002. Jonny Hart: Art, coaching, and breaking jumps

Podcast episode


Craig (00:04): Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.

Jonny (00:05): And I’m Jonny Hart.

Craig (00:06): And this is Parkour, They Said. Jonny Hart has studied fine arts at … Wait, what does this say? He teaches for Los Angeles but went to school in New York?

Jonny (00:15): I went to both.

Craig (00:16): I’m so confused. Okay. Wait. He’s from Los Angeles and then he went to school …

Jonny (00:23): At the L.A. Academy of Figurative Art. And then went to New York Academy of Art.

Craig (00:26): And then went to New York, and went to an outside class called Fit Strong?

Jonny (00:32): Get Strong.

Craig (00:33): Get Strong, right. And met Jesse Danger. This is so complicated. All right, let’s try this again. This is Jonny Hart and he’s … You know what, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. He uses Parkour to teach art to kids, he uses art anatomy to teach Parkour to kids. It’s really complicated, we’ll try and untie some of it.

Craig (00:48): So tell me the story. You’re at school at NYU and you go to?

Jonny (00:52): Well, I didn’t go to NYU. [crosstalk 00:00:56] Let’s not make them think I’m a little smarter than I am.

Craig (00:56): I’m sorry. I keep saying it. We’re leaving that in.

Jonny (01:00): I went to art school, so it’s about 27 notches down the letter from NYU.

Craig (01:06): It’s still a Masters of Fine Art.

Jonny (01:09): Yeah, yeah. I do have a piece of paper that calls me a master. But, so I’m in art school in New York and I’m back home visiting family in Los Angeles when a friend of mine sends me the first Tempest video on YouTube. And I realized it was about a mile away from my mom’s house. So I ran down there, took the class, stayed for open gym, and just went back every night for the rest of the trip. Went back to New York and just had this like … It was like an alcoholic drying out, you know? I was just not about to go a day without doing this.

Craig (01:47): Where’s the gym?

Jonny (01:48): So, yeah, well so of course I’m out just exploring every park and there’s not too many sightings in the wild of traceurs, so I’ve got my eye open. I’m looking for anybody. Somebody even pushes the crosswalk differently, I’m like, “Is he training? What is he doing over there?” I’m just looking for anything. Someone. And when that didn’t work, I couldn’t just roam the wilds of New York hoping to stumble across somebody, so I started doing some searching online and I found a community session called Get Strong.

Craig (02:18): Okay.

Jonny (02:18): Which is like conditioning for Parkour.

Craig (02:20): Right. And that’s run by?

Jonny (02:22): Jesse Danger.

Craig (02:23): Right. And the group is? Name drop.

Jonny (02:25): The Movement Creative.

Craig (02:26): Okey dokey. So I’ve always wondered, “How do these two guys know each other?” That explains that. So you went to every one of those courses, I’m going to guess, every class.

Jonny (02:34): Oh, man. Yeah, I went there and found just a bunch of savages. I was like, “This is my world.” It felt like Fight Club. It felt like at night, I’m in there with these people that are doing just dangerous things that really aren’t actually dangerous, but you know what I mean. That feeling of living dangerously. Like, “Ooh, I’m not doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. I’m climbing up on this thing. I’m jumping off,” or whatever.

Jonny (02:56): But then it’s not like beautiful, sunny Los Angeles. There was snow, and rain, and all kinds of other stuff going on. [crosstalk 00:03:03] These guys are out there doing it.

Craig (03:06): Fortune cookies, right.

Jonny (03:08): I’m seeing people throwing up, you know, I mean it was just intense and I was like, “This is it. I want to test myself.”

Craig (03:13): That was the Parkour scene in New York. Yes. I have caught glimpses of it.

Jonny (03:18): Yeah, there was no cushy trampolines or spring floor or any of that stuff. It was all pretty gritty and I was in love with it. I made the greatest group of friends I could have ever known here in New York, from training. That is actually the only common thread, is that we train. Other than that, our lives couldn’t be more disparate. And that’s in stark contrast to everything that I had known before that, where my friend groups were based around art or music or whatever, we were all living pretty similar lives.

Craig (03:51): Right, and that group, that community, even if it’s not living in the same place type of community, but that community of people, seems to me that you meet artists, you’re doing similar things, but some people you just don’t like. You’re just like, “I do not like this person.” And the Parkour community, I don’t know, I’m curious, but your experience has been my experience is the exact opposite of that. Not just the Parkour-specifically named communities, but in anything that you would even classify vaguely as Parkour. Those people are very different from that community.

Jonny (04:22): I couldn’t agree more. Yeah. And it’s not specific to any one city. That is definitely the community at large. So you can go to San Antonio, Texas, you can go to Beaverton, Oregon or wherever you want to go, and you’re gonna find a similar type of person to the one that you’ve been training with. To the type of person that you’ve connected with in your community, whatever it is. And I haven’t traveled abroad to do Parkour, so I can’t speak to the global community outside of what I know from videos and Facebook and stuff. But it appears to be that it’s very much a global commonality.

Craig (04:58): Yeah. And the people that you meet, you might not become best friends with them, you might not click, where you’re, “Oh, wow, three hours have elapsed and we’re still in the corner talking.” It might not meet all the people like that, but you find that when it doesn’t click, the two of you were trying, it was like, “Oh, we didn’t really have a ton to talk about but I really kind of like that person even though I didn’t really click with them.” You know, those little, what was that from Fight Club, single serving-size friends on airplanes?

Jonny (05:23): Yes.

Craig (05:24): Which I love. So the single-serving-size friends, even single-serving-size Parkour friends, they’re actually a really pretty good friendship, even for 30 seconds and you forget their name two minutes later.

Jonny (05:33): Yeah. I’ll even take it one step further. Even, a lot of times, those people who you’re not connecting with on a conversational level, you start moving together, though. And you find a very deep connection. All of a sudden you find, “Ooh, they look at things similar to the way I look at things,” or, “I love the way they look at things, it’s nothing like the way I look at things.”

Craig (05:50): Right.

Jonny (05:51): And now you’re moving in their world or they’re moving in yours, or whatever it is, but you found this other way to connect with somebody that you would have never known if you just worked with them or whatever the case may be.

Craig (06:00): A completely different language. Right. So that brings me to an interesting question, which is, Jonny Hart as an artist. So I started talking to him, and I met him, and I met him a couple times, and I’m like “Oh, this guy’s a painter, like with a capital P.” If you haven’t seen his work, I’ll link some stuff off of the show notes. Like a painter for realsies. So I’m thinking, “Well, this guy went to school for years, and he has this skill set.” And we’re gonna talk about anatomy. “This guy has a skill set with drawing and anatomy and does he look at his Parkour differently? Like is there a cross between the art skillset and the Parkour skillset?” Or do you find that you really separate these two parts of your lives and, if you do separate them, why?

Jonny (06:39): I do tend to separate them, yes. People ask me all the time why I’m not painting action poses of my friends jumping …

Craig (06:48): The body in space, right.

Jonny (06:50): Mid-backflip, or whatever it may be. And the truth is, I couldn’t be less interested in doing something like that. The reason why is because in school, I watched the progression of going from doing art purely because I loved it, I just did it to escape in my own world because it was the most fun I could imagine having, to having to do it because it’s a grind now. You’ve chosen to do this for a living. You show up every day. You put in the work and you do it when it’s not fun, when it’s not inspiring.

Craig (07:18): Sure.

Jonny (07:18): And I needed something else after a day of being in the studio to unwind. Because it wasn’t drawing anymore. I didn’t want to come home and do more drawing or painting. And I don’t like wasting time, so I wasn’t going to come home and play video games or drown myself in comic books or anime or whatever. Not that I’m putting any of those things down, it’s just, for me it felt like, I don’t know, I’m a very obsessive person. I go all in when I get into something. So if I go down one of those rabbit holes, that’s gonna be most of my life. I’m gonna be playing Call of Duty eighteen hours a day or something. And I have no interest in doing that.

Craig (07:55): Don’t do that! So you’re looking at Parkour like, this is something precious that you’ve found and I’m loving it.

Jonny (08:03): Oh my god, yes.

Craig (08:04): Do not want to mess this up by having it turn into my workaday life. So here in New York City, and in Brooklyn, I know that you’re teaching for The Movement Creative and I’ll talk about the class in a minute. But you teach for them, but you don’t have aspirations, or do you have aspirations of teaching and making a living off that? Is that bread and butter?

Jonny (08:21): I do not, no. I do it because I love it. I have another job, a survival job that I do just in a restaurant to make ends meet, but for coaching, I just do it because I love it. And I only coach classes that I love coaching. I leave there feeling awesome. All those kids are like my little brothers and sisters. When I leave, my battery is recharged. I’m not drained at all.

Craig (08:40): Ah, okay.

Jonny (08:41): So I love the fact that I don’t have to do it for a living, that I do it just because I love it. And it keeps it fresh and exciting for me, and, I’m sure, for the kids as well. And I still have this art thing that I do as well. I may go into academia or something at some point. But for now, I’m also painting and drawing on the side. I teach art, as well. And I’m even starting to come up with classes now that combine the two, where I’m teaching drawing and anatomy and movement, all at the same time.

Craig (09:08): So, I read about that course. I’m reading and reading, and I’m like, “Wait, what did that say? Did that just say what I think it said?” So, in fact, you tell the story. So you’re sitting in a meeting, and Jesse is pitching to a school, and they’re like, “We want to come in and we want to teach. Here’s how we run our programs.”

Jonny (09:25): Yeah, and they’re listening to these ideas, and I’m just seeing the stone face of the lady on the other side of the desk, and she’s a very tough nut to crack. And she’s trying to explain to us all the reasons why these classes won’t flourish in this particular school.

Craig (09:38): Yeah, she’s just watching the pitches. Nope, nope, nope, nope.

Jonny (09:39): Exactly.

Craig (09:40): Not swinging. Not swinging.

Jonny (09:42): And Jesse and I had talked about how cool it would be do to do this class that would involve drawing and anatomy in a Parkour setting.

Craig (09:52): I can picture people running with scissors and running with pencils. This is gonna work well! All right! It’s gotta be better than that.

Jonny (10:00): It couldn’t be worse than that, let’s put it that way. So, threw it out there in the meeting and she bit. She was like, “Mmm. M’kay, write up a proposal. Let’s see what this looks like.” So I went home and kind of freaked out for a minute, then I was like, “Okay, no no, we can do this.”

Craig (10:17): Right, so we’re gonna teach kids. We’re gonna teach them how to … What is it, sketching, coloring?

Jonny (10:21): Just sketching.

Craig (10:22): Sketching. We’re gonna teach them sketching and anatomy and at the same time we’re going to teach them Parkour.

Jonny (10:28): Yes.

Craig (10:29): Okay, so just give me a quick … How does this work?

Jonny (10:32): So, generally I’ll give them a little bit of an anatomy lesson at the beginning, with a little bit of demonstration. Up in the front, where I’m talking about, we don’t get into Latin names for muscles or anything like that, but I will talk about masses, like a ribcage, a head, a pelvis, things like that. The two types of opposing muscles, flexors and extensors. Supinators, pronators, things like that. And then kind of how to put that into play for yourself. So, what keeps you balanced? How do you jump? Where is our center of gravity? What’s safe for rolling?

Jonny (11:05): You know, things like that, that I wish I had known when I was a kid. I wish somebody had explained to me a little bit about my body. I think we’re all mildly freaked out about things that we should never be freaked out about when we’re kids because we just don’t know.

Craig (11:16): We did not come with a manual. Not that they would read the manual, but this didn’t come with a manual.

Jonny (11:19): I remember grabbing my Achilles tendon and thinking it was a bone, back there, when I was a kid. I just didn’t know, you know? Just, no clue.

Craig (11:26): Could I run faster if I cut that?

Jonny (11:29): So, I like teaching them a little bit that I feel is going to be helpful for them and actually understand their movement practice better as well. So hopefully that they become their own teachers. They’re able to ask better questions, leading questions of themselves, and explore that with the information they get from this class.

Craig (11:44): Wow, okay. So now we have the instructor of the course, who’s, we didn’t mention this, but, he’s got many years of … How long was the course where you dissected cadavers in Philadelphia, right? I’m not making that up. So you have extensive anatomical knowledge from both the aesthetic slash analysis, you know, look at the painting. That’s a well-drawn figure. But also extensive analysis from a this bone is connected to that bone type thing. So you’re standing in front of these kids, you’re distilling out of thousands of years of physiological knowledge. You’re distilling out one relatively simple thread. You present this to them. You, I’m assuming, point to it, you know, like, “Here it is on me, and it makes my leg do this.”

Jonny (12:27): Yes.

Craig (12:27): And then you give them the scissors and tell them to run?

Jonny (12:31): Then, I will introduce some sort of game that’s gonna force some new type of movement or movement challenge, and try to divide the class in half. So that half are spectators to this game and half are participating in this game. And the half of the class that’s spectating is now gonna try to draw what I’ve explained in the anatomical lesson. So that nobody’s bored. Everybody’s doing something and we have models and we have artists.

Craig (12:59): We have artists. So we have eight kids who were doing some crazy, “stay under this lowering roof” Mission Impossible game and the other kids on the side are looking for where the three center of mass is or how are these people building stable triangles even though their masses aren’t stacked.

Jonny (13:12): Exactly.

Craig (13:13): Spectacular. I’ve never heard or seen anything like that, and the description I read of the course doesn’t give any of that away either. It’s almost like, “What?” But that’s brilliant. I mean, that’s, to me, that’s the kind of thing, when you take two completely different skillsets, you know, painting with a capital P, and mix that with movement. And then people go, “Well, how do you even connect those two dots?” Well, there you go. When you connect them, I think your Parkour practice would be much more deeply informed. That’s your personal, like Jonny’s classes. Jonny’s personal practice is much more deeply informed. At one level you take it all apart, you’re thinking, “Where’s my head? Where’s my torso? What’s my pelvis doing?” And then you put it all back together and integrate it.

Jonny (13:54): Yeah. And drawing, alone, I think is a really neglected form of communication that is super vital. Like in this class, we’re not worried about making pretty drawings in any way, shape, or form. We’re just drawing for understanding. In the same way that an architect can draw out a building, their passion isn’t drawing, they don’t sit at home practicing drawing from a model or anything, but they can convey an idea accurately. The same person that came up with an iPhone, I’m sure they had to draw it first, or they contracted someone that could think visually.

Jonny (14:21): I think it benefits us all to understand visually what we see and we can translate it into some sort of communicable symbol on a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be your main passion, but I think it will inform just the way you look at the world and the way you think about things. I think it’s really important for kids.

Craig (14:37): In Parkour, we all talk about fear as a thing that we work, we try to make it an ally, try to use it. And some people talk about the phrases, “Breaking the jump.” And a lot of people who maybe don’t do Parkour, who might listen to the podcast, wouldn’t that be great, those people might have no understanding at all about the fear or this breaking the jump idea. So we stand at the edge of a bridge and it may or may not scare us, because I’m thinking, “I could actually do a turn vault here and it’s a long way down.” And then that suddenly scares me.

Craig (15:06): Somebody who would never climb on a railing in any context isn’t the least bit scared. So, it seems to me that this whole idea of fear and how you try to break jumps is something that you don’t even realize that that is there, until you begin doing Parkour. So my question is, is there a similar type of fear or the need to break challenges, maybe, inside the artistic creative process?

Jonny (15:30): Absolutely. Yeah. So people look at what you do, when you’ve got 10,000 hours of work into it, and they go, “Oh, you must just do that stuff fairly effortlessly.” And the fact of the matter is, every new painting, I specifically pick, essentially, a jump to break. I specifically make sure that it’s engineered that there’s something in there that I have no idea how to do it. And none of my skill set has prepared me for it. And you get started, and then eventually you kind of work around the challenge little bit. And eventually you’re like, “Okay, we gotta do this now.”

Craig (16:03): We gotta do this, right.

Jonny (16:04): And you may fail miserably. It may be a painting that you leave out on the sidewalk, which I’ve done before after working on it for a full month.

Craig (16:14): Let me know where it is the next time. I’ll pick it up.

Jonny (16:15): It was gone in twenty minutes. Because I regretted it, I thought about it, about thirty minutes later, I went, “huh.” I peeked out the window and I’m like, “Yeah, it’s gone.”

Craig (16:22): It’s gone.

Jonny (16:23): And then I did it again. And again. Yeah, I don’t learn from my mistakes very well. But yeah, you may fail miserably, or you’re gonna break through it, you’re gonna learn something new about yourself, and you’re gonna develop a new skill out of necessity that you didn’t have at the beginning of the painting. So that’s what keeps me excited about making paintings, is because I couldn’t do the same thing over and over again. I have to manufacture some sort of potential failure there.

Craig (16:48): Do you have, let’s call that a drive. Do you have that drive before you started doing Parkour?

Jonny (16:54): Yes. Absolutely. Yeah, I feel like I’ve lived with the spirit of Parkour before I ever knew that that was a thing.

Craig (17:00): Well that’s interesting, because people come to Parkour from different walks of life and different experiences and different things call to them. And I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone say that the breaking the jump part of Parkour, which scares people to death, when you first start doing this. You’re like, “Seriously? You want me to do what?” I’ve never had someone say that was the part, like “All right.”

Craig (17:24): Dear Diary, today someone said breaking … I mean, I’ve seen lots of different aspects and everybody who does Parkour for a length of time eventually comes to understand what we mean about breaking the jump and they understand why we do it and why it’s valuable. But I’ve never had somebody say, “Oh yeah, I’ve found that over here in painting.” I’m not laughing at it. That’s awesome.

Jonny (17:41): Yeah. Well I’ve sought that out in every other, you know, before Parkour I was deep into kickboxing. And it was the same thing. That fear of.

Craig (17:49): I was like, “How do I write the biography for this?” Like, um, do we skip the part where he was hustling in Scotland? Yeah, let’s skip that part.

Jonny (17:57): So many stories. But yeah. Kickboxing, I started when I was really young. I was super drawn to it. Because I was terrified of fighting.

Craig (18:06): Being kicked in the head?

Jonny (18:07): Yeah. Well no, just fighting in general. You know, I got bullied a lot in school. Just unfortunate, I don’t know if I was necessarily a target over anybody else, but just maybe quieter, nicer than some people, you know? So I’d let people do whatever. So I was terrified of fighting. I didn’t do anything back to people that were bullying me because I was like, “Oh, I don’t know. What happens if you get in a fight?” You know, it was just this fear of the unknown. And then so I was like, “Screw that, I’m just gonna go take some martial arts and see what happens. Let’s go do it in a safe…”

Craig (18:33): I’m gonna pay someone to kick me in the head!

Jonny (18:36): Sounds like exactly my life plan, right there. Yes. So I went in and I started doing that kind of stuff, and it scares the living shit out of you to get into a fight with another person. You never know what they’re capable of, whatever. But I like doing it with no anger involved.

Craig (18:49): Yes.

Jonny (18:49): It was just the, “I don’t know what you’re gonna do to me, I don’t know what you’re bringing to the table here, but let’s find this out.”

Craig (18:55): There’s a whole parable right there between Parkour, if you’re emotional about the jump. For those of you who don’t do Parkour, we’re not necessarily talking about literally jumping but whatever the thing is you’re trying to do, we call it a jump. The moment when you’re trying to, “Should I do it? Should I not do it?” And you get terrified and emotional? That might be the lesson right there. To just realize that it terrifies you and you’re emotional and then walk away.

Craig (19:15): So to be able to find that same, that’s a common thread, in the martial arts that you did, in that martial arts thread, you were interested in, the obstacle was, “What’s this dark spot in the corner over here? I don’t know what’s going on. Let’s go over there in the corner.”

Jonny (19:28): Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Craig (19:29): So that’s a great parallel there too. So I think you were pretty much destined to be into Parkour. I don’t think you had a choice.

Jonny (19:35): I think so.

Craig (19:35): You thought you were an artist, no.

Jonny (19:37): The moment I met these people.

Craig (19:39): Okay. And we’re kind of hinting at there’s a bunch of stories. So I’m going to do do this now. So, we like to ask everybody, is there any particular story you would like to share? So everybody has stories and there are millions of stories out there in the Parkour world, full of spectacular, literally spectacle things. But I’m interested in finding things that people are passionate about, because the people who don’t do Parkour don’t understand even the mindset that we’re coming from. So if there’s a story that you would like to share, about Parkour, about hustling in Scotland or whatever, I would love to hear it.

Jonny (20:12): We could definitely talk about hustling in Scotland because those are some interesting stories too. But I feel like we’ve gotta talk about breaking jumps, since that’s kind of what led us here. And of course, the first one will always be the most memorable. So, when you first start training, you think you’re breaking jumps, right? Because you’re a foot off the ground and you’re jumping four feet out, you know.

Craig (20:41): Yeah, I’m scared.

Jonny (20:42): You’re terrified. But it doesn’t compare to the first time you really break a jump. And what I mean is one where there is a degree of uncertainty and something could go terribly wrong. So I was at a birthday jam for a friend of ours. We were all just kind of moving through the city here in New York, from spot to spot. Just one of those training sessions where you’re just looking for stuff along the way.

Jonny (21:09): And three of us broke off to go use the bathroom in this one park. And that turned into a session, of course, you know, on the bathroom. And then we ended up up on the roof and there was a jump across essentially, like an entrance gate. And it had wrought iron …

Craig (21:25): Nastiness?

Jonny (21:26): Yes. On either side. So you had to jump up and over these kind of wrought-iron spikes and then clear them to get to the other side. And there was just like a stone pillar that was, I don’t know, two feet squared or something? It was a very small landing spot. And it was a good eight, maybe nine feet up in the air. And I had never done anything like that before, you know. I was still very, very new. But I was with a friend of mine who I trusted a lot. I trained with him a lot, and he’s not one of those macho dudes that wants to just push you to do bigger and better stuff, but he felt like I could do it and he was like, “Hey man, do this jump with me.”

Jonny (22:03): That’s all I need to hear. I’m like, “Oh, you’re gonna do this jump? All right, I can do this jump.”

Craig (22:07): It’ll make you feel good.

Jonny (22:07): So I’m standing there looking at it. He’s looking at it. He goes for it first. And then I’m standing up in the spot and I’m looking and I’m just immediately imagining all the things that could go wrong. And at this point, we had been training for so long in the park that there was all the parents and the kids and everybody had been watching us. So now I have a full, captive audience and they’re staring up at me. And I’m like, “Well I can’t not do the jump now, right?”

Craig (22:35): Maybe if they moved closer they would be a crash mat if something went wrong.

Jonny (22:38): I was kind of thinking about that too, but in the worst case scenario, where I’m like, “Now imagine I miss the jump and I land on, like, a five year old kid. This is actually the worst day of my life. And I’ve got a hundred witnesses, on top of that.” It almost doesn’t get any worse, right? So I’m standing there looking at this jump and then all of a sudden these two gung-ho cops come peeling across the lawn of the park in the car with the lights on and everything, as if I’m some kind of legitimate criminal.

Craig (23:06): Yeah.

Jonny (23:07): And they come to a skidding halt, errrrt. Right in front of me. They jump out. “Get down from there!” And I’m like, well there’s only one way down, I’ve got to make this jump right now.

Craig (23:16): Dodging bullets.

Jonny (23:20): So I do the jump and I completely black out in the air. That’s the craziest part, was I don’t remember anything until the landing. I had this moment where I was just 100% autopilot. I make the jump. I hit the other side. I take the drop, I’m like, “Let’s go!” The whole crowd is cheering for me, all the parents and the kids, everybody. “Yeah!” And I’m looking at the cops like, “You can’t seriously be mad about this, look at this. These people love me.” And then they start trying to find out what I’m doing, why I was up there and everything. And I’m just grinning from ear to ear like a total maniac. I’m barely even paying attention and I’m like, “Wait, did you see what I just did? That’s what I was up there for. I went up there to do that jump.” And they’re trying to figure out if I was trying to like break into the bathroom or, you know. I don’t know what they think I’m trying to do from the roof, right? With the door open.

Jonny (24:09): Their questions made no sense to me and I must have looked like I was high on something, because I’m just, I’m in full ecstasy, you know? I’m so bummed I have to share this moment with these two cops right now rather than my buddies or the cheering crowd of parents who were absolutely in awe over what just happened. So, whatever, we talk to the cops, they realize that I’m just a totally harmless weirdo.

Craig (24:31): Crazy individual.

Jonny (24:32): Yeah. They let me go. And that high lasted for two or three days. I came home, I couldn’t shut up about it. I’m talking to my girlfriend. I’m calling my mom. I’m telling anybody that doesn’t care. They’ve got to know. I’m posting on Facebook about it. It was, it was absurd. But I had never felt more alive in my life, and that’s really saying something. Because I was in a coma for a week, you want to talk about feeling like you’re alive, come out of a coma you feel pretty alive. This dwarfed that. I was like, “This is the meaning of life right here, is to have these moments.”

Craig (25:07): So what are you working on, other than the class that you’re teaching and obviously it’s gorgeous today, it’s 80 in the middle of February and people want to go out and run. But aside from the obvious things you’d be working on, do you have a big painting project, a commission, or you’re trying to figure out how to move to Idaho and, I don’t know?

Jonny (25:26): Well, one thing that I should at least just mention, I feel bad that we’ve gone this whole podcast without ever talking about it, is that I do work for Move Magazine, which is a Parkour magazine. I’m the editor-in-chief at Move.

Craig (25:39): Right, right.

Jonny (25:39): So that is a big project that we work on quite a bit.

Craig (25:42): So what’s your role there? Are you writing?

Jonny (25:45): I’m the editor-in-chief.

Craig (25:47): But yeah, that’s on the door. But like what do you actually do?

Jonny (25:55): Well the boring part is all the proofreading stuff, you know. Like pulling slightly better stories out of first drafts, things like that. I do also write. I’ve got a handful of articles out there, and I’ve also done illustrations too, for other people’s stories.

Craig (26:08): Oh, terrific.

Jonny (26:08): So anything that I like to do, I can do. It’s a very open forum there.

Craig (26:13): Yeah, I’ve heard of the project. Do you see that as a side project or is it something that you really see, like “This has a lot of potential, and I really think that we could do this and this and this” and you’re sort of just hamstrung for resources?

Jonny (26:26): Both.

Craig (26:27): It’s both.

Jonny (26:27): Certainly both, yeah.

Craig (26:29): Oh well, I tried.

Jonny (26:31): Because my life is a series of side projects. I never have a main project. I have too many projects to consider one the main. So it’s just another project. Unfortunately the real dilemma in Parkour is that almost no one makes a living from Parkour. We have a weird subculture that is a little bit resistant towards monetization. There’s a lot of judgment when that comes in, largely because it hasn’t been handled super well by the few groups that have made it to a larger scale.

Jonny (26:59): So we’ve had some bad examples, but I don’t think that that needs to happen at all, you know. You look at what’s going on in climbing right now and it’s amazing.

Craig (27:07): There are plenty of good examples we could find in the Parkour community. You can look at how they do it in France. People, that’s their full-time job is to run Parkour gyms and teach and it’s a completely legitimate profession.

Jonny (27:16): Yes. Exactly.

Craig (27:17): There are people here in the United States who say things about the tide is rising. People now, you can say the “p” word and the average citizen, 50-50 chance they know what you’re talking about now.

Jonny (27:27): Yeah! Exactly.

Craig (27:27): It’s just like, “Oh, this is so much easier.” And they’re beginning to understand it’s a physical thing to them, it’s not very much of a deep thought. But they recognize it as a thing, so as soon as we know it’s a thing, then of course you get paid for it, because it’s a thing. How do you live. So yeah, I think we’re beginning to see maybe the United States catching up with the rest of the world in that sense.

Jonny (27:47): It would be a wonderful thing to see that happen because you look at almost any of those other subcultures like surfing or skateboarding or climbing and it’s fairly accessible to the average person. Most people of that age, the average 15-year-old could pick up a TransWorld Skateboarding magazine and be pretty excited reading it whether or not they’re into skateboarding. It’s a peer into an exciting world that Parkour has, up to this point, been so fringe that most people don’t know, maybe, that there’s a lot of things they’d love to hear people talk about. This podcast is one of them. You know, I think this is broadly appealing to a lot of people whether or not they train.

Jonny (28:23): I think the same could be said of a lifestyle magazine.

Craig (28:27): So what do you see, since we’re talking about the magazine, what do you see as an immediate need, like “If I had a dream, it would be that everybody listening went out and…” Submitted something? Or took a picture and sent it in? Or volunteered the …

Jonny (28:40): Yeah, for sure start with submitting. Because that was one of my main visions for it, was that it gives a voice to everyone. Up until now, we have sort of Facebook as the voice. Unless you have the, yeah exactly. You’re making a face like, “Good Lord, save me.” And that’s exactly the face that I make. Facebook is like a party that I don’t even want to be at. And I keep wandering back in from the backyard going, “Why? What am I doing here?”

Craig (29:02): I call it Book Face. I hate being on Book Face. I do my best to keep up, but I’m falling behind.

Jonny (29:07): So that’s a terrible forum to give everyone a voice. And then the video thing is fairly inaccessible to a lot of people. Because you’ve gotta have the right equipment, you gotta know how to edit, you’ve gotta be out, in my opinion, ruining your training sessions to make videos. I hate filming during a training session.

Craig (29:22): We’re going out and we’re gonna videotape, everybody’s like, “No, I don’t want to go.” But yeah, you have to go out and do that on purpose. All right, last and final question that I always end with, which is: three words to describe your practice.

Jonny (29:33): Whoah. Well the first two that come to mind immediately are grateful and enthusiastic. The third one eludes me. Man, and two is a comparison. Three is a theme. I really do need a third one to make this work. So I’m going to go with, it would have to be grateful, enthusiastic, and caffeinated.

Craig (30:07): That’s perfect. I think you’re the first honest person who actually owned up to the drug of choice, which is caffeine.

Jonny (30:15): 100%.

Craig (30:16): It’s all about the caffeine.

Jonny (30:17): I’ve been drinking coffee nonstop throughout this podcast.

Craig (30:19): Great, because the next thing I say is, could you unpack those words a little bit? So we’ll say the caffeine is the coffee cup that he’s been, he actually got up and filled it. I’m talking, he walked away and got the coffee.

Jonny (30:29): It’s true.

Craig (30:30): So the first two words were…

Jonny (30:32): Grateful and enthusiastic.

Craig (30:34): And why? Why were those the two words?

Jonny (30:36): Oh man, I’m grateful every day that I wake up and I get to move. I already was grateful, because I feel like I came to Parkour a little bit later in life. I started training when I was 31. And obviously, later in life than most people that I train with. I see you’ve bumped your head on the microphone in total dismay because Craig came to Parkour probably ten years later than I did. I just say later in life than your top-level athlete, right? So you immediately compare yourself to the top 1%, as everybody does, no matter how unrealistic it is.

Craig (31:13): Right.

Jonny (31:13): And you go, “Oh, okay. Well I’ll never do that. I’ll never be that guy.”

Craig (31:17): More coffee.

Jonny (31:19): But rather than depress me, it just makes me more grateful that it wasn’t too late, you know. That I wasn’t perhaps missing a foot from diabetes, you know, or on some sort of emphysema breathing machine. Anything could happen. Life takes crazy turns.

Craig (31:34): And late enough to realize that, yeah, I’m not gonna be that high-level professional person, so I’m not gonna spend any time killing myself, literally, to try to get to that level. I’m gonna take it and see how far does this body go?

Jonny (31:44): Exactly, yeah. And I’m grateful for what my body gives me every day. And I do make very high demands on my body because I want to maximize the time that I do have left. We all know you hit a peak at a certain point and I think, you know, I’ve probably peaked, if I’m not right at the peak right now. And then it’s about maintenance, you know. Whatever you can do.

Craig (32:03): And the second word?

Jonny (32:04): Was enthusiasm?

Craig (32:09): They’re your words. Okay, enthusiasm.

Jonny (32:11): Enthusiasm. Man, I just was lucky enough to stumble across this thing that gets me as excited as anything else anybody can be excited about on this planet. I even look at Jiro Dreams of Sushi, here’s something that they made a whole documentary about this guy, he devotes every waking moment, and I still think I’m more enthusiastic about Parkour than he is about sushi. And you know, a lot of people can go their whole lives without finding that thing. They may not ever find that driving force. But for me, we had lunch earlier today and we were talking about how, for a long time, during, for sure, the first year of my training, every training session ended … I didn’t stop til the sun went down and the little ritual was to sit down and watch the sun set and kind of reflect on my day.

Jonny (32:56): And every single one, without exception, I thought, “This is the best day of my life.” And that is really saying something, because as much as I love art, as much as I’ve been pursuing that for as far back as I have memories in life, I’ve never stopped at the end of a day of drawing and thought, “This is the best day of my life.” And so I found this thing that gives me that consistently. It may not be every time now, because nothing’s perfect, it’s been going on four years now. There are those days where you just had a good day. It wasn’t necessarily the best day of your life, but man, there’s a good chance it is gonna be the best day of my life. And how can you not just be at the highest level of enthusiasm possible when you’re having the peak of your lifetime right there in that moment?

Craig (33:39): Well, thank you very much. That’s an excellent insight to end on, right there. So this was Jonny Hart and it was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for taking the time.

Jonny (33:47): Oh, thank you.

Craig (33:48): And of course, there’s a website. Visit Parkour.theysaid.world for this episode’s notes and transcript. This site also has writing from people all around the world and everything is available in a dozen languages. Start with the About page, which has our contact form, details about Twitter, Facebook, volunteering, sponsorship opportunities, and more.