074. Tyson Cecka: Obstacles, artistry, and depression

Podcast episode

Tyson Cecka (250)

Tyson Cecka unpacks his design process, how he began to build parkour obstacles, and where he finds inspiration. He discusses his current plans and goals, and explains why he doesn’t consider himself a great artist or creator.Tyson shares his experiences with depression, how it’s affected his life, and how he’s working through it.

Building for parkour

Accidental interest; Grew out of neccessity, running classes with Parkour Visions. First attempts at building a vault box were horrible… and so he began experiementing. Adapting designs to create more potential, through trial and error. Eventual process of building the gym, how it evolved. The awkward bar, how it affected his design sensibilities. Design inspiration came from coaches; what they wanted to teach, how they used the equipment. Bringing on other people to help. Physical, playful, creative process, hypothetical thinking about it is less useful than playing with a real object.

Obstacle design, visualization, and destruction

Ability to flip things around and view them mentally, like visualizing a movement before performing it. All just parkour for him; Parkour Visions was named for the perception shift of parkour. Constantly thinking about the stability of things, how to better build objects. Artist vs constructor comparison. Destroying obstacles came from realizing people took his advice as gospel; wanting to teach people to test, experiment, and learn for themselves. Learning how forces affect different materials by destruction; not exactly scientific, but helps get a feel for the material.

Why do you build?

Entered parkour because the freedom intrigued him; Building a gym became that for him… freedom to create the space, new possibilities. Desire to spread parkour, because of how deeply it affected him, sharing that with others, protecting parkour. Designing unique and interesting places as a way to give back, draw people in. Protecting or recreating the spaces we love; loving spaces that aren’t ours, but creating a place we can control.

People’s use of obstacles

Thrilling to see people move and use his designs and obstacles, often in unexpected ways. Overbuilding vault boxes to stand up to the creative demands of coaches; constructing for all possibilities and angles.

Plans and goals

Traveling to train, visiting other people and communities. Still wants to travel, but for different reasons than he used to. Wanting to visit other communities, spaces, see how they train, what they build, and how he can help. Wanting to spread creativity and interesting ideas and spaces, sharing them. How being a non-profit affected the goal of creating parkour specific spaces. Examples in the ground, no able to pursue further. Design iterations, pitching for projects, bureaucracy of building anything… learning from any dead ends or failures to keep growing.

Creating and credit

Often labeled a great artist/builder/creator…. people don’t see the influences, failures, help he’s had along the way. Mistakes and learning from them; giving credit for the group effort that often gets credited to him. Coaches helping to build their own ideas, equipment… Many ideas and opportunities came from the community and people they were training with. Giving back to the community through gyms, and places to play. But it’s a team effort, and it’s not always seen


Ongoing struggle for the last several years… Pushed through while working for PKV, but it took a toll on him. Eventually needed to step back and take care of himself, still working on that process. Trying to solve it for himself, finding what works, surrounded by loving people. Tools or coping mechanisms… taking walks, forcing himself to train, playing in and fixing up an abandoned building, obstacle farm. Eventually gave himself time to recover, just going away, but short term coping mechanisms didn’t work long term. Working towards a solution instead; re-examining his entire concept of how depression works for him. Accepting of current self and situation to find a solution, rather than a ‘way out.’ Weston Edwardes chronic pain session at AoR, treating your body like a wounded animal; showing love and care rather than brushing things off. Mindset shift rather than developing new skills.

Finding enjoyment

Depression making things less enjoyable, or harder to think of enjoying things. Art of Retreat presentation: feeling stressed ahead of time, or fear of disappointment or failure. Not being able to remember feeling of enjoyment afterwards, even when you know it was enjoyable. Doesn’t often share things like this, because it’s not a “fixable” solution. Difficult for people to understand, wanting to problem solve depression.

Discussing depression

The importance and use of talking about depression, finding others who feel similarly. Forcing himself to discuss things was how he came to some conclusions about himself and ideas on how to handle things. Creative brain more suseptable to depression; Cool, fucked-up people. A spectrum of what is ‘normal’ for human brains, how our experiences change us


Prompt… someone you admire; Entering the gym and finding some crazy thing the coaches have built, trying to figure out what to do with it. Stacking 13ft high obstacle towers to create a monster creation. Admirable and amazing, even if the creations couldn’t stay permanently.

3 words

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Tyson: Yeah, that’s the stickler.

Craig: Right. So, what I want you to do is figure out in your mind what you would consider your practice. Is it the artistry of creating boxes? Is it facilitating learning? Is it spreading the idea of… So, you got to figure out what practice means and then pick your three words. And the piece I will give you is you’re perfectly welcome to just give me three words and we’re done, or you can also unpack them a little bit if you wish, but either way it’s yours.

Tyson: So, for me what I think of when you say practice is the common theme that ties all the things that I do together, and all the things that I think I do well together, like what’s hidden behind all of those things. And the first thing that comes to mind is courage, just the ability to go for something even if it doesn’t seem like it’s going to work out. Stubbornness because courage isn’t enough. Sometimes you just have to stick with it because it’s not going to work the first time. Most things don’t work the first time and I value being a rather stubborn person. And for the third, I would just have to say appreciation, and this is more for me looking forward than it’s been looking back because I think some of the best things that I’ve done come out of a deep appreciation for the people that I’m working on those things with, and some of the worse things that I’ve done or that have influenced me have come from a lack of appreciation for myself or for the love of the people around me.

Contact and further info

To get in touch with Tyson, you can find him on Instagram (@tysoncecka), or youtube. To learn more about STURDYmade, you can visit the facebook page or youtube channel.

1 Like

I really loved this - this nostalgic dive into the origin of visions - understanding the first steps and seeing the personality of Tyson in how it shaped the gym, community, and business, and of course how it shaped everyone’s training.