About two months ago I created a bodyweight exercise community on Google Plus and have been pleased by the interaction and sharing of the group. It was a great location to talk about new workouts and training styles using calisthenics.
One day, a gentlemen by the name of Brad Short joined the community and introduced himself as a parkour athlete. I thought to myself, “Oh yeah, that’s pretty cool. Parkour is a great way to stay fit.”
However, when I clicked on the video that he posted of himself my jaw droped. I was like, “Whoa! This guy is a stud!”
I soon learned that Brad was no ordinary athlete. He had excelled in parkour like the best of them.
Below is an interview I did with him.
My name is Brad Short. I am 22 years old and I grew up in Sarasota, Florida but I am now living in Boca Raton, Florida and I’m a parkour athlete and fitness trainer.
I have been practicing parkour for about 7 years now.
How did you get into fitness, how has it progressed over the years and what first attracted you to parkour?
When I was 14 years old, a friend and I were on the computer and we stumbled upon a parkour video, the movements I saw in the video amazed me. I have always been inspired by people who pushed the physical limits of the human body, like Bruce Lee, so I decided I would dedicate all of my energy into becoming a parkour master. Parkour was appealing to me because what they were doing was like nothing I had ever seen before, leaping from building to building, landing on rails with prescision and performing acrobatic movements with ease; I was impressed to say the least and knew in my mind that if I worked hard enough I would be able to do these things as well.
Parkour is a sport that requires physical awareness as well as an insane amount of mental awareness and focus, which I feel is what makes this sport unique. I started to go outside and use playground equipment to mimic movements I had seen on videos online, I quickly realized if I wanted to become as talented as the people who inspired me I would need to get my body’s fitness up to par. I started a workout routine that I would perform every single day after school; I was extremely disciplined in this and NEVER missed a day. I understood that to reach the level of fitness I was shooting for I would need to be determined but also patient. My workouts were all using my bodyweight, starting off with 100 sit-ups and 100 dips a day, and over time my workouts became more complex and specific. I designed my workouts to cater to the idea of being able to control my own bodyweight as if it were a feather. My training methods have evolved since I was 14; I have done tons of research on my own to optimize my physical abilities as well as studying exercise science at Florida Atlantic University.
What does a parkour training program look like? How often do you train? What specifically do you do? Do you supplement your parkour with other types of training? Give us the 411.
Parkour training programs are designed to bring one back to nature, and breaking down the way one looks at their environment and structures around them. With parkour, the world is my playground, I stopped looking at the world like the average person and I began to look at the world around me with creativity and as a continuous opportunity for self-improvement. A handrail is no longer just a handrail, it has become a prop for me to perfect my techniques. A wall built to keep me from somewhere is no longer a dead end but an adventure and challenge to overcome.
Ultimately, I feel most people in the culture we live in are conditioned to not question the world we live in and as a result, creativity and imagination has been stripped from how people perceive the world around them. Parkour can be a tool to bring perception back to the basics, the way our ancestors viewed the world. For me, my parkour training has become a way of life, I train almost everyday (depending on the Florida weather, of course.) I supplement my parkour training with bodyweight conditioning but also use a squat bar to improve leg strength for jumping ability. I also supplement my training with proper nutrition, this is a crucial issue anyone interested in fitness should study, especially in our current time.
What has been your most challenging parkour move to learn?
It’s not necessarily a particular move, but one of the most challenging aspects of parkour is overcoming the mental barriers with movements that bring an element of fear. In parkour, I constantly encounter new challenges in different environments that test me physically and mentally. Sometimes, I will find a jump or a vault with a distance that I know I can accomplish but there is an element of fear that my mind manifests either because of height, environment or because of other conditions such as the type of movement I am trying to perform. The mind is extremely powerful and that is the biggest lesson parkour has taught me, and with enough mental focus and determination, I can overcome these mental barriers and then the fear is gone!
Have you ever been seriously injured while doing parkour?
I have had minor injuries like an ankle sprain, and patellar tendonitis, but no major injuries. I am very careful and never attempt any movement that is out of my comfort zone. If I do find a challenge that is beyond my current ability, I will walk away and return when my capabilities have improved, and that is how I avoid injury.
Who is your fitness inspiration? Why?
Since I was younger, I have been greatly inspired by Bruce Lee; he was capable of extreme power with determination and focus. Not only did his physical fitness amaze me but also his mentality towards fitness was what really inspired me. He once said,
“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.“
Another fitness inspiration that I had was Muhammad Ali. A specific quote that he once said truly inspired me and I had it printed out and taped to my wall by my bed at my parents house and I would read it out loud every night before bed. He had said, “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
What advice would you give someone that wanted to start training in parkour? Program? Frequency? Etc…
My advice for someone wanting to start parkour is to start daily exercise; physical preparation for the parkour movements you will be learning will help to avoid injury. Learning parkour will be a much smoother process if your body has a good foundation of fitness. Remember that parkour can be an inward journey that can be very rewarding to an individual, and can have a very positive impact if you are truly with it. Parkour is about truth of self, not competition so stay within your boundaries but progressively push them and have fun with it!
Where do you see the style of parkour heading in the future? Do you think it would ever become a mainstream sport?
I see parkour becoming huge worldwide. In almost every single country in the world today there are people developing a strong passion for parkour. I can see parkour growing in the same fashion skateboarding did 40 years ago as a subculture or along the lines of yoga as a as physical/spiritual discipline. Parkour becomes a way of life, it is a lifestyle not just a hobby and it is here for good!
Thanks so much Brad! I remember seeing a couple of guys doing parkour here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. People were looking at them cross-eyed as if they were from outer-space.
I definitely see the sport going mainstream.
If you would like to learn more about Brad or follow him online, here are some helpful links for you: