Craig: Welcome to the Movers Mindset Podcast, where I interview movement enthusiasts to find out who they are, what they do, and why they do it. In this episode, Frank Mejia discusses PK Move and Urban Evolution, and the path to how and why he became a coach. He reflects on his experience with World Chase Tag, explaining the game and its intricacies. Frank shares his thoughts on travel and the role it’s played in his journey before wrapping up with his thoughts on competition.
Craig: Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.
Frank: And I’m Frank Mejia.
Craig: Frank Mejia is an athlete and coach with PK Move and Urban Evolution in Alexandria, Virginia. He was on the USA team for the 2018 World Chase Tag Championship. When he’s not chasing (or getting chased,) Frank likes long walks on the beach, smooth jazz, and traveling to share parkour. Welcome, Frank.
Frank: Glad to be here.
Craig: Frank, I think the best place to start it’d be to talk about your role within PK Move and Urban Evolution.
Frank: Yes, so I’m pretty much a coach for both companies. I ‘ve been with PK Move for about six months, if not close to a year now, and I’ve been working at Urban Evolution for about four- coming on five- years now.
Craig: Okay, and do you have coaching duties, or do you also work on the curriculum, or what… How does that play out?
Frank: Let’s see. With PK Move, it’s mostly just coaching duties, just helping out with classes, and assisting where I can. In terms of those classes, mostly kind of helping Nancy with some of those PK Silver classes that we do for PK Move, and for Urban Evolution, I do some curriculum work along with some coaching, and also some like instructor onboarding as well, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Essentially, I’m a kind of bag of all trades.
Craig: Jack of all trades. Right.
Frank: Jack of all trades kind of guy.
Craig: Frank, can you take me back to maybe before you became a coach, before you started, before you really had the idea of, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to work on it. I’m going to pursue it.” How did you get from being, I want to say, just someone who trains? Lots of us, including me, are just people who train, but how did you get from that and like turn that passion into a passion for education and working with seniors?
Frank: It was kind of incidental in a way because what I have to do for some of my schooling was I had to do a project that we called Senior Project, and essentially, what you had to do is you choose a topic they wanted to study, and then from there, you would have to give a presentation at the end of the year with like all these notes and pretty much all your research of the topic, and I chose parkour. So with parkour, one of the things that you need for the project is you actually need a professional in the field they need to be able to like consult with.
Craig: Oh, to work with on your project?
Frank: Exactly. Yeah, so I was like, “Hmm, where can I go?” I was like…
Craig: “Who do I know?”
Frank: “Who do I know?” I was like, “Primal Fitness is in DC. Urban Evolution is like three miles away. Urban Evolution is closer. Let’s go there.” So pretty much, I sent an email. Then from there, I hear back from Salil, the owner of Urban Evolution, and then from there, I meet Sean Hannah who is like the lead. He also works with PK Move now, which I guess we’ll go into a little bit later, and then from there, I pretty much just like told him what I wanted to do, and then from there, he told me what I had to do, and then it just kind of hit off from there.
Frank: I will definitely say this. When I started, I did not really have that much of a passion for coaching. I was just like, “I need to do this project. Let’s get it done.” I was mostly like just in the trainer mindset like, “Oh, I just want to do like a whole bunch of training, a bunch of flips, a little bunch of tricks and all that. Figure out how to jump like really far,” and then like over time, as I started going more and more into it, I started realizing, “Huh, coaching is actually kind of fun. It’s really interesting to do this like showing people how to do this form, how to perfect what you’re doing already in terms of movement, how to finesse your technique, and all that.” Like that started becoming a real fun thing for me like…it was like… It was kind of like figuring out a puzzle, but it wasn’t my puzzle. It was someone else’s puzzle now.
Craig: Have you found that helping other people teach, has that given you new tools for assessing how you train or how you teach yourself like some of your… that’s a whole new skillset to train someone also, and has that also enabled you to do new things with your own training?
Frank: Oh, yes. Most definitely because I… Ever since I started like actually teaching, I started noticing like different things I’ll apply because if you… You have to kind of like practice what you preach almost in a sense if you’re going to actually teach someone this, and then from there, you have to actually instill that into yourself. Otherwise, it’s going to seem ingenuine, so that’s what I started to do. Before, I didn’t really train both sides as much. I was just like, “Eh, this is my jumping like. It will be huge and big. That’s okay.” Then, I was like, “No, that can’t really happen because I tell people to do both sides, so that way, they can do it fine and perfect on both sides. I guess I should do that too.”
Craig: The physician heal thyself, right?
Frank: So, yeah.
Craig: How did the project turn out when you turned it in?
Frank: Oh, I passed.
Frank: Passed with flying colors.
Craig: I just thought I would check on that before we move on.
Frank: Just like, “No, you failed. You have to do it again. Stay back another year.” “Ugh, dammit.”
Craig: Once you’ve got that glimpse of the passion or the fire that you can get from coaching, what did you do next? Did that draw you into coaching with Urban Evolution? Is that how that went next and that led you to PK Move, or what’s the… That’s the storyline there?
Frank: Pretty much, that is the storyline. I can remember the moment that I was really like, “Wow, coaching can be fun,” was because I remember I was already like helping out in coaching at Urban Evolution for like… I think it was probably like two or three months, and then I was just like done trying. I was like, “Ah, I don’t want to do this. I just want to train, really. I don’t really like enjoy this that much.”
Frank: Then, I remember we went to one of the locations for Urban Evolution, another one, and I saw the coaches there, and they were just having fun with it. They weren’t like stressed out. They weren’t like, “Man, I want to hit this,” and totally like, “Hey, you want to try this jump?” and they were like helping the students and like communicating with them. They are being friends with them and really instilling a sense of community that I didn’t really like understand that much mostly because I had only trained with myself and I didn’t really delve into the parkour community that much, especially here in DC. So then, when I saw that, like that really shifted my perspective immediately. I was like, They’re having fun with it. Why can’t I have fun with it?” “That makes no sense. Well, let’s figure it out then and have fun.”
Craig: How did you figure that out? I’m always like, “Okay, so unpack that. Like how did you actually make a change?” because that’s not easy to say, “Oh, this thing that I’m kind of finding a chore, but now six months later or two years later, I love it.” Like wait, wait, wait. Back up. How did that go from being this thing you weren’t certain about to like… What do you think was the catalyst for the change there?
Frank: Let’s see. I think it was a mentality kind of thing because I was… In that point in time, I was always like a mind-over-matter kind of guy. I was always like, “No, I can always shift the perspective. I just have to look at it a different way.”
Frank: That’s essentially what I started doing like instead of like thinking like of teaching and Training as a chore, I thought of it more as like a benefit, like something that I get to do personally. Like I can’t think of anyone else that would think, “Ugh, teaching is so dumb. Why would I do that anymore?” I think, “Wow, teaching is such a privilege. It’s so much fun to bring people up and show them this thing that they didn’t think they could do like a week ago, or even like an hour ago, or five minutes ago. That, to me, that’s what really helped shift it is just knowing that I’m helping someone do something that they didn’t think that they could do before.
Craig: Right, and I think you’ve obviously hit on the thread that I think everybody understands about parkour is the enablement aspect of it is so… I love the word “visceral.” It’s so obvious that once you show them the spark, it’s like impossible for them to get excited about it, and of course, they’re excited. That makes your job much easier to deal. You don’t have to excite them. You only have to teach them. It’s like still a big project, but it’s not. The really hard project is the communicating that spark.
Craig: You have an obvious passion for what you’re doing and what you’re teaching, and I think that goes a long way to getting coaches off on the right foot. My biggest problem is that I tend to be a bit of a like a grumpy bear, so I don’t work so well as a coach. I have a different kind of motivator.
Frank: It happens. Everyone’s got to like their different things. I’m not going to say like I’m happy go lucky all the time every time. Sometimes I’ll have like, “Uh, I should’ve gotten like maybe 20 more hours of sleep. Uh, I feel so groggy. All right, let’s do this. All right, guys. Let’s do the…” Put on the biggest smile you can.
Craig: Right, right.
Frank: Try to fake it till you make it.
Craig: A game. Bring the A game.
Frank: Yeah, bring the A game.
Craig: Then, I’m guessing you met somebody from the PK Move team at Urban Evolution. How did you get entangled with the crazy people?
Frank: Actually… What was it? I don’t know if Nancy went over this. She actually used to go to Urban Evolution to take some of their like… What they call the 401PK classes, which is for ages 35-plus, and it’s a lot more low-impact and everything. From there, that’s when like… It was her, Jean, who also used to take the classes there, and Rosie started getting together, and then they started to come and put this concept because they started realizing that there was a little bit of a gap in terms of like population that is being catered to, which is essentially the elderly group.
Frank: Then, from there, that’s when that kind of started off, and then from there, Sean Hannah, who used to work at Urban Evolution then moved to Colorado, essentially started getting in contact with them again, and because he was their original teacher for the 401PK classes, and then from there, they started forming the group, and then now, it’s where it is now where Jean, Rosie, and Nancy have all created PK Move. Then, from there, Sean is onboard as like head coordinator for it, and since I’d already known them for years there, I was thinking, “Huh, it wouldn’t be too bad just to join the team,” because I’ve… One thing that I’ve started doing now is like I really like and enjoy coaching, but this is where I kind of like take my thing from normal training, like pushing myself and kind of do with my coaching aspect now as well because I saw it as both another challenge in terms of coaching and learning new things, and also, I get to help and benefit others that otherwise wouldn’t think that they could move around.
Craig: I mentioned the World Chase Tag in the beginning, and that’s a thing that I think a lot of people have seen, but it’s so new. It’s not like it just started last year, but it’s so new that not everyone has had a chance to actually see it in action. In the clips that I’ve seen, it’s like, “Oh, that’s a parkour playground.” But then, when you see people move through it, you’re like, “Okay. That’s a whole new level of movement.” I just have visions of like creaming my head on…like knocking myself out.
Frank: Well, sometimes that did happen. Sometimes.
Craig: I don’t want to be in the fail video, but can you just like unpack a little bit about like what made you actually apply, and then how does it work when you apply, and how do you get in, and what your experience was like?
Frank: Let’s see. I got contacted by one of the guys from the Tag Team, and then from there, we kind of discussed like, “Okay. I could probably go out there, but I’m not sure,” because around this time I was kind of doing my own travel coaching thing, which I guess we’ll go on to later, and then I was contacted by Tavon from Philly who said, “Frank, you should do this because I’m going to do it, and it’s going to be great, and we can all go to London and just jump around and chase people.” I was like, “Compelling. I’ll get back to you on that.”
Craig: “I am in.”
Frank: Then, like sometime when he already filled the slot, I was like, “Ugh, I guess I missed my chance.” But then, the slot got unfilled again because one of them had another commitment that they had to go to, so I was like, “Ah, I’m in. Like Tavon, take me now. Please, my body is ready. It’s always been ready.” Then, pretty much, that’s how that kind of started out, and then pretty much, we were just off to the races. We’re less… Next thing I know like a month later, I’m booked on a flight to London.
Craig: Off you go.
Frank: Then, from there, “Whoa, I’m in London now. I never thought I’d be here,” which was really a fantastic trip, even if… The time that we had there was only about like four or five days, but I enjoyed every second of it. It was really the best trip I’ve had so far, and then from there, just went to Tag, got explained…
Craig: You went to Tag.
Frank: Went over the rules and everything with all the coordinators, and then we had like a little bit of practice time and everything, so it was really good.
Craig: What’s the format of the competition? They just like the last man standing kind of thing?
Frank: Last man who’s not tired. Essentially, it’s a round-robin tournament that they had, and it’s kind of like tennis in a way. At least that’s how they explained it to me. Essentially, there is a chaser, and then there is the evader. The evader obviously is trying to evade being tagged, and the chaser is trying to tag. You have 20 seconds on the clock for the chaser to try to tag the evader. If the chaser does not tag the evader, then the evader stays in still, and then I think they don’t get a point. The point system always escaped me. I’ll be honest. I am so sorry Damien and Christian, if you’re both listening to this.
Craig: We need a visual flow diagram.
Frank: Yeah. Essentially, that’s how it worked and pretty much, you had 20 seconds on the clock, and then you would alternate after 10 seconds, so it’d be 20 seconds, someone is chasing someone. settling break to switch and alternate for the next person to go, and just keep going back and forth like that until like you’re out of rounds or matches, which I think it was about 16, so it was…
Craig: Oh, so you’ve been there pretty long? Somebody will get tagged. By then, somebody slips.
Frank: Yeah, it was… Yeah. Luckily, there was five people so we could always alternate and switch, so we had more than enough time to like recover from our endurance because…
Craig: Yeah. I was going to say, “What? What was the…”
Craig: What’s the limiting… I mean, at some level, yeah, certain people are just so fast. They’re like, “What? This isn’t even fair,” but if you’re matched up with somebody who’s reasonably close, what winds up being the limiter? Is it cleverness, or is it… Like is there a strategy, or is it just whoever can run the fastest, the longest?
Craig: I’m just kind of thinking, “How does it come apart in terms of seconds?
Frank: It’s actually a strategy thing if it’s someone that’s really level because there are pretty much choke points that you can go to, to where you can like either lose someone or evade someone, or even like I’m a path where it’s a lot easier for someone else to go through. For example, there’s like a little bit of an area. I can’t remember what it’s called. They had a name for it, but I could get under it very easily because I’m small and short. However, one of the competitors I was going against, Arune, who was very tall would more than likely not be able to because he’s going to have to duck.
Craig: Right. Slow him down in a split second.
Frank: Exactly, so it’s pretty much a strategy thing at that point, but that’s the harder part about it because you have to make split-second decisions because you’re being chased immediately.
Frank: These are the fun little like things you don’t really think about. You think it’s just like, oh, running around when it’s like, “Oh, if I go here technically he can’t cut me off, and I shouldn’t let him follow me. I should let him… I should guide them a little bit, and then from there, just lose them by going the other way.”
Craig: The first thing I thought of this, aside from that I could never do that, but the first thing that I thought after that self-deprecating thought, the first thought that I had was, “This is a neat project because you’re taking somebody and you’re saying, ‘Okay, you have to do high-level thinking while running for your life,’” so like the one thing that the human body does is if you get the fight or flight response, when you flee, you’re not thinking. You’re just going in a straight line as fast as you can, which is exactly the opposite of what you’re describing that they’re forcing you to do, so I think… No, I’m just guessing, but I think the people would go, “Oh, yeah. It’s just chase tag. Whatever. The fastest kid wins.”
Craig: But in reality, it sounds much more like, this is sort of like a stress test environment where you’re asking people, parkour people who really love to work on lines and make those tactical choices in real time. “Okay, do that, but now we’re going to stress you out so that your brain doesn’t want to do any of that.” What I’m wondering is, did it become easier as you went through the rounds? So, like was the first round, “I don’t even remember what happened or who was there,” and then by the end you’re like, “Oh, I got it. I’m over it,” like all vectors and angles, and you’re just running and ducking? Can you see an evolution in your physical performance in the activity?
Frank: Let’s see. For me, no. I was really bad at like…but I will say this. It was starting to get easier in terms of like stressors because I was like, “Man, I have no idea what to do.” Then, I was like, “All right. I’ll go this way.” You start thinking about it ahead of time, but I did notice it with one of my other teammates, Seth Richie – he can always pick it up fast like Seth is an amazing athlete. That’s a little bit of a shout-out for you, Seth. Just letting that in there, and he was picking up fast like he was able to like decide, “All right. Going to go here. Going to go here,” like he was very tactile with it.
Frank: I noticed it with other of the teammates, too. Like, they were always trying to find the choke points, and that’s the thing when it comes to I guess like when you practice the thing enough because at this point, we didn’t really practice that much. I mean, it was Seth and I. When I was out in Cincy, we practice like here and there a little bit, but in terms of as a team, we didn’t really get to mostly because we were all from out like the United States.
Frank: Like we had Joey, Adrian who was in Portland, Oregon. We have Davis Vasconcellos who’s in California now. Then, we got Tavon in Philly, and then Seth and I were in Cincy, so we’re all like kind of spread out and didn’t really get that team dynamic down that some of the other teams had an opportunity for.
Craig: Did you get a chance as a team to be on the course beforehand? Did they give you a play time like…
Frank: Oh, yeah. They were just like, “Here. Here’s the courses. Go play. Have fun.”
Craig: “Here’s the course.” They didn’t change it, so the whole competition was rolled on one set, which is really interesting to see how it evolves.
Frank: Oh, yeah, if they shift it around. We actually talked about things like, “What if they added a little more elevation like how… I know it’s dangerous, but what’s more interesting would it be like because then, you could just run up a wall, and then they would have to do that, and then you could just like dodge in some other way?”
Craig: Yeah, it does bring a whole… I mean, not that dangerous, the reason it shouldn’t be done, but it does bring in a whole level of danger because it’s hard enough to kind of compute in the three dimensions relatively low-pancake space.
Frank: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Craig: Having done the competition now, you’re going to go back? Is it… or invitation only like you’re going back or?
Frank: Let’s see. I would love to go back if they’re going to invite me out like I immediately like book me immediately.
Craig: All right, so that’s the first thing. Definitely, definitely we want to go back. Are there any takeaways from another… If you could have a… Hey, have a microphone. If you could have a microphone to say, “This is what you should change, or this is what you shall remove,” what changes would you think you’d make to it?
Frank: Let’s see. Add more days for us to be in London so we can explore a lot more, and also, don’t really change that much of… As far as I can tell, maybe have like two, one or two more judges on to the course so that way, they can determine whether or not it was a tag or not because… I’m going to put this out there. There was a controversial tag for me because I didn’t think I got tagged and the person that tagged me didn’t think he tagged me. However, one of the judges called like now he was tagged immediately, and a lot of people were very like, “No, that’s a bad call. What are you talking about?” Now, like…
Craig: Oh, maybe there should be like an escape clause. If the chaser says, “No, I didn’t tag him,” like they should be able to veto the tag, and then they just like reset the clock or something.
Frank: Potentially because, the reason like it was kind of like a controversial thing was because if that call wasn’t placed, we would have had more points, and then from there, we would’ve gone to the finals against the champions at that time, which was Marrero Gang from London, which is why everyone is like so like kind of upending.
Craig: Yeah. Well, on the other hand though, I think if you have a live action… All sporting is live action. We have a live action event. As soon as you bring in the opportunity for like recall and analysis, it changes the nature of the game. I always… I’m not a huge… European football, soccer. I’m not a huge soccer fan, but that’s the sport that I follow, If you ask me, and one of the things that I… There are many things I dislike about it.
Craig: One of the things I like is, hey, it’s on the field, and the only person who knows how much time is up is the guy with the watch on the field, and you just play the game, pay attention to the ball, and there’s no replays. There’s no delays. There’s no pausing. I like that, and it sounds like the Chase Tag works the same way. It’s basically two people chasing each other, and there’s minimal intervention from the outside world. Go settle your issues in the court, so That’s interesting.
Frank: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Craig: You mentioned wanting to have more time in London. You want to like send a love shout-out to London itself, or what are your thoughts on the city? What else did you get a chance to look at while you were there?
Frank: London community, I love you all. Also, it’s just really great like the community out there, and also, I think the main thing was because when I was still like starting out in parkour, a majority of the videos I would see were coming out from London and from like all the iconic spots that I would see like IMAX and all that.
Craig: Right, right. Yeah.
Frank: Being there in London…
Craig: Vauxhall, right?
Frank: Yeah, Vauxhall.
Craig: Been there.
Frank: Rest in peace, Vauxhall. It’s a hall where you’ll make it one day. Craig, if you didn’t… You couldn’t hear him, but he was like, “I was there.” Yeah, seeing those iconic spots, and the funniest part was like they were all nearby each other, which I didn’t know.
Craig: Yes. Well, that’s…
Frank: I thought they’re like miles apart.
Craig: Well, I mean, they are pretty far apart, but like that’s the beauty of the city environment. I actually think the people who had the opportunity to grow up in those kinds of environments, they don’t realize how good they have it. I’m from the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. I mean, we have curbs, and railings, and stuff, but generally, there’s a lot of nothing. “Ooh, railing,” but that’s not somebody’s front porch, so when you go to a city environment, you’re like, “This is really cool,” and you can start climbing on things, and you find spots, and I particularly love London because it’s an old city.
Craig: It has that like organic… You don’t know what you’re going to find. You walk down the street, turn a corner, you’re like, “What?” Even like Vauxhall. It was just like wedged in amongst a bunch of apartment buildings and you weren’t expecting that space to be there until you like look over the railing. You’re like, “Who put this here?” I love that. That’s a feel of London that I think is unique. Even in Philadelphia, you don’t get that feel to it. You feel it, though it is not that organic feel, so that’s one of the things that I picked up when I was there, and I’m guessing that you see that too. You can get off the subway like, “First of all, where am I?” You come out the subway, every neighborhood is different, and then the discovery is a really beautiful thing.
Frank: Yeah. I think the best part was we didn’t… I think it was one of the days we didn’t have that much time to train because we had to go somewhere. We did a little bit of like PK tourism, so we just visited the spots, took pictures, looking at the challenges like, “Whoa, someone did that?”
Craig: Yeah. “Those are shoe marks?” You’re like… Right?
Frank: “They did what? Here?”
Frank: Good times, honestly.
Frank: Oh, yeah. Shout out to BreachGram A.K.A. Breach Apparel who is run by Chris Ilabaca and the Ilabacas, Daniel Ilabaca. They just started their whole thing of like clothing everything. Their clothing is top-notch like that was another highlight point for me was getting to meet the Ilabacas because they were just… because it was him, also Alex Potts’ videos, which is a funny story I’ll probably touch on later, was like… Just meeting them was like almost a dream come true because coming up just like as a 12-year-old kid just watching videos and seeing this like guy just defy gravity just going like, “Whoa. Hey, you’re my hero.”
Craig: Yeah. When you meet me, you’re like… and you’re a normal person like… You know?
Frank: Yeah. No. That brings me into my funniest point. It was Tavon and I at Leap Parkour Park, and we were talking to a guy, and I didn’t realize it, but it was actually Alex Potts the whole time, and then I shout out like really loud with Tavon and Alex like right next to me. I was like… Can I curse on this?
Frank: “Holy shit. You’re Alex Potts.” He was like, “Yeah, man!”
Craig: Every morning, right?”
New Speaker: Oh, like highlight point. I fangirled a little. With Danny, I try to keep it a little bit low, more low-key if I can. Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever fangirled. I’ll be honest. Yeah. It was interesting.
Craig: Obviously, the trip to London and Chase Tag was like a huge… I want to say eye-opener, but like a glimpse into a whole another world of what you personally could do if you wanted to travel, and I’m guessing that that just like blew the box open, Pandora, and the genius out, and now you want to start traveling, and that’s how you got to traveling and coaching?
Frank: Actually, it’s the reverse. I was already doing travel coaching, and then I went to London because what happened was it was some time at the beginning of last year in 2018, and I was like, “Hmm, I want to broaden my horizons a little bit.” I want to see what else is out there because living in this area for so long, you kind of feel like you need to go out there. Especially like everyone always has that young point where they’re just like, “Ah, I need to go out and see the world. I need to do this. I need to do that,” so I decided to start small and just like travel to some states in the US.
Frank: What I decided to do in February was go to Michigan and work at a gym called Movement United, owned by Jeremiah Bishop. What’s up, J? Pretty much, just started working there for about three months where I got to meet a lot of the community. I got to like expand my horizons in terms of coaching because one thing that I definitely noticed was like I was not complacent, but I was like very easygoing.
Frank: Like as I was working more and more, like I knew what to do, this and that, so being in this new environment with new like obstacles, new people, and somewhat new mindsets, I was like, “Huh, I have to change my dynamic a little bit. I can’t just be like, ‘All right.’ I have to actually think. All right, I can do this. I want to teach this. I want them to do this. That means I have to do this instead,” because what I would normally do with like the people that I always teach, I would just be like, “All right, let’s do this. It’ll be fine.”
Frank: But with these new people, I had to like try and shift the way I would normally teach, which was really interesting, especially with the obstacles aspect, which I thought was really enjoyable for me because at Urban Evolution, we have like a whole bunch of obstacles, and same thing for PK Move. But here, we had like different obstacles and apparatuses, so I was like, “Huh, how do I teach this with this?”
Craig: New tools? Okay.
Frank: Yeah. I was like, “Okay, let’s figure this out,” so I started thinking. I remember I took like a day just thinking like, “Okay. I can use this to teach that. I can use this to teach that,” and I was like, “Okay. I think I got it. Perfect.”
Craig: Did you find that the students brought some ideas of their own? I’m guessing it wouldn’t be the obstacles were very new for the students. They’ve probably seen in previous classes, so did you find yourself learning from them in the process of trying to teach them parkour, you’re learning how to use these tools?
Frank: Oh, yeah. Most definitely, like I remember… Well, it was one thing. I remember one of the kids decided to like say, “Hey, why don’t you do this so that way they could climb up here?” and I was like, “What are you talking about?” because it was like a three-foot fall box to try and get on top of a wall that was very slick, and I was like, “What are you having? Oh, I see.” He like tipped it and made it into like a tack box pretty much.
Craig: Okay. Right, right.
Frank: I was like, “Okay, I forgot… I forgot about that.”
Craig: “I forgot these pieces move. Right? They could move.”
Frank: Yeah, that was definitely one thing, and definitely just like the Michigan community will always have a place in my heart. Those guys are so much fun to hang out and just jump around with. Another facility that I would sometimes go to, the other parkour gym in the area would be like Phoenix Movement or Phoenix Freerunning. Sorry. Pretty much, those guys are like old-schoolers, but they have such a community aspect that I hadn’t really seen before like all the people that… because usually, what happens like in jobs or working anywhere, you usually have like people like dropping out, not working there anymore, stuff like that, but these guys are have been there since day one.
Craig: Still there. Right.
Frank: They’re such the best of friends. It was really warming to my heart honestly because I’d never really seen that kind of thing before. I was like, “Whoa, this is like really great vibe and community. I love it,” and like I was like… Jesse. He’s one of the owners of a Phoenix Freerunning. I was like, “If I could, I would live here forever because it was so much fun and so enjoyable just being around all of you guys.” That’s what really like drew me more and more into Michigan. I definitely want to go back if I ever get a chance to again, which I probably will next couple months.
Frank: Yeah. Then, from there, I came back to Virginia for about like two-ish months, worked a little bit during the summer, and then from there, that’s when I started doing like more PK Move stuff I think. Yeah, that was when I started doing it. I can’t remember honestly. It’s been so long. Then, from there, I was heading out to Cincinnati to work at Swift Movement, with Seth Ruji and Matt Pevely…I don’t know if you know them by chance.
Craig: I think I have met Seth, but I don’t know Matt.
Frank: You’ll recognize him. They call him… What is it? If you’ve hung out with Andy Taylor enough, you’ll know he calls him Ginger or something like that.
Craig: Yeah. Oh. My problem is I’m really good with like faces and pictures, but I’m bad with names, so a lot of times, people… like, “Oh, I actually do know that person. I just couldn’t remember their names.” I’m terrible. I’m not that old, but it seems to becoming a problem.
Frank: It’s happening. No. The aging.
Craig: Well, I think part of it is there’s a… I forget what it’s called. It’s called the Monkeysphere, and there’s a number of… like a certain number of people in your head that you can maintain like actual personal relationships with, and everybody that I know in the parkour world… This is not just me. We’re all trying to do this for like a thousand people, and we’re trying to keep track of all this like, “Oh, that’s the person who does these kinds of videos,” and then just trying to like keep track of it all, which I think is an awesome problem.
Frank: Yeah. It is hard.
Craig: I love the fact that there are so many people that I have met and had a chance to communicate with that I can’t remember them all. I’m like, “This is awesome.” I have no idea what’s going on anymore, so I think I need to make a shirt that says, “I’m sorry. I have already forgotten your first name.” You know? To whom I’m talking to, you can read this shirt.
Frank: Can you give one to me too because I do that for everyone…
Craig: Everybody wants them.
Frank: Including kids especially because I’ll be like, “I remember you, but I can’t remember you at the same time.” Yeah.
Craig: Definitely a meme.
Frank: I would go there for… to Cincinnati for three months, train and work there. Then, from there… It was in the middle of my visitation there that I would then go to London with Seth to where then we would do World Chase Tag and all that.
Craig: All right.
Frank: Which by the way, we had a really great jam at the end of the competition like all of us… like all the teams like team Ashigaru, the Samurai Seven from Japan. What was it? Team Ape Escape from France and all of us just in one park, including a lot of the London community. It was such a blast like just all these international athletes just coming together and jumping around on stuff.
Craig: Did you find that you had… I’m guessing there wasn’t necessarily a common language, or did everybody bring English, or how did that work in terms of… Like when you get to the jam, was it just like it’s a conference of mimes where everybody is moving, but there’s not a lot of talking, or did you find breakout sessions where you were talking and making connections with those people or?
Frank: Let’s see. Kind of half and half, honestly, because a majority of the teams could talk. I think it was just some of the Japanese team couldn’t really talk English that much, but other than that, we are all communicating very fine and very well. Like I remember having conversation with like Silky Zigzag from team Ashigaru. Also, Valentin Dubois from France, and just like conversating with them about a thing here and there, and just jumping around with them as well.
Frank: Yeah. There wasn’t that much of a language barrier, but there was one fun thing that we all did, which was jump on bricks. I just had to put that in there.
Craig: It seems pretty obvious. You’ve been bitten by the travel bug. I think everybody gets bit by the travel bug eventually.
Craig: Now that you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, what’s next? Where’s the place you’re definitely going, and where’s the dream place that if you could figure out how to put it together, where would you go?
Frank: Let’s see. Places I’m definitely going, I’m definitely going back to Cincy mostly because I’m going to be doing a competition there for NAPC and the Midwest Parkour League. Then, I’m also going to be going to Boston in about… What is it? Like a couple of weeks now because they’re also doing competition there. One place I definitely want to go to is Germany. I want to see the architecture and what that community has to offer because I’ve seen so many videos and so many things throughout the years, I’m just like, “This seems really great.” I just want to see what’s going on like for myself live and in person.
Craig: We’ve been talking about Chase Tag, and we’re kind of talking about any PC, and remind me of the competition that’s coming up in Boston because shout-outs are good.
Frank: it is the Eastern Parkour Qualifier or Eastern Parkour Competition that is essentially an NAPC qualifier event to try and go into the main competition in Vancouver for NAPC.
Craig: Right. We’re talking about competition here, so I’m wondering… You have obviously experience in them, so I’m wondering if you want to give me some of your ideas on competition in general like as a philosophical thing. What do you think of competition in the context of parkour or parkour in the context of competition? Whichever way you want to do that.
Frank: Let’s see. Just competition itself with the context of parkour, I think it is very well done if done with the right people I think mostly because the first time I competed really was in the first I guess EPC, which is the Boston Qualifier for NAPC, and the first time I went there, I was like, “I’ve never really competed. I think I can maybe do good. Let’s see what happens.”
Craig: What could go wrong?
Frank: I’ve heard like a lot of things like people saying like the old-school thing like, “Oh, take competition out of parkour,” and all that. I was very adamant about that at some point in my life too. I was like, “No, I shouldn’t have competition. That makes no sense.”
Craig: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Frank: But then, I remember like just hearing and seeing a whole bunch of videos about like people that actually competed, and I was like, “Wow, maybe it can be fun.” I think the key thing that stuck with me was like Ryan Doyle’s take on it when he did the Red Bull Art of Motion in 2011 in London. It was like it’s not like… It’s not 25 people going against each other. It’s 25 people going against the course just trying to figure themselves out and trying to do the best that they can do. That always stuck with me, and then when I did the qualifier, just all these people coming in from like essentially like a good chunk of the Eastern states, and I would just see them. They were all like jumping around, palling around. They were having fun with it. They weren’t there just like, “Man, I’m going to kick your ass. I’m going to beat you.”
Craig: That there will ego trip? Right.
Frank: There was no ego trip. It was just us just jumping around.
Craig: A bunch of kids playing on stuff, right?
Frank: It’s essentially like…
Craig: It’s a good thing. Right.
Frank: Yeah. It’s a jam where people already set challenges essentially. At least that’s what it seemed like to me because we were all just having fun thinking and strategizing of ways to like conquer like the speed course or like figure out different methods to try and attempt like some of the skill challenges that were there, so that’s what really shifted my perspective for competition a lot and solidified into my mind that wow, competition can be great. It can be fun, especially with parkour.
Craig: Did you find that the competitors at this level that you’re talking about, the competitors were actually working together like in… If you go to like the crazy levels of competition in other sports, it’s like you’re not even allowed to look at me and I’m in my own tent. Like they really start getting segregated because it’s the tiny fractions or differences, and one of the concerns I have is that at the moment people don’t have their egos involved because the purses are relatively small and the amount of fame is relatively small, and I’m wondering. Do you think that we can maintain that level of camaraderie amongst the competitors? Do you think we can maintain that as things get bigger, and more money gets involved, and the advertiser discover that this is a thing?
Frank: Let’s see. I would definitely hope so that it can maintain like this, but everyone has a different like sense of altruism in all honesty in terms of the way they perform certain things. I do think what we can do is I do think that we can like keep the ego out of parkour as much as we can so that it doesn’t get to the point to where, let’s say, gymnastics has gone at some point because if it does get to that point, I guess I’m going to have to call it urban sprinkling or something else.
Craig: Right, urban sprinkling or urban skateboard, skateboarding. Right. Change the name.
Frank: Suburban track and field. All right. Time for a controversial head point. Constantine, how’s your day?
Craig: How’s my day? My day is actually pretty busy, but going okay. I came from… I won’t name names. I came from somebody else’s house and came to the house that we’re at, which is not your house either, and it’s been a little bit of like running around just because we drove down, and I’m a little tired, but it’s kind of part of the… For me, it’s part of the fun is to like go immerse myself in… I was going to say the local community, but just like to go to somebody’s and like get a chance to be with those, and then randomly encounter other people, so this particular interview, we didn’t have planned in advance. It was like, “Hey, tomorrow morning.” “Oh, yeah. Sure. We got to arrange it, but let’s see if… Oh, that’s only like two miles you. All right.” Off we go. I really enjoy the fact that we can be nimble with the recording, so yeah, I’m having a pretty usual day.
Craig: Frank, so sometimes, I would ask guests if there’s a story they would like to share, but instead of doing that, I’m going to go… So we mentioned long walks on the beach and jazz, so I’m wondering if you want to unpack those a little bit.
Frank: Ah, the beach. Such a fabulous place. That’s all I got.
Craig: All right. Good. It’s your podcast.
Frank: Team Farang still has not released the beach video, which they promised for at least 10 years now.
Craig: Someone else was just… I just saw somebody talking about that. There was a meme with like, “2019, still waiting…”
Frank: Oh, yeah. It was like, “2019, waiting for Dylan Baker video team storm tour and a whole bunch of other things that will never get released.”
Craig: No pressure.
Frank: Ugh, it’s the worst.
Frank: Yeah. Let’s see. Smooth jazz. Have you heard Charles… I think it was Charles Bradley’s Changes? It’s a very nice song.
Craig: Bradley sounds familiar though, but I don’t know off the top of my head. It doesn’t ring a bell.
Frank: If you’ve seen Big Mouth, then you’ve probably heard like the intro song. I’m guessing you have not seen Big Mouth.
Craig: I was going to say I don’t know if I’ve even seen Big Mouth TV. I stopped watching TV like 10 years ago.
Frank: It’s on Netflix, it’s on Netflix, and so now you have something to look out. It’s a very crude show run by Nick Kroll, but the intro was very interesting because the premise of the show is just like young kids going into adolescence essentially, going into teenage mode, and then pretty much the song is like a Charles Bradley’s Changes, which he’s very like impactful with his soul with it. He’s like, “I’m going through changes.”
Craig: I don’t think I’ve heard this song.
Frank: I recommend it. It’s not bad of a song. I think it’s about like him like losing his love… the love of his life or something, but essentially like it worked very well with like the mood they’re trying to say. It’s so silly, but like kind of serious because they’re growing up.
Craig: I will check it out. That sounds really interesting.
Frank: At least the song. Big Mouth, eh.
Craig: Well, I could…
Frank: I’m kidding. I enjoyed Big Mouth. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea though. I will say that.
Craig: Of course, the final question. Three words to describe your practice?
Frank: Safe, something creative.
Craig: Thank you very much, Frank. It was a delight to talk to you this morning.
Frank: It was a delight to talk to you, too.
Craig: This was episode 45. For more information, go to moversmindset.com/45, and there’s more to the Movers Mindset Project than just this podcast. Visit our website for more free content, to sign up for our newsletter, or to join the Movers Mindset community. Thanks for listening.