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.

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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.

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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

 

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Working Out, Through Grief

Everyone experiences great loss in their lives. Some more unfortunately than others but everyone loses something or someone very important to us. It has a profound impact on us and how we deal with it can have an even more profound impact on our futures.

Aunt B8

Recently I lost my aunt. To call her an aunt is a misleading representation of our closeness. To myself and many of my 13 cousins, she was our babysitter, our camp counsellor, our social worker and the person many of us depended upon to make sense of the world. When my mother passed away, she was the person who swore to be there for me no matter what, to offer guidance & support while also calling me out on my sh*t. Her unconditional love for us, mixed with her dry wit and love for nature made her a very special person.

I find it quite fascinating how differently people cope with loss. I have known many who pretend they are fine and push onwards without acknowledging the pain that must be processed, I have known others who have literally drank themselves to death within a year, not able to manage what was now missing from their lives, and many more who have tried to mask their pain with substances, eating disorders, seclusion, sexual promiscuity or a neurotic work ethic that consumes them.

When my mother passed away over a decade ago, I did not have the tools and resources that I now have to cope. I gave into many of the above mentioned coping mechanisms but there was one thing that truly helped carry me through that period of emotional desperation. That was sport. It helped me then and is helping me now. Back then, only constant in my life was wresting. The sweat, tears and adrenaline of a physical workout granted me some sort of clarity and mental strength to slowly move forward.

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There has been quite a bit of research done on the benefits of high intensity physical activity on stress and grief management. Dr. Mercola explains in his article, “Sweating Out Sadness”, that high intensity exercise gives you a sense of control as it requires great internal focus. Not to mention the benefits of increased blood flow to the brain, release of endorphins (those happy neurotransmitters) and the sense of accomplishment that can help rebuild general motivation.

Now I am not saying that every single time you are feeling sad, down, low, unmotivated, paralyzed, impartial, etc., that you should get up and rock a 20-minute HIIT workout. That’s an unrealistic expectation that will just lead to feeling even more lost and disappointed. There have been days this past couple of weeks where just brushing my teeth, showing up for work or eating something other than chocolate & Skittles all day is considered a victory. I am talking about those moments when you feel like you want and need something to help you feel better. Those are the moments to try and get your sweat on. Just as the grief diary I will share at the end of the month will demonstrate, the actual process of processing typically looks much more like a 2 year olds’ drawing of a cat. It rarely is a straight inclining line.

The path to saying goodbye is probably filled with many ups, downs, happy moments when you think you should be sad, sad moments when you want to be happy, moments when you want to lash out at the nice barista who put just a bit too much foam in your cappuccino and flashing moments of your old content self. My best advice is not to rush it, to own your feelings whole heartedly and to do a little bit most days. Use the loss in order to strengthen you for the future. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of a small company called Facebook, wrote a beautiful piece about grief when her husband passed away. She does not touch on ‘sweat therapy’ but I leave you with this article and hope that it gives you some insight and that exercise becomes a helpful tool in your tool belt.

http://www.businessinsider.com/sheryl-sandbergs-essay-on-dave-goldbergs-death-and-grief-2015-6

AthleteInspired

Fear of failure…just another road block to success

How often do we fail at something before we start trying?  The times I most regret in sport, work and life are the opportunities I do not seize out of fear of failure or fear of what others may think. Great things await those who only fail when they give up.

Found this great article on Lifehacker that helps breakdown the barriers of “Taking the Plunge” and pursuing your passion. I lived this journey first hand when I went from my 9-5 plus some evenings and weekends career, to packing up my car and pursuing my passion for stunts.

The three strategies that Ash Read offered up were integral to my journey being a successful one. First off, I had to change my perception of failure and embrace that my version of success was going to take time, detours and some amount of ‘failure’. Secondly, I found myself a mentor. Well she found me but either way I was guided and supported by a very wise woman (big shout out to Amber Wright). Lastly, I broke my main goal down into doable chunks so that every little win was a reason to celebrate and the whole damn thing seemed less intimidating.

Basically, I grabbed life by the #ladybalz and it left me shooting the double guns. Take that fear of failure! Now you try it.

AthleteInspired

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The Skill Collector

They say it takes 10,000 hours to truly master a skill. There is something very noble and beneficial in that pursuit. Then there are the 10-mins every day to learn a new skill people. I call these the skill collectors. They typically do not ever master a skill but they can perform a variety of skills without much difficulty. The “Jack of all trades, Master of none”.

The existence of these two groups have become most evident as I journey deeper into the mysterious and wonderful world of stunts. Many performers break into the industry with a mastery of a certain discipline such as karate, kung fu, sword, motocross, horseback riding, gymnastics, you get the idea. Many others are more generalists who can perform at minimum, a basic level of falling, fighting, driving, acrobatics, etc. Almost all stunt performers are skill collectors who constantly pursue mastery. They’re a very inspirational bunch.

I am personally addicted to collecting skills. Not so much attaining the skills themselves, although they make incredible party tricks and icebreakers. I yearn more for that wave of euphoria you get when you nail that new trick for the first, third and tenth time. Especially after thinking, only weeks before, that there was no way you would ever be able to to learn it in the first place. That feeling over getting over the “can’t” and turning it into the “can too” is super powerful.

Have you ever had that moment? The one where you surprise yourself? Well I am not a master of many, if anything but I believe I come close with one skill. The cartwheel. It is my favourite skill in the whole wide world. I can do it fast, slow, over things, across things, with one arm, with no arms, I can even do them in circles until I fall over dizzy. It is the first skill that I want to share with everyone.

Here is the link to my first series of videos where I breakdown the cartwheel into super basics, provide progressions and then I will follow up with 2 workouts inspired by my favourite move that aims to strengthen the muscles required to perform a beautiful cartwheel.

Athlete Inspired – Cartwheel Tutorial

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As I try and teach the world the art of the cartwheel, I have chosen a new skill that I would like to add to my collection. Staff manipulation. Weaponry is a key part of any stunt performer’s arsenal. I have sought out the expertise of a mastery manipulator (her name is Michelle and she’s so frickin cool) and have been trying to practice the basics 10mins a day, most days of the week. I’ll track my progress and post something at the end of the month. I encourage you to brave that 12-megapixel lens of judgement and track your progress. I bet you’ll surprise yourself.

Athlete Inspired

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Michelle Smith is a badass staff manipulator. Check out her skills on YouTube.                  Learn from her at www.michellecsmith.com

 

 

An athlete truly inspired: a year in review and an exciting future

First stunt gag on Supernatural, doubling Emily Swallow (aka Amara)

Sitting in a coffee shop on my day off between filming and I can honestly say that I feel the pieces finally coming together. Between filming days. I giggle to myself every time I get to say that. As recently as I year ago, I was pining for the opportunity to be making my living as a stunt performer. Thanks to a brilliantly low Canadian dollar, thousands of hours of training, networking and manifesting my hopes and dreams IMDB has a page with my name on it!

The training, networking and hard work continues but, step-by-step I was able to go through the initial paces of getting paid for athletic, physical feats on film. I became a full ACTRA member, a member of StuntList (a vetted, online database for stunt performers), and now am able to make a living doing something I would happy pay to do. I am now liberated from working odd jobs, donating blood and organs for cash, couch surfing, eating out of restaurant dumpsters,etc (to my family reading this, please know it was never actually this bad. I still have all of my organs). A true testament to following your heart, taking calculated risks and being prepared for when the opportunity for success arises.

*Above photos from my experience with the Supernatural family in seasons 11 & 12

I continue to have a marvelous support network who help me live my dream. Even more who have helped me get to this point. Hopefully you know who you are because I’ve remembered to shower you with thanks, dramatic appreciation and a behind-the-scene glimpse of my set adventures.

The man in my life deserves a special shout out. He met me as I was starting this journey, fumbled with me through this maze of ups and downs, highs and lows, late nights, early mornings, rescheduled dates and rain-checked plans. I think we’ve had a blast these past couple of years and it’s about to get that much more adventurous. We will be embarking on a 4-month adventure based out of Calgary. Without hesitation he led the charge to pack up our old apartment, find accommodations in Calgary and will work out of Alberta while I try and rise to the challenge of my first lead stunt doubling job.

This leads me to the whole point of this post. To share my plan for 2017. My plan to give back and hopefully inspire others the way I have been inspired to pursue my passion for sport, performance and personal growth. I have a started a company and enlisted the help of my former boss, the woman who initially set me down this path, to help me inspire others to reach their goals, embrace their passions, and in the very least, learn the joys and benefits of training like a superhero.

I will continue to share my journey, discuss various topics that will hopefully get your minds and bodies in a frenzy and I will also be posting some videos on my YouTube channel to inspire you to test your limits and learn something new. So please like and share!

Stay tuned…

AthleteInspired

Inspiration from Friends who are Killing It!

I am starting to feel like myself again in the mist of processing everything. At times like these, I can find it pretty hard to get motivated to train or work on the projects that I am normally passionately immersed in. My people, the family you have that are either blood related or not, have been incredibly supportive and have reminded me how many great things I am working towards. I am taking a little time to focus on all of the extremely inspirational people in my life and borrow a little energy from them. I wanted to use this post to celebrate just a few of the amazing people in my life and the infectious power that comes from chasing your dreams whole heartedly.

First up is my cousin, probably one of the most inspiring women I know. Her love for others (of the human and  the furry, 4-legged variety) and her hours upon hours of introspection is one of the few reasons I admire her. She has the ability to navigate through life’s major ups and downs with feeling and with flare.  When she was here in Vancouver for her brother’s wedding we were lucky enough to spend a couple of days together. She is going after her passion for food, mentorship and management while working her way up the restaurant chain. I have no doubt that she will one day own her own restaurant one day. And on top of that, she pursues it with such fashionable feistiness, I cannot help but want to do the same with my own pursuits. 

Next up is the stunt ladies in my life. One of them has been working in the sutnt industry for a while, one of them has made a major breakthrough this year and the other is quickly working her way onto the scene. They all come from different backgrounds of elite level activity.  Not your typically girls group either. Ju jitsu, muay thai, motorcycles are just a few of their collective passtimes. I sometimes feel intimidated when they bring me to their martial arts training sessions but other times they make me feel very confident in my own skills when they ask me to teach them gymnastics or parkour. Makes me realize that we may all be masters of our own trade but we are students of all the others. Not only are these ladies incredibly talented but they are so positive and accepting. They have brought me into their group, mentored me and provided support throughout the ups and downs.

Two of my most favourite people in the world are killing it as a team. I consider these two my family. I have been friends with the husband since we were in Grade 10 math class together. He knows me better than anyone. THe wife has been a total blessing to him, and to myself. Seriously, he is one lucky guy.  She is the full package deal and I never thought that I would have such a close relationship with another female. I love these two immensley. More importantly though, they have worked together, supporting eachother at different times, as each of them strives  towards their personal goals. She is new to the fashion design industry and is already experiencing immense success. He finally took the plunge and changed up his career path while simultaneously returning to the competitive golf circuit. A true team. Not to mention they are my biggest cheerleaders and have fully embraced and supported my lifestyle, goals and craziness. 

FINally there is one other special person in my life who is truly killing it. THe only other person I have met who can juggle ambitious career goals with a multitude of athletic persuits (both mainstream and extreme), volunteer work and a packed social schedule. And they do it with such passionate conviction. I don’t think that I have met anyone else who packed up everything and moved to China in search of a new career, in a new industry, on the other side of the planet. And I’m not talking about a fearless risk taker because those people scare me and belong in REdBull commercials. I’m talking about calculated risks that are outside of the score of almsot everyone I know.  Spending time with this person makes me want to be better at whatever I’m doing. Whether it’s problem solving at work, training my circus routines, learning a new sport like kiteboarding (see next post for more info on this grand adventure) or putting in that little bit of extra energy to network. It is rare to find someone that inspires you in all facets of your life. 

 So what do all of these people posses that I feel attributes to their “killing it”? First off, they all have passion. Very high doses of passion. Hardwork that is directed at a goal they want so bad they dream about it. Secondly, they are all very self aware. They have gone their own trails and tribulations and used those experiences to develop a keen sense of self. Thirdly (which is actually a combination of the first two), they do what they do, and go after what they do, unapologetically. They stay true to themselves, they stray from the norms, stick to their guns and they don’t apologize for it. And that is my definition of Killing it. Something to look up to as you are trying to get your motivation back.

AthleteInspired

The power of a matriarch

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I was sitting on a plane bound for my new-ish home in Vancouver after a brief stint in Calgary and an even more brief, stopover in Ontario. I had intended on spending the long weekend in a large gym, crammed with volleyball players and volleyball supporters, promoting the company a few of us started up last year. Six days working a booth, talking to parents about AthleteConnect and how it can improve not-so-little (even the 15-year olds are giants compared to myself) Lexi and Tyler’s opportunities to play post-secondary sport in Canada. Not a luxurious way to spend a long weekend but an entrepreneurial necessity.

Well I put in a solid 3-days at the Olympic Oval before I had to catch the red eye to say farewell to someone very dear to me. Someone whom I will probably see for the last time. While I was home amongst this looming sadness, I really started to think about the effect that a strong matriarch can have on a family. With the early departure of the patriarch, she is the one person who is responsible for maintaining the current branches in the family’s tree. She has been around long enough to amass an extensive collection of trails, tribulations, joys and successes. She upholds the traditions of the clan and can manage the politics of a family solely by the respect her presence in the room commands. She also happens to be the person responsible for filling you with ice cream sundaes, butter tarts and the birthday cards containing a bit of spending money.

As we flooded into our hometown from all over Ontario, British Columbia, Virginia and Australia, something overwhelmingly powerful happened. For the first time in 11-years, every daughter, son, granddaughter and grandson (as well as a few additions to the family, including a great-grandson) gathered in one place, caught up and reconnected with each other. Rather than sadness filling the air, there were hugs and laughter as everyone took turns sharing their latest successes and adventures. As the photographer grouped the four extensions of the clan around the almost stoic matriarch for one final portrait of it’s kind, there was a strong sense of pride and belonging.

The Ross Clan

The Ross Clan

So what happens to the many branches of a family tree when the matriarch has to leave us? Does each limb grow in it’s own separate direction, preparing to expand it’s own reach to the next generation? Who will step up to carry on and instill the family values and traditions that we associate with being ‘home’? Perhaps, large congregations of the clan will be limited to the wedding circuit.  Or maybe it will only be in times of major sorrow that our paths cross. A passing of the guard is inevitable. With it comes a wave of wonderful memories that become etched in one’s heart forever. It’s not an answer but a consolation within a process of change.

AthleteInspired