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The KRAP gym was one of the first of its kind and when earlier this year it was announced that KRAP will be undergoing fundamental structural changes the opportunity arose to get a glimpse behind the curtains of one of the biggest parkour and freerunning dedicated facilities out there.

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Below you will find a firsthand interview with the people behind the Krapannone gym. At this point a HUGE THANK YOU to the team for sharing all the details you will find below.

A – Opening question

Can you introduce yourselves? Who are the people behind KRAP and what´s your story? Who are we talking to right now? 🙂

is a result of the passion for freestyle sports and parkour in particular of three young athlets: Riccardo age 20, Valentino age 22, Giovanni age 20.

Krap came out from a group of friends passionate in freestyle disciplines, skate, parkour, snowboard and more, we funded in 2008 a sport association called KRAP A.S.D. and started teaching skate in the city skatepark and parkour in a small municipal gym. In those areas we were not allowed to carry vault boxes or other parkour equipment so, after the first year, together with a small group of 30 students, we decided to build our own facility to train and also plan all the other associative activities such as workshops, events and shows, that’s when Krapannone was born, in October 2010.

My name is Valentino Di Lauro, President of Krap A.S.D. and I am proud to say that we made the Krapannone for ourselves in the first place because it was our dream to train also when the weather was bad and to keep progressing in our disciplines.

B – Gym infrastructure and environment

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The KRAP gym is located in Santorso (Province of Vicenza) in the north of Italy. Santorso with its ~6000 inhabitants seems like a small village. The city of Vicenza (~120.000 inhabitants) being 25km away.

How well accessible was the gym in your view?

The gym location was due to a good (at the time) rental deal with the owner of the space which was not too far away from where we all lived.

How many classes did you run per week and how many people visited your regular classes (weekly)?

We have 15 different classes that people can attend 1 or 2 times a week, divided in 3 different level range and age from 4 years old up

Total number of participants per week:~200 of which 90 % are locals living within 10 km distance.

Could you characterise your main client groups for us? (In terms of age, where they came from geographically, level of experience in pk/fr, whatever helps to get a picture of who your regular visitors were)

As I think all gyms most of the people are kids approaching the discipline for the first time, from 8 to 14 years old.

How many events did you host / organise each year and what events were they? We know the famous Krapinvaders Jam, the KrapFreerunning competition, anything we missed?

Indoor main event is Krap Invaders Winter in Krapannone, that we did every January since 2011. We organize minor in-door events during winter mainly as guest in other structures. Main out-door event is Krap Invaders Summer + other minor events mostly in Italy as guests.
“Krap Challenge” Freerunning competition we organize only in case that we find proper sponsor, so it was done 2 times, 2013-2014

C – KRAP finances

On your website we found the statement that for financial reasons you have to move your gym to another, smaller location. A few questions that came to my mind were.

What were the overall monthly costs of maintaining the gym? [We provided various answer categories]

 1.>4000 Euros per month,

How big was the space?

1100 square meters

Did you have fixed employees / a staff of members or coaches that you were paying?

3 fixed employees, 7 teachers paid by teaching hours.

How much did building the whole gym cost? (Equipment, restoration of the building?, creating the foam pit?)

The gym is 100% DIY, that’s were we saved a lot of money, I think that building the actual setup would be over 80.000€, that we managed maybe to spend half thanks for all friends working for free and self-planning and constructing everything

How did you finance the gym in general? Did you take any loans from banks? Did you have savings before? Did you receive funding? What about sponsorship deals or cooperation with other parkour organisations?

I believe that our project is unique first of all because our investemet was maybe the lowest ever, 5.000€ from our saving, that were used for paying the first months, then we used some scaffolding brought in our last event in the cit..
As we didn’t have significant funds to start with, we had to begin early the activity to earn some money for the second month! So after 10 days of forced-labour camp with little the help we cleaned up the structure, layed down the parquet in the small gym for kids and started parkour lessons, with in empty warehouse with one scaffold, a decathlon trampoline, and a few wooden vaults… no mats, no tumbling, no foampit!

We never had sponsors because in this small city they’re hard to found, we’ve collaborated with a lot of parkour organizations or athletes that came here and helped us with promotion and activities.

What were your main sources of income? (Classes, Events, Merchandise,…?)

Classes, Events and membership fees for the use of the Gym. Merchandizing sales a bit inside the gym, but krapstore.com is international oriented.

D – The KRAP image and events

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How would you describe the KRAP image?

Since the beginning Krap mission was to spread the Parkour / Freerunning knowledge through events, courses in Krapannone and video activities in the web. Krap name and Logo has become synonymous of freestyle life. Sport garments and gadgets related with our name and logo has become the flag of a large community, I think our difference with the other teams/brands parkour related is that we embrace complete freedom, and we have space for every point of views or projects, Krap is a tool that everyone can use to build his dream!

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of your image? Do you think KRAP had an image problem?

Strengths is the one I cited above, and sometimes that’s also our weakness, as we embrace a lot of views and different activities sometimens we can appear disordered or we lose some focus in some…
Since the foundation KRAP made something in these fields:

  • Classes in: Parkour, skate, bmx, breakdance, juggling
  • Exibitions in the above disciplines
  • Building parkour, skate, bmx structures
  • Renting a warehouse and building a gym (Krapannone – 2010)
  • Renting another warehouse and building a Skatepark (The Wall Skatekrap – 2014)
  • Building an outdoor bikepark (Nanto’s Park 2016)
  • Building structures and organizing contest and activities in big events (The Jambo 2013-2014 and more)
  • Organizing our events and inviting people from all over the world, most of the time giving good athletes found on the web the chance to travel and be noticed in the parkour community
  • Making HI quality parkour and events videos for Youtube and facebook (2009-now)
  • Creating a clothing brand and made an online store: krapstore.com
  • Sponsorship of famous or emerging athletswith our garments
  • Enjoyed ourselves with all these activities

Do you think KRAP has influenced the world wide parkour/freerunning scene?

I think we’ve influenced a lot this world, more internationally than in Italy.

We have been among the first to produce great videos and invite international people in parkour events, expecially the Russians, our gym was also the first in Europe and I think our structures are also more elaborated comparing on what you find on regular events.

Events like KRAP Invaders and your competition are well known and some of the first of their kind. What is / was the motivation behind these events and how big of a role did they play in the financial maintenance of KRAP as a whole?

Gathering the international community, spread the name and logo Krap, spread the knowledge of our garments and gadget line www.krapstore.com is our main motivation, make a good job with this stuff and give people a good environment to train and have fun! Unfortunately Krap Invaders as self-financed event is not profitable (despite the high price), most of the times it’s an investment and a lot of people including us are working for free or very low money to organize and set-up the event.

Competition can be a better business when you do it in the name and with a good deal with a main sponsor.

E – Running a parkour / freerunning gym

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The more people frequent a place like KRAP the more likely it seems injuries happen at some point. Did you have any serious injuries happening in the gym?

Injuries are part of the game in every form of sport activity. Our courses in krapannone teach to better understand the possibilities and the limits of our body, train mindfulness and movement creativity. I do not think that the rate of injuries in krapannone is an issue (we may count 4 or 5 minor accidents per year only one or two requiring hospitalization

What was your policy on handling the everyday dangers of providing a training space? Did you let people sign a waiver? Did you have a special insurance going? How did you manage people in classes vs. people who trained on their own? And especially: how did you manage underage kids and teenagers in that sense?

Everyone using the facility, either for the courses or free training, is requested to become member of a recognized sport association (KRAP) affiliated to a National Sport entity called UISP. Every athlete is covered by an insurance and for the events we ask the participants to sign a waiver both for adults and minors.

F – Closing questions

What are the the most important aspects of running a parkour-gym in your point of view? What are the main lessons learned?

  • Dedication, entrepreneur mind, a community and a lot of volunteers.
  • Lesson learned is common for every kind of social activity:
  • Work hard, be creative, and be humble as somebody is always better somewhere! Learn from them and from your mistake.

Do you feel like KRAP failed or is it more an adaptation, maybe a welcome adaptation and a chance for new ways?

We have worked hard, sustained lot of pressure and economical adversities, but learned a lot and exposed ourselves to the International community. By enlarging the base of practitioners there will be more opportunities in the future and Krap aim is to remain a main reference for the international community.

Do you have any special projects planned in the near future?

We are working a lot to expand the quality and distribution of garments and gadgets on krapstore.com. And this summer we’re coming with 3 KRAP INVADERS events, that will be a great chance for everyone to join!, check out dates and places in www.krapinvaders.com

How will KRAP continue now?

Krap activities will continue and improve.We found now a new place for classes in 2016/17 Season, and we’re scouting new locations for Krapannone 2.0 which may be operative in 2017/18 Season

Thank you for your time and the interview in general. Good luck!

For an action packed tour through the current gym setup featuring the incredibly talented Krystian Kowalewski check out the latest video.

More Info on the gym and upcoming events at

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As parkour people many of us agree on adjectives like creative, adaptive or inventive to be associated with our characters and the way we move. In many cases though we tend to limit ourselves to the sole movement when it comes to creativity for example. We consider unusual movement creative, or new ways, new routes at our spots, new ways to use obstacles and so on. That´s cool!

But over time an aspect of parkour that I find key to the whole discipline got a little forgotten. Be honest: When was the last time you went out for a training session and did not know where exactly your path will take you, or where you were actively seeking the unknown and uncovered areas of your town/city/village/your block?

In the beginning there were no “spots”* (see footnote) whatsoever. People were seeking places that provided them with opportunities for movement. Places with many opportunities became visited more often, got recommended to others, got to be frequent meeting points. The spot was born.

Spots did not only provide great places for parkour movement but made it possible to compare one another directly and without the need for being at the same place at the same time. We knew people had done the IMAX cat-to armjump, then the cat-pres, then the double cats (or kongs) and ultimately the frontflips.

By knowing what other people were capable of it gave us a sense of where we were standing at the moment. But spots provided availability as well. The discovery of a spot meant people knew for sure where to go for a good session. No risk of ending up nowhere without having found any opportunities( for maybe the exact technique you wanted to train today). So spots provided security. Also to that extent that in most cases spots were great spots because parkour was widely accepted there (even at Vauxhall except for that 1 tenant).

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In conclusion spots became one of our comfort zones in a way. And over the time more and more spots were discovered. Where ever you go today be it London, Bangkok, Vienna, Athens, or any small town village in a destination of your choice, chances are high spots have been established. So why go somewhere else when you have all you need at one of the already known spots?
Even when travelling, what we do is: go to the known spots, maybe even just repeat the jumps other people have done, fly home (being a bit sarcastic here, but you get the idea).

I think we lose something when not watching out for these habits. Something that I find is key to parkour and what makes it so beautiful to me and many others. Exploring our environment and dealing with what we find should be something regular in our training. By doing that we might find challenges, real challenges where there is no certainty if anyone has ever done something similar. We will also be confronted with situations that demand skills that we (probably) would not train otherwise.

We also train our mind. Parkour vision is something we call when we look at things and instantly see many possibilities of movement. I could go up there, use these as grips, swing to there… By going new ways and actively and consciously exploring our surroundings we put our parkour vision to the test. What can we really work with? Are we creative enough to deal with seemingly sterile environments?

Obviously that is not something that needs to be done every day. But a healthy mix of exploration to add to your training is a) a great way to test yourself in many different ways and b) is very closely related to the roots of parkour itself. It should also be mentioned that exploration and its benefits is one of the main arguments in the discussion against facilities / parks made for parkour and I guess this is what many people refer to when they highlight that designated parkour parks or indoor environments can only be a supplement to our training, not the main part of it.

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So when you think of your next training session maybe plan in to get out a tube station before your designated spot and take the hike looking around every corner on the way.
*spots: as in established, well known and frequently used areas and places for parkour training

What follows is the first review of one of the original participants from Night Mission III that I hosted in July 2016 in Vienna. Enjoy the read!

Night Mission III

Let’s face an inconvenient truth: Regular life is boring, about 95 % of the time. Wake up, eat, work, eat, wash the dishes, sleep, repeat. Yes, there’s the time with our loved ones that no one will want to miss, but apart from that? Repetition. “Groundhog Day” all over again.

For me, sports in general and parkour in particular is a form of breaking out of this routine. As long as I am moving forward, I am out of the comfort zone – I have to interact with my surroundings, their form dictates my options. And sometimes, this urge for getting out of the day-to-day-habit sends me off to events that challenge me even further. I’ve done several OCRs like Spartan Race, Wildsau Dirtrun and others. The Night Mission III was a whole different kind of thing, and I’m still not entirely sure what I experienced – but it was awesome.

Starting things off with nine people (including Alex, our guide for the night) in Heiligenstadt, we were all a bit anxious. Nobody except Alex and Christian – who stood in as instructor for Alex at some of the challenges – had ever been on a Night Mission before, and we did not really know what to expect. Right off the bat, Alex told us that the Mission was going to last for nine hours in total. A little more than I had anticipated, since I thought it ended at sunrise, which would have been two hours earlier. But well, it was too late to change my mind (not that I wanted that) and we set off into the night.

What followed was a well planned series of tasks along a certain subway line that in my opinion seldom had really a lot in common with “classic” Parkour movement. Only one challenge asked for continuous, flowing movement for five minutes in a row, which of course looks best if done with panache and a few pres and kongs. Apart from that, there was climbing, daring, endurance and a whole lot of teamwork excercises. In a smart move, Alex made sure that we changed partners for almost every task he threw at us. This way we could not stick to people we already knew, but had to get acquainted with all of our team – and I am very grateful for that, since they were a lovely bunch. See, there is a sense of cameraderie (even though I do not really like this word) between people that have shared a whole night of continuous movement, mental and physical challenges as well as a lot of smiles. Smiles and seldom loud laughs, mind you – because we’re ninjas, dammit! And come morning, I did feel a bit ninja. A thoroughly beaten ninja, mind you; I would not recommend this whole shenanigans to ill-prepared people. Run a few training rounds, scrape your knees in basic Parkour movement practice, maybe climb around a little in your local bouldering facility – you will need those things. But anyway: After all Alex had thrown at us, we were still standing, still moving, still checking of the last tasks (doing continuous push-ups for fifteen minutes at 6 AM – yeah, about as much fun as it sounds). I am happy to report that the whole team has made it through the night, but might have undergone the slightest bit of a change. Because even though the regular life may be boring from time to time, I will always enjoy every part of it if it leads me to exciting events like the Night Mission III.

 

Fellow parkour and movement enthusiasts. I am always looking for new (and old) high quality parkour related reads. Since the first book about parkour was published I made it one of my goals to gather parkour related books as I believe it helps my understanding of the discipline and because I justlike reading (old school reading, with books and stuff ).

In a way over all these years the goal has stayed the same but I came to find there are many books out there that I do not consider to be of great quality. So i refined my approach and also reached out to other disciplines in my search for books that potentially can broaden and deepen my understanding of parkour, or just movement in general (not considering for a moment all the great articles, posts and stories to be found online or elsewhere).

 

The following is my collection so far and if there is anything new and of interest for any of you out there, I have already reached what I wanted with this article.

 

Julie Angel: Cine Parkour

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What can I say. If you have not read it and give just the slightest shit about parkour, its origins and how it developed this is a must. Cine Parkour is the result of Julie Angels Phd thesis. For the first time ever it concentrated a great deal of scientifically processed knowledge about parkour and made it accessible to everyone. Gone were the times where your number 1 source for info about the art was the internet forums or some vague stories told by more experienced traceurs (counting myself in on that one). It also presents the starting point of the scientific exploration of parkour away from classic sports science. Allthough it is dry to read at times I soaked up any bits of info in there and can advise you to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vincent Thibault: Parkour and the art du déplacement: Strength, Dignity, Community

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I can´t believe how small the book is compared to what I got out of it. It features a very philosophical viewpoint on parkour and covers a lot of what living the discipline means. In my opinion it is very close to the original (Yamakasi, David Belle,..) approach on parkour that is so easily forgotten in our nowadays culture where the focus is solely on the movement itself.  The book (on whose cover we have Bobby G. Smith on a London bouldering mission btw.) is a great benefit to the community. In fact I gave away my first copy of it to someone who I thought would appreciate it and advised him / her to do the same once finished. The person should then write the date of the possession of the book on the first page, along with the name and location and hand it to someone else. I hope the book is somewhere in the world now and eventually finds its way to you 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Edwardes: The Parkour and Freerunning Handbook

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It presents a short colorful intro to parkour. A lot of the content is very familiar to advanced traceurs but it is ideal for starters, people with no background in parkour or as a gift to authorities (like we did with our charity jam in Linz).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vincent Thibault: Parkour & Art du Déplacement: Lessons in practical wisdom

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First off: I have not fully read it yet. It was published January 2015 and is an english/french bilingual book. From a first glance it seems great. Adding to the philosophical approach of his first book on parkour Vincent has structured his second book like amodern Book of Five Rings, or a Hagakure. It presents the reader with 90 short chapters / sections each aiming on giving guidance / inspiration on different aspects of parkour. I was amazed to find many quotes from well known practicioners in there as well as I like the feeling of the book overall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Huber: Die Angst dein bester Freund (Fear, your best friend)

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The so called Huber Buam (the Huber “dudes”) are world famous professional climbers, brothers and pioneers in the climbing world. Alexander Huber is a specialist free clmber and was first in climbing many of the hardest routes out there free-solo (no rope, no partner). In his book he reflects on fear as mechanism of awareness and rightfully claims that despite what fear does for us and our progress we live in a fear avoiding society that has lost touch with itself. Reading the book I felt very close to how Alexander described his relationship with fear and how we as parkour people treat fear and benefit from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Bradley Garrett: Explore Everything: Place Hacking the City

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Explore Everything is the result of a phd thesis on urban exploring (if I remember correctly). It is written in a mixture of academic style and storytelling and features Garretts journey into the UE scene. First London, but also world wide. Filled with pictures and stories of great adventures one easily forgets that these stories are in fact real, that there are people out there seeking to crash the boundries of modern cities and people who do not fear stepping out of their comfort zone in search of the extraordinary. One of the main observations for me while reading the book was the development Garrett described. From simple touristic actions of visiting desolate and abdandoned sites in the beginning to creeping into “live” structures and ultimately exploring one of Londons most secure networks ever (the tube).

 

 

 

 

Whipplesnaith: The Night Climbers of Cambridge

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To me this is more a historic document rather than just a good read. Imagine the 1930s. It is a cold wet night when a group of students decide to take on yet another climbing challenge they set themselves. Mostly their climbing challenges take place on the renowned Cambridge university campus. All they are equipped with is their everyday clothes and maybe a rope (suits, shoes we would consider stiff the least,…). They have a goal but the risk of being caught could feature some uncertain consequences, maybe even get them banned from the uni let alone the potential danger they face during their climbs.. Find my review for more info here: http://www.we-trace.at/2015/07/22/nightclimbersofcambridge/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly Starrett: Becoming a supple Leopard

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This one was recommended to me by a friend (gimbalninja.com – go visit his site!) and it is the first strength / mobility related book I have taken on (ever). In such it is just awesome. It is well worth the price and can be used to tackle any deficites / little pains or problems or just get more rounded as an athlete overall. It is filled with easy digestable theory that is broken up with practical examples and tests that can be applied to oneself.

 

 

 

John Little: The Warrior Within: The philosophies of Bruce Lee to better understand the orld around you and achieve a rewarding life.

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Sooo. Let the “How to be happy for dummies” title not fool you. John was one of Bruce Lees direct disciples and made this book a great effort of explaining Lees philosophy. A lot of the content is of course martial arts related but the philosophical aspect of the book caught my eye. Bruce Lee to me is an exceptional character and  the book got me an authentic glimpse of that mans mindset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last on my list is Christopher Mc Dougall: Born to run

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Born to run is the story of Christopher Mc Dougall who, injury ridden but with a love for running thought there was something school medicine is not telling us. He went to Mexico in search of a tribe (the Tarahumara / running people) that is characterised by a nearly superhuman ability to running huge distances (literally hundreds of kilometers) in the life threatening environment that is the mexican desert. Running plays a fixed role in the tribes culture and Mc Dougall is trying to get behind the secret of their running. The book is a story and in such it was an awesome read. It also raises some questions and concerns about modern day running culture. That being said the book falls out of line a little because I see it more as a story aimed to be written in an entertaining way  but that does not make its content less valueable to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am aware there are more books that did not get a mention (yet), like Seb Foucan´s Freerunning, the german Tracers Blackbook (good stuff) or some german books on parkour in schools.

 

June2016 UPDATE: Just finished Julie Angel: Breaking The Jump: The Secret Story of Parkour’s High Flying Rebellion. It´s awesome and I do recommend this to everyone with the slightest interest in parkour history. Check out the full review for more details.
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On my current watchlist I have:

  • Ryan Ford, Ben Musholt: Parkour Strength Training: Overcome Obstacles for Fun and Fitness (quite pricy for my taste – 40 euros)
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  • Carlos López Galviz, and Bradley L. Garrett: Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within (amazon release in May 2016)
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  • the translated versions of the Methode naturelle books by Philippe Til
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It was February 2009 (I was 22) and a training colleague of mine and me decided to go for a parkour trip to London. We met Cable and Blake from the Saiyans earlier in 2008 when they came to Austria for the Playstation workshops and they were so kind as to host us during our stay.

From one of the early videos I knew that there was this awesome place somewhere in London with all these little walls but I did not know where it was or how to get there (Vauxhall). One day I expressed my wish to go there and asked Cable and Blake if they knew where it was. They both said “no” but knew someone who could tell us how to get there.

On that day my colleague and me left Edgware (where we were based) early to get to Canada Water Decathlon to stock up on as many pairs of Kalenji Success as we could afford / carry as there was no Decathlon in Austria. After that we were to meet Cable and Blake at a tube station somewhere to find the spot. Blake used a navigation system on his PSP to guide us to the spot (Vauxhall Walls).

From that moment on something happened. After a few minutes into navigating through the district we heard someone shouting (at us) from behind us. Like “owweeehh, braaaap braaap”. I was instantly intimidated, Cable told us not to turn around, just keep walking and eventually they´ll lose interest. Well I already turned around. 4 of them. 4 of us. We continued walking when in the distance I saw some people jumping around in what seemed to be the spot that I knew.

I said to the guys “That´s it!” and pointed my finger. We made it to the group and I felt safe. After all we were 11 now. 7 guys training at Vauxhall already, amongst them Teige, Bobby, Elliot,Kristian and some I did not know. Teige was with his HUGE backpack, I remember him telling us he is going for a trip later.

I put my stuff in the corner with the others and started warm up and happily jumping around. What I did not notice is the big crowd of sketchy looking people gathering at the entrance to the spot (thus blocking our way). When I realized I saw around 20-30 guys in that group.

I realized something was wrong way too late. A guy from the group, probably the youngest of them came down to us asking anyone at random “got a pound or a smoke?”. No one really replied so he became a little more aggressive (verbally). I still thought everything was cool, just some idiot being idiotic, like so many people in London are, and continued training.

Blake eventually approached him. Seemed everything was cool. At some point Blake offered the guy 5 pounds to let us be as we just wanted to jump around. The guy took it (grabbed it…) and continued asking for “a pound or a smoke”. At this point he was not alone anymore. 2 or 3 other guys got involved now.

Ok and now it gets dizzy…

While some of our group smelled something and started ascending the walls, the aggressors were in an argument with Elliot. They tried to grab his backpack from him but he refused. They hit him. He eventually managed to climb the wall and was chased by a few of these dorks.

Pretty much at the same time I was doing something stupid. As I thought Blake knew what he was doing I got my wallet. I thought I could buy us out of the situation when I offered the guys “all the money I had with me” in exchange for us training there. (I still wanted to train, it was one chance only to do this, I came all the way from Austria man 🙁 ). The thing was, because of my earlier Decathlon visit mixed with stuidity I had around 85 pounds stashed in my wallet. The 5 pounds were easily accessible (where you keep papermoney). The rest was hidden in some smaller pockets, I thought well he´ll see the 5er and gets on with his life.

Sadly that´s not what happened. Once they realised I really was THAT stupid to put out my wallet, they surrounded me. They pulled my hat over my eyes so as not to be able to see their faces (well done) and when I opened the wallet they just snapped it and started running. Cable shouted to them to AT LEAST drop everything they don´t need. And indeed.

I was following the trail of shame through Vauxhall Walls, picking up my driving license, my social security card, membership cards, anything really….except the picture of my (ex) girlfriend (bastards!).

When I was finished we were alone, the gang had left us. A few minutes after that the police arrived. We explained. They took us into the cars (I was in a BMW) and then we raced through Vauxhall with at least 80-90kilometers per hour stopping at every black man/child where they asked me if it was him. I declined. After that we were driven to a public place somewhere in the area and woven good bye.

What happened to Elliot? Where are the others? What the fuck just happened?

We decided to go to the thames and eventually found some of the guys at this huge playground near the London eye. Elliot was fine.

Effectively, what they got was 80 pounds and my dignity. What they created was a traumatized Alex and a legend amongst London parkour practitioners. (btw. my training group got robbed and threatened at gun point next year in Athens…bummer)

Some thoughts that were going through my mind the next years were: How was I that naive and stupid? Did they have guns? (One of them was shouting “Have you ever been shot?” while everything took place). Why was I so idiotic to take so much stuff with me in London, in an area I did not know. And many more…

 

But to finish it off with a good vibe: I was in London during my internship for PKGen. I also trained at Vauxhall numerous times after that, I was also teaching a children’s class on my own at the Vauxhall walls and of course RDVX was there. Whenever I think of the spot I think of something that made me stronger, as a whole 🙂

 

2015 war ein gutes Jahr obwohl mir erst klar wurde wieviel eigentlich passiert ist als ich alles niedergeschriebe hatte.

Zuerst wäre da einmal mein Umzug nach Wien Beginn 2015. Dicht gefolgt darauf war der Auftakt für We-Trace (inklusive Website). Die wöchentlichen Trainings laufen mittlerweile und finden jeden Donnerstag an einem monatlich wechselndem Spot statt (mehr Info auf: http://www.we-trace.at/trainingsangebot/termine/).
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Im Juni 2015 besuchten wir mit Parkour Vienna den Parkour Park in St. Pölten, ein kleines Abenteuer, das aufgrund des Schlechtwetters fast ins Wasser gefallen wäre. Letztenendes zeigte sich jedoch noch die Sonne und rettete den Tag 🙂

 


Im Monat darauf zelebrierte Parkour Vienna sein 11 jähriges Bestehen und organiserte neben einem 2 tägigen Trainingsevent den ersten ADAPT Kurs in Österreich. Auf Einladung von Parkour Generations durfte ich Blane beim Kurs assistieren und konnte auch beim darauffolgenden Seminar, die Zeit ein wenig nutzen um wieder auf Stand gebracht zu werden, nachdem ich die Londoner seit etwa einem Jahr nicht mehr gesehen hatte. Etwa eine Woche wurde jeden Tag trainiert, eine Zeit auf die eine nötige Erholungsphase folgte.

 

 

rdvxtitle

Im August ging die Reise nach London zum 10. Rendezvous Event. Das Rendezvous ist ein 2-3 tägiges Trainingsevent geleitet von den besten Parkour Coaches der Welt. Beim diesjährigen Event unterrichteten neben den PKGen Legenden auch Urgesteine wie Yann Hnautra oder Thomas Couetdic. Mehr dazu im 3 teiligen Bericht den ihr hier findet: http://www.we-trace.at/2015/08/29/rdvx/

 

 

page1Nach London stand Urlaub in Griechenland am Plan und die wenigen Tage die ich in Athen verbringen konnte nutzte ich um Panos New World Gym zu besuchen. Athen´s erste und einzige indoor Parkour Akademie, die kurz vor meinem Besuch ihr Tore eröffnet hatte. Panos ist ein guter Freund und war unter anderem in Linz beim 10 Jahre Parkour Linz Seminar.

 

 

 

fbbannerNach monatelanger minutiöser Vorbereitung hieß es erneut Rucksack packen, Zähne zusammenbeißen und durchziehen, denn die Night Mission (Beta) ging im September in ihre zweite Runde. Das erste Mal in Wien, führte uns eine über 20km lange Route durch düstere Tunnel, auf Berge mit verlassenen Kirchen und über Abgründe im Stadtgebiet. Nicht nur die Muskeln waren am Ende der ca. 8 stündigen Traningssession erledigt. Mit neuem Blick auf die Stadt beendeten 6 tapfere Mitstreiter die Night Mission.

 

ctc_logoIm Oktober nahm ich die Einladung von CTC an. Mit dem offiziellen Beitritt werde ich auch weiterhin versuchen einen aktiven und konstruktiven Beitrag zur Förderung der Parkourcommunity zu leisten. Die Arbeit von CTC liefert einen wertvollen Beitrag zur stetigen Etablierung und Professionalisierung von Parkour in Österreich.

 

 

 

 

Außerdem wurde We-Trace die Ehre zu Teil ETRE FORT und Andy (Kiell) Day zu interviewen.

Ein ereignisreiches Jahr neigt sich dem Ende zu. Wir sehen uns 2016!

Andy Day (Kiell) is one of the reasons why parkour has become so popular worldwide. As a photographer he accompanied the scene early on, not only mirroring parkour as a discipline but also shaping it to some degree. The interview you will find below is divided into blocks of questions each with a different thematic focus. As Andy is also one of the voices not affraid to point out developments he finds problematic, topics in this interview will also highlight aspects of the commercialisation of parkour or thoughts on the visual representation of the discipline in general.

 

A – The perfect picture

The image and the video as a medium are probably the most dominant factors in spreading parkour world-wide.

  1. What makes a “good” parkour related picture to you? What constitutes a good picture in terms of parkour movement (or in general)?
    framing, the angle of the shot, lights, background, the athlete, the movement

 

Andy: I think for me a good photograph has got to be about the space as much as it is about the athlete. The thing that interests me about parkour is the relationship between the body and the architecture, which perhaps explains why I’m not that interested in seeing videos in gyms or people tumbling across flat terrain. A shot of someone moving, isolated from their surroundings, is just that – a body, without context, without a dialogue with the world. When it is placed in context, the body enters into a physical relationship with the space that, as a result, changes that space, as well as being changed by it. That’s what interests me about parkour; space is fascinating – it shapes us, and, in turn, we shape it. In order to simply exist, we take up space and through our actions we turn a space into a place.

Secondly, I guess, is a sense of authenticity. If a shot feels like it exists for the sake of being a photograph, or is in thrall with the personality of the athlete rather than that athlete’s conversation with the environment, I lose interest. Trying to verbalise exactly how this works is quite tricky, but I think anyone who knows parkour has a sense of what I’m talking about here. There are plenty of shots in my catalogue that don’t really achieve this authentic feel and I don’t value them anywhere near as much as the others.

Sorry to answer your question in such abstract terms! All of the more practical elements really are secondary – it can be blurry, out of focus, poorly lit and with a weak body posture. But if it nails a sense of exploration of a space and conveys a feeling of authenticity, these things don’t really matter.

 

  1. What do you look for when taking pictures? Do you even look for something or is it a more spontaneous process? Maybe both?

Andy: It’s certainly both. Finding a picture is always a collaboration, to the extent that you could describe many of my photographs as being a self portrait on behalf of the athlete. For example, the picture of Thomas that I took jumping in India that many people might be familiar with: Thomas suggested we go to the location to explore. He led the climb and then found the jump, and even suggested where I could take the photograph from. And even if you forget the fact that he put 10 years of training into doing that jump, he did most of the hard work. All I did was set the camera up and push the button.

That said, I’m very much involved with the exploration of a place when I’m in search of new photographs. It’s something that I’ve written about extensively recently in relation to my most recent project in former Yugoslavia. I bring my own parkour vision and movement to the discovery of a place, and the camera is part of that process.

alex_india

 

  1. What is the most memorable picture you ever took, and what makes it so special? 

Andy: The shot I previously mentioned is certainly up there. Thomas is a very good friend of mine and I value my time spent with him because regularly he takes me out of my comfort zone, pushing me to be more than I am. The whole trip was remarkable – the hospitality of our hosts, the motorbikes, the country, the road. And Hampi. It is an amazing place simply for its landscape, never mind the temples and rice paddies.

Other than that, possibly a shot of Boki I took during the recent project in former Yugoslavia. For me, Boki is one of those people that epitomises parkour, not just in the way that he moves and trains, but in every aspect of his being. The parkour community of Croatia and Serbia is phenomenal, and in many ways they are one of the most important collectives in the world in the way that they work together, across borders, ignoring ethnic and national divisions that are centuries old. They don’t think that what they do collectively is particularly special or different, and that’s half the beauty of it: they just get on with it, training, travelling and exploring together. That’s part of what this photograph represents, I guess. In my mind it sits alongside another photograph from that project, of Ficho, a young guy from Rijeka in Croatia, who will hopefully have opportunity to build on the hard work of people like Boki and Mirko and so many others in Zagreb, Belgrade and beyond.

alex_boki alex_ficho

 

  1. Can you recommend any other parkour related photographers / movement photographers whose work you enjoy? (maybe with links to their portfolio sites?)

Andy: Crucial to developing my understanding of how I work and what I do is the writing and photography of Brad Garrett. It’s not just his images that I find important, but the way he perceives the city and works tirelessly to convey that perception through all aspects of his work – teaching, writing and public speaking. His photographs aren’t just pretty pictures but instead sit amongst a broader provocation of how we should relate to the city, the danger of ignoring the decline of public space, and our potential to disrupt and undermine systems of power that are bent on containing us without us even realising. He lives his work, and his work lives in his photographs. Find out more at http://www.bradleygarrett.com/. And if you have any interest in cities and physicality, you need to read his book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Explore-Everything-Place-hacking-Bradley-Garrett/dp/1781681295 (Buy it second hand for £3.76. You won’t be disappointed.)

Ours is a culture dominated by spectacle, a spectacle that is usually masculine. This is why the work of Julie Angel is so important for me at the moment. Through creating a body of work that looks at alternative bodies – typically female – that is not primarily concerned with personality or overtly dramatic demonstrations of physical ability, she’s challenging our perception of what parkour photography should be about. It’s a challenge to my own work, and that of everyone else. We – myself included – create a media that is obsessed with spectacle and ego that is male-domainted, and she’s trying to shift that landscape a little through what she does. In my own work, I talk about the ‘insertion of bodies that are radically out of place’ and yet most of my work is about athletic, white, middle-class young men. What the hell is radical about that? What’s more revolutionary: an athletic teenage male doing a backflip off a wall, or a woman in her forties vaulting across a rail? Julie is a renegade photographing the renegades, and it’s refreshing. www.see-do.com

 

B – Commercialisation of parkour / Influence of brands etc.

In your article “Spectacle and spirit; parkour needs better sponsors” you highlight the problematic relationship of parkour and potential sponsors / brands getting involved. In that article you state: ” The beauty of parkour is that it requires nothing. The flip side of this is that parkour can be used to sell pretty much anything.”

  1. Where do you see the main problem of certain brands getting involved in parkour (from energy drinks to cigarette companies)?

Andy: I think the problem is twofold. First is many people’s naivety regarding the power of advertising. People don’t see a nice advert and go and buy a product. It’s infinitely more complex than that. Brands create a lifestyle around their product, provoking an emotional response and, in some cases, creating a normality to their consumption to the extent that, as a society, we’re blinded to its negative aspects. The second problem is that people need to get paid. As a subculture and a community, we’re hungry for work as it permits a lifestyle that allows us to do even more of what we love. When rich companies with questionable products come along, it’s no surprise that they can simply buy their way in. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really blame anyone for taking these shitty sponsors as, in their situation, I might well have found myself doing the same, certainly 8 or so years ago.

 

  1. What do you think of Red Bull and the Art of Motion in general?

Andy: I think there is a bubble of elite performance athletes and their supporters who dominate the visual culture of parkour and give the impression that their world is the epicentre of the parkour community. It’s possible that the reality is actually very different. I’ve travelled extensively and I get the impression that this bubble is primarily supported by very vocal, media-savvy teenagers who buy the products and generate the clicks. Maybe that’s the difference: there’s an online community, and then there is the community. They’re two very different things, which is strange when you consider how much the internet is responsible for the emergence and growth of parkour.

Much of Red Bull’s media over the years has bizarrely been quite clumsy, as though they knew that they wanted to do something with parkour but weren’t really sure what. A few years ago, it was a case of taking their sponsored athletes to random locations and pretty much parachuting them into culturally complex environments and then asking them to talk about it. It was excruciating to listen to these athletes mumble awkwardly about how different everything is and how unique the architecture is, as though having the ability to jump around and do flips is going to have endowed that athlete with the ability to offer cultural insights into the complexities of a former war zone. Again it goes back to parkour’s treatment of space; parkour’s real value is in its relationship with and capacity to change a place, something that’s not really examined through a superficial, spectacle-driven tourism.

 

  1. In the article mentioned above you also state: ” By comparison, the climbing community is supported by a wealth of progressive companies engineering fantastic products and funding athletes, events and expeditions around the world. It’s a healthy symbiosis.”

               Do you think a similar development is possible for parkour?

Andy: I’m not sure. To a degree that already happens with various tours and events organised by some of parkour’s clothing brands.

 

  1. Is there anything we as practicioners can do to support a way of commercialisation of parkour that we can live with morally?

Andy: I think if everyone who thought that Red Bull was a shitty sponsor suddenly spoke up, Red Bull would run a mile. Strangely I’ve been asked a few times to coordinate something like that but I don’t think I’m the right person to do it. I get a lot of people thanking me for taking a stand but, honestly, it’s very easy to sit here and throw stones!

 

C – Parkour / Climbing, Buildering

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You are an active urban explorer, climber and also engage in buildering (climbing / bouldering in the urban environment).

  1. Do you see any similarities between parkour, urban exploration and buildering? (thinking of how the urban explorer, climber views and uses public space for example)

Andy: The boundaries aren’t distinct and this indeterminacy is one of their characteristics. Parkour is the only one that really engages in arguments about what is or isn’t parkour. The other two couldn’t give a shit.

 

  1. If you think about parkour communities, urban exploration and buildering/bouldering communities. Are there any main differences you have observed that are worth mentioning? (be it from an athlete’s point of view or from a photographer´s point of view)

Andy: Well, firstly, there is no buildering community. Certainly not here in London. There’s me and Bobby and Ash, and a few others, and that’s about it. We meet up a few times a year and repeat some of the old stuff, and very occasionally go in search of new stuff. So I think that’s one of the first things to emphasise – buildering is barely a thing. As for the urban exploration community, I don’t really know. I’m not really a part of that community. Community is a weird concept, though, especially many people would regard me as part of that community even though I don’t feel a part of it. And that’s a characteristic of these urban social formations, much like the indeterminate boundaries I discussed earlier. Membership is fluid and you’re a part of something (even if you don’t feel a part of something) that is amorphous, fragmented, dispersed, and indistinct.

As for differences… parkour is a little caught up in its own sense of self-importance sometimes, probably because people genuinely care about what it is and what the future holds for it. Parkour is pretty unstable but buildering, through not really existing, has no stability whatsoever. As a result, it can’t take itself seriously at all – one of its features that I find quite endearing. Plus buildering is generally a bit ridiculous which all adds to the fun. I’m a big fan of silliness, something that strangely has quite a lot of power.

 

D – Closing questions

  1. What are you currently working on? Can you tell us anything about upcoming projects?

Andy: At the moment, I’m still working on FORMER, the project that I shot in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia. I’m not sure if I will shoot more of the monuments but there’s a load of stuff that I need to do, mostly to try and understand the project fully and give the images a life beyond their current state on my hard drive. Beyond that, I’m teaching a week-long course in parkour and dance photography at Central St Martins in the spring and plotting my escape from London.

 

  1. Is there anything else that should be mentioned? Anything else you´d like to say?

Andy: Parkour is progressive. Its community is progressive, as is the way that it values teaching, as is its spirit of inclusivity. We can inspire future generations to move through the spectacles we create, but let’s also ensure that this doesn’t compromise our values. It’s a fine balance but one that’s worth fighting for, which is why I’m often so vocal. Often the response from those that get called out for shitty decisions is that criticising is easy and ‘haters gonna hate’. In response it’s worth considering this quote from Churchill: “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” As a community of progressive-minded people, I’m very proud of parkour. I think as a collective we have an intelligence and a self-awareness that is different to most other sports, characteristics that have their roots in the values estbalished by some of the earliest practitioners.  We’re very fortunate in that respect.

 

At this point a HUGE THANK YOU to Andy for taking his time and putting his thoughts on paper. Thank you for this opportunity and the insights you have provided us!
If there is anything else you would like to know or if you wish to see some more of Andys work visit http://www.kiell.com/

I´ll make day3 of RDVX less detailed and instead just highlight some of the things that remained vivid in my mind.

 

First off. I was dead tired and in pain in the morning of day 3. Putting on my socks was challenge nr. 1. but the weather was sunny  and we were motivated. We were heading for the Olympic Village where for the first time an official permission for a Parkour related group was given by the authorities to train there.

 

One of the sessions was with Blane. He teamed us up in pairs and gave us a distance to cover. We would plyo over our partner who would be in push up position, drop down to the push up position ourselves and do 1 push up more than our partner did just the moment before us. When we finish our push ups our partner plyos over and drops down to do his set of push ups (one more than I did before). So if I´d start, I´d do 1,3,5,7….and so on. In the end (after the time frame of 40 minutes) I was up to 27 push ups but we had just about covered half of the distance Blane had set. Good challenge!

After 2 other strength related sessions we headed to the Chainstore for our last 3 sessions of RDVX. I was particulary impressed with Ben Sheffler from PKOne (Germany). He had some great input in terms of reaction-time related training. Again we were teamed up in pairs of 2. There was a route with a certain goal set. For example a wall run and a starting point a few meters away facing the wall with the back. We then gave some queues to our partners and they had to quickly adapt. For example which foot they´d have to use for the wallrun, which side the vault should be done with if there was something in the way, in what way to turn when they´d start running or simply blinding them, taking them somewhere in the space and then letting them adapt to what´s around them.

The other 2 sessions opposed to the first one with Ben were indoors. Pownall had set up about 15 different stations with the aim of massaging (deep tissue) and stretching us. If you want to know how to use an elastic band and a wooden stick to massage your calves to total relaxation including a horrendous amount of pain (just kidding), Alex is the man for you! Hector and Adam led the other Chainstore session that consisted of a variety of rolling challenges in different situations. Dive rolls across gaps. Rolls on thin walls and different obstacles. Dive rolls on concrete through a gap of rails. Good fun!

 

Conclusions:

Again I got proven that just because I am tired, stiff from the day before or simply have the worst muscle ache ever, does not mean I can´t move. The right warm up and attitude can boost you!

The huge variety of movement in RDVX was great, so was the input from all the coaches that came from all over the world.

Just having experienced so many different Parkour styles and coaching methods is inspirational and showed me how limited my view was before and how important it is to get in exchange with other people. RDVX did just that for me.

And overall it was great to see all the guys again I got to know back in 2013/2014.

Oh and just before I forget it. Congratulations to Forrest for knowing/learning each and every name of ALL the participants and coaches of RDVX. At the end of day 3 Forrest went through a crowd of about 150 people calling every one by their name, an amazing skill he had demonstrated the year before as it was told me.

 

THANKS to everyone who was part of it. To Hector for hosting us. To the English weather for being so nice these days. To the scandinavians for a relaxed and funny evening at the Canary Wharf burger place. It was a great experience and who knows, maybe see you all again at RDVXI!

P.S. This is the so called Grant curve as we named it. We had a slight jogg with Chris Grant who then came up with it and I feel obliged to share the knowledge.
grantcurve
In the beginning of every traceurs life the motivation to run / jogg is growing. Up to a peak that is reached after a few years. From that point on it nears to zero again as the more experienced a traceur gets the more lazy he gets 😉

Das folgende Interview ist auch auf ENGLISCH verfügbar.

 

In den letzten Jahren ist ETRE FORT zu einem allseits bekannten und sehr wertgeschätzten Teil der Parkour Szene avanciert. Die EF-T1 Jogginghosen werden von Traceuren in allen Teilen der Welt getragen und geliebt und die Organisation ist regelmäßiger Partner und Supporter von Events auf dem ganzen Globus. Was ETRE FORT so besonders macht ist, dass die Firma aus den Bemühungen und Bedürfnissen 2er immernoch aktiver schweizer Traceure (Roger Widmer und Felix Stöckli-Iseli) hervorgegangen ist. Das folgende Interview behandelt kurz wie ETRE FORT entstanden ist, wie sich die Firma entwickelt hat, wie Roger und Felix ihre Marke in der Parkour Welt platziert sehen und gibt eine kleinen Ausblick in die Zukunft.

 

 EF_team

Alex: Wie ist es zur Idee Etre Fort gekommen?

EF: Es begann Ende 2008 als Projekt, wir haben zu dieser Zeit immer breite baggy Hosen von Nike getragen, waren aber nie ganz zufrieden mit den Hosen. Wir entschlossen uns einfach selbst Parkour- Hosen zu produzieren, somit könnten wir alle Features und Gadgets einbauen die wir als wichtig erachten. Für uns war klar, dass wir keine Merchandise Produkte herstellen wollen, also fertige Produkte die mit einem Team-Logo oder mit einer Parkouraufschrift versehen werden. Es sollte eine eigenständige hochqualitative Marke sein. Anfang 2009 stand der Name fest und wir hatten die ersten Logo und Designentwürfe von Mathias Fritzen. Während einer langen Entwicklungsphase entstand ca. 90% die heutigen EF-T1 Parkour Hose. Wir kämpften anschließend mit verschiedenen Problemen, das größte war eine Produktion zu finden, welche ein solch spezialisiertes Kleidungsstück in kleiner Auflage und top Qualität produzieren kann.

Anfang 2010 mussten wir das Projekt auf Grund von Personal-, Zeit- und Geldmangel bis auf weiteres auf auf Eis legen. Mitte 2011 standen die Zeichen besser, wir sind durch Zufälle immer wieder an das Thema Parkour-Kleidung gestoßen und hatten verschiedene Produzenten kennen gelernt. Also entschieden wir uns die Marke nun endlich ins Leben zu rufen und starteten mit der Firmengründung im Mai 2012 durch.

 

EF-1_sketchAlex: Wie lang hat es von der Idee Etre Fort zur tatsächlichen Firmengründung und zur ersten Produktion gedauert und was waren so die Meilensteine dabei?

EF: Siehe Frage 1

 

Alex: Habt ihr euch ausschließlich durch eigenes Kapital finanziert oder habt ihr versucht wie ein Start Up zu agieren, Investoren an Land zu ziehen etc.? Möchtet ihr in Zukunft mit der Hilfe fremder Kapitalgeber expandieren oder bleibt Etre Fort ausschließlich ein 2 Mann Unternehmen?

EF: Wir haben alles selbst finanziert und wollten auch von Anfang an Unabhängig sein. Dies soll auch bis auf weiteres so bleiben… From Tracers for Tracers…

Alex: Habt ihr Mitarbeiter im klassischen Sinn?

EF: Nein zur Zeit nicht im klassischen Angestellten Verhältnis, es sind alles Freunde und wir haben Special Deals. Zur Zeit arbeiten wir aber daran, auch Mitarbeiter einstellen zu können.

 

Alex: Könnt ihr uns Details zu eurer Marketingstrategie zu Beginn verraten? Wie wichtig war und ist Produktsponsoring, Social Media, etc.?

EF: Wir haben den Release der Marke mit einem Trip „gefeiert“ , dafür haben wir verschieden Athleten und freunde eingeladen, welche als gesponserte Athleten unsere Markenbotschafter wurden. Aus diesem Trip ist auch die aktuelle LYCZ Kampagne entstanden, welche wir im 2014 und 2015 erfolgreich durchgeführt haben. Man kann auch sagen, wir haben uns mit den LYCZ Days ein wenig einen Bubentraum erfüllt.
Social Media ist sicherlich sehr wichtig, wobei man sich nicht nur darauf versteifen sollte, all die Reisen, Workshops und Trips welche wir in den letzten Jahren unternommen haben sind genau so wichtig.

 

Alex: Was hat sich an eurer Marketingstrategie grundsätzlich verändert seit dem Start?

EF: Wir wurden nun etwas konsequenter und versuchen bei einer Idee, alle wichtigen Punkte mit einzubeziehen. Vorbereitung, Hauptteil der Kommunikation und auch Nachbearbeitung. Früher haben wir uns oft nur auf den Hauptteil konzentriert.

 

Alex: Etre Fort war und ist nicht als reine Parkourmarke aufgesetzt sondern sollte von Anfang an eine breitere Zielgruppe ansprechen(wenn ich das richtig verstanden habe). Wie hilfreich ist das Parkourimage außerhalb der Szene?

EF: Das hast du richtig verstanden, Parkour ist unser Herz und von da kommen wir. Wir wollen aber mit der Marke alle Bewegungsbegeisterte vereinen, welche wissen was es heißt hart zu trainieren und die Komfort Zone verlassen zu müssen um im Leben was zu erreichen.

Das Parkourimage ist sicherlich ein Vorteil außerhalb der Szene, wobei der Hauptteil unserer Kunden noch Traceure und Freerunner sind.

 

Alex: Wenn ihr eure Geschätstätigkeit in ein Verhältnis stellen müsstet, Parkourszene intern vs. der Markt außerhalb Parkour, wie würde das aussehen? Kann man das überhaupt trennen?

EF: Das ist schwer zu sagen, im Moment konzentrieren wir uns noch sehr stark auf die Parkour und Freerunning Szene. Bei uns steht aber noch dieses Jahr ein großes Strategie Meeting an, bei welchem wir genau solche Fragen besprechen werden. Schlussendlich ist es unser Ziel über die Szene hinaus die Marke EF bekannt zu machen.

 

Alex: Könnt ihr uns eine grobe Einschätzung des Marktes “Parkour” geben bzw. eure Gedanken mit uns teilen? Wieviel ernstzunehmende Konkurrenz gibt es? Seht ihr euch mit Etre Fort gut platziert?

EF: Ich denke das ist immer noch ein sehr ideeller Markt, wir sind in der Szene zu Hause und haben den nie so konkret gerechnet. Es ist ein sehr junger Markt und alle Traceure wollen kaum Geld für Kleidung oder ähnliches ausgeben, nichts desto trotz haben wir uns mittlerweile als qualitativ hochstehendes Markenlabel im höheren Preissegment etablieren können.

Bezüglich Konkurrenz können wir nicht wirklich Angaben machen, wir sehen eigentlich keines der aktuellen Parkour – Labels als Konkurrenz, viele Labelgründer sind sogar Freunde von uns. Außerdem verflogen die meisten einen anderen Stil oder ein anderes Ziel und wir können sicherlich von einander profitieren.

 

teamtripAlex: Wie kam es zur Partnerschaft mit GUP (Galizian Urban Project)?

EF: Wie bereits beschrieben, haben wir im 2012 den ETRE-FORT Trip mit Freunden organisiert, Sergio war der einzige den wir nicht schon persönlich gekannt haben, Felix hatte sich mehrere Male mit Ihm unterhalten und er war von Anfang an Begeistert von der Idee. Währen dem Trip ist einen sehr gute Freundschaft entstanden und wir haben nach und nach alle weiteren Members von GUP kennen gelernt. Ein weiterer wichtiger Punkt ist, das Felix spanisch spricht, dies hat sicherlich vieles vereinfacht.

 

 

 

Alex: Welchen Tip könnt ihr all Jenen geben, die bereits ein kleines parkourorientiertes Bekleidungslabel haben bzw. ein solches Eröffnen wollen?

EF: Was wir jedem Jungunternehmer raten können: tu das was du tust mit Leib und Seele und lasse dich nicht vom Weg abbringen. Bleib am Ball und gib nicht auf. Ganz einfach „être fort“!

 

Alex: Was sind eure langfristigen Pläne für die Zukunft?

EF: Wir arbeiten an verschiedenen Projekten. Noch einen Schritt weiter zur 100 prozentigen Nachhaltigkeit:Zur Zeit arbeiten wir daran die erste 100% organic, fair, ecological, CO2 neutral und transparente Kleidungsstücke anbieten zu können. Die Transparenz erreichen wir dadurch, dass jedes Produkt einen Herstellungscode enthält und dann auf unserer Seite die gesamte Produktion nachverfolgt werden kann. Hierfür haben wir einen neuen Partner: REMEI (bioRe: http://www.biore.ch). Unterstützen der Parkour Communities:Nebst den gesponserten Athleten haben wir unter der Kategorie Friends verschiedene Parkour Communities welche wir unterstützen. Unser Ziel ist diese Communities in Zukunft noch stärker unterstützen zu können.

Und noch vieles mehr

 

Alex: Gibt es etwas was noch unbedingt erwähnt werden sollte?

EF: TRAIN HARD – TAKE CARE! Vielen Dank für Eurer Engagement und beste Grüsse Roger und Felix

 

An dieser Stelle ein großes DANKE an ETRE FORT für die Zeit die sie sich trotz der laufenden LYCZ days genommen haben um unsere Fragen zu beantworten.
Für mehr Infos besucht http://etre-fort.com/de/ und http://etre-fort.com/de/lycz/

The following interview is also available in GERMAN.

 

In the last years ETRE FORT has become a well known and highly appreciated part of the Parkour scene. The EF-T1 pants are worn by traceurs in all parts of the world amongst athletes of all skill levels and the company is a regular event partner and supporter all over the globe. What makes ETRE FORT special is that the company evolved out of the scene being brought to life by (still active) traceurs Roger Widmer and Felix Stöckli-Iseli based in Switzerland. The following interview briefly covers how ETRE FORT developed, how Roger and Felix see their brand placed in the Parkour world (and outside) and what we can expect for the years to come.

 

 

EF_team

Alex: How did the idea “ETRE FORT” start?

EF: It all started in 2008 as a project, at that time we were always wearing these baggy Nike pants but were never truly satisfied with them. We simply decided to produce our own Parkour pants, this way we could incorporate all the features we considered important. It was clear to us that we did not want to produce any merchandise products, meaning products that already exist and just putting our team logo or the word “Parkour” on it. It should be an independent high quality brand. Beginning of 2009 we had the name and first logo and design drafts from Mathias Fritzen. During a long development phase 90% of the EF-T1 Parkour pants as they exist today were being shaped. We were fighting with a variety of problems after that, the biggest being finding a production that was suitable to produce such a specialised piece of clothing in a top quality and a small quantity.

 

Early 2010 due to personal reasons, a lack of money and time we had to freeze the project. In the beginning of 2011 the signs were better, by chance we encountered the topic of Parkour clothing various times and got to know different producers. That´s when we finally decided to bring the brand to life and kick it off with the creation of the company in May 2012.

 

EF-1_sketch

Alex: How long did it take from the idea ETRE FORT to founding the company and the first line of production and what weresome of the major milestones on the way?

EF: See question 1!

 

Alex: Did funding work through private equity (Eigenkapital) or did you act like a start up trying to get the interest of investors? Is it part of the plan, at some point, to expand through external capital (Fremdkapital) or will ETRE FORT exclusively be a 2 man show?

EF: We financed everything ourselves and wanted to be independent from the beginning. This should stay like that…From Tracers for Tracers…

Alex: Do you have employees in the classic sense?

EF: At this time we don´t have employees but many friends and special deals. We are currently working on providing employment though.

 

Alex: Could you reveal some details about yourmarketing strategy in the beginning? How important were and still is product sponsoring, social media, etc.?

EF: We “celebrated” the release of the brand with a trip where we invited various athletes and friends who would later become sponsored athletes and brand ambassadors. A result from this trip is also the LYCZ (Leave Your Comfort Zone) campaign we successfully did in 2014 and 2015. One could say we fulfilled ourselves a boy´s childhood-dream a little bit with the LYCZ days.

Social Media plays an important role for sure but you should not overrate it, all the trips, workshops and travelling we did were just as important.

 

Alex: Have there been any major changes in the marketing strategy if you compare it to the beginning of ETRE FORT?

EF: We have become more consequent and try to take all the important aspects into account when we have an idea. Preparation, main part of the communication and post production. In the past we often just focused on the main part.

 

Alex:ETRE FORT was and is not solely a Parkour brand but should aim towards a broader target audience (if I got that right). How helpful is the Parkour image outside of the scene?

EF: Yeah you got that right, Parkour is our heart and that´s where we come from. But with our brand we want to combine all movement enthusiasts who know what it means to train hard and leave ones comfort zone in order to achieve something in life.

The Parkour image is beneficial outside the scene, but our main clients are Traceurs and Freerunners.

 

Alex: If you were to put your business into relation of Parkour scene vs. the market outside the scene, how would that look? Can you even separate it?

EF: That´s hard to say, at the moment we still strongly focus on the Parkour and Freerunning scene. This year still we will have an internal strategy meeting though where we will especially discuss questions like these. In the end it is our goal to grow EF into a brand recognised outside the scene as well.

 

Alex: Could you give us a raw estimation of the market “Parkour” and share your thoughts with us? Is there any tough competition? Do you see your brand placed in a nice spot?

EF: I think it is still an idealistic market, our home is the scene and we have never actually calculated the market a lot. It is a young market and not a lot of Traceurs are willing to pay for clothing or the like. Nevertheless we have managed to establish ourselves as a high quality brand in the upper price range.

In relation to competition we can´t really make any statements, we don´t see any of the existing Parkour labels as competition, many founders of labels are actually friends of us. Besides, many labels follow a different style and/or different goals, we are sure we could all benefit from each other.

 

teamtrip

Alex: How did the partnership with GUP happen (Galizian Urban Project)?

EF: As we described in a previous  question we organised the ETRE FORT trip with friends back in 2012, Sergio was the only one we had not met personally yet at that time. Felix talked to him multiple times already and was excited about the idea of having him. During the trip a strong friendship developed and over time we got to know all the members of GUP. Another important point is that Felix speaks Spanish making many things a lot easier.

 

 

 

Alex: Do you have any advice you can give to people wanting to start their own Parkour related fashion label or already have set up something in that way?

EF: What we can advice any young entrepreneur: do what you do with passion and soul and don´t let anyone set you off. Stay on track and don´t give up. Simply „être fort“!

 

Alex: What are your long term plans for the future?

EF: We are currently working on different projects.

A step further to 100% sustainibility:

At the moment we are working on providing the first 100% organic, fair, CO2 neutral and transparent pieces of clothing. We reach transparency through fitting our products with a code allowing anyone who wishes to trace its entire way of production online on our website. We partnered up with REMEI (bioRe: http://www.biore.ch) for this cause.

And many more.

 

Alex: Anything else to add?

EF: TRAIN HARD – TAKE CARE! Thank you very much for your effort and all the best from Roger and Felix

 

A big THANK YOU at this point to ETRE FORT for taking their time despite being in the middle of their LYCZ days at the time the interview was taken.
Check out: http://etre-fort.com/de/ and http://etre-fort.com/de/lycz/