094. Renae Dambly: Self care, perception, and competition

Episode summary

Renae Dambly LINK (250)
Renae Dambly

Moving to a different country and starting over is a challenge that Renae Dambly embraced. She shares how parkour and movement fit into her life, and how she takes care of herself, especially after moving to Germany. Renae unpacks her perception of herself vs other’s viewpoints, and publicly representing parkour. She discusses climbing, injury, competition, painting, and hitting the ‘plateau.’

Renae Dambly is an athlete and coach, recently moved to Germany from Colorado. She has a diverse movement background, including track, rugby, and rock climbing in addition to parkour. Renae is pursuing a career in fitness alongside her professional parkour career.

Highlight [0:00]

Renae (00:05):
There’s no one else you can fall back on except yourself. So especially when it comes to training or pushing through, I guess, moments of doubt, you have to have the confidence or the backup plan to get over it essentially. Because no one’s always going to be there. And you can always reach out to people, but you’re always going to have yourself, so you need to be your own safety net. I think that’s something I want to always remember, and that’s something I’ve learned from this.

Introduction [0:36]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Renae Dambly: athlete, coach, and fitness professional
  • Story of how we finally got to have this conversation with Renae
  • Movers Mindset Campfires; live chat of what we’re up to

Childhood role of Movement [2:42]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Movement has always been in her life
  • Movement as a guide; always leads somewhere
  • Balancing movement with life; her education is what put movement on hold several times
  • Realizing she needs movement, the joy of coming back to it
  • Consciously sacrificing movement to an extent to get to a goal, but not entirely cutting it out

Current movement [6:31]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Coaching online fitness classes through Apex Denver
  • Making sure to spend time outside
  • Training spots near her apartment in Germany, ability to train solo (from college)

Your future self [7:48]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Covid-19 and Germany move
  • ‘Be your safety net’
  • There’s no one you can fall back on except yourself
  • New country, different language, you have to trust yourself

Self care [9:30]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Hot showers
  • Art: sketching and painting when she doesn’t feel up to moving
  • Loves audio books, especially fantasy
  • Napping in the sun, listening to a book, and looking for things to paint

Current project [11:23]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • European perspective of parkour vs American/Canadian perspective
  • Working to understand the different perspectives and how they evolved
  • Dissecting them to learn more about the larger, global view of parkour

Self image vs others viewpoints [13:08]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Noticed a difference first in 2014 with first youtube video and traveling
  • Began getting comments about being ‘good for a girl’ and ‘the best female practitioner’
  • Always trained for herself, but others perception and comparisons started to crop up more
  • Experiences at playgrounds, how different people react
  • Publicly continuing to train, respectfully to people and environment she is in
  • Trying to represent parkour in the most positive light
“ So now I make sure that I keep training, because I don't want to be ashamed of what I'm doing, because I'm doing nothing wrong. But I will keep doing it as long as I can demonstrate a respect for my space and the people around me. So as an athlete trying to make a positive impression on the public, I'm not going to stop training, but I'm also not going to train in a disrespectful manner. So I want to make the best choice to, I think, have parkour viewed in a more positive light. So I will keep training, but I will show respect. ”

Renae Dambly

Craig (13:07):
So I read your, you wrote a blog post about, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but about how parkour reminds you, not reminds one in general, but how in your opinion it reminds you of the two perspectives of the self knowledge, how one sees one’s self, versus how everybody else sees one’s self. And I’m wondering where in your, presuming that it wasn’t always from the very beginning, but where in your journey did you first realize that parkour was a tool for that? For giving you access to those two perspectives? Or I’m completely wrong and incorrect.

Renae (13:44):
I think, yeah, no, I think in 2014, when I made my first YouTube video, that’s when I started to realize it, because that was around the same time I started to travel a bit more to parkour events and competitions, and that’s when the comments of, “You’re good for a girl.” And, “Oh, you’re the best female in the community.” Comments started to arise. And I was like, “Oh, I never thought about that when I started training. I never thought about being compared or…” Yeah, I guess, yeah, more about the comparison or how other people see me as an athlete versus I’m just doing it for me. So that’s when the double consciousness came in with me doing it for myself, but then how others perceive me and how that affects my training as well and my development. So I think, yeah, 2014 was around the time I realized it.

Continue reading…

Craig (14:53):
I’m just impressed you have an actual date, but because you have it tied to an event about publishing a video, okay, yeah.

Renae (15:00):
Yeah.

Craig (15:01):
I’m just like, “Whoa, all right.”

Renae (15:01):
Yeah, no, because, yeah, my first YouTube video came out in 2014, around that same time, yeah, all those comments were being made. And yeah, because I was just taking classes at first, and I was just having a ball doing classes. And then all of a sudden all this kind of got piled on. And one of my coaches was like, “You should make a YouTube video because you’re one of the good girl athletes.” And then I was like, “Oh. I mean, yeah, sure, I’ll make one. But that’s an interesting comment.”

Renae (15:26):
And then as I kept training I realized that parents at playgrounds viewed me differently than other teenage girls at playgrounds. And some parents will encourage it and clap, and other parents will take their child away from your area. And it’s like, “Sweet, okay, so some people view me as a menace and some people view me as entertainment.” But I’m doing the same thing, it’s just other people. So, but that also makes me act differently, so when I see families with young kids I try not to train, because I have had the experience of parents getting mad, but then I’ve also had the experience of parents being like, “Oh, that’s cool.” And their kid tries to copy that and they just let their kid go for it.

Renae (16:11):
So it definitely… You don’t know how to act or, yeah, for me when cops are around I definitely don’t do anything, but I have friends in England who are like, “Oh, we have no respect for authority, let’s just keep training.” Like, “Ah, cool.” Interesting. It’s all… Yeah.

Craig (16:26):
Okay. Do you… So there’s two pieces I see there. One is the, how does that affect you? And how does that inform you’re choosing to train or to not train based on your experience in that moment, then there’s also the whole societal… I forget who exactly I interviewed said something… Oh wait, I know exactly who it was, Mark Toorock from American Parkour said his personal mission is to lower the age at which it’s considered acceptable to play. So he’s the kind of guy who will just take play right into people’s faces. What I was saying is, I’m torn between asking you to tell me more about how this insight that you’ve had, how people see you, how that changes, and affects, and informs your training, versus asking you, I think this is a better question, what do you feel about… you’re forced to choose whether or not you want to be a parkour ambassador.

Craig (17:20):
So okay, here comes the mom with the kids. And then it’s, okay, I can make the choice, what’s the best choice for Renae to train or not. And you can also make the choice, what’s the best choice for parkour as a community global thing. And just, I’m more interested kind of in an outward facing one. Do you decide, “All right, I’m going to make the decision based on the outward perspective?” And how does that play out.

Renae (17:46):
So now I make sure that I keep training, because I don’t want to be ashamed of what I’m doing, because I’m doing nothing wrong. But I will keep doing it as long as I can demonstrate a respect for my space and the people around me. So as an athlete trying to make a positive impression on the public, I’m not going to stop training, but I’m also not going to train in a disrespectful manner. So I want to make the best choice to, I think, have parkour viewed in a more positive light. So I will keep training, but I will show respect.

Craig (18:37):
I wish everybody did that. I think that’s the perfect way to go at it, you’re not sacrificing yourself, psychically bashing yourself, like, “Oh, people are watching, now I really have to show off.” You’re not holding yourself back from denying yourself from something that’s clearly important to you, training, and physicality, and movement. But you are clearly well informed about how the world views what you’re doing and how the world views parkour. And I think we’d all be in a better place… whether you want to call it parkour, [inaudible 00:19:06] running, we’d all be in a better place if more people took that opportunity to, “All right, I have to factor in the fact that I am part of a society, part of a community.”

Rock climbing and competition [19:38]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Started in University, went to rock climbing club meeting; automatically put you on the team
  • Competitive aspect was optional, but helped with setting and reaching goals; measurement tool
  • Anti-competition in childhood, but changed as she grew older
  • Competition now a way to meet other athletes, connecting rather than winning
  • Tool, testing your skills under pressure, focusing on bettering yourself

Craig (22:52):
Did… I’m wondering what role competition itself has played for you. Is competition something you do because you enjoy it or because it’s a tool that you really feel you need? Or it’s an easy way to set goals? Or something else?

Renae (23:07):
That’s… For me that’s a complication question because I, up until high school, I was very anti-comp with sports. I played soccer from age three to 12 and refused to be on any sort of competitive team, because it took the fun out of it for me. And then when I started doing track and field, they’re like, “Okay, now you’re going to do meets and all that fun stuff.” So that was more of my introduction to competition. And I did my… I don’t even know when I did my first parkour comp, but I did my first parkour comp because a training partner of mine encouraged me.

Renae (23:48):
And since then, I’ve liked to compete as a way to, I think, meet athletes, and as a way to connect with athletes, not necessarily to win, I guess, if that makes sense. Competition originally wasn’t about the bettering of each other, it was about the connecting of each other. So to me that’s why I enjoy competition, and that’s what it means to me now. And I do think it is a tool to measure your skills and capabilities under pressure. But yeah, so that would be competition for me. It is about community, connecting, and a measurement tool.

Continue reading…

Craig (24:41):
I’m curious about… I don’t know that I’ve ever talked to someone who I’d known… I must have talked to somebody who was a competitive track and field athlete from a secondary school or a high school, and I’m just wondering, what happens if you try to… Right? We’re supposed to win and you’re like, “Yeah, I just want to run.” What happens if you actually go to a competition but really are just like, “Oh, and someone passed me, I don’t care.” If you just went and ran it for the fun of it, what would… I guess that would kind of depend on your coach, but has anybody ever… did you do that? Or was it always just like, “Oh, all right, I guess I’ll try and win while I’m out here.” Or did you manage to separate those two?

Renae (25:14):
It was more about beating your personal time. So it was never about winning, it was always about, “Okay, last time when you did your 200 meter you ran a 29.5, so this time let’s see if you can minimize that.” So whether you ran a 29 flat or try to break 29 and get a 28. So it was, it’s always about continuing to better yourself, not necessarily winning the race.

Craig (25:39):
That sounds way healthier. I have a bunch of stuff on the wall over here behind the computer monitor, and one of the lines is, “I don’t compare myself to others, only to myself from yesterday.” It’s right in the middle of an oath that I have pinned up the wall, and that’s an excellent point.

Renae (25:55):
That’s a good one.

Things you’ve come back to [27:27]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Climbing after shoulder surgery; Humbling to start from scratch
  • Good reminder of the challenge and freedom of climbing
  • Painting; self teaching watercolors, just recently came back to it
  • Goal take paint outside, local garden; Taking photos of things to paint later

Food discussion [32:44]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Recent discoveries: endless possibilities of tacos
  • Taco Tuesdays as an institution; food and friendship

Something people get wrong [35:09]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • People often think she’s sad all the time, but it’s just the RBF (resting bitch face)
  • Usually just lost in thought
  • People are often surprised when they learn more about her; Not as straight-laced as people assume.

The plateau and QM [37:09]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • No specific plateau, but always the social media comparison
  • Each time she was close to the plateau, something happens: having to pause training, injury, start back from zero
  • Generally under-rated; extremely useful movement
  • Trying to explain QM, using limbs together for various purposes
  • essential human movement

Rapid fire questions [41:21]

Contact and further info

You can find out more or get in touch with Renae through her website, renaedambly.com, or follow her on instagram (@renaedambly)