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:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

ADAPT Certifications

Next month, we are hosting the first ever ADAPT Level 1 certification course here in Chicago (the first in Illinois as well).

Some disagree with certifications in Parkour, but the ADAPT coaching certification is important in this discipline. Not because we seek approval from others. Not because we are "better" than anyone else. But because we appreciate the original values and spirit of the discipline and hope to carry those on through what we do. Because we seek to improve as not only coaches who teach others in these disciplines, but as practitioners ourselves, and as human beings. It is a way to not only learn more about yourself (as a coach, as a practitioner and in general), but to learn more about how Parkour, Freerunning, and ADD all started. To understand what reasons it was started for. To understand how it has changed, why it has changed, and how we can keep those values and the spirit passed down from the founders alive and well for years to come.

The ADAPT network of coaches is perhaps the strongest network of coaches of Parkour around the world. It is a global effort spanning numerous countries and it continues to grow each year. The certification course is quite difficult, the Parkour Generations coaches who deliver the course make sure that you earn your certification through plenty of hard work... blood, sweat, and tears even.

It is important that we have coaches around the globe that take this discipline seriously (by that, I don't mean that they are super strict!), because it is a serious discipline with serious repercussions if practiced incorrectly. This discipline can be practiced safely by anyone, something that many people do not realize when they are exposed to much of the footage shared on YouTube or in the mass media. This is why we need coaches who stay true to the discipline. So that we do not end up leaving out those who could greatly benefit from the training we offer.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Traceuse Project: FREE Girls Jams

We had our very first Girls Jam today as part of our new "Traceuse Project". Our aim is to get more women into Parkour and ADD training in Chicago and to help the public become more aware that Parkour is NOT just for elite-level athletes or careless young men with a deathwish (in fact, those of us "in the know" would say Parkour is very much NOT for the latter type!). It was a great feeling to see a decent turnout of women at our first event today with a total of 11 participants.

Part of our effort with this project is to also allow our male instructors to better understand the gender-specific challenges that women have in our disciplines. We have recently had an uproar of female registrations and class signups, and I've been so excited that we are breaking that "it's for guys" barrier that I wanted to fuel the fire and REALLY push the message. Women can be just as strong as men and actually have some advantages in our type of training such as superior balance and a seemingly much-lesser desire to show off and get injured...

We hope this project continues with as much success as we saw today at our first event! Please share the news of these monthly get-togethers with friends, family, co-workers, classmates, and all others so that we can continue to break through our message and build this community!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Night Missions and Journeys

We've updated our class types! Check out the new lineup:

To get acquainted to our training methods, teaching style, and terminology. Beginners should start here, but these classes are great for all skill levels as well. DO NOT be afraid to come try it out!

Our standard class is great for all skill levels, but may be a bit intense for beginners or those new to fitness.

NEW! Journey classes start at one point and end at another, finding challenges along the way. Don't be late, or you may not find us! See the map for Journey classes here.

Night Mission
NEW! Night Missions are more focused on conditioning exercises and challenging movement drills. See the Night Missions map here.

Art du Déplacement
ADD is heavily focused on creativity and play as well as the strong spirit to "never give up", and finding and developing strength to help others... "we start together, we finish together!"

Monday, April 14, 2014


While watching this video I started to realize where they were going with it pretty quickly. Still, when they got to the "punchline", I was hit with a ton of memories and a ton of emotions.

Some of you have read a little bit of my story in other posts here, and some of you have listened to me talk about my story at the end of classes or after class (thank you to those students who care to listen and inquire, by the way!). What you may not have gotten from those reads is that my mom is the single largest influence on me and what I do with my life now.

I watched my mom struggle for 9 years after losing her job at Chase Bank (formerly Bank One, formerly First Chicago Bank) in 2001. That was her first and ONLY job, she held that job for 35 years. That taught me that big companies do NOT care about their employees. It also taught me that I should not spend my entire life working for other people. My mom hardly ever took any vacations. In fact, I remember seeing photos of us going to Disneyland when I was very little, but aside from that I couldn't tell you a single time that she actually used any vacation time. She was not a greedy person by any means and did not seek a lavish lifestyle, but she worked so much because I believe it made her feel she had a purpose and because it helped her take care of us, her kids. She taught me not to take money too seriously. That a life spent in a Chase (get it? Chase...) after money is a life somewhat wasted. That all the money, toys, games, and other material things cannot replace time spent together and the memories made.

Her battle looking for a new job with no other experience and no schooling taught me that it was a good idea to be a "jack of all trades". She was a BIG worrier and it caused her a lot of stress - this taught me to try not to worry so much, even when things get bad. I learned a lot of things from my mom, even if not directly through her words.

A few years later my mom started having stomach pains and finally went in to have it checked after some time dealing with it. She was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and they originally told her that she had maybe 6 months to live. I thought she was stressed and worried before... this brought it to a whole new level.

Seeing her go through her treatments was hard. Once she started chemotherapy, she began to lose her hair and was often sick. I'd never seen my mom like this before and it was heart-wrenching. She worked at a Target store now, in Indiana where the minimum wage is lower than ours in Illinois. She went from a $60,000 salary position to making probably around $8 or less per hour as a cashier. This taught me that sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

My mom kept working all throughout her treatment. It became very difficult for her to stand at work all day, and moving around was difficult for her too. She kept going. She had to, or the insurance wouldn't help her pay for the treatments anymore. She talked about being tired and being in pain, but I don't recall her even once complaining that she had to be working.

The cancer spread throughout her body over time. Eventually she had to have an end colostomy. I remember she was terrified of the idea of this procedure and did not want to have it done. But she did. Again, teaching me that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do.

My mom died in June, 2010. She kept working as a cashier at Target up until about two weeks before she died. She lived for quite a bit longer than the 6 months they originally gave her.

This video reminded me of all the stuff that my siblings and I put my mom through while we were growing up. All the trouble we got into at school and out of school, all the arguments and fights we all had with her, all of the toys and videogames she spent money on when we were kids. The rides to work she gave us; always on time to pick us up after work and she'd usually end up waiting outside until we were done. The help she gave my sister and her husband while they were having troubled times of their own with two kids. I often wondered how and why she continued to put up with it all. She never gave up on us.

My mom taught me to help other people. There is a memory of her that always finds its way back into my mind from time to time. We (my mom, brother, and myself) were driving down a road next to the highway one summer, on a very hot day. Over the chain-link fence between us and the highway, she spotted a vehicle broken down with a group of people standing outside of it in the heat. My mom drove to the store, bought a cold pack of Pepsi bottles, turned around and drove back to get out of the car and hand them to those people over the fence.

She taught me to care, even if it seems like caring might not change anything.

Though my mom wasn't very active in her lifetime and was definitely not in any shape to do what I do now, I believe that my mom taught me how to live with the Art du Déplacement mindset. I often think of her when I am training. When we are doing tougher exercises (for instance, copious amounts of quadrupedal movement...) I find the strength to continue on by thinking about my mom finding the strength to go through what she had to go through. I have made some bigger, scarier jumps and gotten up some taller walls by telling myself that my mom is over/up there and that I need to save her.

I love you mom, and I miss you.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

DIVERGENT - On Set & Behind-the-Scenes!

If you haven't already found these photos I took on set of DIVERGENT (#1 movie in America for its release week!) on our Facebook page, here they are! Scroll all the way down for a behind-the-scenes look at one of the train jumps we did!

Behind-the-Scenes Video:

Read a bit more about the jump from this email we sent out to all of our students and parents!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chicago PD Behind-The-Scenes

Some of you are already aware, but I've been doing some stunt work here and there since late 2012. My most recent work was on NBC's Chicago PD and the episode aired last week. Catch me doubling Officer Halstead (played by Jesse Lee Soffer, the same actor I doubled in FOX's "The Mob Doctor") as he chases down a purse-snatcher (doubled by my friend Alex Hashioka)! Below is behind-the-scenes look at the work we did for this episode. See the entire episode here on Hulu!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Our Job

Real life gets tough. It's not easy. We condition to become stronger, to build up what we call body armour. Crawling is one way we prepare our bodies for our jumps and yes, our falls too. Everyone will fail and fall eventually, it is but a matter of time. The more body armour we have, the less we will be hurt by these falls. It is also a way for us to learn to push through struggles and to find that "something" within ourselves to continue through hard times.

It is our job as Parkour/ADD instructors to get younger students ready for real life, and to give older students a way to get through it. To teach them that we must not give up, to teach them that effort produces results. We must show them that they are capable of much more than they think they are. Give them confidence in every day life so that they do not have to fear what others think of them, what others say of them.

Parkour & Art du Déplacement training can and should allow you to build and discover strength, in every sense of the word.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Parkour Ways Cebu: A Mission

I'm excited to be writing my first article for Parkour Ways/ ADD Chicago, for Parkour Ways Cebu! It's been a long time that Kurt Gowan and I have known each other, and have come to be more than just good friends, more than just team mates, but brothers. I'm super happy about the direction our individual work is going, and even more happy that we're finally working together in two separate areas, to create a strong link between two different worlds, united through (and over and under) this lifestyle of parkour.

My name is John Conway, and I'm currently investing my energies in a large community of people on a small island in the middle of the Philippines - Cebu. There are oh so many reasons as to why I enjoy Cebu, but nothing tops the #1 reason as to why I chose Cebu as my home base: the people. I get asked many times by the Cebuanos why I love it here, and I always say it's the people. They're used to hearing that answer, to be honest, but it's the truth! The passion of the Cebuano is truly amazing.

I'm here in Cebu to build a parkour community. Simple as that. It's my dream to introduce parkour to a new area of the world, sustain it, and make it last so that when the time comes, others can take the leadership position. I think in more ways than one Cebu has so much potential, outstanding energy, and a never-ending source of hope, love, and passion that creating a strong parkour community infused with the classic ideals of altruism, strength, community, creativity and challenge is by no means a difficult mission.

There's one thing that truly struck me as unusual when I first started teaching here. That was the dedication to a serious, safe, and healthy training style! I've taught in many places around the world, but no location has yet captivated me as to how determined those interested in parkour are to serious, wholesome training: forget the flips, give me the fitness. What a beautiful thing. Any instructor can tell you how miraculous that truly is. And that's just another reason why I enjoy teaching in Cebu so much - I know that those who show up to class, whether it's a first time or tenth, that they are there for fun, serious self-development...always with a smile!

Cebu certainly has it's own challenges. For instance, I haven't trained on a normal hand rail in 3 months - they're just not around; the dust makes even the most precise of precisions a bit questionable (my favorite move is the precision); and the heat of the day makes it almost unsafe to train at anytime other than late evening to night.

Given the challenges, however, nothing comes close to the joy that is so apparent on the faces of those who come to learn parkour in Cebu. There is a certain innocence, or perhaps inherent understanding, that what parkour is about is not the crazy things we see on YouTube, but about the joy of working hard, and working together, to have a stronger life.

And that's why I love Cebu. That's why I love the Cebuano. And that's why I love teaching parkour here - even with the environmental challenges, there is a deep desire to push past even those to finally begin the unique discipline that is parkour, and to face those challenges as well. There are many mountains on this island, and it seems every one is faced with a smile.

I look forward to writing and sharing more about my time here in Cebu (and it will be a long time) and to further develop Parkour Ways Cebu, in alliance with my brother, my best friend and international team mate Kurt Gowan running Parkor Ways / ADD Chicago. I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to make my dream a reality.

Smile. :)