassadors for the practice of Parkour, that have to drop out because they’re just like, “I’ve got pay school loans. I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do that.” And then to me, it’s like … I always tell them, I’m like, “Look at this. Look at all the gyms popping up.” There are opportunities, it’s just kind of … For me, I’m … In terms of the “aha” moment, when does Parkour get huge? I’m really curious when what could happen …
Craig: I think it would only be visible in hindsight. Like, you can look back and find the aha moment for the internet, you can find the aha moment for skating, [00:26:00] but only in hindsight. You’re never going to spot it as it’s happening to you.
Max: It’s crazy to think, though, because I feel like so many things have already happened with Parkour. It’s been in movies, it’s been music videos, it’s all over the internet, it’s gone viral, it’s been on TV, there’s been TV shows. All these things [crosstalk 00:26:15]
Craig: What could possible be left? Well, here’s one for you. I’m not going to name names, but I happen to know somebody who recently went to Antarctica and did Parkour on a cruise ship. And after the fact, we were talking and somebody else said, “Oh my goodness. You were the first [00:26:30] person to take Parkour to the last continent.” And we were just like, “Oh my goodness. That’s actually what really just happened.” So the only point I’m making is there are still things to be done, and if we knew what they were, then they would be done. So there’s still tons of opportunity out there.
Max: Or it gets in the Olympics or whatever. For better or for worse, whatever happens there. That’s another thing that people have been talking about is Parkour in the Olympics, the X Games. And I look at that and I say, what athlete … ‘Cause there are people that are like, “I [00:27:00] want that to happen now. That would be so great for the community, the exposure.” And I look at that and I say, “What athlete from any team…” Know, if I were on — I work a lot with KO — Nike comes up to me and they say, “Hey, we see you’re going to be on the Olympic team twenty whatever. 2020. We’d like to offer you seventy thousand dollar [crosstalk 00:27:20]
Craig: A real salary.
Max: Yeah, any money. Any Parkour athlete they’re like, “Ten thousand dollars a year. Oh, gosh.”
Craig: Five digits?!
Max: Yeah. I mean … Yeah, so I look at that, and you’re like, these are [00:27:30] people that are literally struggling to survive. How are they going to say no if a big company comes in and offers them any money.” And for the Olympics, obviously there are rules with sponsorship and things like that, but if they’re any kind of major sponsorship like that, it would be hard for somebody that, even if they’re the face of their own team to say no just because of the comfort that that would bring to their lives. And then you have now … Maybe that happens to the right five or six people, now you have maybe the five biggest teams and faces of [00:28:00] Parkour for a lot the kids that are … Now those all dissolve, things fall a part [crosstalk 00:28:04]. And then it’s like, okay, now who’s going … Where are the grass roots teams? Where are the organizations that have been working for years? All that could be undone with five contracts to the right people.
Craig: Right. And I think it will …
Max: Which is scary.
Craig: That’s going to happen.
Max: But hopefully, fingers crossed that it takes eight more years or twelve more years where then you have gyms that are in place and Apex is like, “We opened up our thirtieth facility in America [00:28:30] so we can offer you this contract instead of Under Armor.”
Craig: Well, I think that there’s more and more inroads being created to primary schooling. So parents are now open to Parkour being like a regular thing. My kids in karate, your kids in soccer, and my kid does Parkour. And it doesn’t even make an eyebrow raise anymore at dinner parties. So as that has now happened, then that creates an economy for that. And then those [00:29:00] kids grow up never really thinking that Parkour is exceptional in a bad way. It’s exceptional because it’s fun and they love it. But it’s not exceptional like only weird people do that. And that’s …
Max: Which is true.
Craig: I guess if you count heads and you say so many billions of people on the planet are one way and then there’s a certain number that are the other way, yes, we’re the weird ones. But in reality I think the people who do Parkour … People ask me, people in my age cohort, ask me about it. And I say, “Well, you do Parkour. [00:29:30] When did you stop?” It was probably around fourteen, like actually if you’re over thirty, for example. Sit down for a second and I want you to tell me the last time that you climbed on the jungle gym. And if you can’t tell me the exact month, that means it was like when you were in sixth grade or something. And it’s like … That’s a long time ago to have not been four feet off the ground.
So now we’re off into talking about what the nature of Parkour is, but I really think it’s a common theme that I’m hearing with almost anybody I talk to anywhere [00:30:00] is that we all feel that there’s this responsibility to the greater Parkour ethereal thing. Like we all owe it something and there are a lot of people who are famous names who would nod vigorously, “Yes, yes, yes.” So that’s a great place to go. I’m glad we got to talk about that.