There’s a lot more to parkour than jumping off of roofs and doing crazy stunts. Ryan Ford and Amos Rendao formed APEX Movement to teach people what parkour is really all about, and to teach them to do it in a safe and structured manner.
To them, it’s not about “parkour.” It’s about movement and freedom and creativity.
Here’s a snippet of their philosophy on parkour:
Everybody did parkour [as kids]. It’s just a question of when did you stop.
Here’s what you’ll hear in this episode…
Andy: All right, all right. Welcome to the GMB Show. As you notice, there are more of us here than usual and one of us is immature.[Music]
Andy: All right. So we’ve got Ryan and Amos here from APEX Movement, parkour athletes. They’ve got a great gym where they teach people and they do a lot of other stuff that’s really cool. We’re going to talk about them and what they do and why it’s important and a little bit. But before we get started, I think it’s important to address that we now have two people named Ryan on here. So for the duration of this show, my partner Dr. Ryan Hurst, shall be known as Beef Supreme.
Ryan Hurst: Oh, yes!
Andy: So hopefully you guys will see the [0:00:47] [Indiscernible] and Mr. Supreme and I will be grilling you for the next 20 minutes, plus or minus, maybe probably more plus. So you guys, do you want to go on and kind of introduce yourselves and a little bit about what you do?
Ryan Ford: Yeah. I’m Ryan. This is Amos here and we’re with APEX Movement. We do parkour and just movement in general. I’ve been doing it for about 11 years and luckily – well, I’ve been lucky enough to do it professionally for about five or six now. So I’ve done performances and stuff all over the world. I’m pretty well-known for like YouTube videos, posting up little drills and exercises and stuff like that, some articles and what not.
We have five gyms. We’re both located here in Boulder. APEX Movement Boulder is like our flagship gym. Yeah, that’s a little bit about me. Amos …
Amos: Yeah, I work with Ryan for APEX Movement and we’re about to launch ParkourEDU soon as well I also have two projects. One is called Parkour Ukemi where I study falling in regards to movement and also Parkour Randori where I’m very interested in applying parkour to real life emergency situations.
Andy: Yeah. So obviously you’ve probably seen videos of these guys if you’ve looked at any parkour videos. I mean that’s how I found out about both of you guys and Ryan is lit up now because you’ve said the words “ukemi” and “randori”. So you want to roll with that Ryan?
Ryan Hurst: Yeah, this is great. So Beef Supreme here talking, so yeah.
Andy: Oh, sorry, Beef. Mr. Supreme, I apologize. I already screwed up.
Ryan Hurst: No, this is great. For you two, if you didn’t know I live in Japan. I’ve been here for about 20 years and so my background is martial arts and things like that, so rolls and falling and also helping other people fall on the floor is kind of my thing.
So I love your Ukemi series. Your videos are just so awesome, because you just have fun with it. Of course the details are just exquisite and in-depth stuff. But I just love the fact that you have fun with what you’re doing. It’s not just one of those dry, “We’re now going to talk about Ukemi,” or something like that.
So anyway, yeah, I just – you guys, what you’re doing, it’s great. Then Ryan, even this morning, I was checking out – I think you just posted it today, the quad jump. Yeah, man. The stuff that you guys are putting out is great.
So just yeah, keep doing what you’re doing and we will just end the interview right there. So thanks for …[Laughter]
Ryan Ford: Yeah. No, I – both of us kind of took that approach to offer more details, more knowledge, more methods to what we’re doing because in parkour, it kind of lacked that and when I started like 11 years ago in Colorado. I could find literally nobody to learn from. So I was kind of on my own and that’s how APEX basically started is I naturally found myself in a leadership position where people started asking us for help and it just kind of slowly grew from there and we tried to step in and just offer a little bit more structure.
We’re not trying to make it like super rigid and traditional or anything. But offering more structures so people don’t get hurt and so people cannot make the same mistakes I did. Like for example, I thought in order to learn how to roll, back when I started, I was jumping off the 10-foot [0:04:16] [Indiscernible] top of the playground and obviously nowadays we’re going to teach somebody down on the ground.
Amos: When I started, actually he was the only person teaching maybe in the Western hemisphere and so clearly, I needed to kind of trail blaze my own path because he didn’t know what he was doing.
It was kind of cool actually because it was very complementary. A lot of my interests with falling and a lot of my movements and interests in general were complementary to his style of strength training, which I didn’t get into as much.
Andy: So I think that’s very cool is – that you guys have sort of different backgrounds that complement each other, which is also sort of how we came up with GMB too, the three of us, our other partner Jarlo. We have different things that kind of – we help each other out with.
Also I thought what was really interesting that you just mentioned – so Ryan has got more strength training background and Amos, you more – what? How do you have a falling background? Where does that come from?
Amos: Martial arts. I’m also going to dance. I played soccer when I was younger. I played goalie. So it was kind of natural to fall into that. Yeah, mostly martial arts.
Andy: Cool, very cool. So before we go too much into any more details, I think one of the things that probably most people, when they hear about parkour, is they have of course – and I’m sure you guys have confronted this a billion times, the image of people like jumping off bridges and doing stupid things and they think I’m going to die.
Obviously you guys are already talking about teaching in a safer, more structured manner that is designed for that not to be the case. But why don’t you tell us a little bit? I’m sure you’ve probably got it memorized, this speech, about why parkour is actually useful and beneficial and important for people that are not going to be jumping off of bridges and buildings.
Amos: That has been our eternal struggle from day one.
Amos: It’s just educating our communities. Kind of drawing this line between Jackass stunts and us because unfortunately for a lot of outside observers, they see a continuum there and so a lot of what we do with various marketing or just the way we act in public, with people, is letting them – just drawing that definitive line in education.
We’ve seen that go a long way in Boulder. Now we’re kind of like local heroes to a lot of people. People really respect what we do. They don’t give us a lot of problems but that took years of flyers, speaking with people, being respectful with landowners and police. But yeah – how do you go about that?
Ryan Ford: I mean I think we definitely see it as more of a lifestyle than like any kind of Jackass like hobby or anything like that. Honestly, I don’t even really think parkour needs a title. It’s just something that we all inherently did as little kids.
What we’re doing is just adding a little bit more focus and direction and just elaborating on it in general. So I think everybody did parkour. It’s just a matter of when did you stop and if you didn’t stop, how far did you take it. So climbing trees and scrambling up boulder field, rock climbing.
Parkour has a little bit of influence in many different things, dance, martial arts, track and field, all kinds of stuff.
Andy: That’s funny. I was joking with Ryan a few days ago. Like when I was a kid, parkour was called “Get off the roof before you break your neck.”
Ryan Hurst: Yeah.
Andy: I unfortunately stopped a lot of stuff but started practicing more when I was – after I was an adult and rediscovering how much fun it is to just explore and play and it’s actually kind of funny because I realized earlier today without even thinking about it. I actually use like that much parkour. There was a little rail between the Starbucks and the Office Depot and instead of walk all the way around the handicap ramp, I just kind of bolted in. I was like, “Yeah, yeah.”
I saved the precious 30 seconds, but it was like one of those things. I had practiced it and I know I could do it safely. I know I could get over and you have that confidence and you have that little – that ability. So why not use it?
Ryan Ford: Yeah. Honestly, that’s probably one of our biggest messages is that you don’t have to try to be the next parkour all-star doing like double back flips and roof gaps and stuff. You just have to stay moving whether it’s doing what you guys do or doing what we do, even though it’s pretty similar or doing like dance or martial arts or something.
Keep moving. Stay mobile. Stay strong. Also don’t walk down the sidewalk with your head down, staring at your phone all the time. Take the time to look around a little bit. We’ve actually been on rooftops before and I kid you not. The only people that ever notice that you’re up there are little kids. Everyone else is like – eyes glued down to their screens and we just kind of have that childlike mentality of seeing the world a little bit differently.
Ryan Hurst: I also like what you said about – I mean I think you guys are hinting at it. You guys are becoming more like leaders in your community, so role models of sorts, right? So I know it has taken a lot of time. But I think it’s interesting especially looking at your videos that – I mean you do have fun, but you guys aren’t cocks basically. You’re not being so cocky that you’re like, “Yeah, it’s all about me,” and everything like that.
I love – especially the video recently where you show – I forgot the title. I apologize. But basically it’s – you guys had a huge event in the gym and you start off by jumping through the window and then you jump on the pole and yeah, you do that anywhere. But what I’m just saying is that there were so many people in there. You could tell that these people really look up to you two and they really respect you.
I think to me that was huge because it wasn’t just like somebody like – I’m not banging on skaters or anything like that. But sometimes you get these skaters and you’re just like, “Ah! Have some respect for what you’re doing.”
Look at you guys and what you’re doing. You can just tell that the people around you and the people that you’re working with, there’s just mutual respect. I think that’s really, really cool, what we’re seeing there.
Amos: Yeah, it almost comes with the art. You have to have an underlying respect for your body and for this art because if you don’t, through like natural selection, you just get [0:10:26] [Indiscernible] and so I think a lot of practitioners that are – that have healthy bodies and are doing amazing things with them, it has come from years of learning how to have a deep respect because some of the stuff we do at heights, it only takes a flash of a second to mess around and not be focused and you can be seriously injured.
So almost like through natural selection, a lot of our community just has this deep respect.
Andy: So let’s talk a little bit about community because I think that’s one of the good things that you guys obviously exhibit with your events and your gym and in any of the people that I’ve really met that have practiced parkour a lot, they usually practice with a group of people and there’s definitely a sense of community, which I think tends to be lacking a lot in a lot of physical training.
Ryan Ford: Yeah, yeah. I think that’s huge for what we do and definitely through the gym and through all the weekly jams and monthly jams that we have here around town, the idea is to promote community.
Amos: Yeah, I think it’s probably the most important thing to me and I really love the parkour community just because – which is hard to draw lines around because there’s so much intersection with others arts. But they’re just – every community has bad apples. Parkour, it’s very rare to have bad apples. There are so many people that are so down-to-earth, very intelligent. I’m not sure what it is about the art yet, but we could talk about that for a while too as well and get sidetracked. But there’s a lot of stuff that brings these types of people, just really strong individuals and I really appreciate that. That’s important.
A lot of us – who cares? Some people get lost in maybe the fame or trying to do the best that you got there. But none of that matters in the end. Who cares if you landed a triple something? It’s the people you’re training with and experience you have, that journey.
Andy: Very cool. Cool. So the other thing is I – one of my theories about kind of why community – one of the reasons that community probably becomes really important in parkour also goes back to like you said earlier about mindfulness is that when you are running and throwing your body like in the air, right? Or up against a wall or something, you have to be aware of what’s going on in every second.
You have to help each other be aware of things happening as well. So we also obviously try to teach that kind of mindfulness in movements that maybe aren’t as dynamic, right? But it’s also getting at that awareness of yourself and what’s happening and I think that’s – that’s a feature that I always enjoyed the few times that I’ve really practiced any parkour at all. It reminds me of martial arts actually.
Ryan Hurst: Yeah.
Ryan Ford: Yeah, it totally puts you in touch with everything that you’re capable of, how to use your body and everything. But I think that the second layer on that which makes parkour really interesting to a lot of people is also the interaction with the environment. So you’re not only becoming more aware of yourself but everything around you and everything you interact with.
I think that’s one reason parkour has been so enjoyed on YouTube and in the movies and stuff is because sometimes it’s not even what that person is doing that makes it cool. It’s just like where are they doing it or how, acting with the environment.
Amos: Actually, the video you talked about, the course-running video with all people watching, that’s like another level of that is to be able to still have that awareness under pressure and – and it is – a lot of people watching you and you get one shot at the course and you’re on the clock. I do that and mainly for the benefits that come from that heightened awareness, which is hard to achieve within that adrenaline.
So even those are really uncomfortable for me to do, I continue to do them over the years. So that now I’m very calm and collected during those moments.
Ryan Hurst: I’m really into zen and meditation. But my kind of meditation is not just like where you sit and “om” kind of thing. It’s in anything you’re doing and you’re being so involved in what you do. This just kind of takes over.
So like for example, when I was doing my one-arm handstand work, a lot of that was – because I had to freaking stay up there and so you kind of have to clear the mind. So it really reminds me of what you were just saying when you go through the course because it’s that heightened awareness and you can only get that when you’re under pressure.
So, it reminds me of like competition, when I was competing in judo over here all the time too. When you’re on the mat and you’re practicing, everything is fine. But when you step on a mat, there are hundreds and hundreds of people watching you and you have to step to perform. You got to change and the only way to do that is actually putting yourself in that situation.
So what you’re saying about parkour, it really doesn’t matter the level that you’re working at. It’s the environment like what you said Ryan and also Amos, and putting yourself in the situation where you’re challenging yourself. But you do have the wherewithal and the safety net of knowing that you can accomplish these skills.
So it’s not like you’re just jumping into these, right? I mean, right? Exactly. You train to be able to do them. So I think – unfortunately we see so many people who watch these videos and just think that you’re just doing them. Just oh, yeah, let’s just try to jump over this bridge and do all this kind of stuff.
So kind of veering off into a different direction, but if you can kind of let me know and let us know, how do you train for this kind of things? So – because I think a lot of people have a misperception of how you train. I’m not just talking about conditioning. I’m talking about how you approach a certain course or a certain way of training a skill.
Amos: Yeah, for sure. Something that I have found interesting meeting people that don’t know parkour that well, stuff they’ve either written or said about parkour, is that often even if we are executing something to perfection, with the most clean landing ever, often superimposed over that is all their fears and then they imagine all the things that can go wrong.
So even though you might see someone with so much control running a course, you will still have a ton of people just going, “Wouldn’t want to see the bail reel,” or like, “Oh, if that guy missed by an inch, he would be done.”
Something that I hope more people understand is that we actually have a very wide range of possible outcomes that we can deal with and this comes from a training, what we call landing continuums. So for instance, if I would have jumped for that beam you saw on the video, and I didn’t get quite the distance I wanted or not quite the height, there are certain set of reactions where I can adapt in the air and then react to keep myself safe.
It might not be the most – the best outcome for me for the course, but at least for safety. Then the same thing goes for falling continuums. I also have an entire study that goes into how to adapt once the fall takes place. So if you can adapt to all the outcomes of overshooting, undershooting and then you can adapt with all the falls to slipping or things moving when you didn’t expect them to, et cetera, that’s what allows us this massive range of possibilities.
Sometimes when we train, it’s not fearful at all. It’s actually play and the reason it can be play is because we can mess around. We can throw flips we know we don’t have. It’s not like we’re just throwing ourselves through a window and doing a flip. We know that we can under-rotate [0:17:33] [Indiscernible] and we can have a good laugh at them.
So a lot of my training has to do with adaptability and linking all these techniques together whether it’s falling or adaptations and I think that’s what keeps a lot of us really safe.
Ryan Ford: Just into that, I was just thinking about how – I think in parkour, there’s something that’s so inherently like human and familiar about it. But at the same time, it’s also extremely foreign to people and – what I mean is like in skateboarding or BMX or something, you have wheels and you have equipment.
So when people watch those highlight videos, they’re like, “Oh, like, I’ve never done that. I can’t relate to that. That’s cool, but …” You know, it’s a little different when you’re just walking down an alleyway and you think back to the parkour video you saw. You’re standing in an alleyway looking up at the buildings and imagining using your own body, like everything you have with you at that moment. Could you jump that? I think a lot of people are like, “No way. I could never do that.”
It’s familiar and foreign at the same time and I think what Amos is kind of saying is people think what we do is insane and dangerous because they’re overlooking all of the practice and all of the groundwork and all of the drills and fall preparation and analyzing every possible outcome. They’re overlooking all that because you just don’t really see that on …
Ryan Hurst: Yeah.
Andy: Yeah. I think that’s really important and it goes with a lot of the things that we teach and also in other disciplines, martial arts stance or whatever too. People tend to look at the end result, right? And they either are afraid of it or they want to achieve it and either over or underestimate sometimes what goes into it.
But in any respect, what they’re not looking at is all the preparation and all of the different variations and scenarios and all the different ways that you’ve done it just a little differently, so that you can perform that skill that way that time. It’s not just practicing one thing that’s static. It’s practicing a movement that’s living, that’s adjusting to the moment with you and the way that you get that is not by just like knowing how to do it and popping up and doing it. It’s by practicing around that skill like hundreds and hundred of times.
Andy: So I think that that’s really cool that you guys show that process also in your videos a lot.
Ryan Ford: Yeah, and on top of that, it’s also kind of like a sliding scale. [0:20:06] [Indiscernible] you’ve got the super basic stuff and this huge scale leading up to the crazy like highlight or viral videos that you see on YouTube and in parkour, I think it even takes that to the next level because there is no end.
You could always find the bigger jump or you can always do it a little bit faster. So we’re always striving to this impossible level of perfection. You can never be a master at parkour I guess. So it’s kind of what we want to install in other people is it doesn’t matter again if you’re doing back flips or if you’re just learning how to step up on the bench. It’s all movement. It’s all expanding on your own capability and in a way that’s all parkour.
Amos: It feels weird to actually give it a name. I think Ryan said this earlier because it’s such a continuum into everything I do whether it’s dance, play, defending myself. All these different things and even into – like Supreme Beef was saying. I don’t actually enjoy sitting meditation but I spend a lot of time balancing for meditation or doing moving meditations with parkour movements.
So it’s really just one big [0:21:21] [Indiscernible] for me. So it feels weird to even call it something to give it a name. Yeah, I think it’s a huge thing.
Ryan Hurst: It’s funny because we actually – something at GMB right now that we struggle with is people want to know what we do. It’s – we got to put a name on it and it’s so tough and it’s – listening to you guys, it’s – I just got to go, “Yeah, exactly. There’s no name for it. You just do.”
Andy: Unfortunately. We all need labels, right?
Ryan Hurst: We all need labels. Let me ask you guys. So obviously we’ve talked about kind of like the higher end of things. As you guys just said, there’s definitely a whole continuum from very beginner up to like infinite possibilities. But what about someone who is just not even remotely interested in some of the higher level things?
Obviously you guys think this and Beefo and I both agree that anyone can get the benefit out of practicing just about any number of things, right? So someone who maybe doesn’t have like ninja warrior aspirations, what is – how can they benefit from – even if not taking a formal parkour class but the lessons of parkour so to speak.
Amos: I think you can almost write an entire book just for that level on that – because …
Ryan Hurst: Do it! Do it! Do it!
Amos: I mean whether you like it or not, everyone that’s listening right now is going to fall again in their life and whether it’s on the ice or maybe you get hit by a train, whatever, that’s going to happen. Then also if you don’t want to look really goofy walking all the way around a 30-foot rail, maybe you have to get over things getting there.
Also your mental health is very related to exercise and movement. If you don’t want to be bored in a gym, just pumping weights, then maybe you want to have like this very movement-oriented exercise routine.
In so many ways, just the basic approach to parkour makes its way into your life whether it’s adapting to life, being strong, having good mental health. Also even just the way you approach problems. You can even learn spiritual lessons from parkour.
So I could not even begin to answer your question because in so many ways, it penetrates your life. So …
Ryan Ford: Yeah, I would say that probably the most beneficial things you get out of parkour are actually not even physical. It mostly goes on to mental. It’s facing your fears. It’s solving a problem. It’s being creative. It’s changing your perspective and when you practice all these things, and you do a little bit of that every single day, I think everything else in life becomes easier as well.
So it’s almost like we’re preparing ourselves to be really uncomfortable and to be constantly scared and stuff so that when we actually are, involuntarily, we’re prepared for that.
So in that sense, I think parkour is a very easy thing to understand metaphorically for people. You overcome obstacles physically but also in life.
Andy: Yeah. So then how could somebody just begin to try to experience some of that? What’s the easiest, simplest way for someone to try to get into it? Is there something that they need to practice or – obviously practice is the key to getting the benefits, right? So where should one’s practice really start out?
Amos: I think it really depends on the person and their goals because I’ve done a fair amount of traveling as well and I’ve been able to train with a lot of different communities around the world. Osaka actually has a really cool community that I’ve spent some time with. It took forever to find them because it was at – we trained at the castle.
Ryan Hurst: Yeah, yeah, almost like a castle. That’s right. Yeah.
Amos: I was looking all over that place for like 30 minutes. It’s so big and we found the group. But a lot of these different communities have shown me that you don’t need fancy equipment or a really nice gym even. It kind of just depends on what you’re going after and what you have access to and you cater your start-up to that.
So that could mean just trying to find information online or find someone locally that’s really experienced and starting out with really basic movements like landings and basic conditioning or if you were close to a parkour gym, you have access to that, you can definitely have a very safe experience with various pads and experts that teach there.
So I think the biggest thing that I see – there are just so many ways [0:25:44] [Indiscernible]. It can even be an entire space of self-discovery because you’re isolated. You’re on an island somewhere. That’s still completely fine. But the biggest thing I tell people is don’t watch YouTube videos and then just go jump off your roof. That’s the kind of direction that just gets you hurt. You have to live his life, for the first two years of [Inaudible].
Ryan Ford: Yeah, before you YouTube existed 11 years ago.
Amos: And he was just watching that stuff and applying them [Phonetic]. Luckily he had to take all the hits and the second generation got to learn from that. So if anything, try to find someone that you can learn from. But otherwise, take it really slow if you don’t have access to that.
One thing we’re actually working on right now – and I know you guys can understand this. You did something similar is over the years, Ryan and I have had tons of requests just flooding us on a regular basis of people who aren’t close to a gym that want our advice. They want to send videos of their techniques and ask for ways to improve. They want to know where to start and so we realized that could be just such a good win-win situation.
We got our act together and created an organization that reached those people, so that even if they don’t have a professional or a gym, they could still know how to start in a basic way and safely progress. That along with our certification, some other stuff that we’re going to do for [0:27:05] [Inaudible] we’re going to be housing all under ParkourEDU.
Andy: Very cool. Well, thank you guys. This has been really, really good. I’ve wanted to do something more about parkour with our audience and introduce it because it’s something that I’ve enjoyed when I was able to practice it for a little bit and that I’m not to the level where I can really claim to have any expertise or be able to explain it to someone who doesn’t do it, right?
So really glad to be able to share that and thank you guys for coming and being somewhat counter to probably what a lot of the stereotype might be, and being able to actually explain it very well. So I appreciate that.
Amos: And thank you guys actually. We don’t isolate ourselves in the parkour community. A lot of what we do is we seek all other discipline arts for movement and we take what we can from that. So like I said, I do regular dance classes and I actually learn a lot there and I bring it into parkour.
Ryan is constantly reading your stuff and a lot of other people, their videos and articles and we take all that and we’re very scientific about boiling it down for our own approach. So thank you guys for putting up the stuff you put out. You actually help the parkour community whether you knew that or not.
Ryan Ford: Yeah. Actually, I just sent one of my teammates your wrist conditioning video because …
Ryan Hurst: Sweet.
Ryan Ford: Some inflexible wrist that needs to be worked on.
Ryan Hurst: Cool, man.
Ryan Ford: Yeah, thank you guys for putting out those resources and like you said, we’re always trying to collaborate with different movement arts and that’s what it comes down to. I mean they’re all still related.
Ryan Hurst: Oh, yeah.
Ryan Hurst: Oh, yeah.
Andy: We’re very much the same and that we don’t really believe in isolating things or trying to copyright a series of movements or any kind of that …
Ryan Hurst: Trademark! Trademark!
Andy: Cool. Well, thanks again and definitely we will talk more. Ryan, do you have anything else you – or I’m sorry. Beef, you have anything else.
Ryan Hurst: No, man. I’m just getting ready to go jump off the roof of my building here. I’m just so pumped right now.
Amos: I’m glad you guys understood exactly what we’re trying to say.
Ryan Hurst: Exactly. I totally got it.
Andy: We obviously learned something.
Ryan Hurst: Totally got it, yeah. Thanks guys. It was a …
Ryan Ford: We will make a tutorial on how to jump off your rooftop.
Ryan Hurst: I like it. Sounds great. Thanks again guys.
Ryan Ford: All right guys. Thanks a lot.[End of transcript]
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