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. For this episode, I forgot to ask these two terrific people how they would prefer to be introduced. My bad.
Craig: Since we talk a lot about the strength of family and relationships, I’m going to splurge on a hyphen to highlight their relationship, the union between them. In this interview with Chris and Shirley Darlington-Rowat, we discuss serendipity, coaching, and Chris’s work with the London Fire Brigade. They share their thoughts on raising kids, setting aside time for family and training and moving together. Shirley and Chris share their current struggles, some stories about their past and how parkour has affected their relationship.
Craig: Before we begin, I’d like to mention that we’ve begun expanding our show notes and adding chapter marks into our audio files. If you’ve looked at our show notes on MoversMindset.com, or if your podcast player supports using our chapter marks, we would to hear from you. Leave us a social media comment or DM or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Craig: Hello, I’m Craig Constantine.
Shirley: Hey, I’m Shirley.
Chris: Hi, I’m Chris.
Craig: Shirley Darlington-Rowat, is a parkour coach, weight lifter and mother of two. One of the UK’s earliest female coaches, Shirley has had the opportunity to represent parkour in many different ways, from articles to TV shows. Shirley’s focus has shifted in the last few year from coaching to motherhood as she welcomed their second child into the family. Welcome Shirley.
Shirley: Thank you.
Craig: Chris Blane Rowat is a firefighter and father, in addition to being a parkour coach and athlete. Widely known for his in depth knowledge of strength training, Chris coached for many years with Parkour Generations and was a driving force in their curriculum development. Recently, Chris has stepped back from coaching to pursue his career at the London Fire Brigade, as well as adventuring into fatherhood.
Craig: Welcome Chris.
Chris: Thank you, Craig.
Craig: I’m going to go in different direction this morning when we start here and I want to say this is going to take a little bit of explaining, bear with me dear listeners.
Craig: Chris, I’m sure you know Vincent Thibault, who wrote a book called Art Du Déplacement and Parkour: A Theory of Practice. It’s in English and French. I had the lucky chance to actually be in Quebec hanging out with those guys and training when the book dropped. And I spent the day, I think it was September 9, I spent the entire day in the Garden of Joan of Ark reading the book cover to cover as the sun went across the sky. It was great.
Craig: Why do you care?
Craig: So that was four years ago. I started writing my thoughts. I would read a chapter and then I would write on my blog my little thing and I happened to be fifteen chapters in three years later slowly working on it. And the one for chapter sixteen has been sitting on the next-to-write pile.
Craig: So I got up this morning, I had some free time and I thought, I’m really feeling like I want to work on park of Thibault’s book. I open up chapter sixteen, do you know what starts chapter sixteen?
Chris: I have no idea, no.
Craig: Chapter sixteen is Don’t Be That Guy. The first three words of chapter sixteen are “Chris Blane Rowat once said…”
Craig: And I’m staring at my computer and I’m going… I mean, I’m going to talk about serendipity is where I’m going with this. But I read that and I’m like, “All right, okay, hold on. Stop the presses.”
Craig: What are the chances of I read that book before I even had the idea for the project that became this project before it was a podcast.
Craig: So weave all those threads together. I’m 6,000 kilometers from home, I’m sitting in a rented flat, Chris Rowat is coming over with Shirley to talk at 2:00 in the afternoon, and at 8:00 I’m sipping tea and I read chapter sixteen. “Chris Blaine,” I’m like “What?”
Chris: That’s very strange.
Craig: Serendipity. So I had this physical shot of adrenaline and then my mind went racing like, “Oh, the things we’re going to talk about.” I had a renewed vigor for the project because it’s often a labor with some love.
Chris: I can imagine.
Craig: So I was like, “This is [inaudible 00:03:43].” Anyway, okay.
Craig: So serendipity, I think is actually BS. I think it’s just your wonderful pattern-matching brain finding little clips of things and then going “Oh, the pattern looks more interesting than usual,” and then…
Chris: Have a reaction.
Craig: Right. Exactly. You need to go buy Vincent’s book it’s really good. But chapter sixteen talks about don’t be the guy who comes over and smashes the jump that your friend is trying to break. Like “Whoa, dude.” Don’t be that guy. That’s what the chapter’s about.
Craig: But I actually thought, you know, and probably chapter sixteen does if I remember how Vincent writes, I can flip that over and say it’s also good to be the person who spontaneously is around, maybe breaking your own jump, maybe coming over and talking to them to provide those little moments of serendipity and randomness that could be the spark that changes that person’s life.
Craig: So long way, my question here is, does anything spring to mind when I ask you what can you think of when I say what’s been serendipitous or what has, in terms of a spark, inspired you guys lately?
Chris: That’s a good question. I can’t think of the word serendipity without thinking about Brian. Those of you who don’t know, in fact, I’m sure the majority of people listening to this probably know who Brian was. I don’t even have to use a surname, if you know the parkour community, you know Brian.
Craig: You know Brian.
Chris: Brian was a very good friend of ours, he passed away sadly a few years ago. And Brian was the sort of guy that if you were hanging out with him or if you were traveling somewhere with him, then you would always bump into someone that knows Brian. Always.
Chris: You couldn’t do a single journey without finding someone that Brian knew, he would say hello to. It would be from his past either from basketball or from one of the pursuits he took out for a week here or a week there. He would always bump into people. He fully believed in this concept of things are meant to be and he’ll just go for it and see what happens.
Chris: Yeah I think probably five or six times I remember being with Brian on a train somewhere and suddenly someone would walk over and be like, “Brian! Oh, wow, I haven’t seen you for fifteen years” and then start talking on the lift or on the tube where ever it was.
Chris: I think I would say I didn’t believe in it until I started spending more time with Brian. Then I was like, “There’s something to this.” He’s kind of tuned into some sort of wavelength here where he is floating across the universe just meeting people that he knows from his past and a completely different wave length from me. It never happens to me but it always happened to Brian.
Chris: The first thing I think of when I hear that word is Brian for sure. Kris Kremp’s another guy that bumped into Brian randomly all the time. Whether it was in London or whether it was in Glasgow, he’ll tell you some stories of that I’m sure.
Chris: I don’t know how it is for you, Shirley, but when it comes to things happening for a reason, Brian’s the first person that comes to mind.
Shirley: Yeah, no, definitely.
Craig: I think a next topic that would be particularly easy and obvious would be to talk about Indy. Congratulations first of all. Let’s say 18 months?
Chris: Thank you very much.
Shirley: 20 months, yup.
Craig: 20 months, a pretty good guess for that.
Shirley: Yeah, really good.
Chris: I’m impressed.
Craig: I actually didn’t cheat and look. I’m totally guessing. I don’t know why I thought that but time flies. Obviously time flies when you’re old or in denial.
Craig: I was hoping, as people who listen have noticed, we usually have a single guest, sometimes we do two. I was kind of hoping we could mic up Indy and that maybe Indy would say a few words, but she’s sleeping so we’re trying to keep it down a little bit without waking up Indy. But is there anything that springs to mind when I ask about do you feel like there’s any pressure to raise the ultimate parkour athlete?
Craig: Good. I was hoping you’d say that.
Shirley: I think, I very much like Tyler, my son. Whatever he wants to do, obviously we’re going to support him. Whether that’s football, which he does love, or climbing or dancing or singing, whatever he wants to do.
Shirley: Very much when he was little, he was exposed to parkour from, I think I started parkour when he was two years old? Yeah, so he was about two years old. So he’d been exposed to parkour for a long time.
Shirley: But he didn’t see it as parkour, it was just movement. So he’d be in the play park and he’d maybe cycle on his bike to the climbing wall, climb up the little climbing wall, jump across a little piece of railing. He just moved.
Shirley: So I think we’ll keep that mindset with Indy. Movement is movement, right? So whatever she wants to do, she can do, if she doesn’t want to do parkour. She’ll do it naturally anyway because it’s normal for that too.
Chris: Yeah. I think we both realized that if we push it too hard, it’s probably going to be one of those things that she rebels against. So if it just naturally happens and we encourage it when it does happen then I think she’s more likely to get the most benefit from it.
Chris: I think, growing up, both Shirley and I had different pressures from our parents at times. I think it’s natural for all kids growing up to kind of rebel against their parents if they’re always saying “Come and do this, come and do this.” A lot of the time, you’ll find they push back and say “No, I want to go there.”
Chris: So as much as I’d love to turn Indy into the ultimate parkour weapon, I think the only way to do that is to just let it happen if it’s going to happen.
Chris: Train the way we train and expose her to that. She’ll always be around training, whether it’s from us or from our friends and our family. So encourage it where it happens and keep her safe, keep her within the boundaries of safety. Whatever happens in the middle, happens in the middle.
Chris: Yeah, I think my secret agenda is to turn her into the ultimate parkour weapon, but how we go about it is going to be the…
Craig: How we go about it. It takes balance, I think.
Craig: When you guys think about coaching, is coaching something that you do, I almost want to say together, but what I mean is do you have a vision for what you would like to accomplish with coaching in the world? And then you team up against the rest of us like, Shirley, you can sneak attack them with the parkour but it’s not going be like, “Oh, but it’s secretly we’re actually doing conditioning.”
Craig: And then Blane you come at it from “Oh, it’s actually going to look like this,” but it’s actually secretly just conditioning. Do you really work together like that, or is it something that you both do and then it’s more like a day job where you’re just all, “Now I’m home?”
Craig: I’ve never talked to people where both people were such accomplished physical practitioners and movers and so accomplished at coaching. So I was like, “I wonder what interplay there is.”
Shirley: Do you mean our coaching now or just coaching in general, like years before?
Chris: I’ll take either answer, I love questions where I get the answer and then I get both versions. That’s awesome, yes. That’s what I mean.
Shirley: Okay. I mean, obviously, we’ve been together for a long time. We talk about lots of different things and that does cover coaching and how we feel about life and physical training and everything in between.
Shirley: So I think we have our own ideas, our individual ideas, about coaching or what we want to bring. But it does end up just complementing each other. So it’s kind of a very similar vision without, I suppose, it happening on purpose.
Craig: Okay. I always say, somebody is steering the ship. That can be two commanders on the bridge, but do you have conversations where you talk about what you would like to see appear in the world? So not just Shirley has her vision, Chris has his vision, but do you form those visions together or are you on separate journeys as a team sport?
Chris: I think when it comes to both coaching and training, even though people from the outside might look at Shirley and I as almost the same entity in some ways, we don’t train together that often and we don’t coach together that often. So we’ve done a lot of coaching, we’ve done a lot of training but the amount of times that…
Craig: Sorry, that’s a colossal understatement. I was just like, “What do you mean you say you’ve done a lot of training?” Sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt your train of thought.
Chris: That’s fine. The amount of times that we’ve done those things together is actually fairly limited in some ways. So we’re always talking about training, we’re always talking about coaching and lessons learned from the both. The amount of time we spend together doing the coaching or the training part isn’t that much.
Chris: So I think a lot of the time we go off and do our own thing, whether it’s training, whether it’s coaching, we come back, we discuss it, we both learn from part of that process.
Craig: And share. “Here’s my share of the experience.”
Chris: And we both progress from that point onwards. Even if it was something that Shirley does at training, she might’ve been like, “I did this thing with pull-ups, it was a different approach to it with different rest times and I used this kettlebell and blah, blah, blah.” It gives me an idea thinking okay, I wonder how that would affect me?
Chris: So even though we haven’t done the session together, I think it does change the way my next session might go where I might approach pull-ups in the future. Because Shirley knows me very, very, very well and if she’s mentioned it to me, it means that I can take something from it.
Chris: So I think that our approach to training and coaching is very similar, very aligned, our values are very aligned. But we haven’t spent a lot of time coaching or training together. She’s really interesting, really usual in some ways. I’m now trying to think of what the original question was. Which was, Craig?
Craig: I don’t know if I can repeat it, but I think what I asked you was did you have a coherent vision as a team? So obviously, it isn’t like one of is in charge and one of you is the second in command.
Craig: But if you imagine a military operation, the people at the top, they might have this discussion, but when they come out, it’s like a unified “This is what we’re doing” and that’s important for things to succeed. But I think it’s obvious in a personal relationship, it’s two peers working together. So that’s my answer to you asking me what the question was.
Craig: I have another thing I wanted to riff off of which was, you paused and said “Obviously Shirley knows me very well, so she wouldn’t have brought it up unless she felt…”
Craig: And I was like, oh, wait, it’s like the perfect coach. I mean the perfect coach. They know exactly how to demotivate you, cut me down with one… She would know exactly what to say.
Chris: One word at the right moment.
Craig: Yeah, one word or less. But assuming that the coach is benevolent, you could use those superpowers of observation to be, “You know, I learned this little thing today and I want to share it with you.”
Craig: So that’s an interesting little thing that kind of uncovered there that I wasn’t expecting.
Craig: You look like you were going to say something.
Shirley: Oh, no, I was just thinking, I haven’t been coaching much parkour for maybe since halfway through my pregnancy. I do still coach parkour regularly, weekly, just with my own clients. But I haven’t been doing running classes or coaching at events for probably close to about two years now. Maybe a little bit longer.
Shirley: But, one of the things from being so close with someone whose technical and physical ability’s higher than mine, how that really helped me was because I knew Chris so well, what he was able to do, what he was capable of doing.
Shirley: When I’m walking around the streets of London or wherever I am, I’ll see a particular jump or a particular challenge, I’m like, Oh Chris, he would really enjoy that. That would be really challenging for him. That would be a good one for him to work on.
Shirley: So actually, for me, it really helped me develop as a coach to see further than what my technical and physical capabilities are. Which is really important because obviously you need to be able to create an environment where people feel safe and challenged. And it has to be further than what you are physically and technically capable of, otherwise you’d be limited.
Shirley: So yeah, I really feel like that also just helped me. I assume it’s the same thing as having close friends and we all have different abilities and capabilities. So it just helps to broaden my vision as a coach. So that’s good.
Chris: That’s a very good point. One of the things you mentioned before, Craig, was about how as two coaches spend a lot of time together, do we kind of plot in terms of world domination and trying to steer our overall coaching towards a certain direction.
Craig: I was hoping you were because the world needs to be dominated by people who know what they’re doing, but anyway.
Chris: That was a really good question and I think my answer to that is kind of much more of a personal connection thing with me. I try and make personal connections in classes with individuals and try and have a positive effect and a strong effect on one individual in some ways.
Chris: So rather than going out there with an overall message that I want to get out there, in terms of coaching a class or for a group of students in general, I think I try and treat each of the people in the session as an individual mostly and try and pick up as to where they’re at mentally, where they’re at physically, and technically, where are the boundaries there. What do they need as an individual next.
Chris: Maybe their motivation’s completely different. Maybe their motivation is just coming to class for fitness reasons, or they’re coming to class to forget about their troubles at home or whatever it might be. There is probably ways of having an overall approach to this sort of thing that would make it a big impact to a large group.
Chris: I think my approach to it has always been quite small scale and lots of individual connections in a session or through a series of classes. I think for me, that’s quite a little bit better for me. I’m sure there’s coaches out there who do a really good job of having an overall theme, this dragging everything towards that way.
Chris: But I think I’m more effective at creating those personal relationships in classes and sessions and having a way of connecting with someone and figuring out, what do they want from this? Why are they here? Then steering that individual in that sort of direction throughout the session. So you might have ten people in a class who want ten different things, and I think my approach to coaching is trying to connect those ten different people to myself and then figure out how I can push each of them forward a little bit on that journey. Because they’re probably not all going in the same direction, they’re probably not all in the class for the same reason to begin with.
Craig: Right. Shirley, I don’t want to say that you’re quiet but, in your own words, you’re very Shirley.
Shirley: Which actually means I’m very quiet.
Craig: We need to get this in here somehow, so we need to start it somehow. I don’t want to say you’re very quiet, but you’re very quiet.
Shirley: I usually think I’m the opposite. I think actually Chris is more relaxed and quiet and my energy is higher. I’m very Shirley.
Craig: Okay, now we got to talk about that because this is very opposite at the moment.
Chris: I know why.
Shirley: Chris, you’ll be able to rough it out better than I can.
Chris: Right now, Shirley’s firewall is working overtime to try and stop herself from being too Shirley. So I can see the brain really ticking here and going crazy. I shouldn’t say that, I shouldn’t say that. I shouldn’t say that.
Craig: You should say that. You should say that. I thought it was interesting when you begin to interview people, it’s one thing to interview one particular person would normally be sitting directly in front of me and to be able to just get a feel for what they want to talk about. But with two people, it’s tricky because you guys are passing the conversational dynamics back and forth and I don’t want to lie, I just want to watch. I’m just watching you guys talk.
Craig: So I’m just wondering, this strikes me that this dynamic is the reverse of the normal. Normally, Chris seems to be quieter and Shirley would be all over this. But today we’re getting quiet Shirley and Chris is on, so I don’t know if you guys have any thoughts on that or what’s up with that? And you can’t see them looking at each other like, “I don’t know, do you want to tell him or should I tell him?”
Chris: I think probably most people that I meet with class me as a quiet person. But here I am doing most of the talking.
Chris: I think it is because Shirley’s mind is very busy and she has so many good ideas. Right now she’s trying to hold them all back. I think after a few minutes, they will appear.
Craig: I was thinking what this looks like is two people in RPGs and you’re being forced to tank, like send Chris out in the front to Craig. “Feed him to Craig! [crosstalk 00:18:59] keep talking and take one for the team.”
Craig: Shirley, in an attempt to get you to talk more, one of the thoughts that sprung to mind when I saw that Chris was going into the fire brigade was, and this is going to sound funny, if people are listening who don’t do parkour, everybody thinks parkour is dangerous. It’s not. So I know that Shirley doesn’t sit at home like, “Chris is going to hurt himself.” Parkour is completely safe.
Craig: But the fire brigade, I’m thinking the fire brigade could be kind of dangerous. So how did this go down? I’m guessing that it was Chris’s childhood dream like everybody used to be a fireman, but why now? Why did you, I’m going to say, let him do this? Doesn’t it seem dangerous or what are your thoughts on that?
Shirley: Quite a lot of people ask me that actually, “Don’t you find it dangerous?” But actually, I mean, through doing parkour, you could say it’s managed risk but that’s like everyday you manage risk.
Shirley: As I got to know more about the procedures and the fire brigade, I realized there were so many procedures in place to keep the fire brigade safe and it’s really not about being the hero. There are guidelines that you need to follow so that you’re safe, so that your team is safe. I just kind of have faith in that.
Shirley: I know that Chris isn’t going to try and be that hero at that point. Because actually, if he’s not where he’s supposed to be, then actually he puts the rest of his team at risk. I believe in his team. I believe in him. No, I trust that he’ll make the right decision if those moments call for those kind of decisions.
Craig: And of course we have to ask, so you’ve accomplished every kid’s childhood dream of becoming a firefighter. I don’t want to say something as directionless as what’s that like, but my question would be, what about it surprised you the most?
Chris: So yes, it was absolutely my childhood dream. It was one of the many things that I thought about as a kid that I would love to do, love to try, and be a cat and have nine lives and then try each of them a different way.
Craig: Whoops. Do over.
Chris: Yeah, I think becoming a firefighter was one of those things that’s a childhood dream that a lot of people have. I think what surprised me the most about becoming a firefighter was the daily approach to responding to incidents. I think it’s a lot of things that are hidden behind a curtain when it comes to the way cities actually work and countries actually work.
Chris: In terms of, you know bad things happen to people in big cities, people get hit by cars, people take their own lives there are fires, there are accidents, there are a lot of bad people out there, a lot of good people out there. So things happen.
Chris: But on the whole, you’re not regularly exposed to that. It’s taken care of by somebody else, it’s taken care of very quickly, very effectively. And largely, the public are hidden from that kind of nasty truth I think.
Craig: They’re insulated. Insulated from that.
Chris: Absolutely, that’s exactly what it is. So then my biggest surprise perhaps was what’s behind that curtain and how many things are happening that are hidden quite well from the public. So I was only on the job for three days before I attended my first fatal incident where someone passed away. I think I maybe thought it might be a bit longer before that would happen. It doesn’t happen all the time but it just happened to be for me that it happened on day three, my first night shift.
Chris: I think I didn’t realize the strength of a lot of the individuals who attend these scenes and mange these sort of things and the shift they’ve had mentally towards being able to deal with that emotionally, to disconnect from it slightly to be as professional and able as possible at a time. To be able to rely on their training rather than becoming quite personally affected by it, at least at that time.
Chris: Sure, later on the days after, the weeks after, you might find it has quite a profound effect on you. But on the whole, the people I have met in the police, in the ambulance service, and in the fire brigade, have a very unique ability to understand what’s needed at that time and then provide that. Then their own feelings come into it as a factor afterwards.
Chris: So I think, yeah, what’s hidden behind that curtain surprised me for a start, as to how many things are happening that we very effectively hide from the public. And the individuals that are experiencing that on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, how they process that, how they manage that at the time, and then how they use each other in a way to overcome that psychologically and then move on in a healthy mindset, I would say. Because it can affect people absolutely. I think if you let it build up, it will affect you.
Shirley: I think one of the hardest things… not hardest, that’s not really the word.
Craig: How about…
Shirley: Not the hardest, not the trickiest. It would be, and then we’ll find the word, it would be to do with Chris, his shift system of four days on, four days off. So our week is never the same. I work part-time and my days are the same. So finding time to train, this is really tricky. So I have to be really organized the weeks prior to every week because every week changes.
Shirley: If he was working Monday to Friday, okay. Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays at this time he’ll be back and I always go and train at this time, if that makes sense.
Shirley: But instead, it’s going to be, “But if I’m working on these three days and then he’s working two days here, and two nights here, which points can I train?” And I have to schedule that in weeks in advance. So that can be fairly tricky with the fire brigade.
Shirley: But that’s also to do with having a young child. You got to be realistic about how much you can train and utilize the time you have. I never wanted to be one of those people who were like “Oh, I just don’t train anymore because I have children.”
Craig: Life changed, right?
Shirley: Yeah. I’ve also been there already with Tyler, my oldest, who’s thirteen. So I started parkour when he was two years old. So I’ve had a young child and trained. So it just kind of felt similar doing it with Indy, if not easier, because I’d had years of managing my time and knowing how to train.
Craig: Years of mom practice.
Shirley: Yeah. Years of mom practice, years of training. Yeah, that’s a little tricky with Chris’s shift system at the fire brigade, but we make it work as best we can and then also making sure we have time for each other all four of us. Because training does play an important role for me for many reasons.
Craig: Have you found that you ever go to, I was going to use the word “excuse,” go to training as an excuse to create family time? Have you said like, “We should all do this.”
Craig: Then you go there, and it’s, “Yeah, we’re not really training for real but we’re really playing.” Like it becomes, “Let’s play together.” Have you used it for that or do you find that happening?
Shirley: Once or twice we’ve been like, “Oh you know what, let’s…” because Tyler is at school so he’s away in the daytime. Once or twice we’ve just wanted to go and play around together.
Shirley: Then obviously Indy, either maybe she’s napping or she’s around. She’s not really old enough for us to pop her on a rail and “Look, we’ll help you balance.” Jesus.
Chris: Not yet.
Shirley: But yeah, a couple times, but it’s not something we’ve done regularly just yet. I think as she’s getting older now, I’ve trained quite a bit with her around but we don’t train so much us three just yet.
Craig: As the Fantastics.
Chris: We’ll get there. I think Indy’s at an age now where she’s quite independent. Before, she was very much reliant on us to keep her head from bouncing off the floor.
Chris: Now she’s at an age where she can walk, and she can explore and she can crawl and she can run, she can jump. So if you put her in a space now that has gates all around her, you can pretty much sit back and just watch the show. That’s given us a lot more freedom when it comes to taking her to the park, because suddenly, rather than being at the park and having to always be right next to her for safety…
Craig: Lifeguard duty.
Chris: Exactly. Now it’s a case of we can kind of step back and watch. And if we can step back and watch, then we can bounce on this rail and if we can bounce on the rail, then we can crawl through the tunnel over here. And suddenly there’s a little bit of freedom there for all of us where she’s going to be a little more independent and explore her world and we’re getting to re-find that world a little bit ourselves. In terms of not just being parents in the park but being in the park for ourselves. So we all go to the park to play rather than we’re taking our child to the park to play.
Craig: I wonder if Indy’s going to end up with a different viewpoint on what mommy and daddy are than the average child. Because the average child watches mommy and daddy sitting or on their phone, that’s even worse. But I’m just wondering, have you thought about that? My thought was, well, she’s going to think everyone else is weird. “Wait, your parents don’t crawl through the tunnel? My parents crawl through the tunnel.”
Chris: “What’s the matter with you?”
Craig: “Your parents are strange.”
Shirley: I think we went through that with Tyler. Because he was, yeah, two, so very similar age to Indy now. So he grew up seeing I used to do pull-ups and push-ups at home three times a week when he was very young all the time. So he’s grown up seeing me do pull-ups, muscle-ups.
Craig: Normal human movement, right.
Shirley: Even when he was seven years old, he was like “Are you doing pull ups or chin ups or muscle ups?” It’s just very normal for him. We used to go to the park with him and maybe I didn’t have much time so maybe I’d be hanging out a branch in between him playing or doing some box jumps while I was pushing him on the swing or whatever. So now, him being thirteen years old, he just thinks we’re…
Craig: Yeah, I know he doesn’t think that everybody’s weird.
Shirley: He thinks we’re normal. He thinks we’re normal.
Craig: But I’m wondering does he notice the difference? Does he look at other adults and go, “Clearly, sir, you can not do a pull-up.”
Chris: He’s definitely got some insight on that I think. I think only now, only recently, being thirteen, you still have to kind of think more about his upbringing was a little bit different. We had kettle bells as doorstops. We didn’t have a sofa, but we had a squat rack in our living room for more than a year that he would use as a climbing frame. We used to squat and we would used to dry our clothes. It was just a piece of our home in our living room.
Craig: It’s actually multi-functional. Unlike a sofa, which you can only do one thing with it.
Shirley: It is, exactly.
Chris: He’d go to his friend’s house and they wouldn’t have a squat rack in the living room.
Craig: Where’s your squat rack?
Chris: Exactly. So I think only now and only recently…
Craig: Him walking in and being like, “But wait, how do you guys do squats?”
Shirley: “How do you train? Where do your parents train?”
Chris: “Where do you keep your kettle bells?”
Chris: So yeah, I think only recently he started to realize that his upbringing was slightly different and that we had things that we enjoyed in our lives. I think we both believe that when you have children it shouldn’t be the end of your life and the beginning of theirs.
Chris: You should both be able to enjoy your lives. So if we enjoy training and it’s a part of our lives, we should suppress that. We should just find ways to bring it all together.
Shirley: And just adapt.
Shirley: Also, one of the really nice things with Tyler growing up, which will be the same with Indy, was that we would train a lot, outdoors of course. But what I mean is so I would train with him around.
Shirley: So if I said, “Okay Tyler I’m going to go train.” He’d understand what that looked like and what that was.
Craig: Oh, okay.
Shirley: So the visualization for him as a young boy was like, “Oh, I know what my mom does when she goes to train.” It’s not this place called the gym that I don’t know what it is and it just takes her away. He’s like, “I know what mom does, yeah sure. Yeah, mom’s training.”
Shirley: I think that’s really important to involve your children in that exercise or movement, or training, whatever you’re doing, to give them that real idea of what it is your doing and to normalize it. Because it’s normal and its healthy and it’s great.
Craig: Absolutely. So the average child might actually think of their parents as being helicopter parents. They might not have the words for that, but they’re thinking, “Mom and dad are hovering and I wish mom and dad would leave me alone so that I could play.”
Craig: And I’m wondering if by showing him that you were doing your own thing but yet still obviously present in being parent, I’m wondering if that didn’t actually free him up more because he didn’t feel the need to push you away at any point. I don’t know whether that’s the case or not, but I’m wondering if that might not be a deep insight into parenting. That’s another thing that’s been lost, not just everyone’s own personal movement, but the fact that because you’re only focusing on the child, now the child wants to push you away at some point. I don’t know. It’s just a thought I had.
Shirley: Yeah. I think it’s a relevant thought. When they’re young like that and for many years, and still for us as adults, we need the space to discover and explore and to learn on our own. It’s the same even for Indy now when we see her climbing something. We’re around, we’re ready to spot, but we’re going to let her discover it on her own, because how is she going to learn how to climb it if we don’t allow here to discover that.
Shirley: I think that’s really important. Again, we had to practice with Tyler. When he was younger, we didn’t push parkour on him so much. It was like, “Whatever you want to do, you can do it and we’re going to support you.” But we did teach him how to climb up and climb down from a wall.
Shirley: The reason being is he loves football. His friends would often kick a ball onto a shed, he could climb up and climb down safely.
Shirley: Yeah. So it was a tool that he could use to his advantage and to keep him safe and it never went further than that. He just discovered and explored spaces on his own because that’s what children do. I think it will be the same with India. We see it now on a smaller scale in the living room or out in the play park if she wants to climb things and explore instead of just picking her off it. We’ll just be there to support her if she needs it.
Craig: So I’ve been asking a ton of questions and I’m just wondering, is there anything else that you guys want to share that you want to bring up randomly that I haven’t gotten anywhere near that you were hoping I wouldn’t know about?
Shirley: Do you want to tell the story?
Chris: I’d like to continue a trend that I had on this podcast actually. It was the podcast on the interview with Martin from Denmark. His story was about how he met Laurent, right?
Craig: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Their pilgrimage episode, oh, I don’t remember the number.
Chris: Come on, no pressure Craig.
Craig: It was the Denmark parkour community’s pilgrimage to go and try and find Yamakasi in the wild. They just went to Paris like “I don’t know, they should be at Bercy.”
Craig: No, they just went and tried to find them and they eventually found the Laurent.
Chris: Yeah, they stumbled upon Laurent.
Craig: Yeah, it was his pilgrimage and they literally stumbled on Laurent.
Chris: So I’m going to add a second player to that loop I think. Williams, Williams Belle. I stumbled into him with a group back in maybe 2005, I think, during my first trip to Lisses. It was a trip to Lisses with some of the, who are now old school, parkour guys. So a few guys from Cambridge, a few guys from London. We went out to Lisses, we took out the train over there and we were young, we went adventure-seeking and where else to go but Lisses?
Chris: We headed over there, we didn’t really know anyone that was living there. We had one contact who we met up with and from there it was kind of a week long training trip, as you can imagine in that sort of environment. We bumped into everyone. Everyone who is anyone, we saw there.
Chris: We saw David Belle, we saw Sebastien [Goodo 00:34:22], and a bunch of the other guys who were just out and about training in their local area. So we were very privileged to be able to absorb some of that and soak it up and see how they train, and talk to them, and share some ideas with them. But we didn’t meet Williams until the very last day. We didn’t meet him in Lisses, we didn’t meet him in Évry, we were on the way back to get our train to go home.
Chris: We were running a little bit behind of course, as parkour people often do, apart from the Germans. So we’re running a little bit behind and it wasn’t until we got to the first train station that we realized that a lot of the trains were closed that day, all of the train lines were shut down because of major works. So we’re going to have a real issue finding our way to where we had to go.
Chris: We got on the first train, got to where we were aiming for in that first instance. Got off the train, and realized that the next three connecting journeys were all shut down. There was replacement buses, there were replacement train lines. Everything was in French. We didn’t speak French. We were having some real issues.
Chris: So we went upstairs, and on the way up the escalator, we looked across and we saw someone dressed in what can only be described as sort of parkour attire. Very baggy trousers and a vest top, it was summertime, and some very defined musculature that could only come from some sort of physical discipline. Long hair.
Craig: And 1%, 2% body fat.
Chris: Exactly that. And the thing that really stood out was we were going up the escalator on the right-hand side, this gentleman was going up in the middle and we could see that he was doing calf raises on the escalator. So going up and down, up and down, up and down. Not holding the sides, just free standing on this moving escalator. We were like, “Okay, this guy looks like he’s training.”
Chris: Yeah, doing something. So we get to the top, we have no idea where to go. We’re lost. And we see this guy heading toward the left side, so we thought, “We’re going nowhere, let’s just follow him and see where he goes.”
Chris: We follow him and he gets on a train and we get on the train, we’ll see where this one goes. We’re just picking a random way. So we get on the train and he turns around and it’s Williams Belle. We recognize him from the Yamikasi movie and we’re all a bit shell shocked standing at the side, not really sure what to do, what to say. He’s noticed us but he’s playing it cool and looking around and doing his own thing.
Chris: So one of the guys we were with goes over to him and goes, “Oh, do you do parkour?” And he looked him straight in the eye and said no. Went back to doing what he was doing, which was looking out the window, so we’re all like, “Oh, okay that didn’t really work.”
Chris: The guy, it was Jason actually, a guy called Jason, he took a chance and was like, “Yamikasi?” And then everything changed, Willams whole expression changed, he opened up and immediately his face went from not being interested in this group of young parkour tourists to just immediate warmth and love.
Chris: In very broken English, he managed to ask us where we were going, it was strange to him that we’d get on this particular train. We said we didn’t know where we were going, we’re trying to get back to Eurostar, we’re trying to go home and we’re following you.”
Craig: “We’re following you.”
Chris: So he said, “Okay, I’ll help you.” So we get to the next stop, we get off, we go back. And he spends the next hour maybe hour and a half negotiating Paris and all these different train lines and connecting lines and got us all the way back to where we had to be with about half an hour to spare. Without him we wouldn’t had absolutely no chance.
Chris: We get there, we have half and hour to spare, we thank him, we didn’t really know what to say, we’re incredibly grateful.
Chris: And he says, “Oh, you’ve got 30 minutes, do you want to do some training?”
Craig: I’m like, “I know what happened.”
Chris: You knew what’s going to happen, yeah right. So I’m like, “Of course I’m going to train.”
Chris: So we have literally 30 minutes, we’re on the correct platform where we have to be and we trained.
Craig: You’re on the platform already.
Chris: Exactly. All there is is one set of stairs and a couple of railings and we spend the next 27, 28 minutes just moving around together, having fun. Not many words were shared because it was very broken English. All we tried to do was express our gratitude for him to get us where we had to be and everything else was shared just through movement, just trying some small challenges.
Chris: When it was time for us to leave, we thanked him again, he said “It was very nice to meet you,” and we went our separate ways.
Chris: So it’s a complete chance encounter. We talked earlier about believing in serendipity and things that are meant to be. I’m not sure if I believe in that. But on that day, it was meant to be. We found him, we took a chance and followed him like a stalker. It got us home. If it hadn’t been for Williams we would have been lost.
Chris: So I think that’s part two of your Yamakasi discovery stories, with Laurent, the first one, that’s Williams. So I’m sure there’s many stories of how people have met different members of the Yamak to come that might add a little bit to the stories.
Craig: Chris you just went all the way back to serendipity, that’s great.
Craig: But you were going to say something about Indy?
Shirley: So when I was pregnant with Indy, I was six days overdue and Chris had his induction for the fire brigade coming up. If he missed this induction, he would have to wait I think another month or two to get into the next induction. So he really needed to go to the induction, but I was six days overdue at this point.
Shirley: So Chris goes off to the induction, I’m still heavily pregnant. I have some contractions throughout the day, but that had been quite normal for the last week.
Shirley: Chris and I meet each other at home about 5:00-5:30, still having contractions and then I have her about 11:30 that evening. But it was like she literally waited for him to be finished. Nothing, and then it just happened within a couple hours and she was here.
Chris: Yeah, we thought the timing wouldn’t be an issue and then as each day went past and Shirley was more and more overdue, we thought it was going to happen at any moment now. And do I call up and cancel this really important meeting with the fire brigade or do I just see what happens?
Chris: And I let them know, I said, “Look, my wife is heavily pregnant and there may be a moment where I have to just dash off and deal with this.” They said, “No problem.”
Chris: I think that was one of the things that really appealed to me about the organization is that they are very much family-based in many ways. They completely understood, even though there are thousands of people that want to get into the fire brigade, it’s a lot of applicants to go through.
Chris: So I was worried that I would lose my place or something might happen, but they were totally understanding. I think that really helped me to understand that it is quite a family-based organization and that they go a long way towards encouraging that sort of thing. So I was prepared to take the call, run off, get to the hospital as soon as I could to be with Shirley, but it didn’t happen.
Chris: So yeah, I managed to get through the whole day. I did the physical testing, I did the written exam, all the different bits and pieces, finished off, check my phone, saw nothing, everything’s fine.
Chris: Then I got home and with not too much more time, we had to rush off to the hospital and Indy was… Yeah, she held out and waited for me basically. I’m very grateful.
Shirley: But she was also your grandad’s birthday. So she was born on the same day as her great-grandfather, which is very cute. It was very cute.
Craig: Also serendipitous.
Chris: Yes, coming back… I’m starting to believe more and more.
Craig: That definitely is the theme of this podcast. Switching gears here, is there anything that you guys would say or be willing to share that you find particularly challenging at the moment? Either with work or with having a small child?
Craig: But one thing I haven’t asked you was having to sort of shift the love of your life, so you don’t spend all of your time parkour teaching now. You’re now working on other things. What’s on your minds as challenging?
Shirley: I think we make quite a lot of effort to make sure we have time for each other and time for our unit of four. There’s four of us in the family. Time for ourselves to train, just trying to find that balance. I think that balance is always shifting and you’re always having to adapt to that if you were to have a young child.
Shirley: So especially with Chris working, four days on, four days off. Then I work say three days a week. Just trying to find that balance in between to make sure everyone is happy and everything’s working well. And as I mentioned, still getting our time to train for ourselves and training effectively. I don’t have that four hours a day to train now, which I used to have before.
Craig: That’s a good point.
Shirley: Yeah. I mean, I’m not hanging out for four hours and working through or even just discovering a spot for three or four hours and taking a break. It’s a different type of training now.
Craig: Much more intentional?
Shirley: Yeah. Or more sometimes I just… So if I want to go out and play. I know I’ve got, let’s say, 45 minutes. So I’ll say I’ve got this 45 minutes, I’m going to go out and play and discover within that time and then I just allow whatever to happen happen.
Shirley: But yeah, being really effective with the time I have to train I think is the thing that has taken the longest to adapt to again.
Craig: So the constraint of it used to be you were in charge of deciding how much time you were going to train with and now that has to fit in this much time and that’s changed the way you have to program.
Craig: So do you find this interesting to “Oh, this is like programing for a student, I’m really having to program my own training.”
Shirley: Yeah, I have to think a lot about it. But then also I want it to playful and light and not get too strict on “Okay, I only have this time and I must do this.” No must. I have a structure and a program for myself in regards to the strength and conditioning side.
Shirley: Then with my parkour practice at the moment, it’s just playing. Sometimes I’m working on breaking some jumps, sometimes I’m working on one particular technique, sometimes I’m doing whatever the hell I feel like and just exploring the space and feeling the space.
Shirley: So having time for both of those is really important for me to be a better wife, partly a better mother, better employee, all of those things.
Shirley: Definitely have that time for myself. But yeah, just using it effectively, I think, is the key when you’re juggling a lot of different things. Whether that’s children or just life.
Craig: Shirley, how about one last question out of the blue. Is there a particular lesson that your mother or father taught you that’s stuck with you?
Shirley: I think, probably from both of them, a little bit more from my mother. I had a Buddhist upbringing, so both my parents, my father’s not with us anymore, but he was and my mom is Buddhist. So [inaudible 00:43:59].
Shirley: But anyway, growing up, if I had a problem at school or something that was going on in my life when I was very young, my mom would always ask me to chant for it. But the underlying message being that chant for you to change yourself so you can change your environment, as opposed to wanting to change someone else. Changing yourself so that you can change your environment and your situation.
Shirley: I think that then starting parkour, I mean, that mindset and that philosophy really played into the parkour practice. That stayed with me as a child and then through to adulthood was, I suppose, looking inwards.
Craig: Looking inwards.
Shirley: I love that saying. So cheesy, but it’s true. Looking inwards to change things going on in our life rather than… I noticed definitely during my pregnancy, this pregnancy, recent pregnancy, and I posted quite a few videos of my training and my thoughts around pregnancy and training and parkour and all of that stuff. I had lots of feedback from lots of different women, and guys as well. It’s really insightful to me because actually I had some apprehension about having children and how my body is going to change. How’s that going to change my practice? All these kind of things.
Shirley: So I think I wanted to shed a little bit of light and talk a little bit about, maybe a small bit about training during pregnancy, but more about training postpartum when you’ve just had the baby.
Shirley: I think what changes the most, obviously your body changes, but within time, it more or less returns to how it… I feel exactly how I felt before I had Indy. And obviously that differs person to person because we’re all different.
Shirley: But I think what changes the most is the time that you have. You don’t have as much time to train. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t train anymore. It’s just using the time in a different way.
Shirley: I can hear that in the background, yeah.
Craig: I was going to say, Indy has joined us now. Indy woke up from her nap, but I was hoping that we could get her to talk but I don’t think she wants to join us.
Shirley: She just wants to play.
Craig: She just wants to play.
Craig: That’s an excellent thing.
Shirley: But I don’t know how to wrap that up. I think it was during that postpartum period, taking that time to be patient with yourself and rest and repair. The more patient you are at that point and doing your breathing exercises and making sure that you’re pelvic floor has recovered and that your body has recovered. You’re going to be stronger when you come back. So it’s really worth that.
Shirley: Without saying that birth is like an injury, it kind of is. It has parallels. You have to have that rehabilitation process. You can’t just jump back in, even if you have ten years of parkour experience. It doesn’t matter.
Shirley: You have to take that time. Like I mentioned earlier, I think it was six months until I did my first climb up. Because before that, hanging on the wall, I could feel too much pressure and something didn’t feel right. So I knew it wasn’t the time to do something so dynamic.
Shirley: So yeah, just take that time. There is no timeline. It takes as long as it takes. That’s it really.
Craig: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I love to collect stories. If you hear someone tell a story, the story that they pick, the words they use, their passion, that all comes through and it tells you as much about them as it does the actual story. I love getting a chance to say, do you guys have a story that you would like to share?
Shirley: I think I’ll share the story of when we first met.
Chris: It has a happy ending.
Craig: I was like, “Does is have a happy ending? I hope so.”
Shirley: I started parkour in 2008 and we met December 2008 at a Rendezvous event, a Parkour Generations event in London, Waterloo. So I’d been training for about six months, Chris was coaching at the event I was taking part. How did we? Where did we?
Chris: No pressure, Shirley.
Craig: I mean you could probably name the spot if you claim that you know the answer and she doesn’t.
Shirley: We took a picture of that spot when we got married.
Shirley: Yeah. So there’s a cheesy story that goes along with that. I had a small shoulder injury at the time, it was raining a lot that day. The whole day actually during that event.
Shirley: There was a wall run, so yeah, one of the coaches was helping me up the wall. Chris was at the top of the wall and there was a set of railings at the top. I clamored up the wall with the [inaudible 00:48:17] help, kind of stepped on his face on the way up.
Shirley: Got up to the top of the wall, went to vault the railing, my foot slipped, so I kind of like screamed in Chris’s ear, “Oh, sorry.” And then jumped around back to the beginning of the queue. That’s basically how we met.
Chris: And that was the first time I saw Shirley. Kicking someone in the head, screaming in my ear and then just running off.
Craig: That’s what’s called a “meet cute” in film.
Craig: Only, not many meet cutes involve a wall run. Like, “Yes, that’s exactly how you two should meet.” So is there more to the story?
Shirley: That’s it.
Craig: I mean, obviously there’s more to the story but I mean, is there more to this particular part of the story?
Shirley: So, we finished the event and then Chris was moving to London a couple months later. But he was actually moving in with a friend of the family. So I volunteered to show him the spots around so they had a bit of independence.
Craig: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Shirley: Hey, hey, hey, hey. Didn’t move that fast.
Shirley: We met December 2008, we didn’t get together until August.
Craig: I didn’t mean it that way, I just meant, “A great excuse to go hangout with the guy, I can show him the parkour spots.”
Craig: I wasn’t in the gutter. Okay. “Some spots to our right.”
Shirley: Yes. I showed him all the spots around Kilburn which is where he was staying. Then we just became friends, then obviously we trained together sometimes. And then we just hung out and one thing led to another. We got together in August 2009. So it’s coming up to ten years now.
Craig: Congratulations, again.
Shirley: Thank you.
Chris: Thank you, Craig.
Shirley: We’ve been married for nearly five years and then together nearly ten years.
Shirley: So when we got engaged, we didn’t have a particular date that we wanted to get married, we didn’t really mind, to be honest. So we just thought, “Hmm, we’d like to get married soon.” So we just kind of went for December the 13th, which was the say we actually met at Rendezvous.
Shirley: Then we thought, “Hey, it’s really cheesy, but we should take a picture of me trying to do that wall run, or hanging on that wall where we first met.”
Shirley: So in my wedding dress, which wasn’t a big, big dress.
Craig: A big deal, right?
Shirley: Yeah. It was this normal dress, I suppose.
Shirley: In my wedding dress anyway, I climbed down to the wall, hung on the wall and then Chris is kind of leaning over the railing.
Chris: We got some funny looks, but it was worth it for sure.
Craig: It was worth it?
Shirley: Yeah. We’ve got that as one of our wedding photos of when we first met.
Craig: Having just shared a story about how you first met, I think this is a question. I think that when two people have parkour as one of the things they share in common, I think that tends to really make the relationships work well. I mean, I don’t know that I’m right.
Craig: Obviously it’s important that two people have things in common, but I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on how having parkour in common is a different aspect of being in a relationship?
Chris: I think when it comes to friendships and relationships, if one or the other person does parkour then you often find that the other person is dragged into it along the way.
Craig: That’s my story. That’s my story.
Chris: Yeah, yeah. As you start becoming happier and happier and they’re so excited about this experience. Their starting to maybe notice differences in other parts of their life that are improving as well, because they’re approaching it with more of a problem-solving mindset.
Chris: So I think when one half of the relationship is actively involved in parkour or in some sort of movement discipline, or anything positive really, it’s only natural that the other person would be kind of dragged into it. At least on a selfish level. At least to see if it would be something for them as well.
Chris: I think when it comes to both people in a relationship practicing parkour, it can lead to quite an intense relationship. I think it’s because of the honesty between the two people.
Chris: So when you practice parkour, you’re regularly exposed to emotions you wouldn’t normally bring to the surface perhaps. Maybe you get really frightened by an experience, maybe you’re very excited by stuff, things are quite scary. You might cry, you might laugh and that might all take part in a fifteen minute window when you’re breaking jumps.
Craig: I’ve been to that side.
Chris: So you’re exposed. Your real self is exposed very quickly and it’s very hard to hide behind those emotions or put a barrier up to hide those emotions. So when two people are in a relationship and they both practice parkour, their relationship tends to be very honest in a lot of ways because it’s harder to hide behind some of the emotions that parkour brings out. You get to see each other upset, scared by something, angry at something.
Chris: When you both go and train together, there’s a lot of experiences that happen that bring your real self to the surface quite quickly. It’s something natural that you would talk about afterwards and share those experience.
Chris: I think even the friendships that I have in parkour, I’ve got to know people very, very well through those experience. And layers that would take years to peel away and other situations, they’re revealed very quickly between people that practice parkour.
Chris: So someone that I only met maybe yesterday, today I’m seeing them crying about something and then walking away from something and then coming back from because they’re feeling stubborn. And then persevering and eventually overcoming something.
Craig: Yeah, seeing them laugh, right?
Chris: Then there’s the joy. So you experience a whole range of emotions and how that person deals with those emotions. I think you get to see people for who they really are quite quickly in parkour. Because they reveal themselves so quickly as to what sort of person they are, that build very honest, strong friendships. You know who that person is, they know who you are and that sort of thing can take years to reveal itself.
Chris: So I think when it comes to relationships in particular, that’s emphasized even more. You get to know someone very, very well quite quickly and that leads to quite a deep relationship in many ways I think. You might find that, I don’t know where I’m going with this now. I think we can stop it somewhere there.
Chris: Do you know what I’m trying to say?
Shirley: Yeah, no, I know exactly what you’re trying to say.
Chris: Do you have any thoughts on that?
Shirley: No, I just agree with you. No, I understand exactly what you’re trying to say.
Shirley: Obviously, we met through parkour. I think with Chris and I, our practice have always been quite individual. So then we focus in on different parts of our own practices.
Shirley: But we always get back to that point where we can share that. I suppose that’s an appreciation for what the other person is going through and being able to relate to that to an extent. So that definitely helped to make us.
Shirley: Well, we built a friendship first and then other things.
Craig: Which is a good idea, that works out well generally, right?
Chris: Through seeing Shirley practice parkour, I know when she needs some space, I know when she needs some support. Not just in parkour, but other parts of her life and probably the other way around too. So I think you get to read the other persons signals quite well and that builds stronger relationship. I really believe that.
Chris: Parkour, wow, what’s the stuff?
Craig: My brain is off on a tangent.
Shirley: You don’t want to go too cheesy, that’s why you’re all weird.
Craig: Nothing’s wrong with cheesy, but my brain’s like, what we’re basically saying is that everybody’s first date should be a parkour class.
Chris: Yeah exactly.
Craig: Somebody’s just like, “Oh, wow, that’s a thing?”
Shirley: It would tell you a lot about someone.
Craig: Yes it would. First of all, you can tell whether they own any athletic clothes. Somebody’s like, “I have to look good on a first date.” Right? So it’s like, “Can you look good and run up a wall?”
Craig: I think maybe that’s a little too much stress when you go on a first date.
Shirley: I think I didn’t own any trainers until I started parkour, because I didn’t go to the gym.
Craig: Yeah, I threw out all my shoes and bought all new shoes. I went through Feiyues, and now I’m onto Saucony old-school runners with the insoles pulled out.
Craig: Shoes are great, actually I still have my shoes on my feet. That’s weird, I normally don’t have my shoes on. I’m like, “What’s wrong with the floor?” I normally leave my shoes by the door.
Craig: But have you noticed you walk into people’s houses and you can tell whether people are… Like you just walk in, it’s like, “This is a parkour household,” or “This is not.”
Craig: It just says something about who you become internally is determined by what you do… What’s the phrase? We are what we do repeatedly. What you do in every moment is what you do in this moment or vice versa.
Craig: Just those little things come out and you can’t hide them. As long as you are on a same path, it’s going to end up well. If someone else is on another path, if you start doing parkour and you’re six to eight months in and your partner is like, “Yeah, you’re still doing that crazy parkour thing.” That might say something very fundamental about that other person. I think relationships are very interesting. I don’t normally get the chance to talk to two people at the same time.
Craig: Of course, the final question, three words to describe your practice.
Shirley: I’d say my practice is consistent, playful and adaptive.
Chris: Do you want to explain why or do you want me to answer?
Shirley: I didn’t know if I was just going to leave the words.
Chris: You could just leave it hanging.
Shirley: It’s consistent because I’ve consistently trained for the last eleven years, whether that was through pregnancy or through postpartum. Obviously, how I trained changed depending on what was going on.
Shirley: It’s playful because it’s always about the fun. It’s always about the feeling, how moving makes me feel. Whether moving is weight lifting, whether moving is parkour, whether moving is sprinting. Whatever it is, it’s about how it makes me feel and enjoying that process.
Shirley: Adaptive would go back into the consistent. Just adapting to whatever is going on in my life. Consistent, playful, adaptive, I say.
Chris: I’m really glad you went first, Shirley, to give me more time to think. I think if I had to choose three words, I was already thinking about what I do and how I train, that sort of thing. But I think the what is the least important part. So if I had to choose three words, it would probably be why, how and when.
Chris: The why questions are one of the ones that comes up all the time. I think if you asked yourself why are you training, why are you still training, why do you still do parkour, you come up with some really interesting answers that really help to shape the next few weeks, few months of your training. So I regularly ask myself that question quite a lot and it helps to kind of re-focus me and send me the next direction I would say.
Chris: The how is always the same, it’s always with a focus on quality first and doing things correctly, and doing things well. Before adding distance if it’s parkour, or adding kilos if it’s weight lifting stuff. Or yeah, just kind of taking it one step at a time and focusing on the how things are done, rather than just doing it for the sake of it.Someone very wise once told me the differences in the details, I think it’s very, very true. How you do something as important as what you’re doing.
Chris: The when is something I’ve had to have to reconsider a bit more recently, just with my body. It’s holding up really well, I’m very happy with it. Touch wood, thank you.
Chris: I’ve been doing parkour since I was 17. I’m 32 now so things have changed a little bit. I’ve noticed my recovery time isn’t quite the same as it used to be. I can’t train the same way every single day. So there’s a right time to do something and it’s probably a less optimal time to do something. So certain days won’t be for heavy squats. Certain days won’t be for big drop jumps. I’ve kind of been able to tune into that and do the right thing on the right day. That’s something that I’ve learned with time and with maybe a little bit of age, I would say.
Chris: Then we all know that last jump in the day is where things tend to go wrong. Your body knows it’s down for the day, it’s started to cool down already. Mentally you’ve switched off. I’ll just do one more, and that’s when things can often happen. I think asking myself that, “Is this the right to do this,” has been a big thing more recently. It’s, so far, helped to continue the trend of not having many injuries along this journey.
Chris: Normally I continue and I think by asking those three questions to myself quite regularly, I think it will serve me well for the next few years.
Craig: Thank you very much guys. It’s been a pleasure.
Chris: Thank you, Craig. It’s been great.
Shirley: Thank you so much.
Craig: This was Episode 62. For more information, go to MoversMindset.com/62. There’s more to the Movers Mindset project than just this podcast. Visit our website for more free content, to join our email list or to read about how you can support this project.
Craig: And I’ll leave you with a final thought from Thomas Paine, “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason, is like administering medicine to the dead.”
Craig: Thanks for listening.