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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.
Craig: Today Rebecca Brightly discusses the changing dynamics of going from Lindy Hop to motherhood and unpacks her parenting philosophy. She explains why she tolerates parkour and how the gender dynamics contrast with her experience in dance. Rebecca shares her thoughts on gender representation and why she wants women to see how capable they are but first, if you enjoy the podcast please help me keep it going. Visit moversmindset.com/support to read about becoming a voluntary supporter.
Craig: Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.
Rebecca: Hey Craig.
Craig: Rebecca Brightly is a writer, parent, dancer and parkour practitioner. She was well-known in the Lindy Hop community for her many articles on dance, how to start and social issues in the community.
Craig: In 2007 Rebecca took up parkour and can now be found training outdoors when she’s not writing or raising her two kids. Welcome Rebecca.
Rebecca: Hey Craig. How you doing?
Craig: I’m great. Happy that you are here today.
Craig: Rebecca, let’s start with what was it like to switch … I’m going to say switch passions and I don’t want to put words in your mouth but was like the switch passions to go from Lindy Hop, which you were and I would assume still are, clearly passionate about and then go to, what I’m going to call the Megatron passion of having children like you can’t help but switch that passion? What’s it like to look back on the thing that you loved so much and what was it like in the transition to go from one to the other?
Rebecca: To go from dancing to having kids?
Rebecca: What happened was I was really in the dance community and very deeply embedded, really wanted to do some work in the dance community around writing and spreading ideas and then I got pregnant. That was planned, by the way. I got pregnant and I had this idea in my head of what having a kid in the dance community would be like. I thought, “I’ll take my kid to dances.” I had a friend who would take her kid, her little 3-year-old to dances and I saw it. I said to myself, “I can do that, yeah.”
Craig: That’s cool.
Rebecca: “They can do it. I can do that.”
Rebecca: I didn’t pay as close attention to the fact that there were pretty much no other parents in the dance community. As you can imagine, I might have had some wrong-headed ideas about my own ability to just follow someone else’s parenting.
Rebecca: The reason I actually stopped is because parenting was completely overwhelming and in Seattle, the dances all started at 9:00 p.m. or later which is really not kid-friendly. My kid was really high needs and she wanted mommy all the time.
Rebecca: Okay. She didn’t like babysitters. She just liked me for about a year. My partner calls himself Uncle Paul for the first year and then around the time when she started walking, they started bonding more. It was really, really intensive parenting and I didn’t realize that you couldn’t just mold your kid like a hunk of clay and in retrospect, that seems really silly but all the examples of parenting I’ve seen where it’s made it look a lot easier than it was.
Rebecca: That’s the reason I stopped dancing but it’s not the reason I don’t dance anymore, if that makes sense because I could have eventually-
Craig: Good because I was going to ask why haven’t you gone back? How many children do you have?
Rebecca: I have two kids.
Craig: But you could have gone back and so why didn’t you?
Rebecca: That is what they call a can of worms.
Craig: I have a can opener. Hold on, I’ll go get it.
Rebecca: Yeah, please because it’s hard to wrench open. The reason I didn’t go back has to do with some issues I was trying to work on before I started dancing and it actually links in to why I find parkour more tolerable now. In partner dancing, so I do Lindy Hop. Lindy Hop is a style of swing dancing from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s. Originally danced in Harlem. Yeah, Craig is bopping over there. He knows what I’m talking about.
Craig: I can’t do it but I know what you’re talking about.
Rebecca: Yeah, yeah.
Craig: I really liked that.
Rebecca: It starts with the bouncing up and down.
Craig: I like that genre of music.
Rebecca: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Very happy. I loved it. I loved the dancing aspect of it. It’s partner dancing and in partner dancing traditionally or in my opinion, the old-fashioned way of doing it is you have a lead who is usually a man and you have a follow who’s usually a woman. The lead makes most of the decisions about the dancing and the follow goes with those decisions and can’t supersede their partner’s decisions. That’s the sort of-
Craig: There’s no input either. It’s not even like-
Rebecca: It depends on who you’re dancing with and what community that they learned in but yeah, certainly some men do not like if you try to override their movement decisions when you’re dancing with them but generally a lot of leads, who are usually men, men usually learn that they should be making all the decisions and they get confused if you try to do something else that they don’t understand. They find it really stressful, best-case scenario. Now things are changing a little bit but it’s so slow.
Rebecca: I was trying to work on that and write about it. I didn’t go back because I just found it so intolerable and my options were basically, I could only dance with people who really listened to me or I could switch over to leading whenever I felt like having a lot of movement ideas. It’s really hard in the social dance community to only dance with people that you feel comfortable with and that sounds horrible to me.
Craig: Because of life perspectives and you can’t just dance with … Does your partner dance too?
Rebecca: Yeah, that’s how we met.
Craig: Yeah, well that’s an excellent story right there. We’ll come back to that, put a pin in that. When you come around to, “All right. I know I like dancing with my partner and these other two people,” you can’t be going through the room and like, “Oh, annoying people.” You have to be able to basically dance with anybody.
Craig: Like you said when you were leading it, even just leading didn’t fulfill the issue or fixed the hole?
Rebecca: Yeah, because leading and following in Lindy Hop they’re not mirrored. They’re like two different puzzle pieces that fit together in different ways, so the person who dances in the lead position, for lack of a better word for it, they have certain types of movements associated with that position and followers have different types of movements. The follower will turn more and the lead will anchor more.
Rebecca: I had really specialized for nine, 10 years in dancing all the follower movements and gotten really good at those and basically, the answer from people was like, “Well, you just need to lead then.” I’m like, “Well, I can’t do my swivels and my turns and all my variations. I can’t do all that anymore. All the same movements.” It’s opposite. Its opposite and it’s different.
Craig: You wanted a collaborative way to dance, “I want to be a-“
Rebecca: Like a great parkour jam.
Craig: Yeah. “I’ll be part A and you’d be part A and your expression is this way and my expression is that way.”
Craig: Tell me a story about how you met your partner at Lindy Hop.
Rebecca: I hope you cut this out but …
Craig: You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to answer. I can ask you other experience-
Rebecca: I will … No. It’s funny and usually people ask more questions about it and it could be potentially a big long tangent but I’ll try to do the short version. Like in parkour in Lindy Hop, there’s a lot of events around the country and around the world. Actually I would say there’s probably more Lindy Hop events and the Lindy Hop community is probably a lot bigger. Consequently, I’ve probably been to about two dozen different events, some of them multiple times.
Rebecca: The event that I met him at was at New Orleans and at that time, I forget exactly what it was called. It used to be called The Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown but they changed the name and I think it was-
Craig: That’s a great name.
Rebecca: It was an amazing event. It was still an amazing event when they changed the name and changed the location. I think it was … Anyway, we’ll call it The Event in New Orleans.
Rebecca: I met him at an event in New Orleans and he saw me in an elevator, and I don’t remember this meeting but that it was apparently when we met. He gives me a lot of shit for it. We danced later at the World War II Museum, I do remember that, but then I didn’t see him. It’s not like he made a move. He just noticed me. That is a meeting someone. That’s how you meet someone in dancing. You dance with them for three minutes and then you might never see them again but technically you have met them. You may not have exchanged any more words other than, “Do you want to dance?” “Sure.”
Craig: Do you normally introduce first names when you do that too or you just-
Rebecca: You might, yeah. There’s not a rule around it but yeah, you might. Might do a second dance, maybe not. Then I came to Seattle to visit my family here and I went to Century Ballroom where the dances start at nine o’clock, which is very late. I probably believe danced with him there and then after that dance, it’s pretty customary for a group to go out and get drinks or get food because people would dance for three hours on end and they’re probably pretty hungry after that. By midnight, they’re hungry, they want food, they want drinks.
Rebecca: People just invited me out. I didn’t really know anyone there but in the Lindy Hop community if you’re pretty good at dancing and you have good positive energy, people will assume you’re one of them and just automatically invite you out. That happened to me. He was there. He asked for my number and that’s how things started.
Craig: That’s the beginning of a longer story.
Rebecca: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Craig: This may seem like I’m hopping around but earlier you said the phrase that you tolerate parkour better-
Craig: … than Lindy Hop. I love your choice of word, tolerate. Can you unpack why you would say you would tolerate parkour?
Rebecca: Yeah. Well, I don’t remember the exact circumstance that we had this conversation in but I was offhandedly saying to someone that in terms of the way people interact on a gendered spectrum, Lindy Hop is really different from parkour in one very significant way in that you don’t have to physically touch anyone. I like that in parkour. No one is pushing me. No one is pulling me. No one is trying to make me do things with their physical body. There’s other gender dynamics going on but in Lindy Hop, that gender dynamic is really strong and to me, it’s not tolerable anymore. After 10 years of dealing with it I’m like, “I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
Rebecca: In parkour, I don’t have to deal with that. I can train with whoever I want. No one says, “Hey, do you want to dance?” Then they have their physical body touching mine for the next three minutes-
Craig: “Hey, do you want to do this jump shove?”
Rebecca: In Lindy Hop, you can lead people to jump. You can lead people that go horizontal like in a dip, you can move their physical bodies around and if you try to push back and say, “No, I don’t want to do that.” You get that response like, “Whoa-“
Craig: It’s where somebody gets hurt or slips, yeah.
Rebecca: Yeah. People have different opinions on whether you should be able to lift someone or throw them up in the air or turn them over because there’s partner flips in Lindy Hop and some of which I know how to do. You wouldn’t necessarily do that with a complete stranger that you’ve just asked a social dance for the first time.
Craig: Yeah, “How strong are you really? I’m going to go find out.”
Rebecca: But people make an assumption based on how that connection feels and how well you’re keeping up with them whether or not you can do a lift or a jump or a throw. I could pick you up and throw you over there and you’re supposed to land on your feet right. Yeah, just blink, blink, blink.
Craig: I’m blinking in disbelief, “What?”
Rebecca: For real, yeah. Lindy Hop is very physical, so that’s another similarity with parkour. Yeah, people can make you jump, they can make you dip and they can make you do it but nobody … Like no men, nobody. Nobody makes me do anything in parkour. That aspect of the gender night dynamic is completely absent and I love it.
Craig: But you still use the word … You didn’t say, “I like parkour and better than Lindy or …”
Rebecca: Yeah, I know. I said, “I love the absence of this terrible thing that I don’t like.”
Craig: Yeah, that was your explanation but when you described it first you said, “I tolerate parkour better,” which tells me that you are still tolerating parkour. Is there something any that makes you go, “Eh”?
Rebecca: I think tolerating things gets a bad rap because I think most people find a lot of things distasteful about the world and I have the perspective of yeah, things are distasteful and unless someone is violating a boundary, I take responsibility for being like my pet peeve is people shutting the car door too loud. This is a little bit more than a pet peeve, it’s like in parkour there are still gender dynamics and sometimes it crosses boundaries but less often than in Lindy Hop and partner dancing.
Rebecca: Actually, that really surprised me. I wasn’t sure I was even going to like the parkour community because I knew it’s 80%, 90% male maybe 70% on a really good day for me.
Rebecca: When I say I tolerate it better it means parkour isn’t perfect. It’s far from perfect in terms of the problems in the world.
Craig: If I ask you to pick three things you wish you could change in the world, parkour doesn’t make the list, right? It’s like a-
Rebecca: Yeah, if I’m donating a lot of my … Donating. If I’m if I’m spending a lot of my free time engaged in a hobby that is completely optional, as a whole that hobby is way more than intolerable. That hobby is freaking awesome, but there might be an aspect of it where I’m like, “I can tolerate this, yeah. I can live with this. There’s so much other good stuff.” I can deal with dudes not being able to express feelings the same way and being confused about how they express this thing. That’s annoying. I don’t really get that but, yeah, or the unsolicited advice issue or those things. No one is pushing me, “Thank goodness. I’m so happy,” right?
Craig: What’s something that you think people will get wrong about you?
Rebecca: I’m trying to think if I should do in the parkour context. You know what? There’s so many things but I’m going to start with some that actually really bother me. Here’s one that really bothers me. Women who don’t do parkour, a lot of times think I’m really special or extra athletic or a natural at things. I don’t see it that way and I don’t look at myself and be like, “Oh, yeah. So good, oh. Look at me. Oh my God, watching my own videos all day. I’m so good.” That’s not me. I don’t know anyone like that but I’m certainly not doing that.
Rebecca: Like a friend of mine who doesn’t do parkour, maybe they’re a runner says, “Oh my gosh, I can never do what you’re doing.”
Craig: Never do that, yeah.
Rebecca: Everyone gets that, right? There’s this extra like, “You are so special. Oh, you’ve been moving and running and jumping around for 20 years? Oh, that’s not really why. It’s because you’re special.” It puts extra distance between me and another person. I feel, I know this is very normal to feel this way, but it feels it diminishes just how much time has been thinking about movement and the human body and how it works, and how much effort I put into it. Maybe I don’t really show all that effort but they don’t … The misunderstanding is people also sometimes don’t want to see that effort. It hurts extra when it’s women doing that to me because I really want them to be able to see how capable they are.
Craig: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Craig: I’m interested in how you see your role as a parent for your children and clearly beyond the obvious, you’re a parent. I mean, do you see that your role is to make sure, and this is not to put ideas in your head but, that you make sure that your children are armored against certain things or make sure that your children are capable of certain things, or like, “Whatever you do, dear daughter, don’t get into Lindy Hop,” or, “Whatever you do …” I’m wondering beyond the obvious parental duties and parental dreams and goals for your children, what you might have that’s particularly Rebecca-esque about it?
Rebecca: Yeah. Sort of like what’s my philosophy, what am I trying to impart to them?
Craig: I love when guests like you just to ask this, so that.
Rebecca: Yeah, okay. Well obviously, I’ve thought about it a lot.
Craig: I kind of figured.
Rebecca: Yeah, I have kids for almost six years now. One of the things I tried to do which you said a little bit was try to make sure they know certain things because it’d be great to know how to cook and wipe your own butt before you go off to college. Those are great things. I know right?
Craig: I love that. No, sorry. Didn’t mean to interrupt you. Continue please.
Rebecca: The next level of thinking is really like making sure they’re provided with some level of challenge because in the U.S. and probably some other places in the world, parents are scared for their children and they want to protect them. It’s not that I don’t have that impulse but I also want to teach them that they are inherently capable and the only way you learn that you’re inherently capable is by overcoming challenges, some of which you choose and some of which you do not choose. I can provide those unchosen challenges. I’m happy to do that like getting your homework in on time or whatever.
Rebecca: Yeah, so my philosophy is overcoming challenges is what helps build self-confidence. In fact my opinion is that overcoming challenges is the only thing that builds self-confidence and you have to overcome challenges in all aspects of life, if possible because otherwise you don’t actually know what you’re capable of and you’re just making it up. There’s this very … Yeah, big head nod. There’s this very American idea that self-esteem is just something you get within, from within, just believe in yourself. You can find so many memes on Instagram like just something along the lines of just believe in yourself and-
Craig: Inspirational background with inspirational thing in the foreground, right?
Rebecca: Yeah, exactly. Just some version of just believe in yourself. How would you come to believe in yourself? How do you know what you can do and what you’re capable of unless you’ve tried and if you try and you always succeed, do you know that you’re capable of failure? Because knowing that you’re capable of failure teaches you that you are capable of recovery. That’s really important. It doesn’t always translate one area to another.
Rebecca: My teenager she’s on the climbing team now at Seattle Bouldering Project. She went to her first competition last Saturday and her goal was to get in the South Top-16 so that she could progress to regionals. She didn’t make the cut on her first competition ever and she was pretty upset about it. In my head I’m like, “I’m so sorry that you’re sad.” She’s crying, “I’m so sad for you.” I didn’t necessarily say this out loud but I’m so happy she didn’t made the cut.
Craig: You failed on the first try.
Rebecca: Right? Because that is normal. That is the usual thing. That’s probably what should be happening. You don’t make it on the first try. I’m hoping that will give her the chance to find internal motivation to continue rather than seeking the external motivation and the validation that you get with succeeding and making the cut and placing well. That’s another level of making sure that they have enough challenge to get self-confidence in different areas.
Rebecca: Oh. I was going to say, one thing doesn’t necessarily transfer to another area of life. She may have that ability to be like, “Oh, I failed at a competition. No biggie.” But then she goes into her relationships and she’s like, “Oh, that person broke up with me. I’m heartbroken. I can’t possibly stand this. I will never ask anyone ever again.”
Craig: Never love again.
Rebecca: Yeah, exactly. That can totally happen. One thing is not necessarily transferable like confidence over here doesn’t necessarily make you confident over here so I have to ensure that through her relationship, she gets the guidance and support she needs to deal with failure essentially in every other area of life because there’s so many ways to fail.
Rebecca: Then the last layer of how I raise kids philosophy is I don’t know, it’s a little … Okay. The last layer of how I raise kids philosophy is something along the lines of making sure that they are interested enough in something and passionate about something, preferably multiple things, so that they have something to shoot for in their lives. This relates to everything else; making sure they are capable of certain tasks, making sure that they have suffered failure and gain self-esteem from understanding that they can recover from failure. Because if they have those, then they know that if they’re interested in passionate about something they could probably do it and if they can’t, no biggie. They’ll switch to something else.
Rebecca: I’ve seen my teenager who we adopted beginning to get some of these foundational things like dealing with failure and being able to be competent in taking care of herself in certain ways. Consequently, she was able to have this experience of really wanting something. She’s like, “I really wanted to get in the top 16 so I can progress the regionals.” I’m like, “That’s amazing. That’s an amazing experience for you to really want something and actually be able to feel the sadness of not getting it instead of just pushing it away and saying, ‘Well, I didn’t want that anyways. Next thing. I’ll just try something else.’”
Craig: This requires a little bit of a story first.
Craig: Where I live … This way I’ll talk a little bit because you’re invited to ask me questions but I have a mountain bike which I love very much and I have nicknamed it Beelzebub because I joke that I pay to maintain it and the only thing it wants for me is pedal, like it just uses me to push it around and then occasionally chucks me over the handlebars. Yes. The guys did the bike shop are like, “You’re weird.” I’m like, “You better believe it.”
Craig: Anyway because I was going to say me and Beelzebub route riding but that nobody but me would understand the joke. I was out riding my bike and I don’t do crazy and stuff anymore, a whole different encyclopedia of stories. There’s a two-mile trail that’s like cinder trail through the woods, or like a little bit of a boardwalk bridge over a swampy area. It’s really boring but I ride it back and forth all the time. It’s like my favorite little café. It’s my way of getting out and depending on the weather, I can either walk or ride.
Craig: In the last few weeks the charter school which in my state is the public school but it’s not the public school system, it’s the independently run schools but it’s like public school, college charter schools. The charter school that’s most of them … Between the two, they bring their classes out into, because it’s also like an ecology trail so you have to be careful. You can’t go zooming through there at 25 miles an hour. You’ll hit five kids before you can slow down.
Craig: I come around the corner, this happened four or five days out of two weeks because the weather’s gorgeous, and I’ll find two adults you know, two hens on either end. I don’t mean like that as a derogatory. I mean, there’s like two guardian humans on either end walking along and then they be a string of 20 children in the middle, and they’ll be doing something. They have sheets and they’re looking to identify plants or they’re looking for bugs or rocks, they’re doing something. They’re out actively working.
Craig: I slowed down and then I have a nice way of saying, “Hello,” at a distance. Then they turned around and then the person on the back will go, “Oh. Hey everybody, move to the right.” Technically, I should wait for them but it’s 30 kids. If I’m going to lunch, I need to go around. It’s an hour trail. I have a mountain bike and it’s a big bike because I’m a big guy so I need to go past him on the bike. Usually I ride by. Sometimes if it’s really tight, if I’m on the bridge, I’ll likely pick the bike up or … Really.
Craig: Okay. That’s the setup. This happens all the time. Every time this happens, at least the third of the kids have no idea what to do. Some of the kids will look and be like … I mean, I’m not a little guy and on a mountain bike I’m seven feet up with the helmet. They look at me and they go, “It’s the dude on a bike.” I’m moving over and they just move over. Some of the kids turn around … I’ve actually had kids stare at the bike and like, “What should I do?”
Rebecca: Deer in headlights.
Rebecca: Like they’ve never encountered that situation?
Craig: I’m not moving fast. I can’t believe it attracts them. We’ll stop and just stand there. They look at it and they’re just completely confused. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an enormous dude and they’ve never seen this big of a thing, I don’t get it. Maybe they’re fascinated by I’m not moving but …
Craig: You might be wondering, where am I going with this? My question is so after the fifth time that I’ve … It’s not the same kids. After the fifth time I’ve encountered these small children who have no idea what to do in an unusual circumstance that I think they haven’t experienced before, and there’s nothing wrong with the kids. I begin to wonder what’s going on here. After the fifth time I went around them, and I’m not mad at them. I’m just like, “It’s kids.” You should see me when I was at that age. Oh my God, I was a holy terror.
Craig: When I go around them I think, “I wonder if maybe the parenting and …” because the people who were guarding them they really guard them. They’re just like they’re crossing on the street and there’s hands held and orange flags. This is a rural area. You couldn’t get hit by a car even if your tried. They really herd them. I’m thinking, everybody talks about helicopter parenting and I’m wondering … People say it’s bad but I’m like, “No.” My opinion, I don’t have children. My opinion is no, it’s really bad because these kids are not equipped to deal with a dude on a mountain biking in the woods.
Craig: I’m like, “Okay. There are also black bears in these woods. I haven’t ever seen one but I’ve heard them. Black bears eat black berries.”
Rebecca: You know, if you don’t want those kids in your way just tell the adults that every time you go by, “Hey, you know there are black bears in these woods.”
Craig: Oh, yeah. No. I don’t want to be that guy. No, no, no, no, no. I like the way you think because honestly, I haven’t even thought about doing that at all.
Rebecca: I don’t mean that seriously at all.
Craig: Oh, because I hadn’t-
Rebecca: I just think of how hilarious that would be in a comedy sketch.
Craig: My question is, it’s anybody … Who would listen to this stuff? My question is because it seems to me that you are someone who is really psychologically armoring two precious new human beings to like, “Hey, sometimes weirdos in mountain bikes are going to surprise you on a trail.” It’s not a surprise. There’s people like, “Move to the right.” Kids are, “Hey Bobby, move over.” It takes like 20 seconds of chaos to move 30 kids to the right and then there’s three or are just like, “What?”
Craig: What are your … Am I on crack or is this a thing that actually happens to children who get helicopter parented, or …
Rebecca: Question. Counter question here. How often have you been on foot when a cyclist is passing you?
Craig: It happens to me a lot because I also walk the trail, I’ve walked the trail I think I last took 447 times because I’m a whack job [inaudible 00:25:59]. I know it’s four miles of round trip. I’m trying to actually walk the distance from Hobbit Town to Mordor and back but it’s not all of this story, so [crosstalk 00:26:05]-
Rebecca: When a cyclist is passing you, there’s a bit of a dance, right? What is this cyclist going to do? Usually-
Craig: Actually, there’s never a dance with Craig because Craig always walks on the right. I have headphones in or one out and when I hear them, I point with my hand because I’m Muslim. I point to the side. I’m expecting the pass on and they go, “Thank you.” as I go by but that’s because Craig is so [crosstalk 00:26:25].
Rebecca: That’s great. That’s great. You have this sort of training in how you act when cyclists pass by, right?
Rebecca: You have so much experience but that you point where the cyclist is supposed to go. I’ve actually never seen that. I used to bike around a lot. Usually people didn’t point where I was supposed to go.
Craig: Well, that’s I guess they’re mountain bikers so they point. I’ve ridden a lot of horses on trails with pedestrians and I’m used to tell them, “Sorry. Go ahead.”
Rebecca: Yeah. You’re navigating in a relatively complex environment with little people and they’re all different, they all have their different ideas, they all want to do different things. It’s not that different from being an adult on a trail where there’s pedestrians and cyclists, and the people are not that well trained to stay in their lane. Have you been in cycle paths, pedestrians who are not that well trained to stand there? You shout-
Craig: Hello and they scatter.
Rebecca: Yeah, hello or on your left is a real common one. I used to bike everywhere in Washington D.C. and that’s a crazy situation. It was intense. The roads there, they didn’t have a lot of bike lanes. Yeah, very complex environment and people are unpredictable and the kids in that situation are not … Unlike the adults, you just don’t know what to do and I even sometimes I hear, “On your left.” I’m like, “Is that left?” I go to my left because I hear left.
Craig: No, instead of using your butt as a bike stand.
Rebecca: Yeah, yeah. Pedestrians are also very unpredictable. I don’t know if this has happened to you but pedestrians can suddenly take a step sideways. A car can only go forward. It can’t suddenly move exactly sideways but pedestrians, they can go in any direction. I have flipped over my handlebars trying to avoid a pedestrian who suddenly stepped sideways in front of me, and that was on a campus. You can be, “On your left. On your left On your left.”
Craig: On your left, left, left. One the left, left, left. I used to try to avoid … If it’s a heavy pedestrian area then I try to take the bike somewhere else. I don’t ride down the Main Streets and stuff but …
Rebecca: I think there’s an answer to being trained for that particular situation but there’s also a-
Rebecca: “People are moving around me and how do I respond?” type training. That’s more generalized. You can, as a person who’s been a cyclist and has been passed by cyclists, you know that you can simply point and they will probably go the direction that you told them to.
Craig: I’m also thinking, “He’s thinking over here. We are thinking the same thing.”
Rebecca: Yeah, yeah. There’s a specific training but there’s also a general training. I’ve noticed that from my dance training, I’m pretty damn good at navigating around other people who are moving especially if I have familiarity. If someone’s on a vehicle and I have familiarity with how that vehicle moves … I know, for example a pedestrian can simply move sideways at any time. If I’m running, I don’t want to pass right by them like shoulder to shoulder because they could step sideways at any moment.
Rebecca: I want to give them enough clearance so if they take that sideways step, they’re not stepping into me. With a bike and a big guy in a bike, it’s possible they’re just looking at you like, “Wow ! That’s amazing. I want to do that.”
Craig: I’ve got net look, like little girls will look up and it’s 70 degrees so I always … Because when I stand up on the bike, I have to lean forward. I’m literally like-
Rebecca: Yeah, yeah. You’re towering over those little kids that it could just be such a new situation-
Craig: [inaudible 00:29:25] It blocks the sun.
Rebecca: … they haven’t seen it. It could totally be the deer in headlights. What exactly is happening now?
Craig: Am I helping them by providing the experience-
Rebecca: Oh, yeah.
Craig: [inaudible 00:29:33]
Rebecca: I’ll let you know. So long as you’re not hurting them, all different experiences you can provide kids are potentially helpful.
Craig: Sometimes I actually laugh out loud. If you hear the adults on either end just be like, “Oh my God.” Because the kids, they like dance in place with a backpack and-
Rebecca: Do they even do the side thing, like when you’re passing someone in the hall and you guys can’t decide which way to go?
Rebecca: That’s another example of the same thing. If there’s not a standard way that you pass someone in a hall, inevitably you’re going to pass someone or you have to do the dancing like you’re negotiating this way, that way? This way, that way?
Rebecca: This is where dancing is a really great analogy because for example, Lindy Hop is really different from say Argentine tango where you move around the floor really differently and people just move in a different way and you have to get used to it and learn how to predict what might happen. They might sweep their leg out and if you’re not aware that people in some may sweep their leg out and you’re real close to them, and they’re not aware that you’re there. They should be aware that you’re there if they’re going to take up that space but … Yeah, everything’s correct.
Rebecca: All answers are potentially correct.
Craig: Well, not everything. If I actually ran over one of them, that would be bad mojo. I am, if necessary, I’m diving into poison ivy to avoid these small children but otherwise I have to follow them at the small children pace with a big smile, that’s not happening either.
Rebecca: But to answer how does parenting potentially tie into what children know to do in that situation, they can receive the specific training. If you see a bike, stop and move to the side if you don’t want to get hit especially if it’s narrow. But it gets more difficult the more different situations that you’re in. It’s like, “Okay. If you’re on a sidewalk, this is what you do.”
Rebecca: Yeah, but parents can provide that specific training and they can also provide the more general circumstances like, “Hey, you’re in a weird circumstance. What are you going to do? How are you going to move around these other people that are also moving at the same time?”
Craig: A good one is like, “What do you do if you get separated from your parents?” Apparently, it’s a story day. I was in Washington D.C. with my parents and I was probably eight. We went to maybe the National Mall and we’re trying to go to the zoo or something and we got into the subway. I’d never seen a subway before. I was like, “Trains underground? Oh my God! This is so cool.”
Craig: My mom and dad weren’t the best at navigating together and either of them were super subway in our cities where we lived on subways. We’re on a subway and said, [inaudible 00:31:45] and the longer we’re badgering the thing. It’s one of these conversations, “Is it this stop or the next stop?”
Craig: “I think it’s this stop.”
Craig: “No, it’s the next stop.”
Craig: The train is slowing down.
Craig: “Yeah, it’s this stop.”
Craig: Doors open. I stepped out. “Well, I’m not really sure-” The door shut [inaudible 00:31:58] the train. Eight-year-old Craig stayed on the platform and we had not had the conversation like, “When in doubt, just wait. Stay there. We know we lost you. We’ll be back.”
Craig: My version was subway train, zero out of 45, I ran a subway train down. I was in the middle. I ran to the front screaming. They thought they ran over somebody. The engineer stops the train, the transit police showed up. My parents get off the train. My mom was a wreck, “Oh my God! What-” They finally … Train rolls away. We’re on the wrong stop. It’s actually the next one. We had to wait and get on the next train and go to the next platform but I didn’t get in trouble but then we had to talk about, “If you get separated, just wait and find someone in a uniform.”
Craig: Sorry. I don’t know. Sometimes I just always … Is there anything that you were thinking on the way to the interview? I really hope we get a chance to talk …
Rebecca: Yeah. I think a lot about gender dynamics in parkour especially because I had such trouble dealing with it in Lindy Hop, like what do I like better? What is different?
Craig: I have a question about gender dynamics and-
Rebecca: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know. I’m curious. Have you had conversations with people about that? Have you ever ask women like, “What’s different? Do men train differently? Explain it to me.”
Rebecca: Is that a yes?
Craig: Well, I’m trying to decide whether to let the months like-
Rebecca: You don’t … Yes or no?
Craig: … there’s a bag in here with a cat in it. I’m like, “Do I let the cat out of the bag?”
Rebecca: I just have some interesting observations they’re not necessarily a takedown of anybody.
Craig: This is a … Sorry, go ahead.
Rebecca: Yeah. I just have interesting observations that I find-
Craig: To answer your question, yes. I have had conversations with people and one of the challenges is that if we assume that the kernel of the problem comes from the male side then I have a certain responsibility to be in those conversations but I also think that I don’t have a responsibility, and it might not even have permission, it might not even be welcome, it might actually be antagonistic for me lead conversations about solving a problem even if we can just, for a second, pretend that it’s all the male side that’s the problem.
Craig: I have actually been working on … There’s a little side project where some of us on the team have been thinking about, “Can we work on this as a topic and how would we do it so that it’s a Movers Mindset podcast and that I can facilitate conversations but not actually be the one having the conversation.” Not only have we done a little bit of it but, Holy expletive, I would love to hear your thoughts on that.
Rebecca: Yeah, yeah. People have some different philosophies about how gender dynamics work. There’s this concept called patriarchy which if you follow my version of feminism affects men and women very negatively. It basically puts you know men in a dominant position over women and they’re supposed to maintain these postures so that they can look strong and manly all the time and so not showing weakness and that they can you know make more money and be all of the presidents ever and dominate the Supreme Court. They have to do all these, they … You’re one of them but we’ll use they.
Rebecca: Those guys over there-
Craig: You can point at me directly. I probably fit 90% of the stereotypes you want to film.
Rebecca: Yeah, because it affects all the men and all the women. These horrible … Some of them are really horrible, stereotypes about you need to maintain these postures so that you do not appear weak. I have really been thinking about how that affects men negatively and obviously, I’m very familiar with the way it affects women-
Rebecca: … negatively from for my personal experience but I’ve been trying to notice more the negative ways that affects men specifically in the parkour community and in the wider world too.
Rebecca: I’ve been trying to make some observations especially around when we were emailing, I mentioned I just had become more aware of the different ways men and women trained. These are gross generalizations from my experience and from what I know but a really basic common one that I think everyone can agree on is women have an easier time expressing emotion and men have a harder time expressing emotion. Under philosophy … Or the through the lens of understanding how patriarchy affects the world, you would say that men have a harder time expressing their emotions because showing emotions as a sign of weakness.
Rebecca: Obviously, there’s a lot of people going to be listening to this podcast going, “That’s not a sign of weakness.” But still these expectations and these pressures on men to be masculine, to perform masculinity, still makes it harder for them. Even a guy who wants to express his emotions is going to have a harder time doing it.
Rebecca: Training example. I’ve been training a lot with women does summer not exclusively but just more because I found some women that I really like training with. The way we train together is just we do a lot more talking; talking through our mental process, talking through a fears. Showing the emotions, I can guess how someone is feeling a lot more easily based on her body language, a woman. Because I’ve had that experience a lot more this summer, training with women specifically, I have gone back to training a more mixed gender environments or training more with men and been like, “Oh, that makes more sense what I’m seeing over there.”
Rebecca: For example there are some really great male parkour athletes in the Seattle community and beginners often think when you watch parkour videos, “They got it right on the first try.” That’s what people think, like so many beginners. Even people have been training for a couple years will be like, “How do you commit to that? Well how did you get that?” They don’t know that they done that challenge a hundred times already. They don’t know that they’ve done all the percussions. They don’t know where that person started from and they were definitely afraid of even doing half that jump.
Rebecca: There’s already in the media this like, “I don’t want to show my failures. I don’t want to show my weaknesses.” Some people do. Some men will absolutely talk more about their weaknesses but it’s hard because that’s not getting them the clicks, that’s not getting them followers. They want to say those big jumps. Even the society around us, the social media society around us, doesn’t really want to see that. They’re not rewarding men for showing their weaknesses, yeah. That’s a form of policing and directing how men should behave but even in just the training environment, I can think of some really great male parkour athletes in the community. A few in general who just do massive freaking scary jumps like jumping over the Death Gap at Freeway Park.
Rebecca: I was there today and I look down I’m like, “I’m less afraid but I’m still not ready to even do that small jump on the side over it.” I can remember so many instances where they’re just jumping over it like it’s nothing. As I’ve gotten closer to training with people who do these things that I think are really scary, I will occasionally hear them say aloud, “I am afraid,” but I don’t necessarily notice a change on their face or a change in their body language. I believe them when they say they’re afraid but I can’t see it, I can’t read it. I can’t tell. I’m thinking to myself now as I train with women more, they can say that they’re afraid but what is it like if they can show it in their body and they’re like, “Whoo. Whoo! This is really scary. I’m really freaked out right now. Okay. I’m going to do my breathing.”
Rebecca: Me in the women I train with just talking through our process like, “You know what? I’m going to do some more progressions. That’s why pretty freaked out. I’m going to go back.”
Craig: Yeah. Then you immediately get validation and feedback from the others just like, “Okay. This makes sense. You’re making the right choice.” Yes.
Rebecca: Yeah, yeah. When I train with women, we definitely are pushing each other but it’s not like that do-or-die kind of thing that some men can have. Preferably if you want to continue on in the parkour community for any time, you’re not really pushing it to the do-or-die level but that can come up. I’ve definitely seen some men get in a really hyped up stage where I’m like, “You don’t know what you’re doing.” New guys, sometimes get really hyped up, “I, going to do this jump.”
Craig: Yeah, they activate their sympathetic nervous system and then they use that … They think they’re going to use that energy to like, “No, I can do it!” I’m like, “Oh, great. Turn all your dexterity off, turn your field of view off, turn off …” I’m like, “Ohh.” It’s going to end badly.
Rebecca: I think that’s a really good example of the difference I have. Training with women versus men is I can’t tell when dudes are afraid sometimes. Sometimes I can but the level of emotional expressiveness that dudes are allowed to have and that they have learned that it’s okay for them to have is just not as high. I remember training the sense with a friend for the first time a guy friend, it’s really good. We were just satisfied and he was going to do it. He goes, “Gosh, I’m still really terrified of this.” Then he sends it perfectly immediately after saying that. I’m like, “That is not what I would do if I were feeling terrified.”
Rebecca: I’m having this cognitive dissonance where I’m like I believe that he’s feeling that and also that is not being expressed in anything other than his words not even tone of voice, “Gosh, I’m still really terrified of this.” Is that … If you’re scripting a movie and you’re, “Oh, act this way,” and you’re directing or you’re directing it, right? It’s like, “Yeah, just state your emotion and then do something completely opposite of that.” That’s not-
Craig: That sounds … Yeah.
Rebecca: That’s no way to express emotions and yet parkour it’s like, “I need you to stay completely calm and composed at all times.” It’s like, “Well, but that doesn’t actually let other people know how you’re feeling.” It might be really, really hard for you to express emotions and be like, “Oh, I’m really scared.”
Rebecca: I have a friend who said he gets really freaked out when other people are scared around him, around challenges. I was just flabbergasted because I’m like, “I find that really reassuring because I know people then are taking it very seriously and they’re not going to do something stupid.” I’m the type of person who likes to help calm other people down. If I see a guy who’s like, “Oh, I’m really scared. This jump that will be …” I’ll be like, “Oh, what are you scared of? I want to know. I’m really interested.” Because I’m like, “I won’t have to do that jump. You can do it. I don’t have to do it.” Sometimes if I can do it, I’ll be like, “Okay. Yeah, really scary. Well, here’s what I would do,” and I’ll just like do the bounce back or whatever from the jump if I’m training with someone who’s like closer to my jump ability or whatever.
Rebecca: That’s hard to do if someone is not talking through their process.
Craig: Continuing down the rabbit hole, Alice into Wonderland. One day, I like to interview someone named Alice. Why do you think there is such a difference in gender representation in parkour? Sorry.
Rebecca: That’s a really good question. I’ve been trying to figure it out because … Okay. Most of the women/nonbinary/gender queer people that I trained with are … If they’re not gender queer or nonbinary, they tend to be some level of gender non-conforming. The reason for that is parkour is mostly men and you have to push back against some very, very strong gender norms if you’re a woman or feminine presenting person in order to even get in the door.
Rebecca: For example, I have some dance friends still. My roommate is a dancer who teaches internationally and he brings all home kinds of people to practice with and teach private lessons to and we’ll end up talking afterwards sometimes. They’ll hear what I do and I’ll explain about it. We’ll get to talk, I’ll show a video. They’ll be really excited. Then they’ll look at their nails and be like, “Well, I don’t want to break a nail because this is … I have to maintain this certain physical presentation for dancing. I don’t want to get myself scraped up because I need to look good for dancing in my skirts.” Which is, by the way, another issue I have with Lindy Hop. Basically, you have to wear a skirt if you want to win the competition and boy, do I have a problem with that. Anyways, that’s another topic.
Rebecca: Yeah, you have to be willing to have these short fingernails and calluses. I’ve cuts on my wrists right now from doing cats and climb ups. Not cuts, just scrapes. There’s a little spot [inaudible 00:43:59] there, yeah.
Craig: Minor abrasions.
Rebecca: As a gender, non-conforming/non binary person, I’m like, “This doesn’t bother me in the slightest. This is part of me expressing who I am.”
Craig: These are my hands.
Rebecca: I got bruises up and down my legs from roughhousing this weekend at the [inaudible 00:44:14] retreat. I’m like, “Yeah, that’s how it is.” I have this scrape here that’s just been very persistent on my wrist in terms of leaving a red mark.
Rebecca: If you’re a woman in American society, you’re taught you got to look pretty just to be taken seriously. You have to be not only willing to explore the possibility that maybe you don’t have to look so pretty and perfect all the time and delicate, you have to actually be interested also in particular in the physicality of it. There’s so many layers.
Rebecca: Then there’s … God, for me, I’ve just recently unpacked some mental limitations that I’ve been carrying around that I think men don’t generally don’t have to deal with.
Rebecca: For example, maybe about a year ago I was taking a class with one of my coaches and we were doing some height work. It’s really scary. Of course, it’s really scary but then afterwards, I was like, “Oh, I know I need to do that more.” There was something else going on. It wasn’t just scared. I was thinking about, “Okay, I live here. I can come back to this exact spot and get up on that height thing and just start getting acclimated to the height.” I knew I needed to do that and still in my brain I was like, “Ugh, don’t do that. Don’t do that.”
Rebecca: I was talking with my coach afterwards. I was like, “You know, I feel like I have this voice in my head of my mom and all the moms, maybe some of the dads too being like, ‘Get down from there. You don’t belong up there.’” I was like, “Do you have that voice? Does it happen to you? Do you feel there’s an external pressure from society like, ‘Literally, get down from there. It’s dangerous. You’re going to get hurt. That’s not what your type of person should be doing.’”
Rebecca: He was like, “No.” Not literally.
Craig: Because my head is really-
Rebecca: He didn’t literally say that but he was more eloquent with his, “No, that’s not what happen to me,” response.
Craig: My answer is also no. That doesn’t happen. I have different pressures in my head. I don’t get that one.
Rebecca: Yeah. Exactly, yeah. That’s another difference in training with women. It’s like if we’re all up on top of the building together then suddenly it’s normal and the voice in your head being, “Get down from there. You’re going to hurt yourself. Oh my God! I can’t believe you’re doing it. That’s not what they’re used to.” It’s quiet.
Rebecca: We are trainee at University of Washington and there’s a part where the sidewalk goes out over a building and there’s some beams you can jump across on it and underneath, there’s a crate. It’s not really that scary but technically, it’s that top of a building. It’s technically a rooftop. Obviously, there’s a drop over the last slide. We had someone from the building come out and kick us out. From the ground [inaudible 00:46:43], they didn’t even come over to us. They’re like, “Oh no. You can’t train here. That’s the top of a roof. Fire codes and whatever.” We’re like, “Okay, okay.” We’re like everyone’s afraid.
Craig: Come up and [crosstalk 00:46:52].
Rebecca: We were just about to film something. We talked about it and we’re like, “Okay. Well, she went back inside, what are the chances she’s looking out the window right now? What if we just try to film it really quick?” [inaudible 00:47:03] I was going to run behind her. We talked it over and like, “Yeah, we should just do it again.”
Rebecca: I’m not going to do that, by myself be like, “Oh, yeah. I just want to do it one more time,” because the voices in my head are talking and this woman is telling me, “Get down from there,” like there’s actually someone they’re trying to police me.
Rebecca: We did it again. We got it. Eventually, she came out again. She’s like, “No, you really can’t do it. The fire code thing, that’s a real thing.” Like, “Sorry, you really can’t be here.” We all left but we were all doing something and normalizing it together, the three of us. That doesn’t quite happen as much when I’m talking with men because men have different pressures. They’re not hearing that same voice in my head.
Craig: Is there anyone, this is what I’m just most interested in is … You can ignore this if you like. I’m interested in your perspective more so than I am in the particular answer that you’re giving us. I’m wondering is there anyone in the parkour community who presents as male that you admire, and you don’t have a name drop if you don’t want to. What I’m really curious about is, what about that person, which you would probably give me anyway. What about that person makes you admire them? Then I’m going to say the exact same thing about some who presents as female.
Craig: I want to know if it’s the same thing that you admire about the two of them or if it’s you admire the physical … What I’m digging for is if you say, “I really admire this male’s courage and this female’s courage.” I’m like, “Cool. Is that the same thing?” But if you tell me that you really admire this male because of that, you admire this person who presents as female for something different, I’m just curious to see what your thoughts are on that.
Rebecca: It’s funny you ask this question. This is a part of what makes me a non-binary is some part of me wishes I had a masculine body. It’s not to the point of gender dysphoria. I’ve recently been thinking of like, “Well, what if I did have masculine body, who what I want to be and why?”
Craig: Why do you want a masculine body? What do you think it would let you do?
Rebecca: Yeah. That goes to something else and I don’t want to get into that, because that’s really personal but just giving that as a backdrop for why I was thinking about that, because that’s apparently not normal for people with feminine bodies.
Rebecca: I have asked a lot of my female friends, “Do you ever want to be in a masculine body?” Sometimes they’ll be, “Oh God, no.” Sometimes they’re like, “Yeah, maybe for a day.” I’m like, “But not like several days a month.” Not that you can do that. Obviously, you can’t do that but fantasy world. Okay, wow, weird.
Craig: My instinct is to say, it’s like a hallway pass.
Craig: There are there things that you could get away with, if you were 40% or 50% or like a big dude, you can get away with things. You can just like, “I don’t want to deal with this bullshit that I was dealing with. I can just like put on the super coat and go wherever I want to go.”
Rebecca: Probably some of that and then some of … I’ll think often about being in other people’s skins and I want to know what that would feel like. Whether it’s, it’s not there’s no like one masculine body, there’s so many different kinds. If I see someone move in a really interesting way or that have some strength, I want to experience that. That’s just across the gender spectrum, but there’s this specific interest in masculine bodies in terms of I often wish I could inhabit one. Not that there’s anything wrong with mine, I like mine.
Rebecca: I’ve been thinking about this and I’m like, “Who would I want to be like? If I could be that person, who would I want to be and why?” There’s a lot of different ways.
Rebecca: One way to answer that is, “Who would I want to be?” Another way is, “Who inspires me?” Another way is-
Craig: I think inspiration and admire are different things. Sometimes they ask us who do they admire and the answer who inspires them, and to me that’s a different thing. When I say admire, I’m usually looking for … To me, admiration would be like, I admire Max Henry, literally, for his ability to jump. Okay, that’s what I’m looking for is what features of masculine and feminine do you admire in those different sides.
Rebecca: Oh, yeah. That feels like a really different question. What features of masculine type-
Craig: Yeah, so give me a feature of a masculine type that you admire in a feature of a feminine type that you admire.
Craig: That’s a much nicer question. I was like just relatively shallow question.
Rebecca: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, cool. Now, what features of typically masculine traits to admire versus typically feminine traits. That is much, much easier. In Parkour, typical masculine traits I admire are like capacity for dynamic movement, especially in the upper body. You have all this upper body strength and power, and I’ve been working on that lately but it takes so long to develop. I have seen some women who’ve developed quite a lot of strength and upper body part but it’s not a lot of us. I say us because identify as both non-binary and women.
Rebecca: It’s not a lot of us. It’s just really hard to … I was working on Dive Kongs today and I’m measuring about how far I can Dive Kong on the ground. I can physically dive really far but it’s a lot of impact on my wrists. It takes a while to develop that and so it’s not just wrist too, it’s the whole upper body chain that-
Craig: Yeah, shock in the elbow. Shock in the elbow.
Rebecca: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s so much. Yeah. It’s alike you have to keep doing it and doing it doing it and I will literally see, then come to training and maybe they’ve been taken a few classes and therefore it was not so good, but they can do this impact. Their bodies are structured in a way. This is not true of literally every male body type. But like, it is more often true that men can initially take a lot more impact and do bigger jumps and more dynamic movement. I really love dynamic movement. I think that partly ties into my training and Lindy Hop, which was very fast and dynamic, but it’s not big. It’s not strength based. It’s like speed based, speed and dynamic.
Rebecca: I love that style of movement. I haven’t been able to do as much of it in Parkour as I could do in Linda Hop because the movements are much bigger, in Parkour and more impact. Yeah, I admire that because not specifically because you can do bigger jumps. I don’t just simply want a bigger Dive Kong. What I specifically love is being able to use those quick, dynamic, powerful movements to do really beautiful, flowy stuff that is also quite dynamic, and power based. I think that and really creative, that’s the type of stuff I just, my jaw drops, because I’ve seen so many big jump videos. That’s cool. That’s cool, super cool. But I love the, “How on earth did he think of doing that with all that dynamic power?” That’s what it is happening here. I think, yeah, that’s it typically masculine changes genetically. It’s not that I can’t do it, but like, yeah, super admire that.
Rebecca: Typical feminine trait that I admire? We were talking about earlier that process of, I’ve call this a stereo typically feminine trait because it’s actually men totally have the capacity to do this. It’s just largely trained out of them. But that way of talking through your process and being expressive with your feelings and sitting with other people who are having feelings and being really curious about it. Yeah, and not feeling threatened by other people’s weaknesses and feelings, that’s lovely. I really admire them. I’d like to keep that for myself. I try to, I tried to do both. I’m a little further behind on the powerful dynamic movement, but I’ve worked really hard on the empathy and the listening and the expressing, but I appreciate.
Craig: If you could do this either way. Is there a rhetorical question that you would love to ask everyone because you have a microphone and you literally can ask everybody a rhetorical question? What so the fishes for what like unpack a little further the fishes for what train of thought do you wish you could ignite in the fall? You could say like, I wish people who were of this type would do the flame and think about the following, but maybe there’s a simple one that you would want everybody to begin to unpack.
Rebecca: Yeah, I’m really interested in mental game and when I did Lindy Hop, I didn’t have that term. When I did Lindy Hop, people have all these hang ups. Caitlin the executive director of Parkour Visions, she was recently talking to me about how people are scared to do Parkour and so the name Parkour has this sort of stigma attached and what if we call it something else or something like that. Then maybe we just like slip it in and people won’t be scared of doing Parkour, because they’ll just be doing it. My answer was like, “Yeah, people have a lot of those hang ups about dancing to you tell them, let’s learn a new partner dancing,” and suddenly like, “Oh, no, I have to perform in front of people. Oh, I have two left feet.” People have all kinds of objections and fears. To me that’s quite analogous that what people feel when they hear Parkour. I don’t think it’s all that different. Anyhow, people have hang ups like I said, “What if I look stupid? What if I don’t win the competition? What if I don’t perform well? What if my partners don’t like me? What if I don’t like my partners?” People come back from competitions crying because they didn’t get what they wanted or they felt like the judges are not good for them.
Rebecca: In terms of mental game, people in Parkour really focus on the physical aspect, the physical aspect, the physical aspect, like, how do I bail, what do I do, what are my progressions, but I think a lot of people have other mental hang ups that they don’t explore, like other reasons. I wrote an Instagram post recently about exploring fear of doing real positions. I had just recently discovered that I’m not simply scared of falling, I don’t even practice them at home very often on my rail trainers.
Rebecca: Eventually, I had to ask myself, why am I avoiding this, because it is not scary to practice real piece on a real train, and not for me right now anyway. I had asked myself, why am I avoiding this, because I really like it when I can do them. That feels really good. The answer was, because I was afraid of being bad at that. I had sort of put like a lot of pressure on myself just unwittingly and also a little bit of external pressure because real positions were initially on the level one test. Parkour Visions to get into level two.
Rebecca: It’s like the hardest thing on there and you got to stick two out of five at body length. Yeah, I was like, “Oh my god, it’s the hardest thing.” I was told this at my very first, my very first class. My coach was like, “Oh, yeah.” Then on the level one test when you get there, which you will, you got to do these real positions to edify body length. I was like, “That’s impossible, that can never happen.” If you fail, you fail the whole test.
Rebecca: Yeah. You didn’t say it that way, but that’s how I heard it like, “Whoa, like, this really is impossible, I have to do this impossible thing just to get to level two. It’s never going to happen.” Inside put all this importance and difficulty on it. I had sort of had this mental block about working through the physical fears. I just want to work at it at all. I’m like, “I don’t want to be bad. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to fail the level one test.” That no longer exists, but in my head, that’s the metric. I don’t want anyone to see that.
Rebecca: I can do Cat Back to Dive Kong out of this, but I can’t do real positions. No one does that. I had some people respond like, “Oh, yeah, similar fears”. It’s like so relieved. The rhetorical or the question I want people to consider is what sort of mental hang ups do you have that might be causing you to avoid working on something that you’ve considered working on? Is it really just that you’re scared of it? Really, you’re just physically scared of it? Is that the only reason? There’s some other sort of excuse you have in your head where you’re like, “Yeah, I’m afraid of looking bad,” or that’s a movement, I don’t know. I don’t actually know maybe men think, “Oh, I don’t want to work on flow. It feels girly,” or something like that.
Rebecca: I don’t actually know. I’m sure someone has had that thought at some point. Or women might think like, “Well, I don’t want to work on big jumps because I can’t do them. It’s not that I’m afraid. I just can’t. Yeah, they’re scary too, but I probably can’t even do it anyways.” That’s another entire other layer and if you can’t get through that layer, you’re not going to be able to get through to the physical fears.
Rebecca: You sit there and focus so hard on your physical fear as well as just very physically scary. Sometimes people want to progressions or will have a new person come to Friday jumps, which is our weekly like community jam we do on Fridays, of all days. Go figure.
Craig: It’s not a lot of jumping.
Rebecca: After a while of training, sometimes someone will get stuck on something and will be, “Well, here’s progression, here’s progression, here’s progression,” and some, they’ll be, “I want to do that.” I’m like, “I do not know what is behind that.” It’s okay, you can do whatever you want. I’m not judging you for that. But the question is, why, why don’t you want to do that?
Craig: I have a question I want to ask, but I think I know what answer to give me and I want not I want the next answer for that one. What I was going to ask you is, what’s something that every time will just light you up with a smile or laugh or I don’t care what mood you’re in when you have this thing. Eat food, drink, activity x, whatever. What isn’t vent that will just let you have every time?
Rebecca: Just one thing?
Craig: All of … You can have a few, tell us if you want to think about the first one.
Rebecca: If I have one, literally anything?
Rebecca: I could be like, oh, this cup of tea or I could be like [crosstalk 01:00:11] Like, it could be literally anything.
Craig: Yeah. Why would there be boundaries?
Rebecca: I don’t know because this is a mover’s mindset, I guess.
Craig: But I want-
Rebecca: Literally anything, okay.
Craig: I’m beginning really enthusiast to find out-
Rebecca: Just one thing.
Craig: Who they are? Well, yeah, with challenge, the challenge is if I say give me three, does it make it easier?
Rebecca: Well, not really. Let me think let me start with one. We’ll see. I can even think of other ones, something that lights me up every time without fail.
Craig: Yeah, 95% of time. I like you, you’re like specific.
Rebecca: Well, I have to give myself some boundaries because if you’re literally every time without fail that’s a higher metric, a higher bar. It lights me up but chilly on so happy or like-
Craig: Yeah, like it lights you up with joy and happiness and will takes you out of dark moods or takes you from me mediocre mad place to this, life is good.
Rebecca: Let’s say someone listening to me really closely and being really interested in me as a person. There’s different ways that that can happen. I was the very first thing that came to mind is sorry, this is betrays me, but like a really good dance with someone where they’re not trying to take control and really just trying to listen. That’s quite analogous to a conversation, where someone will hear what you’re saying and then reflected back to you in a way that shows they were really listening and they heard things that you were trying to say even though you didn’t actually say it and you’re like, “Whoa, I did say that tonight.” Yeah, and so yeah, that’s what when you said, take me out of a bad mood, I’m like, “Yeah, now it take me out of bad mood. All right.” That connection you have with another person.
Craig: Is there a place that you want to see? That could be like, I really want to go to this Parkour spot or I don’t want to meet this person who lives XYZ but like, I’m wondering where here’s a free plane ticket and spending cash were you go?
Rebecca: Okay, let me think. There’s a number of places. One thing I used to like about traveling around the country in the world for dancing is different communities are so different. I’ve been to Seoul, South Korea for dancing and Sweden. I’m trying to think, I think maybe those are the only two overseas places I’ve been, but then kind of all around the US. I love seeing the way different communities are different. If possible, I’d love to do like a tour of different Parkour communities.
Rebecca: Just observe and immerse myself a little bit and I’m sure some of them are not like less than comfortable for women and or feminine presenting people, but I just like to know. I’d like to have that experience because that was like so comfortable and awesome. I’ve heard that some communities have two good Parkour spots. Then how do you train when you only have two good Parkour spots? You have to drive 30 minutes to get to them. Yeah, I want to know what that community is like.
Craig: What’s the end goal here but what’s this, probably hard, but what’s the best training session you’ve ever had? I’ll leave it to you. You’re going to have to pick it. You don’t even have to tell me what you mean by best. I’m just, what’s the training session that just came to mind when I said best training session ever in Parkour?
Rebecca: Yeah, so I’m going to just run it slightly and say the best like set of training sessions, there was a really, I guess, the Parkour divisions gym, closed about two years ago. I mean, that was really upsetting and changed a lot of things in Parkour community for a lot of people, but I just started training and all I knew was training in the gym. A lot of people were only training in the gym did not continue training. But I’d always wanted to train outside and would sort of mess around, trying to just figure anything out and how to do anything outside because it’s so different from training in a gym. When the gym closed, I was like, “All right, it is time to train outside.” I was like, “I’m scared” but like, at least there’s classes. I’m going to take these classes.
Rebecca: I signed up for that two classes a week that Ian was teaching. It was turning into winter. Of course, it’s cold and it’s wet. I’m like, I do not know how this is going to go, but I’m going to dress appropriately and like trust the instructor and I would say, what was so amazing about that, is not only did I get to experience training outdoors and this weird environment for the first time, and all the things that happened when you realize, hey, there are plants growing here and gravel and I might slip on that or not be able to jump in, have to avoid the plant or whatever thing and this is broken. I got to deal with that, which is just, I don’t know, like, I took my brain in so many different ways than the gym.
Rebecca: I also got to experience like training in a group of people. That was a bit more mixed gender than before, more mixed ability. Ian’s group has been training together for a long time. As a newcomer to that group and what I noticed is that in a gym, at least in my, from my perspective, what I was saying is, again, mostly men, mostly men in Parkour, mostly men in the gym, they will set up challenges that are you can move the obstacles around, usually. They’ll set up challenges that are about as big as they can do. I can’t quite make it it’s like, “Well move that a little bit.” Yeah, now I can make it.
Rebecca: You can basically show off your best thing that you can do in the gym because you can move stuff. Can’t move stuff outdoors, it’s wet. It’s slippery. Training with that more mixed group with specifically that coach, instead of being afraid that I was going to be like look down on for my little jumps, it was we’re all kind of scared. It’s very good at pushing everyone past the point of my comfort.
Craig: That just got real.
Rebecca: Yeah, exactly. Not only is he really good, was he really good at pushing people outside their comfort zones, it’s inherently uncomfortable. I’ve seen people be really uncomfortable and specifically seeing men and women together being uncomfortable, different ages and whatnot. I was like, “This is revelatory. This is a community that I feel really comfortable in.” I went from not being sure if I would be comfortable and being kind of emotionally closed off because I was like, “I can’t do the things that you guys can do.” People sometimes ask me how I did something because they were kind of scared of it because it’s such a different environment.
Rebecca: There’s so many different things going on that nobody can master everything. Then we do challenges where it would be like, “All right, we’re going to climb to the top of that or we’re going to climb down from this to that.” I would of course be like, “That’s not possible.” Unlike in the gym, it was that you got those few guys were like, “Oh, yeah, I got this. I’ve done this a million times,” but you can’t have done everything a million times outside. We’re like, “Okay, well, you can … All right, so how do we pop up. Rebecca, what did you just do? How’d you get was there a hand hold down there?” They’ve asked me questions is very collaborative. That’s partly his class and partly just an aspect of being outside. It sort of sucks away the bravado of men. If you’re training in some circumstances, you don’t get to just hook stuff. People have a sense of self preservation.
Craig: I’m not hitting the button, right?
Rebecca: Right and just to see just people being like normal people, it’ll be we’re going to climb to the top and balance on there. One of my friends who I think he’s really good. He’s so good at Parkour. I have had no trouble with this. I get to the top and he’s like, “I’m doing great. You’re super great. Okay, you want to walk up? No. Good where I am.” He was like, “Oh, I didn’t know you’re scared of heights.”
Craig: You are a human being?
Rebecca: Very cute. Yes. Exactly. Very humanizing experience for all of us and like connected us. Yeah, those initial training sessions were definitely not life changing but changed my practice of Parkour.
Craig: Mind altering through the doors of fear, [crosstalk 01:07:55] Parkour could be and where it could take you.
Rebecca: Just in a community sense, yeah, for sure.
Craig: Sometimes it’s a very common question to say, so if you could have a time machine and go give yourself 15 years ago advice, what would it be? I prefer to ask people, let’s say 10 years from now. So, 10 years from now, like today, you’re going to write yourself a note on envelope, you seal it up. You’re going to open it 10 years from now. What note do you send yourself 10 years in the future?
Craig: Yes, that’s my goal is to get if I can get this to go like, “What the fuck?” That’s a lot. I mean that’s just [crosstalk 01:08:24].
Rebecca: It can’t be advised because be like, you can do it or something. I don’t know. Maybe what just be like a memory that I didn’t want to forget. Yeah, because, what could my younger self even give to my older self? That’s probably it. When you’re older, you get the lessons that you learn. You have to get some of them through age and experience. The younger me can’t tell, older me like what’s better.
Craig: Just be better. Yeah, right.
Rebecca: But there’s definitely sometimes where I’m like, “I don’t quite remember that experience, but I remember really liking it.” If I could record an experience that I really wanted to remember, that’d be really beautiful. I can do that I am a writer.
Craig: It’s all right. My next question is, do you keep a journal?
Rebecca: I sort of do. Life has gotten a little bit busier since we adopted our teenager. I sometimes will write stories of events that have happened. I write personal essays, creative nonfiction and it’s generally based around my life and it is really hard to make a very interesting story out of things that happened to you in your own life, but it’s definitely possible. Sometimes I’ll just write a scene of what happened like this person said this, I said this, I felt this, their face was like that, then they went here, then they did this, haha, it was funny or it was insightful or it’s just something I want to remember. Actually, your question makes me think I really need to do that more because that is like a gift I can give to my older self.
Craig: You don’t know me very well, but I tend to run in threads.
Rebecca: Sounds ominous.
Craig: What I was going to say was, my mind runs in threads for like weeks at a time. I’ve been lately thinking about shows like Broadway shows or Off-Broadway shows. My question is, if you’ve ever seen a show, any kind of performance like that, what was your favorite show and why? Like an in-person performance, then that’d be like, fear but something in person.
Rebecca: Yeah. I used to, I haven’t seen a lot of theater and musical theater, but I did used to do some theater and musical theater when I was in high school and little bit in college. I feel like I have a fair amount to choose from and I don’t remember the name of the show, but like there was a small theater in Chicago that when I was taking acting classes and playwriting classes in college are instructed took us there and I’m like, “Ooh, going into the city. I’m cool.” But it was like this Little Theater and I don’t remember the name of it or the name of the show, but it was so intimate like it that like third row or something, and you could easily just walk up on the stage. It wasn’t like you had to climb up there.
Rebecca: I saw when I was in high school and I could barely see what was going on. I didn’t know all the songs and my buddy was sitting there singing all the songs. I’m like, “What’s happening now?” Good thing you’re singing because I don’t know what they say, too far away. But this was really, really intimate. I just remember thinking, it was a good show. But also, how amazing that I’m literally right here with these people who are acting in front of me and it’s so good. Yeah, that’s really cool.
Craig: As much as I hate to ever come to an end, I don’t know if you’ve listened to the episodes. But there’s this thing that I always ask you the end, which is the final question, which is three words to describe your practice.
Rebecca: Yes, I have already thought of those three words.
Craig: Actually, people are starting to show up prepared but that’s fine too.
Rebecca: Well if you ask it in the podcast, it makes the listener also be like, “Oh, what are three words to describe my practice?” Because my dance background one word is technical. Very, very technical. I’m always thinking, “How do we make this smoother, better and always stick the stick better?” Yeah, 10 years of dancing will do that to you because dance is all technical.
Rebecca: Another word is, I would say mindful. I’m really interested in being present with what I’m currently going through and responding to the present moment instead of the way I wish the world were. Yeah. I like dealing with emotions and thoughts that come up in Parkour are really, really great practice for that, it turns out, and of course, the third word has to be fun, because that’s my life. It’s always when I bring it back to you is I’m doing this because I want to enjoy what I’m doing not because I’m trying to impress somebody or whatever. That’s because I literally enjoy doing these positions over and over. It feels good to drill this or to make this creative line, or even do four by eight deadlifts. This is going to make my jobs better. I’m enjoying those. I find a way to make it enjoyable. I’m always going back to that.
Craig: Thank you very much, Rebecca. It was a pleasure to talk to you today.
Rebecca: Yeah, thanks, Craig. I was super happy to be here.
Craig: This was Episode 65. For more information, go to moversmindset.com/65. 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. And I’ll leave you the final thought from Cicero. He who knows only his own generation remains always a child. Thanks for listening.
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