Parkour Athlete’s Packin’ Inspiration

Photo credit: Chad Bonanno and Tempest Freerunning

1.Luci Romberg

There are endless good things to say about this powerhouse. I have had a she-crush on her since I begun my parkour journey and throughout my stunt pursuits. I had the pleasure of creeping out, I mean meeting, Luci at the first North American Parkour Championships. She graciously accepted my decision for us to be friends.
She continues to have an incredible career as a professional stunt woman (being brought on as Melissa McCarthy’s permanent stunt double), continues to set the bar for female and male freerunners at international competitions, and headed up an female empowerment initiative called Tru Beauty.
Training with her will have you levelling up, hanging with her will have you laughing uncontrollably, and watching her success will have you inspired.
Click here for Luci’s Tru Beauty video.

2. Mandy Lam

Mandy spends her time writing grants and getting funding to introduce women to the sport of parkour. She focuses on the physical and psychological benefits of the discipline, as a lifestyle change. An exceptional climber and well-travelled traceuse, Mandy brings a cheerful calmness to her practice. She is a wonderful personal to engage in tête-à-têtes with because she strives to gain real connections with those who she trains with. It is these one-on-one discussions that put her on my list.
Meet Mandy in this video

3. Brandee Laird

She moves like no one I have ever met. Her strength and fluidity is beautiful while her bag of gadgets and juggling skills keep you mesmerized. She cares deeply about equality and increasing the level of acceptance in the sport. Brandee has poured a great deal of time into building up a thorough coaching apprentice program at Parkour Visions, as well as a curriculum that is accessible to the entire parkour community and beyond. Above and beyond all that, she is a beautiful soul with badass dance moves and is a hoot to train with…especially at night.
Click here for Brandee’s movement reel.

4. Melanie Hunt

One cannot spend time with this energetic and intelligent human without learning something. She is a full-time high-school English teacher at an international school in New York, as well as an American Parkour athlete and coach. We bonded over physical literacy and multi-disciplinary learning at the Art of Movement this past year. Her passion for higher learning, at any discipline, is immediately evident. Our world needs more teachers like this. The ones who fight for better education, for gender equality and walks (freeruns) their talk.
Here’s Melanie’s Facebook page.

5. Julie Angel

Julie’s publihsed works got me really pumped to revisit the basic movements of parkour and get in touch with the origins of the discipline. Many people who read her book felt compelled to return to a style and mentality of training that the founders of parkour embraced. I have never considered myself a ‘purist’ but Julie’s work birthed a new love for the movement. Then there’s her See & Do project and constructive approach to women in parkour is so well articulated. I often find myself reviewing my notes from our talks in New York. So many great things to be said about this brilliant woman.
Click here for the See&Do website.

6. Alice Popejoy

Mother, academic and coach. This mama defies parkour convention and is currently rocking a research job in Norway. She takes an avid interest in applying her research to the betterment of the parkour community. In a footnote, she is also an inspiration as an athlete. She went from not being able to do a push-up to overcoming her physical obstacles and becoming a solid practitioner and coach.
Follow Alice on Facebook:

7. Natalie Nikiforuk

If you need a person to lift heavy things, she’s your gal. One of the country’s strongest powerlifters in her weight class, this traceuse brings a lot of diversity to the table. I met Nat almost a decade ago and we’ve trained, performed and competed together in parkour ever since. We have both been referred to as “hobbyists” to the parkour world for our focus on multiple disciplines. Well Natalie, “The Hobbyist”, Nikiforuk not only lifts heavy things, she trains race horses for a living, takes her parkour training seriously and gives back the parkour community. Nat co-leads an annual women’s parkour event called Varkour Day, she designs logos and digital animation for community members and she is extremely passionate about increasing opportunities for women in parkour. We just shot our latest video, which we’re very proud of (considering we shot it over a weekend).
Here’s a link to our first parkour video:

8. Erica Madrid

I tend to have a bias towards former gymnastics, mostly because of how athletically versatile they are. From her early Art of Motion days, Erica’s gymnastics background has influenced her movement style in the parkour and freerunning world and was able to flow between the two disciplines quite well. The reason I admire Erica, is not just for her practice but for her perseverance with making parkour a performance art. She was recently cast in the new Cirque du Soliel show, Votla, which highlights parkour and freerunning (among other extreme sport movements) in a very artistically centred way. I can’t wait to see the show, if you can, check it out! (Click here for Volta teaser)

9. Lindsay Darlington-Rowat (PK Generations)

Some of the first female content I watched on YouTube. I remember writing down her parkour WOD’s and emulating them. I was also simultaneously hoping for a female community such as the one showcased in the UK scene. She was one of, if not the first female Level 2 ADAPT certified coach. The physicality required to pass the original gruelling coaching course was extremely impressive. I haven’t met her yet, but she is an impressive coach and athlete.
Here is one of my favourite challenges she posted.

10. Caitlin Pontrella

Caitlin’s passion for parkour runs deep. Not only was she a partner of the Movement Creative, she continues to organize some of the leading parkour community development events (ie. Art of Retreat). Caitlin has recently acquired her full Architect designation. Mad props to anyone who can balance a full professional load with a full recreational lifestyle. I want to know her secret to balancing such an intense workload. This lady really makes me want to move!
Check her website out: www.CaitlinPontrella.com

She inspire’s me to PK

Over the past two years, parkour has taken a backseat to various martial arts and my stunt training. The whole strengthen your weaknesses and maintain your strengths approach to building up a skill set. Being back in Calgary this winter has re-invigorated my parkour training. I have always enjoyed the community here and Varkour ladies make training so very enjoyable.

10451171_890817184268326_6590904201854977313_n

As I continue to work on my building my business, I find myself needing the motivation to balance training with business’ing. To be honest, I’ve always preferred doing over talking about doing it. That being said, it’s pretty hard to be a coach or a leader if you do not have any students or peers to coach or lead.

I am fortunate to be influenced by so many strong female parkour practitioners who not only walk their talk, but manage to enrich their lives beyond parkour. What better way to reflect on the power-femmes in my life, but to put together a Top-10 list.

580610_10151351290458224_140730722_n

So over the next couple of weeks I am going to highlight the parkour women who have inspired me, not only to move, but to give back to my community and to go after what I really want in life. Just a warning, this list does not just contain the “best” female parkour practitioners from all the lands. Those lists have been done and they’re so subjective. Skill alone does not an idol make. These lady freerunners have something in their practice (or outside of their practice) that gets me all fired up.

Feel free to share that well-rounded traceuse that lights your fire. I’d love to build a bigger list.

AthleteInspired