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Practical vs. Personal

There is a growing trend in the fitness community towards working out with practicality in mind rather than aesthetics; “functional fitness.” I’ve been part of that movement for a long time and find myself amenable to its premise: fitness is most useful and rewarding when it develops usable skills and attributes that can be applied in daily life. For me, parkour began as exactly that: a practical set of skills to help me escape in the rare event of conflict. Read more →

Habits: All-or-Nothing or Everything-in-Moderation?

I was listening to Gretchen Rubin discuss her new book on habits on a podcast. She pointed out that people tend to gravitate towards one of two general approaches towards making habit changes, which can be referred to as all-or-nothing and everything-in-moderation. There are strong advocates in both camps, arguing either for absolute rules and no deviation whatsoever or the more laissez-faire approach of allowing for some flexibility in behavior using the 80⁄20 rule or another similar system. Read more →

A Journey Toward Self-Confidence

For most of my life, I have been shy and reserved. In any social situation I generally stayed quiet and listened to others rather than becoming involved, preferring to stay on the periphery. I felt more comfortable being the outsider. Although that’s how I acted most often (and I still do when I’m way beyond my comfort zone) it does not reflect my true nature: how I act when no one is watching. Read more →

Games for the Real World

Gamers love to create mazes and run people through them, but the points don’t matter. We need to put them in a place where what they do makes a real difference. - Julien Smith Julien Smith has had me thinking for a long while about his idea of dungeon masters for the real world. I never spent much time in the tabletop and pen-and-paper realm, so that argument doesn’t have as much pull for me as the idea of designing video games for the real world. Read more →

Resting Smiley

“When no one is looking and you’re not trying, what shows on your face?” - Seth Godin   _The title and post are inspired by a blog post of the same title by Seth Godin, Resting Smiley Face. My answer? Intensity. More often than not I’m lost in my own thoughts or focused on the task at hand, and I display the face to match, one with focused intensity. When I was growing up my mother would frequently comment about my tendency to be intense, and with the benefits of hindsight I see it clearly. Read more →

On Falling

Time from error to impact: <1s. Look bad? Posting the failure here hurts more than the fall itself. That’s despite it being the worst fall I’ve had in recent memory. Sometimes it’s the middle ground that’s the most dangerous of them all. If the drop after the vault was bigger then I’d have more time to fix my in-air position (it’s happened before and I always landed on my feet). If it were smaller there would be minimal impact. Read more →

Movement Game: Over, Under, Through

I say “over, under, and through” a lot when talking about obstacles. Recently I was inspired to take that same idea and turn it into a simple game. The rules: You have three moves to connect. One must be over an obstacle, another must be through it, and the third under it. That’s it for the basics. You can do a single set of three then take a break, or try to take it further and chain multiple sets together. Read more →

Mini-precision Slalom

Video time! All you need to practice jumping is the smallest of targets. In this case the wooden edges separating the mulch from the pavement. Given the width (an inch, maybe?) landing accurately is hard. One sure case of “smaller is harder” with this sort of thing. Jumping quickly between targets, even when small, is also a guaranteed way to nuke your energy. And a bit of bonus video of Read more →

Evolution

I began writing for myself with my first blog, in 2010. It was utterly nerdy and about the game EVE Online. I never enjoyed writing for assignments, but blogging was fun and some of my writing was, to my surprise, being shared around in that small community. Not long after that, with my growing interest in Parkour, ‘natural movement’, and the ancestral health or ‘paleo’ ideas I started another blog, Primal Ninja. Read more →

Parkour Vision

Spotting movement opportunities around you is a trainable skill. In parkour we call this either parkour vision or traceur vision. In Feeling Creative it was all about the benefits of developing this vision; now it’s time to learn how to train it. To improve parkour vision you have three means of learning (in order of usefulness): visualization, learning from community and video inspiration. Let’s start with the most important, visualization. Visualization It’s a fancy word, but all we’re talking about is imagining yourself moving. Read more →

Feeling Creative

Traceurs see the world differently. Where some see a dead end, we see a short-cut. This mindset shift transforms obstacles into opportunities. A (seemingly) singular path-dictated by the structure of walls, railings, and other elements of the environment-can become a multitude. How? By interacting with, instead of avoiding, the environment and that begins with a trick of the imagination. Picture yourself moving over, around and through the obstacles around you. This ability to imagine yourself flowing over obstacles and spotting opportunities for movement can be an immense boon for your creative powers, in every arena. Read more →

The Year in Review, 2013

Before heading into 2014 it’s helpful to look back at the year past and reflect, on both the great and bad things. I don’t dwell much on the past, but looking at previous actions, especially the instructive failures, helps me make tweaks to how I do things. This year I’m going to try using Chris Guillebeau’s format for running an annual review, which starts with asking two simple questions: 1) what went well this year? Read more →

Passion, Purpose, and Practicality (Part 3 - Practice)

“Passion is the wind in your sails, but practicality is your rudder.” -Danielle LaPorte In Part 2 we looked at how purpose can help you select an art with high odds of developing into a passion. Examining that same purpose can also help us decide on our direction for practice. After all, practicing an art because you love it is amazing, but it can lead to a scattershot approach if you don’t know precisely where you’re aiming. Read more →

Passion, Purpose, and Practicality (Part 2 - Selection)

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. -Ralph Waldo Emerson In the previous post we talked about passion and how it can provide you with motivational fuel to keep practicing. But passion tells us little about how to choose; choosing an art to develop, or if you’ve already chosen, what to focus your practice on. That’s where purpose comes in. Read more →

Passion, Purpose, and Practicality (Part 1 - Feeling)

Passion doesn’t need to be constantly fiery and all consuming; it can be a steady curiosity and commitment. You don’t need to want to die for your calling or chain yourself to a tree for your cause. Genuine curiosity and sincere interest are burning coals that can warm you for a good, long time. -Danielle LaPorte Seeking out passion in work has become a huge trend of late. The internet is teeming with blogs and websites dedicated to passionate work; work with purpose. Read more →

Playin' with rocks (video - mostly)

And moments later a giant splash was heard over the cliffs. Hah, riight, that totally happened. I spent most the majority of my time in both Iceland and Ireland in or near nature. Sure, the contrast between the two is stark: after Iceland’s tree-less volcanic landscape arriving in Ireland felt as if I’d just wandered into the Amazon by accident; so verdant. Still, in each case I was able to be in contact with the land almost continuously. Read more →

Elevate yourself! The power of community on growth (APEX Movement retrospective)

credit: Ahd Photography I practice alone more often than not. Did I choose to? At first yes, but often it was circumstance not preference that decided for me. As I wrote before, starting out with Parkour I didn’t discover anyone else to train with in my area for near a year. I relied on Youtube videos and other tutorials plus heaps of trial and error to figure things out. I made progress, but I wouldn’t call it impressive. Read more →

More (quick) fun with bike racks plus some progress videos

So many bikes even GPS won't help you find yours. Angry Dutchmen could be hazardous to your health too, so no playing here. :( Bike racks are everywhere; they come in all sorts of shapes too. Lots of possibilities for movement, if the bike racks aren’t being used much for their actual purpose, anyhow. I got lucky in Galway earlier last week and found a set of at the local university, blissfully empty thanks to the dearth of students during the summer. Read more →

Shooting yourself in the foot

Harnessing handicaps to amp up creativity, challenge, and turn the mundane into the extraordinary This post originally appeared as a guest post on Instinctive Fitness. Yeah, I went a bit overboard with the headline length. The ideas here are a refinement and expansion upon my What if…? Limits and Play article I wrote close to a year ago. I’m terrible at planning. When I feel the urge to start a movement session (most would call ‘em workouts, I’m weird) the frustratingly easy excuse to do nothing is that I don’t know what to do. Read more →

Digging for Energy: How Play Feeds the Body and Soul (and where I potentially make a fool of myself)

I uncovered a hidden source of energy recently. Though now suspect that it had been there all along, lurking in the shadows as I was (metaphorically!). The problem was I never was able to harness the energy before because I was too shy and afraid of embarrassment. I was suppressing any urges to do it and get down when opportunities presented themselves. Nope, I’m not being euphemistic here, just intentionally vague. Read more →

How to Succeed After You've Failed and Fallen

Dealing with failure is difficult. With practice brushing past the little failures that have few repercussions becomes easy. Easy enough to pick yourself up and try again immediately without hesitation. However, if you get hurt, sometimes even a little, fear seeps into your mind. When that fear of failure gains a foothold, you’ve got a battle on your hands. When practicing Parkour situations like that come up often. Little injuries happen that cause just enough pain to worry your subconscious (lizard) brain, which can trigger hesitation on your next attempt. Read more →

Videos: Slippery when wet (doesn't stop us)

The rain this weekend had torpedoed some of my more ambitious video plans that I had in mind. I was feeling frustrated, so I went for a walk and remembered this playground I had found a few weeks back…but completely forgotten about. I resolved to record whatever I did there, even if it was wet. Worst case I would see if I could make my hoodie into a ghetto rain shield for my camera. Read more →

Discomfort, caffeinated squirrels, and a dash of viking blood

I came to a painful realization earlier about a choice I made in Switzerland. I had just arrived at the first farm I was volunteering at. Within a couple of days I was beginning to feel incredibly frustrated and uncomfortable in the situation. Of course, I knew this was going to happen, after all, I could barely speak the language. The farm and the surrounds were beautiful and the other workers were fun to be around, so that wasn’t adding to the discomfort at least. Read more →

Four Years

One of the earlier photos from training. At least a year after I begun. Before that I dodged pictures too well. It all started with a Youtube video; that’s a story you’ll hear often when you ask long-term traceurs/traceuses what inspired them to begin practicing Parkour, and the same was true for me. I get the feeling that most jump straight into trying Parkour out for themselves after that bolt of inspiration. Read more →

VBlog: Risk vs. Danger and Barbell Strategies

I’ve had it in the back of my mind to write a post detailing the concept of risk vs. danger (here in fancy graph form, courtesy of MovNat) that comes from MovNat. Buuut risk vs. danger is one of those ideas I find easier to understand with examples. Well, I found me some good examples and decided to try my hand at doing it as a video blog instead of writing. Read more →

Antifragile: Barbell Training

This is the second post in a series about the book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. In the previous post I talked about the core concept of antifragility and its applications to fitness. Now it’s time to take the idea of antifragility and use it to help us make better decisions. How? By using barbells! Oh wait, I meant just metaphorically. Wait, this has nothing to do with barbells? Read more →

The kick that shall not be named (because I'm bad at remembering Portuguese) plus bonus video

Terrible Harry Potter references aside, this is a kicking technique originally from Capoeira, but I never remember those names for long. I could comb through tutorial videos to find what I’m looking for, but this name is more amusing to me anyway. I picked up the technique from Stephen Carr who, by the way, was in Mario Warfare, which you should check out if you haven’t already. Anyhow, at first I was just dabbling with the kick because it was fun to do; plus I was taking some capoeira classes at the time, so I thought it might be useful there. Read more →

Reflections on 2012

Wow. What a crazy and amazing year it has been; without a doubt my best year to date. Because 2012 was the first year (half-year, really) of this site I don’t have any previous “annual review” from last year to reference and see where I stand relative to it. This’ll be more of a reflection on the progress I’ve made in 2012, both for the site and with personal growth. I’ll start with writing and site stuff, since that’ll be quicker. Read more →

Holiday Video Intermission

With the Holidays almost on us and the end of the world past us, I’ll hold off on the big posts until after the New Year. It’ll give me a lotta time to polish the writing anyway, so definitely not a bad thing. Several big videos have dropped in the past week, all worth sharing. Fizz Hood - Little Pieces Had another big video from an excellent traceuse, Sasha Sheva, released recently. Read more →

Antifragile - Paper tigers, the zombie apocalypse, and fitness

_This is the first post in a series reflecting on ideas contained in the book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb._ I get so much reading done when I’m forcibly kept away from the interwebs (we just moved into a new place) for any length of time. Maybe I should do that more often? With almost an entire week sans internet I had plenty of time to finish Antifragile. Read more →

Drop the bass, not your heels!

I almost went with the title “I wore non-minimalist shoes and all I got was shitty ankle mobility.” Cliché. Dubstep jokes aren’t much better, but hey, there was a Batman meme! I subjected myself to an accidental n=1 heel drop (if you aren’t familiar read this article) experiment when I picked up a pair of Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81s before my journey to Switzerland. I needed new shoes that I could still train in, but could handle (with nice thick socks) some colder temperatures. Read more →

Project: Prototype Brussels (plus some online coaching stuff)

“Life isn’t just a sequence of waiting for things to be done.” ~Ze Frank Before I get into the post, you may notice that things look slightly different around here. I made the decision to move the site over to a personal domain name (seanprogers.com). There are plenty of reasons for it, but there are two major ones: 1) easier to find on the Almighty Google = gooood thing; 2) I don’t feel like I am speaking from behind a “brand” now (that just felt weird). Read more →

Training Game: Drunken Rolls

I had a post series on my previous blog, Primal Ninja, called “training games.” The idea was decent, but I only had written descriptions of each game; that’s not all that helpful. I think it’s time I revived the training games segment, but this time with video! To kick things off I’ll start with a game of my own creation, drunken rolling (do this sans alcohol, trust me). I’ve had the idea for at least six months, but only now got around to making a video out of it. Read more →

Training in Switzerland Compilation plus online coaching beta launch!

Epic climbing tree, but no good video from climbing on it (didn't have my tripod). :( This video almost didn’t see the light of day. When I was looking over all the footage it was feeling pretty sparse; not enough for a highlight reel, but too unfocused for a uncut training video. I almost convinced myself it wasn’t worth the effort to edit, but I made a promise to release it, so I figured out a way to trick myself. Read more →

The 4-Hour Chef (semi-review)

(Disclosure: The included links to the book, including on the image above, to Amazon are affiliate links. No obligation at all to use my link if you’re going to buy the book, but if you do the proceeds from the sale will go towards paying for the hosting costs of this site.) I heard about Tim Ferris’s new book, The 4-Hour Chef”), while listening to his recent interview with Robb Wolf on the Paleo Solution podcast. Read more →

Reflections on Switzerland

My time in Switzerland wrapped up a little over a week ago. Since then I’ve had some time since then to look back and compare my experiences there to my collective experience from living in various places around the U.S. I’m just going to hit major points here instead of mentioning every little detail that I can think of. If want to hear more about a particular topic ask in the comments or contact me directly and I’d be happy to start up a bigger conversation about that. Read more →

Overlooked Obstacles: Parking Stops

Sometimes I get the feeling that I can get little over obsessed with seeking big challenges. Whenever I’m wandering around I scan the environment constantly for stuff to play and jump around on. The problem comes when searching too hard for impressive obstacles and areas; when that happens I get tunnel vision for big jumps, walls, or elaborate obstacle combos and miss all kinds of opportunities. If you’re looking only for the big stuff then it’s easy to walk right by the smaller, less obvious, obstacles. Read more →

The Quest

On the edge of the frigid waters of Lake Geneva I have had this vague idea for a truly big goal in my head for a long time, but I’ve been afraid to actually define it. I hadn’t examined the thought closely because even its outline looked ambitious, and I have been trying to reject all my ambitious impulses. Why? Maybe because I thought it was wrong to be ambitious, but really, that isn’t the _real _reason. Read more →

3 simple ways to improve your movement every day

Ever had a time where you really wanted to improve something more, but couldn’t dedicate even more time to practicing? It is a frustrating experience, but I have one possible solution. There’s a trick, of sorts, to getting around that little problem; sneak movement practice into your daily habits. Many skills can be worked on gradually through the day, you don’t need to devote 15 minutes to an hour to working on them to begin seeing progress. Read more →

Swiss meat (butchering lamb in Switzerland)

Resisted punny titles and all I got was this bad one. Oh well…right, now to the actual topic. A while ago I read a book titled The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat. It was packed with all kinds of good info, but the best part was the huge section (printed on super nice photo paper) on how to butcher a lamb at home. I thought it would be really cool to do, but I wrote it off as not going to happen because of the expense and tools required. Read more →

Updates from Switzerland, some TGUs, and site stuff

Wow, I must be a terrible blogger. I fly off to some foreign country and then don’t post anything actually about the place or what I’m doing for over a month. Fail. Since I’m here and still not broke or starving thanks to volunteering my time on organic farms (working WWOOF) a lot of my time has been spent just working outside. It’s been a pretty random mixture of stuff so far, heavy on weeding, but with some more interesting work too. Read more →

Movement Experiment: A bike rack challenge

The movement came from two ideas: the floor is lava game and attempting to slalom the entire bike rack. With this much bigger movement doing the latter is really hard, it may be possible but I wasn’t making much progress with it. The move is a fun way to work on generating and then controlling momentum precisely (unless you like banging your shins into metal poles). Be mindful of the width of the bike rack, if it’s too wide then this particular version doesn’t work. Read more →

Movement Experiment: Regretful Pop Vault

Here’s a fun little movement I came up with a while ago: The technique is mostly just fun to do, but it has some possible practical uses too. If you need to quickly get off the wall you just hopped onto (hence the “regretful” name) either versions of these versions work nicely. Just pushing yourself backwards off the wall works, but forces you to land and pivot without seeing where you are going - not good especially when moving quickly. Read more →

And so the journey begins

“I really don’t know what happens next-one so seldom does.” -E.M. Forster Today I leave for Europe. I’ve been talking about doing this for what feels like at least three years now, and it’s finally happening. It was a good thing that it took as long as it did, as my original plan transformed from “live in Europe” to something far more specific, and far more interesting, the beginnings of which you see with this website, Prime8 Movement. Read more →

What if...? Limits and Play

Voluntary limits are one of my favorite ways to keep training fresh and to come up with new ideas. But why would you choose to limit your options in the first place? Everyone loves having choices. Having even more choices then could only be a good thing, right? Nope. When you have tons of options it can be difficult to choose what to do. Indecision is a great way to let that lazy part of your mind take over and think, “well, since you don’t know what you want to do…why don’t we just stay in this comfy seat right here instead?” Putting limits (rules if you prefer) in place narrows down your options and makes it easier to make a choice. Read more →

With a piece of chalk

I linked this video a little while ago on Twitter: Cool message right? I want to focus in on just one part of it which reminded me of some stuff I was working on earlier (more on that shortly). Playing within the lines of chalk, transforming the otherwise unremarkable surroundings into a space for play and dance. That’s a really good idea, and you definitely do not have to be an ultra skilled breakdancing kid to take advantage of it (or a breakdancer at all). Read more →

Mindfulness

Clearly I have been watching way too much Batman lately, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind when the subject of mindfulness comes up. More to the point, scars are what I find myself getting when I am most definitely not being mindful during training. In fact, almost every serious cut, bruise, or injury that I have ever received during training has been the direct result of in some way not being completely mindful; sometimes from not taking a jump seriously, overestimating my abilities (usually when tired), or for some of the stupidest ones thinking I was “done” for the day then getting hurt on they way back home… I think I might have a handle on this mindfulness business now though. Read more →

The Big Shoe Post

flickr: Allen Gathman OK, not that literal. I get asked about what shoes I recommend pretty often, so it makes way more sense to provide a general overview of which shoes I have used and my thoughts on them. There is no perfect shoe for everyone. You should take into consideration your own preferences and specific activity requirements when trying to choose which shoe to wear; with that in mind the information here is based on my own subjective experience of all these shoes. Read more →

Barefoot Training and Parkour

Ryan Ford from APEX Movement released a two-part series on adding barefoot (and minimalist) training into Parkour practice. Much of what is discussed will be familiar to those who have read anything by Daniel Lieberman or Lee Saxby but it also includes some useful recommendations for selecting appropriate footwear (similar to what I’ve recommended when asked) for Parkour. It does lack a discussion of technique, but the video (above) from Lee Saxby does an excellent job of covering the key points. Read more →

Fifth Ape 2011

Colin finished editing our end of year video earlier this week. It has been a pretty amazing year. Started out slow with some injuries preventing any real progress for a couple months, but the summer and fall have been very productive. Broke new jumps, improved a bunch of techniques, and even learned some entirely new things (particularly the monkey flip at around 5 seconds into the video) that I hadn’t expected to be able to do. Read more →

Jump Broken!

Just a quick post, broke a jump that I had been working towards for at least a year on Sunday. I was starting to wonder if I was stagnating a little in the power department, but it seems not. All about little gradual improvements. Thanks to Colin for pushing me to get it. This puts a few other jumps I have yet to break into perspective…much less far so I ought to have no issues landing them at all. Read more →

Dilution by Blane

This article by Blane is worth re-linking here: http://www.parkourgenerations.com/article/dilution The entire thing is well worth the read, and although it is aimed at traceurs I believe much of what he says can be applied equally to other physical disciplines. Only going to directly post the summary at the end of the article here. 1) If you’re new to Parkour, research as much as possible and learn from the people who have walked the path before you, but do not lose your creativity and ability to think for yourself. Read more →

Translations of Georges Hébert's Practical Guide of Physical Education (1912)

The MovNat 5-day workshops in West Virginia are going on right now and unfortunately I could not make it out there. The workshops reminded me about a translation of Georges Hébert’s Practical Guide of Physical Education, which he wrote in 1912, done a couple years ago by Pilou and Gregg from the American Parkour community. This is not a translation of Hébert’s books, L’éducation physique virile et morale par la méthode naturelle, which he began writing in 1941. Read more →

Parkour Video: Hana 2011

Just a quick post. Seems difficult to find good Parkour videos with women as the primary subjects. Saw this video from a traceuse in Japan on the Parkour Generations blog. Some rather impressive stuff: Read more →

Some inspiration to get things started

Earlier this week I found (via Daniel Ilabaca) a TED Talk by TahRiq Almawi that felt like the perfect way to start this blog out. Have a watch: What did you think? There were several ideas that stood out to me. For one, the supreme value of practice (and lots of it) is something I seem to forget at times. It is so easy to get frustrated about not being good enough at some skill, say in my case dive rolls or rail to rail precisions, when the solution is right there in front of you: practice it more. Read more →
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