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.

Friday, October 17, 2014

NEW Thin Wristbands

NEW 1/4" wristbands with the names "Parkour Ways" and "Art du Déplacement Chicago", our logo, and a hidden message on the inside of the band! Get yours here!


New video, old footage... this video was originally planned to be around 5 minutes long with a lot more content. It's tough for me to focus on making videos. One of the things that bothers me most in the global Parkour "scene" is the poor representation of our discipline on YouTube. Too often we see videos filled with huge jumps, massive drops, flashy tricks, dangerous stunts, and obnoxiously egotistical behavior. Nothing you see in this video will likely be very impressive or "big", but that is not the point. This video is comprised of simple shots of myself doing some night training. I believe night training is important, and that we don't see it enough in video form (probably because it's tougher to see things, of course).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kurt is Leaving September 19 - October 6

This Friday, September 19th, I am on my way to Boston to partake in several days of glorious bleeding, sweating, and quite possibly even crying... but guaranteed laughing as well. What's in Boston? I'll be participating in the A.D.A.P.T. Level 2 certification course delivered by Parkour Generations and Parkour Generations Americas... the next step in my journey to take over the world! Just kidding. Taking the course is more of a personal challenge for me than anything else and it will be nice to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones. It is known as officially the hardest physical certification in Europe (if not the world).

While I'm gone (I return Monday, October 6th), Gerardo will be at the helm of things! I'll still be accessible via the internet (email, Facebook) but I will likely be at the computer much less than I usually am, if at all some days. As for the phone - I will be as terrible at answering calls as I have always been.

Gerardo does not have a phone at this point in time, so your best method of contact will be email. SIGN UP FOR YOUR CLASSES ahead of time and re-check the schedule for cancellations before you head to the class!

Saturday's classes at Goose Island CrossFit (formerly "VIE Custom Fitness") are the only classes that will not be running while I am gone. This is because Gerardo teaches at the Actors Gymnasium on Saturday afternoons, and as much as I'd like it to be possible, he cannot be in two places at one time (we tried, he is too slow). Apologies to those who were signed up for this Saturday, it had slipped my mind to take care of this on the schedule until I was writing this email! Speaking of changes to the schedule, look for a new class or two on the schedule in coming weeks! Once we move indoors, the schedule will likely need to have some adjustments made again, so keep an eye on it.

Angela Martin is running the upcoming Girls Jam and will be assisted by Jessy Hernandez and Brian Reyes.

If you have any questions about how things will work while I am gone, please do not hesitate to email me (because soon you may not get a response for a while!).

Thank you, see you all soon!

Kurt Gowan

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

VIE is now Goose Island CrossFit!

NOW you can train your CrossFit and Parkour in one awesome place...


Formerly known as "VIE Custom Fitness", our class location on North Kingsbury Street in Chicago has undergone another management changeover... come see the remodel work they've done already! Tons of new CrossFit equipment on the main level, Personal Training has all been moved upstairs (BIG remodel up there!), and of course our Parkour classes and lessons out back in the quiet yard.

Find the gym on Facebook here:

They're hosting a GRAND OPENING Party on Saturday, September 20th: