026. Marcello Palozzo: Strength and conditioning, teaching, and learning

Podcast episode


Craig: Welcome to the Movers Mindset Podcast. These are the public episodes, but do you want to hear more? Become an insider for access to extended guest conversations, follow-up episodes with your questions, and other deep dives. Visit moversmindset.com/insiders. Thanks for listening!

Craig: Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.

Marcello: Hi, my name is Marcello.

Craig: Marcello Palozzo is the co-founder of the ParkourWave Association in Italy. He’s practiced parkour for 11 years and has been studying under Ido Portal for the last four. He’s currently writing his dissertation for his master’s degree in Strength and Conditioning. Welcome, Marcello.

Marcello: Thank you, Craig.

Craig: Marcello, I’ve been watching with great interest as your new project … I’m not quite sure what to call it ’cause it doesn’t really seem to have a name, so can you just unpack a little bit what you’re up to these days?

Marcello: So yeah. Currently I’m doing a lot artistic research in the field of parkour. And trying to gather a lot of different information from different fields, and research into … so for example I like to try and pick the things that I’m learning from my master’s regarding strength. And then trying to reapply them into parkour. How does this entangle together and mix up with the different things that I knew before. And how do they tie to my personal philosophy, etc. Or a lot of the studies that I’ve been doing with Ido and all the team. How can I use some of the principles that I’ve seen over there and then how can I reapply them into my work?

Marcello: So for example I would start to pick a team and this could be for example of here. And then I go into it with all the different tools that I’ve developed through the years and then I would progress that single thing forward. And for a certain amount of months we’d go into a project and then after the project is done, I would deliver the material to the public or to my students. And then move on into the next.

Craig: So can you give me an example that’s a lot more concrete. I’ve been trying to find ways to get the guest to share something with the listeners that would give them a takeaway or a piece of homework or something to think about. Is there something like that you’d wanna share?

Marcello: Yeah of course. One of the basic thing that should be in our lives I believe is always trying to find a way to step out of the comfort zone. So, if you are living like literally everywhere, try to go on your roof and just try to be there, look down. Spend time at height, do something that is very different to your normal routine and I think you will start to gain a lot out of it. And try to do it also consistently. So, instead of doing it just once and having this idea that we need to find a strange challenge, try to do it for a certain amount of time. So, like maybe you set the routine for yourself and then go out there, spend time at height and try to really see what you can get out of this experience.

Craig: That exposure.

Marcello: Yeah, out of that exposure and I feel like this is one of the most important things about my practice. I always try to bring it back into an emotional layer, ’cause I think true learning should be emotional. Unless there is that element as well in it, something is missing. So, I would say yes, try to also find a way to trigger those primal instincts and emotions-

Craig: Instincts or emotions.

Marcello: … that are inside the body. And yeah, it can be as easy as like–for example–standing to a high wall, walking onto a high wall. It doesn’t necessarily have to be like balancing on the bar at height, or doing some of the crazy stunts up there.

Craig: Like a dangerous roof climb, it can be just being at height.

Marcello: Being at height, already if you’re not used to it, it can give you a lot of things.

Craig: It seems to me that there’s a couple of different ways to experience a session, so if someone trains with you, they could then choose to … maybe the metaphor is the empty cup–martial arts methodology where you empty your cup. You take the session and then when you’re done, you empty your cup again and you just walk away and let it kind of soak in by osmosis. You and I had a brief discussion about your way of gathering knowledge works a little differently. Can you kind of walk me through what do in your first session afterwards?

Marcello: Of course yeah, I remember the talk about yesterday. So, basically what I like to do with my students, the people I try to influence in general is this. I try to tell them, “Okay, now you came here, you gained some knowledge but you didn’t come here just for the experience. You didn’t come here just to have a good time. If you’re being exposed to a certain material, it’s good for you to go back home and to try and find a way to categorize the material, to write it down in such a way that then it can accessed. You know, many people have been talking about this toxicity of information in general in these days.

Craig: The overload, right?

Marcello: Yeah. We can find literally everything, everywhere. So the point is how do I access the information? So, we’ll take a workshop. Yes, good, but then go home, break down all the different info, create some mind maps, make it accessible and then go back into it. If you don’t go back into it, means your notes were not good enough. You didn’t find a way to make them also sustainable for you and you just basically wasted time. Yeah, I mean it’s not a small thing. Because many people have now this addiction of going into workshops and here and there, and then nothing really changes in their practice.

Marcello: So, make sure you also stay true and honest to why you want to do what you want to do. If you actually want to learn, one of the best ways is like literally go back home, take out a big piece of paper, put it on the wall.

Craig: [crosstalk 00:06:12] drawing Ideas and lines.

Marcello: Yeah, start drawing all the different ideas. And then maybe put it into a visual format. Take a picture or use app to actually create the map and then go back into regularly and see if you can add something and see what’s redundant. Try to create the best algorithm for you to categorize the material and so on. So, I think this is a golden piece of advice, but few people will actually do it. Because I’ve started doing this with a lot of people and few people actually do it. And-

Craig: It strikes me as not easy to do ’cause you have to do all the work a second time to re-shift it around and categorize it.

Marcello: Exactly, exactly but the fact is try to find a way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the mind map. It can be really anything. But a way for you to access to … yeah create to the material so that you can access it. And a lot of people like to write super long notes, or readjust the notes or talk in a microphone and then re-listen. It can be also be an option as long as it works.

Craig: Let’s take a left-turn and see if you have a story that you would like to share.

Marcello: Yeah. So, well actually when I was going out of high school I remember thinking, “Okay, I’m in the middle of the ocean like an insect. Okay I have nowhere to go.” Like many people, I used to think about it this way. Literally no direction, nowhere to swim, where am I gonna go, who am I gonna be. The classic identity research that everybody needs to go through in their lives. And I remember thinking, “Okay, so my father is a pharmacist. So maybe I’m gonna study pharmacy. Why not?” I knew it was gonna be a choice. Like for example everything that was in the movement field could have stayed like a hobby. And then I could have worked because we have this idea now that work is different and-

Craig: Yeah, that work should be what you are doing, right?

Marcello: Yeah exactly. So, I remember starting studying pharmacy actually in university. I was going there every day, looking at people and like, “This is not what I want to do,” but [crosstalk 00:08:30]. But not necessarily because it was funny, it was just felt wrong because my body and my mind was just aiming to another direction. I was being constantly being pulled, and moving forward with a handbrake on. So it was like …

Marcello: And then one day I had the realization that many people have … but I still remember the day. Went back home. I was really tired because was like sleeping five hours per night to study and then train and do everything. I said, “Okay. I stop. I stopped. I’m just not gonna do it any more.” And everything is gonna change now. And I got this … some realization that everyone can change everything in a moment literally. And that thing made me really understand this and it helped me throughout my life and I think it’s something that it’s very empowering. Once you do it one time, then it can be replicated more easily of course.

Marcello: On that day, I was at home and said, “Okay, now I’m gonna go.” I booked a flight to London to study with some of the Parkour Generations guys, to go and do ADAPT, I remember at the time. And then I just told my mom and dad at the time I was like-

Craig: “Bye-bye.”

Marcello: “Okay, see you my good parents.” I wasn’t living with them. But still [crosstalk 00:10:00] that it was a bit like, “Oh, you want to do this.” And of course in the beginning for them it was quite a shock, and the same with some other friends. Members of the family were like, “Why are you doing this?” I was like, “Everybody calm down. I know exactly what I want to do, and then I’m gonna show you with the results.” And then from that moment on, I digged into what I wanted to do 101% and it just worked from the very first moment. And I didn’t have deadline, I had death lines. There was no option, no way out, for me it was just, “Now, I do this.” That’s it, period, and it actually worked.

Marcello: So for everybody out there like that-

Craig: Take the leap.

Marcello: … want to actually take the leap. But it’s easier than it seems. Procrastination is a black beast because you start thinking about it. Don’t even think about it, just do it. Not the classic sentence, but it is as it is.

Craig: So, since you recently started really like digging into your research for your master’s degree, is that teaching you things about how to teach? Like that’s all about learning new material. But is it also teaching you things about teaching? I’m just curious.

Marcello: Yeah, it’s a huge topic for me. Because, currently we get this idea that we can learn everything from everyone, everywhere, but it’s not really true. And I think people should be a bit more humble and they should stop looking at tutorials on YouTube and find actually somebody that is dedicating their lives into this process.

Craig: A master, so to speak.

Marcello: Yeah, I don’t really super like the idea of a master because I think it is somewhat of an endpoint. Meanwhile, I feel like I’m still developing more and more. But for sure and finding somebody that you can trust, that you can follow. And then in the same way as with Ido and some other teachers that I have in Italy etc, and or for my master’s, I just stick with them and they’re giving me a lot more. But of course, you need to find somebody that you trust and somebody that is dedicating their lives into it. And we should refrain and move away from this idea that everyone can teach you, it’s true to a certain extent but it’s also not true.

Craig: Right, yeah, you learn something from each person you work with in every session but that’s not really your master, right?

Marcello: Exactly. And I think we should go back also into this and also a lot of teachers should take their responsibility for the students to tell them how they should be learning the material, what their actions they should take, how serious they should be about their processes, their projects etc. Because otherwise they would end up empty and full of an accumulation of techniques without a red line, like a clear rationale of philosophy. How they do things, why they do things, what they do. In such a way that it’s not just randomly coming into your life, and then in the same way leaving your life without actually giving you anything in the process.

Marcello: ‘Cause at the end of the day, everything that we are going through is the most important thing. It’s not like what we reach. I’m not the first one to say this, but it’s really, really true. Like for example developing a work ethic, the sustainability in a practice, and so on and so on. These are the most important things, definitely not just the technique by itself.

Craig: Obviously the master’s degree is what you’re working on today, but you’re doing a lot of teaching too, so what are your future plans for … Are you planning to finish your master’s and then expand your teaching or reduce your teaching and expand your personal studies? Where are you going, what’s the big picture here?

Marcello: So I will certainly keep going in the direction that I have taken which means I want to work on my movement development, on my personal project and so on in somewhat of a vectorial way. So I just throw a vector out there and follow it for a certain amount or period of time. And then I change it slightly, I readjust and I keep going, I readjust and keep going. I tend not to create strategies that are too long-term. So-

Craig: No, 10-year plan.

Marcello: I have no idea, 10 years, no idea. Where I’m I gonna be in the world, what am I gonna do, etc. I know I will keep digging into this field, but year after year and travel after travel, things readjust. It’s also very much how life works in general, we tend to think that what we do like what we think is the best way. The logical approach now is the best way. Instead then we are hit by all these black swans, they come out of nowhere and changes everything. But just because you had planned 20 years in advance, you cannot really react.

Marcello: Yeah, for me it is the same. And also just to get a bit more practical, after finishing the master’s, I would like maybe to open a place, maybe a gym, or no. I don’t like words [crosstalk 00:15:38].

Craig: It’s a choose your noun adventure–a gym, an academy, a school …

Marcello: Yeah a space where to do my research and to have a spot in the map.

Craig: Yeah, a place where you can control the environment.

Marcello: Exactly I don’t know where, for sure now I stay in Italy mainly because I care about ParkourWave and all the rest of the guys there, and all the work that we have been doing. I’m also thinking about maybe moving somewhere else. It’s still an open question for me as well. But yeah, regarding my studies also I’m not sure, maybe I’m gonna do a PhD, maybe not. But it really depends on how much time I can have because I want to leave time for my practice, still the main thing that I want to do.

Craig: Still drawn by improvement.

Marcello: Yeah, like throughout the years, throughout the days, that’s what I do, that’s what I like to do. I like to think of, “You know I’m gonna work in the next life, because everything that do-“

Craig: I’m gonna keep this when I go around in the next life ’cause I don’t wanna have to start over.

Marcello: Exactly. This is it mainly. To answer your question, I don’t know, but I know up to maybe six months from now. I think there’s also something nice to keep. It’s not like … I’m not trying to make it sustainable for myself like the whole future it is, but I’m also trying to be as open as I can and as in listening as I can. So that I can actually change certain things without having a big problem like in my life.

Craig: Marcello, I mentioned in the beginning that you have been studying under Ido Portal for the last four years. And I’m guessing that if I say who’s the first person that comes to mind when I say successful you will probably say?

Marcello: Ido, yeah.

Craig: Okay so can you tell me maybe either what is it is about Ido or his method that drew you to his style of training?

Marcello: Yeah, it’s the first person that I found had a lot of clarity in the field that he was exploring, and it’s something that I value a lot. And also he’s the first one that I found having strong ethics in training, he had this personal philosophy. A very clear-key message. He was actually making an impact out there, so he had all these different markers that I have like when-

Craig: Oh right.

Marcello: … [crosstalk 00:18:15]. And I was like, “Okay, so he’s the guy I want to follow.” And also I want to take care of this relationship, I want to take care of this because there’s this idea, now that you’re with switch … As I was saying before, switch between all the different thesis and this and that. And I like this idea instead of taking care of people and being taken care of, in the same way as I do with my family or with some friends, I don’t mind about having 10,000 friends and then not caring about any of them. But having those 10 people you really care about.

Marcello: You create this somewhat of a tribal approach towards developing throughout your life and you stick with them. It’s not a huge issue if you don’t have 20,000 friends really, or as long as you really cultivate the relationship through time, through the years and you manage to find the balance. If you’re doing this, I think there is a lot to take out.

Marcello: And also in the way he’s creating processes, he allows people to start from scratch and progress from there. And this is something like creating a lot of progression regressions inside about what is happening when blah, blah. It’s really, really interesting and it’s something that I felt like it was kind of missing into my practice up to a certain extent. Even if I was pushing towards that direction, I still had certain links missing and I went there, it’s just filled them up. I told you many times at times Ido it looks like it’s a spoiler, what you’re doing [crosstalk 00:20:05]. Then he was like, “Yeah, but it’s an infinite discovery, don’t let it spoil you.” And I was like, “Yeah, it’s also true.”

Craig: And of course the final question, three words to describe your practice?

Marcello: Okay, so my practice with time, it definitely became more sustainable, which means I try to fluctuate it a lot more. Everything being like for example heavy strength training work. Something more endurance pays and something more soft and just some internal work etc. So just making sure it’s something that I can actually do for a very long time and this is also sustainable in the sense that also in the business side of things, it’s necessary to make it sustainable if you’re teaching in the field. And it’s all things that should be addressed. Otherwise, up to a certain extent it works and then you just fall into the black hole.

Marcello: You’re tying the heavy weight onto your ankle and then throwing the weight into the lake, waiting until it pulls you.

Craig: [crosstalk 00:21:11].

Marcello: It’s like it’s just gonna happen to a certain extent. So the second one I would say, development exploration of different fields and it doesn’t happen unless you want it to happen. You need to search for it, which means traveling, which means a lot of thinking, which means a lot of talking to other people. Also with you here, if there’s something then I go back home, I write a couple of them, like weirdo writing on my notebook or computer. No, but really looking for it and striving towards working on all the possible weaknesses that I find on myself.

Marcello: I hate fighting, I hate going to into cold water. I hate a lot of things. And I was talking with Dudi Malka. I was saying, “Work on your weaknesses and those will become your strength and then you will move on into another layer.” Because people that … like usually weaknesses are shouting at us. We know exactly what we don’t like. Maybe we don’t know what we like, but we know exactly what we don’t like. So they’re shouting at us, we need to work on them and then grow from them.

Marcello: So, also the orientation of the practice shouldn’t be just aimed towards what is easy in this sense. So, at all times out of the comfort zone. It’s not like you need to live your life out of the comfort zone or you’ll end up stressed so much when you’re … I don’t know, fourth … It’s just kind of like that. But at least two or three times per week get out there. Pick up those steps, come back until it grows and grows.

Marcello: And the last one is community. In a sense that we are social creatures. And again, not the first person to talk about this. But without other people, we are literally nothing and we will never be able to develop that much. Because if you take one person and you give it … just to make an example, you take one person, you give a riddle and say, “Okay solve this riddle in your room.” It will take him a certain amount of time. Like take 10 heads, put them in the room, same riddle, it’s just gonna take one tenth of the time or even less.

Marcello: Skills like our intelligences like able to mix and summon, etc, and so all this collective knowledge is a huge thing that we should take care of also. I was talking about this before, this tribal need for development. All together it’s very different, it feels very different when you do it with other people.

Craig: Well thank you very much Marcello, it’s a pleasure to talk to you.

Marcello: Yeah, it was a pleasure to be here. Thanks.

Craig: This was Episode 26, for more information on this episode go to moversmindset.com/26. While you’re there please consider supporting this project by becoming an insider. Thank you for listening. (silence)