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

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“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

Special skills gig and amped up training

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LeifABiqWE

Hey There,

Such wonderful news. I got my first SAE (special skills) job on a movie set last week. Now before you go getting too excited. My “special skill” was holding a video camera (yup, holding a heavy piece of technology is considered a special skill) and I didn’t even end up having to hold one. The money was so much better than normal “background” work so I am not complaining in the least. Just another little step closer to my first stunt gig.

I celebrated this awesome week with a glorious 24 hours up in Whistler with a friend that I will call Cool Dude (cause that’s what he is). Fondue, smores, night strolls in the rain (glass of wine in hand) one day, a short hike through a lush, green trail around ancient cedar trees (around 1000 years old) and a solid session at the Scandinavian spa the next day. Seriously though, this spa was like nothing I had ever been to before. In addition to a eucalyptus steam room, cedar sauna, outdoor hot tubs and cold plunge pools, the entire compound is cell phone free and silent. After a few hours there, I came out a completely relaxed and refreshed person. I don’t know if it was the spa or the company but I was so calm by Sunday evening that I had great difficulty training at the gymnastics club.

This week was all about getting back into my training regime and connecting with industry people. I have been in Vancouver for just over 4 months and I feel like I’m on the right track but I could be doing more. The next few things on my to-do list are:

  • book a photographer for new headshots
  • organize a photo shoot for my action shots (stunt portfolio)
  • pick music for my next circus routine
  • find an apartment to move into January 1st (my current accomodations are wonderful but I am in need of a little more space than a Murphy bed and a 1m wide closet)
New move on the aerial straps -  solid combination of strength and flexibility

New move on the aerial straps – solid combination of strength and flexibility

This week, my training totaled:

Monday – 3.0 hours of circus (silks routine)

Tuesday – 2.5 hours of circus (straps / hand balancing)

Wednesday – 3.0 hours circus (aerial hoop / silks), 2.0 hours parkour (rails / dive rolls)

Thursday – 1.5 hours circus (bar conditioning / aerial silks), 2.5 hours of acro (mini-trampoline tricks)

Friday – 2.5 hours of parkour (height training, kongs, filming)

Saturday – 9.0 hours of coaching

Sunday – 2.0 hours of stunt fighting (samurai & kali sticks), 2.0 hours of gymnastics / tumbling

Above I attached my monthly parkour progress video. My Team Tryforce training partner had the idea to track our training during the winter months and I like the idea of holding myself accountable to regular training. Speaking of which…gotta go train.

Cheers,

AthleteInspired