In this interview, Tim ‘Livewire’ Shieff discusses his child-like approach to training, his unusual approach to nutrition, and his passion for animal rights. Let’s get started!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
Im Tim Shieff, also known as ‘Livewire’ on the internet. I’m a professional freerunner, and two-time World Champion.
How did you first get into freerunning?
I watched a program about freerunning in 2005. I was breakdancing at the time, and it seemed like the next step forward. Multi-tiered breakdancing, out in the open, using your environment to dictate your moves. It really resonated with something deep inside me, like a calling.
Talk us through a typical training day. How does a professional freerunner train?
There are no typical days. I feel the best way to ‘train’ is like a kid. When I was eight years old, I’d wake up each day and decide what I wanted to do based on how I felt, rather then having a strict set routine that had been planned out weeks before. I say that I ‘play’ rather then train. I have a range of hobbies to choose from, and I see how I feel about each one and what I feel like doing.
Some of those hobbies are: Parkour (freerunning) outside, Parkour in an indoor gym, yoga, gymnastics, bouldering (my new favourite passion), calisthenics, bike-riding, tree climbing.
Some people might say that veganism and athleticism don’t mix, but you fly in the face of that. What’s your approach to nutrition? Do you take any supplements?
The video that first spoke to me, though, and made me come to my realisations about veganism, is a speech by Gary Yourofsky:
My nutrition approach is based on intuition, logic, science and experience. All four of those led me to the truth that a low-fat, high-carb, mostly raw vegan lifestyle is the optimum, not only for my health, but most importantly for the wellbeing of the planet. I don’t take any supplements (as no animals in nature do). If I want to be bulky, I eat loads of greens like rhinos and gorillas do, and if I want to be lean I eat loads of fruit like chimps, gibbons, etc. do.
Every cell in our body runs on sugar, which we get from carbs. The more natural the food, and the closer it is to the original source of energy (the sun), the better, healthier, more accessible, and more easily digested it is. So fruit being the optimum source of energy, I eat between 20-30 pieces a day, sometimes 15 bananas, loads of dates, pears, watermelon, etc.
One interview I found particularly inspiring was from World Arm Wrestling Champion and Olympic Gold Medallist Alexey Voevoda, speaking on raw veganism (if you don’t speak Russian, make sure to turn on the captions in the bottom right of the video!):
Your competition record is incredible. What’s been the highlight of your freerunning career?
For me, discovering that I could eat a vegan diet and be fitter then ever was the epitome of my career as an athlete. I’ve always wanted to find a way to give back, and to be able to promote the positive message of the most peaceful and loving dietary choice is a privilege.
Freerunning is just a gift I have been given. I didn’t choose to like it; it was already programmed into me. Now that I have my gift, I have to give back with it, and that’s what I’m working on now. I want to help save the billions of innocent voiceless animals killed every year as a result of bad science, propaganda and speciesism.
Tell us how you approach competitions. What’s going through your mind before, during, and after something like the Red Bull Art of Motion?
It’s important not to make any one moment more important then another, so as to remain present and humble. Unfortunately we’re raised in a society where the importance of competition and being the best is deeply embedded in us from an early age. This subconscious setting is hard to overcome, but competitions have always been a great place for me to test my level of presentness.
You have both individual and group projects. Do you prefer working/training on your own or with your team, Storm Freerun? Why?
I actually train more with non freerunning friends then with them. The reason that Storm Freerunning is so successful is because our styles are so diverse. That makes training together difficult, as each of us excels in such different areas.
How do you make sure to keep progressing?
By not putting any pressure on myself to progress.
Progression feels best for me when it’s found naturally, not forced. If I find new challenges that inspire me to train hard and wake up every morning, like bouldering has done for me lately, then I naturally progress. Progression is secondary to the fun I have playing.
Do you have any tips for anyone who might be interested in trying out freerunning for the first time? How do they get involved?
I’d recommend finding a local freerunning group. They exist in every city in every western country, and are normally always helpful, kind people that want to encourage you to better yourself. Start low and slow, but learn to trust your intuition and gut feelings rather then your head, which will tell you, ‘no, you can’t because of A, B and C,’ while your gut says, ‘yes, you can’.
What does the future look like for Tim ‘Livewire’ Shieff? Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
I will be doing a lot more with animal rights work, aiming to get speciesism out there as a recognised form of hatred. Right now, it’s so deeply engrained in our culture that only a few can really understand the issue, but the numbers of compassionate, caring people who see it for what it is are growing. It’s only a matter of time before it’s addressed more seriously.
Besides that, I want to keep travelling the world, and learning to understand myself more and more deeply through meditation and scenarios life puts me in.
There are definitely more freerunning video projects to come, when I feel the desire and inspiration to do so!
Here’s Tim in action!