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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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