Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Water is Life: Recap of Our Visit to Standing Rock

First of all, I want to give humongous thanks to everyone that donated supplies for us to take! We ended up with so much that we did in fact have to leave some behind. We will be shipping those items to the camp or possibly bringing them on a second trip (scroll all the way to the bottom for information on that if you're interested).

I won't be writing up a super long post about my personal experience at Standing Rock this past week and how it made me feel. If anyone is interested in hearing about those stories, I welcome anyone to strike up a conversation about it with me (but not here in the comments, either).

What I *do* want to post is just a quick bit of what was there, how we were able to contribute, and some other information that was shared with us while we were there. If you are only interested in how you can help without actually going - scroll to the bottom where I will post NEW links to help the camp that we actually stayed with (it was not the Sacred Stone Camp that I had been posting links to before we went). The camp we stayed at is called Oceti Sakowin.

Everything we'd need to stay there for an extended time was there and it was very welcoming. Everything was free and shared, and they let you know right away that you can stay where you like for as long as you like and that you can take whatever you need. They just ask that you try to give more than you take (I also later learned that this is one of the Lakota values, generosity). So, if you are considering going, you really should plan to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Here's what we saw there:

There are donation tents right near the entrance to the camp. It's quick and easy to unload your donations when you get there.

A sizable area with coats, sweaters, pants, shoes/boots, gloves, hats, scarves, sleeping bags, and blankets organized into separate areas. Coats were all on hangers and displayed almost like it were a store in a tent. We took some blankets for our tent because we didn't have any and didn't realize how cold it would get at night. I grabbed a vest to help keep me a bit warmer as I didn't bring a coat with me. There weren't many sleeping bags, so I'd guess that is something they are hoping to get more donations for.

Another sizable area. Similar to the clothing area - though I didn't step into this area because I had plenty of foods that I brought - I presume that all kinds of foods were available. I know they had canned goods, produce, etc. They also have kitchens in different areas, one of which we helped to move a donated stove into.

It is available and they have their own truck to filter their own water! Where we ended up camping, there were two enormous jugs of water that we saw people use all day long. They were so large we didn't see them have to refill them at all for the entire duration of our stay.

There were people chopping wood all day in a few places, one which was designated as wood for their sacred fire (it's been burning 24/7 since this #NoDAPL movement was started). One of the other firewood spaces was in the Oglala camp, which Gerardo ended up in for a good hour or so to help chopping wood. People drove around the camp to help distribute the firewood to people, including us.

This space had about 5 or 6 tents, and although we had no need to make use of any of it during our stay, their website says: "We have a Medics Camp to provide basic health care & an emergency response team with trained medical professionals". There was also a sign that said they have wellness counseling services. Gerardo, Angie, and Jessy all seemed to love the tea that they had at a station out in front of this area (I didn't have any because it had marshmallow in it, which is not vegan). Water was also available here.

There is a large hill in what I would consider the front of the camp (near the more prominent entrance) upon which they've installed quite a bit of solar equipment. You can charge your phones or other devices and there is a WIFI connection, though I was told that they are recommending that people don't use it because your devices could get hacked (I assume they meant by the police/military out there). Anyone who will be shooting photo or video for an organization is supposed to check in at the media area and obtain a media pass. Speaking of cameras, there are certain things that are not allowed to be photographed/recorded; if you plan on bringing a camera, it's probably a good idea to look into or ask about the guidelines (more info here http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/protocols).

LGBTQ community
The Standing Rock Two Spirit Camp is a place for LGBTQ persons to gather and communicate. I did not interact with the community as I'm not LGBTQ (not that I *can't* communicate because of, I just didn't happen to), but I'm sure this would serve as a valuable community for any person who is.

The big white dome seemed to be the place for meetings: orientations, trainings, etc. were scheduled on a daily basis. We didn't make it to an orientation; our first day we arrived too late for it and on Tuesday I was the only one that woke up early enough for it but didn't want to go alone. It probably would have been super helpful to get to know the resources available to us and also where to go to help volunteer.

The fire is going 24/7, as I said above. They have prayers every morning and night. There is a man on a microphone who makes announcements for: people that are looking for or offering rides to the nearby towns (and not-so-nearby towns... some were going to Wisconsin, New Mexico, etc.), people who have court dates for having been arrested during frontline operations, other general announcements, and he cracks some silly jokes throughout the day. Water, tea, and coffee could also be found here near the fire area.

Yes, they have a security team with radios and they say that they are trained. You pass through their security team on your way in or out. They are very friendly people.

This is where you go to sign up for legal protection in case you go to a frontline operation and get arrested. They use donated funds to help bail out the frontline water protectors and cover any legal fees for court dates.

The signs in front and around the camp notify all that the camp is ALCOHOL/DRUG free. No alcohol or drugs are allowed in the entire camp.

No weapons of any kind are allowed.

These are non-violent camps. They are about peace and prayer. They call themselves water protectors, not protesters. They do not antagonize the police and they do not promote or accept violence. There are daily trainings for new protectors at 2pm and you are required to attend a training before going out for any frontline operations.

You are welcomed to help out in just about any way that you can! When we went in search for things to help with, we were told that day that they needed people in one of the kitchens to help wash dishes or help with construction work that was going on in the Oglala camp area. This is what we ended up doing: helped unload wood from trucks, duct-taped parts of a tent together to get it ready for a wood floor, chopped firewood, helped move framing into a tent for them to start building a floor, unloaded large bags of clothing and helped stuff this excess clothing into the framing to serve as insulation under the floor, and then helped move a small old stove out of the Oglala kitchen and move a full size donated oven into the kitchen. After these things we went on a prayer walk with what ended up being probably around 900 people.

Yes, they have them. There are plenty of port-a-potties all around the camp. If you don't like those, there is a casino some miles down the road (about a 7 minute drive I'd say) that has very clean bathrooms. There were showers at a marina further down that same road - but they closed them up the first night we were there because of the cold temperatures (they're closed for the winter). I just read on their website that they have access to showers at the Cannon Ball Community Center (this super small town is even closer than the casino) from 9a - 2p every day. We just didn't shower because the marina ones were closed and they hadn't gotten access to the community center yet as far as I know. It wasn't so bad :P

There were a lot of people who had their dogs with them. :)

They have a school for children that meets home school education standards.

The camp we were in was "Oceti Sakowin" (which means Seven Council Fires). You can donate to them directly via paypal: http://www.paypal.me/ocetisakowincamp
You can also donate supplies, here is the supply list for this camp: http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/donate

They ABSOLUTELY need PEOPLE to go and help! There is a lot they are trying to do to get ready for the winter (which is pretty much already there now). The overall feel at the camp is very safe. The police can be seen on the hills all day and they are flying planes and helicopters over all day every day, but if you don't sign up for the direct action frontline operations, you should be quite safe.

We've started a new movement called Strong&Useful that is currently focused on helping #NoDAPL. Please see the new section of our website for more background information on the cause and on how you can help.

Friday, October 21, 2016


H to the 2-OH!

About how much water do you drink each day? Do you know? You need water to live - not sodas, energy drinks, "sports" drinks, or coffee.

I've been refilling these Starkey Spring Water glass bottles with my filtered tap water to take with me on the go lately and I'm keeping track of how much I drink each day. I'm not keeping a log of any sort, I'm just making a mental note of how much I'm drinking.

How's it going for me? Well, I can definitely say that I haven't been drinking this much water since about 6 years ago. Water was never really something that I wanted. It always felt like a chore to drink it. I grew up on sodas and juices and would hardly ever have a glass of water with a meal (I mean, I literally have no memory of ever having a glass of water with a meal when I was younger!).

Years ago when I started training Parkour, I made the decision to stop drinking soda so much. At first I just cut back a lot on it, and then I completely stopped drinking it. I remember feeling good about that decision! But then... somehow... I got hooked on coffee. It doesn't help to work at a Target that has a Starbucks in it. I was slamming 2-4 mochas on most of my work days. I'd be jittery and shaky but just ignore it because of all the "energy" I felt like it was giving me. At least back then I was drinking quite a bit of water, too.

Fast forward to present day - for many, many moons now I have been drinking cans of sparkling Yerba Mate teas, juices, non-mainstream sodas (because "if it's not Coke or Pepsi, it's not bad for me", right? Wrong...), almond milk drinks, coffees, smoothies - just about anything other than straight-up water. Well I had enough of it and finally put my money where my mind has been for at least several months now. I dropped caffeine all together and started drinking water all day. I'm a little over 1 week into this journey of flooding my body with the goodness of mother nature's original delicious liquid. The best part? I haven't had any headaches, I've been sleeping well, and I actually have more energy now than I did when I was saturating my body with caffeine and sugar.

This is a decision I am wholeheartedly happy with and plan to stick with for as long as I possibly can and I don't feel any temptation to go back to the drinks of yesterweek (made that word up, you can use it, it'll make you cool).

So why am I sharing this with you all anyway? The decision to drink water came from a yearning to put my training to work in another way. I like challenging myself and I like testing out my discipline occasionally. Caffeine (and sugar) are known to be an addictive substance that many Americans are consuming at alarming rates on a daily basis. We know there are health problems that arise from that over-consumption, so why do we keep choosing it? 

Me? I have the excuse that "I was raised on it". That wasn't enough for me anymore. I'm an adult, I know it's not good for me, and I am finally doing something about it and taking responsibility for the bad decisions I've been making. Honesty is a value of art du déplacement - and if you can't be honest with yourself, how are you going to get anything done? How would you make any change to be the person that you want to be?

If you don't know how much water you're drinking each day, do you really know whether you're getting enough of it?!

So... where's your agua?

Read about Street Movement's (Denmark) "Drik Vand" (Drink Water) campaign with an abundance of glorious reasons for everyone to switch to water - including how it ties into Parkour/ADD and how it can improve the public's general perception of our discipline. Make sure you watch their awesome video there also!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Is Parkour for You?

"Parkour is for anyone, but not for everyone." I've been saying this for a few years now and it's entirely true. Still wondering if Parkour is for you? There's one simple question to ask in order to figure it out:

Do you want to improve?

If you answered yes to that, then Parkour training has an abundance of benefits to offer you. Maybe your aim is to get into better shape, to lose weight or to gain strength... but you want to have fun while doing it. Perhaps you want to move more efficiently or more safely? Do you want to finally find a true method of "functional fitness"? Would you like to have a stronger mind and a better understanding of yourself and what you are capable of? Do you want to face your fears with confidence and a clear mind? Want to improve your coordination and balance? Care to improve your creativity, your problem solving, or your reaction time? Parkour can do all of this for you.

What most people don't realize is that Parkour is not just moving around, and it is certainly not just about learning cool tricks or attempting dangerous stunts. Parkour is actually a mentality, a mindset, a way to go about your daily life and your physical training - no matter what it is that you're training your body or mind to do.

Want to get involved? Getting started in our classes is fairly simple:

  1. Create an account.
  2. Find a Class and sign up or request private training.
  3. Show up and train!

Yes, it's that easy! So, what's keeping you from trying it out? Maybe it's the cost? This should help: we're offering your first class for $10 right now for a limited time.

If that's not enough to help you out, we also offer discounts for financial hardships. Shoot us an email to ask about this type of discount. Tell us your story and we'll do what we can to help out!

You've signed up - now what?

You're coming to the classes, now become part of the community!

  1. Join our Facebook group.
  2. Join our Meetup.com group.
  3. Follow us on other social media channels! We're on FacebookYouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Routine & Challenge: Finding Discipline

A story of how a lack of discipline actually helped me to find more discipline.

This one is my own story. If I'm being honest, I am often very hard on myself. Looking back at 2015 now, I feel like I haven't done much or progressed at all. That's probably not true, but it's hard for me to tell myself that I've done enough. It wasn't until I was looking for things to share in this Weekly Training Inspiration that I remembered something I was very proud to accomplish earlier this year...

A Routine: 301 for 30

Feeling like I needed something to add as a routine to my daily life, I decided to start a challenge with myself and the team of our instructors to do 301 push-ups every day... for 30 days. That's 9,030 push-ups if you like math, or "OVER 9,000!" if you're into Dragon Ball Z or enjoy rounding because it's easier. The challenge started off well, though I must admit that doing the 301 every day in the first few days was leaving me quite sore.

Occasional Forgetfulness

Like probably everyone, I forget to do things now and then. Throughout the 30 days of our challenge, I would occasionally forget to finish my push-ups for the day, and so I would tack the remaining reps onto the next day. Some days it was something like 321 that I had to do, some days it was more like 361. Eventually, as we got into the end of the third week, I was starting to get a little too comfortable with the idea of being able to just rollover any missed reps to the following day. I started to use that to go to bed without finishing the day's push-ups, telling myself it didn't matter because I would do them the next day.

Piling Up

As maybe you've predicted by now - my push-ups began to pile up. I was missing large sets and pushing them to the next day. Always keeping track of what I didn't do (and being honest about it), but I started to worry even myself that I wasn't going to follow through with the challenge. And so... it was somewhere in that final week, I think we had 4 or 5 days left in our 30, and I had managed to pile up 883 push-ups owed. Yikes!


Those of you who know me from the classes know that I usually enjoy pushing myself (and others!). I had 883 push-ups to do that day and I thought "well, I may as well go for 1,001". And that's what I did. My arms had gotten surprisingly accustomed to doing many sets over the course of the challenge. They were recovering quicker than... well, ever! I wasn't doing huge sets - I would mostly do sets of 10-20 at a time. It was a long night and I didn't have to be up early the next morning. I had knocked out 170 push-ups throughout the day, and finished the rest later in the night. It was a great feeling to know that I could accomplish this. It wasn't a part of the challenge originally, but I really enjoyed it. I was able to put a great deal of focus into something and get it done.

Pushing It

A few days passed after having done the 1,001 in one day. The challenge was still running, and I was still feeling good about it. Really good... in fact, I purposely skipped full days and I ended up racking up another 943 push-ups owed just 4 days after I had completed the 1,001. This time, it was already about 8:00pm and I was just starting my sets. I knocked out a few hundred, and then decided to kick it up a notch. I put on some old Yamakasi videos to watch, set my phone on the floor, and set up a 1-minute timer. For about an hour and a half, I was knocking out sets of 7-10 push-ups every single minute. You know what I realized? Minutes are quite short! However, my arms were still very accustomed to what they'd been being put through, and I wasn't failing on any of the reps. It wasn't until the last 101, when I decided to do all sets of 10 (except the last, which would be 11), that I nearly had my first failed rep. This time, when I finished, I was even more proud than the last time. Why? Because, this time I had done 1,001 push-ups in just under 4.5 hours.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Student Spotlight: Alex Schrepferman

This month our student spotlight is focused on Alex Schrepferman!

Q. How long have you been training in Parkour?
A. I do not know exactly how long I have been training Parkour but it was around the time Parkour Ways opened.
(This was over 3 years ago! Alex was actually at the gym on Kingsbury Street the very first day we had an event for the public to launch our classes there on February 18th, 2012.)

Q. How did you first learn about it?
A. I had learned about it from watching videos online.

Q. What made you decide to give it a try?
A. I like to challenge myself and Parkour definitely looked challenging.

Q. How did you feel physically after taking the first class or two?
A. I was exhausted, I was the only student in the class and there was a lot more conditioning (or so it seemed) then there is in the classes now.

Q. How did you feel during the class?
A. The class was really intense and really hard.

Q. How do you feel now physically after a class?
A. I am always sore after a class which I think is satisfying.

Q. How do you feel during a class?
A. I am always challenged and I am never bored during a class. There is always something to improve on.

Q. Do you find that you have more confidence?
A. Before I started training I was very quiet and I would over think things a lot but since I've started training I've come out of my shell and now I tend to go with the flow of things a bit more.

Q. Do you see physical objects in your environment differently than how you used to?
A. I am always looking at objects in a different way. I even get creative getting from one side of my house to the other.

Q. Has your ability to concentrate increased or decreased?
A. I have found that my ability to concentrate has increased. When I set out to accomplish a task I am able to focus on that task until it gets done.

Q. Are you better able to manage risk outside of Parkour?
A. Yes, since I have started I have been able to create a better idea of where my limit is and how to challenge myself safely.

Q. Are you better able to manage fear outside of Parkour?
A. I do find that I am better able to manage fear. Parkour has helped me to challenge myself and whenever I am faced with a scary situation I take a second to think that overcoming the fear can be rewarding

Q. Has it made you better in other sports or physical activities?
A. Yes, Parkour has helped me improve in basketball. Running in Parkour has improved my breathing and the amount of leg strengthening has also helped with jumping and running.

Q. Do your family and relatives know you train Parkour?
A. Yes, they have known that I trained Parkour ever since I began.

Q. What do they say or think about it?
A. They support me training Parkour, I have been training for a while so it has become a normal part of our conversations whenever we are together.

Q. Do you think they have an accurate idea of what it really is?
A. Yes, now they do have an accurate idea of what Parkour is. When I first started they thought it was a reckless sport where athletes jump off buildings without judgement or training but I have since explained to them that that is not the case.

Q. You have a Parkour class with Kurt at your school (Chicago Waldorf School). What's it like having a Parkour class in your school day?
A. I really enjoy having a Parkour class during my school day. I always feel like I have achieved something and it is a nice way to get my mind off of school work for an hour.

Q. How dedicated do you think you will continue to be in future years?
A. I see myself continuing to to train for quite a while.

Q. Would you encourage others to give it a try?
A. Yes, I would definitely encourage others to try.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Midnight Pita

Trouble sleeping brings me to reflect on my recent life decisions. And cook a nice pita meal.

Midnight meal... woke up around 2:00am and was not feeling very well. I knew what I had to do.

For the past two to four weeks I have been working very hard and working all hours of the day. I'm talking behind the scenes stuff... website design and development, graphic design, video editing, project planning, marketing, writing and reading emails, driving, phone calls, trying to shoot photos and videos, social media, meetings, driving, researching many things... and still trying to squeeze in training and teaching, of course. And driving...

It has not been easy at all. I have been staying up until 5am and later on many, many nights. Sometimes only sleeping 3-5 hours and getting back up to start it up again.

I haven't always made time to cook. And I have been trying to make my (relatively) new meatless diet stick. Vegetarian for now, many vegan meals also, and some day soon I hope I will be fully vegan. But I have not been eating well. I have not been drinking enough water. I have not been sleeping well. I need to do better. I need to spend less time sitting at the computer (at least a lot of times it's on the floor, where I can move around and stretch...).

I am so tired.

I woke up this night and said to myself "you need to eat. You need to drink water. You NEED it and you know it. So get up and do it."

Fortunately, I had some veggies and tofu in the fridge and some pita bread I just decided to grab the other day after looking through a vegan cookbook for the first time that my lovely girlfriend got me for my birthday (back in April... did I mention I've been super busy?). So I cleaned my large skillet and got to work.

It was a simple idea. Throw all the veggies in the pan with some oil for several minutes and then pile them into some pita bread. It started off very troublesome... I somehow managed to explode nearly two entire bulbs of garlic onto the floor. Good to feel like I still have some strength, I suppose. But that was still discouraging and disappointing. I continued and this is what I ended up with. A beautiful mound of nutrition for my tired, hungry belly.

Many do not know this, but I have felt very beaten down by life lately. I don’t often share thoughts like that, but there it is. I'm getting older. I’m feeling older. I’m feeling off-track. Something’s been missing. Many things, I suppose. I’ve been doing so many more things lately for work and yet I feel like I cannot get anything done, like I’m trying to scratch my way out of an endless tunnel.

This morning I need to leave my house by 6:30am at the very latest to drive 40 miles north of the city through the morning rush hour traffic to get to Chicago Waldorf School for an all-day (9:00a - 3:00p) first aid/CPR course. Then I have a meeting immediately following the course. Then, it’s back to any one of my dozens of projects I currently have going on...

It won’t end, not just yet. This is what needs to be done. This is my life, working for myself; but really working for hundreds of others at the same time. Thousands even. Millions perhaps. What I’m doing now, I like to believe, will have positive effects that will ripple well into the future, hopefully long past my time. This is the power I believe our discipline can have on the world. Parkour, Art du Déplacement, Freerunning… whatever we call it. This is why I do it. This is how I do it.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Wild Souls

Some use the word "sport" when referring to Parkour/Freerunning/Art du Déplacement. We do not.

- - - - - - - -

1. an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

This one, we'd agree with:
1. amuse oneself or play in a lively, energetic way.
"the children sported in the water"

- - - - - - - -

We prefer to refer to it as a discipline. As it was originally meant to be. No competitions, no teams, no federations... only the spirit of the discipline was needed.

- - - - - - - -


1. activity or experience that provides mental or physical training.
2. a branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education.

1. train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.

- - - - - - - -

Of course, play and creativity are still a big part of what we do. But it is not just throwing ourselves around until we "land" something "cool". We strive for discipline, safety... in our play and creativity as well! Yes, we take risks too... it's always there, but we manage it.

Training should come from the heart, not the ego in the head.

Wild souls... but disciplined.