§1 – Introduction

(Part 1 of 2 in ~ Changes and Results)

I’ve lost a lot of weight and gotten a lot stronger in the last few years. But how, exactly, did I get to where I am now?

In 2011, I didn’t like where I was, and I don’t mean, “I was embarrassed about being fat.” I mean I was physically uncomfortable being sweaty, physically unable to get comfortable sitting, grumpy all the time, tired all the time, and more. I really wanted to change and I knew I needed to change before the Doctor started one of those, “Let’s talk about these numbers,” conversations.

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Crossing the Williamsburg Bridge

(Part 1 of 12 in Williamsburg Bridge QM challenge)

Having carefully examined every inch of the pedestrian pathway on the Williamsburg Bridge, I can authoritatively state that it is in fact, VERY long. When I stood up after 2,000 meters of quadrapedie-movement, I could hardly believe it was over! Two kilometers turned out to be possible!

The entire bit of madness started after I mentioned to several people I might be heading into NYC/Brooklyn on a particular weekend in October. Unfortunately, my plans changed and I forgot to tell Jesse.

As the weekend approached, he sent me a message, “I’ve been thinking of some good physical challenges for when you’re here…” I was just thinking, “Oops, I forgot to tell him I’m not coming into the city that weekend.” When he followed with an upbeat, “Let’s QM across the Williamsburg Bridge on Saturday!”

Now in my defense, I was feeling a little guilty that he had spent time thinking about a visit that I had to abort, and my train of thought went off the rails like this:

The problem with my schedule is that I need to be home by about 3pm on Saturday…
…actually, that gives me until about 1pm to do some QM in the city on Saturday…
…so if I went in Friday, and if we started early enough…
…sure, a little QM in the morning would be fun…
…and October’s weather has been so beautiful…

“Ok, sure! I’m in. Let’s do it!”

…and then I looked up the Williamsburg Bridge on Wikipedia, learned it was 2,200 meters long, and thought, “I have made a terrible mistake.”

Life Return On Exercise Invested

(Part 62 of 63 in ~ My Journey in Parkour)

Life Return On Exercise Invested – LROEI

Exercise has been show to correlate1 with longevity; The people who exercise more are also the people who live longer2.

I had never thought about exercise in quite this way: If I’m going to exercise, and if the exact details of the exercise aren’t so important, WHICH exercise would I prefer to do?

Would I rather spend time indoors or outdoors?
…in a gym, or at a playground?
…alone, or with my friends?
…in a familiar place, or some place new?

There are many types of exercise. The way I’m pursuing exercise through Parkour ALSO happens to generate a greater LROEI.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation 

  2. http://www.drbriffa.com/2009/03/06/taking-up-exercise-in-middle-age-appears-to-give-a-handsome-return-on-investment/ 

§7 – Lemons

(Part 19 of 19 in ~ Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

“Lemons” simply reminds us that sometimes we need to make lemonade from whatever lemons we find before us.

I am acutely aware of this aspect of Parkour; This searching what is right in front of me for something to do. Initially I felt like a one trick pony. Every time I’d be faced with some little area, I’d stare at it thinking, “I can only do, literally, a step vault. What am I going to do here?!” Yet somehow, I manage to force myself to stand in the face of my ineptitude and to search for inspiration.

Eventually I came up with a sort of “wedge” for the problem. I would seize on, literally, the first thing I could think of. Often that would be something even I felt was ludicrous. But this first ludicrous movement, got me moving. (That’s the wedge.) From there, I invariably saw something else.

Usually the second thing was also ludicrous, but sometimes it was better (whatever “better” might mean to me at the time). So I’d change to doing the second thing. I’d throw my shame and ego to the wind and start doing repitions of whatever that first ludicrous thing was, then the second thing if it was better, and so on. Sometimes, I could only see a single thing which I feared, and so I’d start with ludicrously simple progressions to the thing I feared.

In my mind, I called this “busting rocks”. Pick the biggest, ludicrous rock and smash it. Pick the next biggest rock, and so on. As I smashed, I’d remind myself of something I’d written years ago: “Parkour is the grueling work of self destruction.”

One day, I participated in the most surreal jam session. On a sign. It was just a slightly sloped, big flat sign with a map on it and four skinny legs into the ground. One person did something near it, “interesting,” I thought. Then a second person did a little sliding thing across it. And I thought, “I wish I could do something on there.” And the wedge happened automatically and I thought, “I can try this ludicrous move.” And I tried it, and someone said, “Craig, what are you doing?”. And I failed. And someone else said, “OH! That’s totally a thing!” And in the blink of an eye a dozen world-class traceurs — people whose abilities all boggle my mind — LINED UP to play on this little sign. And for what seemed like eternity, we all took turns trying crazy stuff on a sign, at night, in a busy public square. And passers-by stopped and some even applauded or cheered. And we all ate ice cream and drank milk-shakes as we waited our turn and pondered our next go. And I for one wanted it to never end.

It was the greatest lemon pie I have ever tasted.

The little box on my desk

(Part 56 of 63 in ~ My Journey in Parkour)

A long long time ago I began collecting inspirational quotes and aphorisms. I kept them on the first version of my web site, where they were displayed randomly. But as time went on, I realized I wanted them where I would see them. Eventually I copied the fledgeling collection onto 3×5 cards and put them in a small box. As I find new ones, I add cards.

I keep the box on my desk with one card showing — just wedged in so it stands up readable. I change the card randomly, whenever the urge strikes.

Countless times I’ve pulled another card and found it eerily appropriate to the challenges of the day.

Countless times I’ve returned to my desk and felt inspired upon rediscovering an old card’s whispered counsel.

Countless times, just as I was about to throw in the towel, I was saved by an echo from the little box on my desk.

When the ‘me’ is obliterated

(Part 55 of 63 in ~ My Journey in Parkour)

When the ‘me’ is obliterated by fear or the demands of immediate survival, action is no longer constrained by social forces, and the individual is left with a sense of self-determination. […] Behavior in edgework appears to the individual as an innate response arising from sources deep within the individual, untouched by socializing influences”

~ Stephen Lyng, from Edgework, 2004

A couple years ago I tried to write something explaining what exactly it is about practicing parkour that I like so much. It turns out others are way WAY ahead of me. Julie Angel (you have read Cinè Parkour, right?) talks a bit about “edgework”; The idea of negotiating the “edges” between things like consciousness/unconsciousness, sanity/insanity, and life/death. Others (H.S. Thompson and Lyng) have talked about “edgework” in depth.

And I agree. My experience is that being in the parkour practice — even just the visceral edges where I’m pushing my physical limits while exposing myself to only manageable levels of risk — just totally strips away all the context of my work-a-day life. Everything — all the way down to my thoughts — everything falls away.

My martial arts teacher has a great phrase related to edgework: No this. No that. No delay.

Parkour Travel: Introduction

(Part 1 of 2 in ~ Parkour Travel)

I’m putting down my thoughts on “Parkour travel” for two reasons: First, I’ve found it immensely fun and rewarding, and so I hope to encourage others to travel. Second, I’ve seen enough things first-hand (as a host and as a guest), and heard enough stories, that make it clear that some bits of helpful knowledge are not universal. In this second area, I can only hope to raise some awareness.

This series will necessarily cover a wide range of ideas which I’ll try to cram into a few broad categories. Eventually, I’ll share my thoughts on all of the following (and more): Why travel at all? What do I mean by ‘Parkour travel’? How to be a good guest? Where to go?

This series is not about the nuts and bolts of traveling lightly and enjoying the experience. Although that’s a closely related topic, it’s an entirely separate series.