Nuns, beaches and a whole ton of parkour

Hey There,

Let’s quickly chat about Catholic guilt, shall we? As I have just experienced a solidly entertaining dose of it. While sitting on the plane bound for Vancouver, I was innocently working my way through the stack of magazines that have I accumulated over the past couple of months. This particular fashion magazine had a selection on articles about sex. Everything from general survey results, lingerie, toys, you name it. As I was fully enthralled in the content I heard what came to be rattling of beads. Not just any beads. Rosary beads. Being held by my in-flight neighbour who was a very cute, old nun. Well my cheeks flushed a solid shade of Cabernet Savignon. Not a current follower of the Catholic faith, I still managed to be smacked with the faiths’ judgment of all that is sinful. I proceeded to order a glass of wine and console myself with the idea that the nun was running through her rosary due to her fear of flying.

Beverly Hills, oh the palm trees

Beverly Hills, oh the palm trees

My trip to Los Angeles was otherwise incredibly enjoyable. It was one of the rare trips that I take without having made a decent itinerary. I had no set schedule of places to be or people to meet and what a blessing in disguise that was. Every single day I still ended up doing more than I would have if I did set out a strict itinerary. And here this mostly type-A personality was afraid of rocking it solo and unprepared. Ha!

The first day it rained so hard (the first time in a year for LA) that I escaped to one of the many historical landmarks of the United States (The Shopping Mall) and got all of my Christmas shopping done. I also got to interview and meet a fellow aspiring stunt woman. Over coffee and a giant chocolate croissant (because everything in “Merica” is bigger), we quickly realized just how many similarities we had. It was spooky and cool at the same time. I was talking to almost a mirror image of myself except for her already being a card carrying stunt union member. This chick is awesomely skilled, has a quirky and upfront personality and a general independent female bada$*. Can you say, ‘instant friend!’.

View of the City of Angles from Runyon Canyon

View of the City of Angles from Runyon Canyon

The second day was overcast and I was questioning my decision to escape the cold rain of Vancouver for the sunny beaches of California. As fate would have it, I found myself in the company of an incredibly inspirational and driven local whom I had briefly met the last time I was in town. We grabbed coffee, walked the upscale streets of West Hollywood, hiked up Runyon canyon to get a view of the cityscape and talked at great length about what our goals and passions in life are and what we are doing to make it happen. I can only quote my favourite movie of all time (The Princess Bride), “we are men of action, lies do not become us.” Talk is cheap, life is short, follow your dreams with conviction. That’s what I got from that encounter. I was so amped up that I drove straight to Santa Monica beach. For the first time, I got prime parking and almost private use of the rings, bars and perfectly manicured patch of grass utilized by all types of local fitness characters. The rain held off long enough for me to pump out a short 30 minute barefoot run along the shore and an hour-long yoga session in the sand (Cali might be the only place you can do that and not even get looked at funny). I finished off the night at one of my favourite training facilities, Tempest Freerunning Academy, where I trained with my new friend.

A little yoga on Santa Monica beach

A little yoga on Santa Monica beach

Day three, the clouds parted and I sped off to the beach just long enough for my freckles to come out of hibernation. I braved rush hour Freeway traffic to meet up with a very cool Canadian dude who is living in LA, pursuing stunts after a long career in Cirque du Soliel. Over lunch at a hole in the wall Italian deli (sandwiches that knocked my socks off and a heartwarming owner to match), this Calgary native gymnast shared his journey through performing, how he’s pursuing his stunt career and tips on how to reach out and contact coordinators. Finished up the night swinging on rails, jumping over Super Mario Brother themed obstacles and flipping off of a wall into a foam pit at the other Tempest Academy (South Bay), surrounded by tons of ridiculously talented traceurs, trickers and stuntmen. Trying going to sleep after a session like than. Not a chance.

My last day was a total surprise of awesome. A professional photographer from Toronto had seen that I was in LA on my Facebook (and so continues the love/hate of the social media giant) and, as she was working in LA at the moment, we meet up early in the morning for a parkour photoshoot. Pictures to come. After that I got a last minute reply from the LA circus school and jetted up for a private aerial straps lesson. I have discovered that I learn way faster when my instructor is a deliciously attractive male with the body of a Greek statue.

And so my trip concludes with my run in with a nun. Next up, a parkour competition, a video filming session with my 3 favourite fellow traceuses (parkour ladies) and a head shot photoshoot for my stunt portfolio. Never underestimate the power of the Cali sun to invoke a little “dream big, live big” into your life.

AthleteInspired

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Cali sun, training fun

Hey There,

My least favourite thing in the world is when someone promises me they will do something / go somewhere with me and then bail at the last minute (or were never capable of making such a promise in the first place). It seriously drives me wild. I’m not talking about the acquaintance who throw’s out the “we should grab coffee sometime”, or the “let’s totally meet up for acro yoga” statements. We should all know that those tend to be fruitless invitations and any follow through is a bonus (or an acquaintance who should be bumped up to friend status). I’m talking about the “let’s meet in insert city from insert specific dates” or “I’m booking my tickets tomorrow to visit you insert specific dates” person who waits until you’ve either booked your plane ticket or turned down an equally exciting invitation, from someone who will actually follow through, to cancel on you (and never with an understandable excuse or rationale).

I’ve learned a valuable lesson with regards to these people and avoiding the devastating disappointment that can follow. You have two options: 1) disregard these invitations all together and make your own plans (and in the event that they do follow through and your schedule is somehow empty, great), or 2) give yourself and them a deadline to send you proof of executing such plans and if / when nothing appears in your inbox, proceed to make your own plans. Life is too short to miss out on a great adventure. As long as you are able / comfortable traveling solo, my advice will not leave you disappointed.

Why this rant? Because, this exact scenario is what landed me on a 4-day escape to the sunny beaches and hills of Los Angeles. I chose option 2 and this will be the first trip to LA sans friends. I will meet up with some parkour and circus people in the city, I’ll run and read on the beach, and I’ll enjoy some quality solo time. Introspection here we come! Never a bad thing when it’s sandwiched by a morning surfing session and an evening training session at the famous Temptest Freerunning Academy.

AthleteInspired

“You got skills girl…now get more”

Hey There,

Training continues, progress is made and inch by inch, I feel a little closer to my dream. I have been thoroughly enjoying the variety of my activities. Circus in the morning and a myriad of gymnastics, parkour, stunt fighting, trampoline and tumbling in the evening and weekends. Maybe this is only true for myself but I felt like I would come to Vancouver to showcase my skills to the industry and they would either take-it or leave-it. Much to my pleasurable surprise, my skills were seen, acknowledged and then a new checklist of skills (much like a Costco shopping list) appeared. Gymnastics – check. Parkour – check. Circus aerials – check. Now throw in some sort of martial art, some weapon manipulation, facial and body reaction training, and falls (from height, from combat, tripping over your own two feet). So cool!

Flipping through the air, being arm thrown to the ground (a wrestling / judo technique) or dive konging (a parkour technique) over an obstacle are great but film is all about telling a story. How did you get hurled into the air to flip? What fight sequence led up to being arm-thrown and how much ‘pain’ will be acted out as you hit the ground? What band of alienesque ninjas were chasing you down the streets as you approach various obstacles to kong over? Being comfortable and competent with all of these elements is, I’m told, what makes a good stunt performer.

Teaching the body new things is truly what I live for. Our bodies are such amazing instruments and tied so closely to our minds. Evolve or die. There is absolutely nothing desirable to me about doing the exact same thing every day for the rest of my life. I may be on the other extreme right now where every day is a mini-adventure, but research suggests that both longevity and happiness is tied to this idea of constant learning.

http://www.thehappymovie.com 

As I see this mountain of work and skill acquisition ahead of me, I waiver for a moment. “I still have so far to go, so many hours of training. Do I still want to do this?” I say to myself. “F* ya!” is the almost immediate response that escapes my lips.

AthleteInspired