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[PkGenerations] The Debrief: PKGen Questions Charles St. John


The Debrief puts questions to people from every aspect of the global parkour community - from lifelong practitioners to newcomers to professional coaches and performers, from every country and from all walks of life. Exclusively at


Name: Charles St. John

Age: 23

Location: Denver, Colorado

Parkour group/team: APEX Movement, Instructor


Parkour Generations: How long have you been a Traceur?

Charles St. John: I have been training a little over 5 years now.


PKG: What movements are you currently working on?

CSJ: I have been dedicating much of my time over the past month to increasing my vertical jump through various jumping exercises. Surprisingly, it has been a skill training parkour has not naturally improved, unlike my lateral jump.


PKG: What percentage of your training is conditioning?

CSJ: On any given week, conditioning usually ends up being around 50% of my time. However, unlike training parkour which is recreation in my mind, I keep to a very strict lifting regiment. So some weeks are entirely conditioning focused for me, where other weeks I will practice parkour for hours a day in addition to my exercise routine.


PKG: Favourite strength and conditioning exercise?

CSJ: The grok squat. This movement has provided the flexibility for higher precisions and plyos, smoother landings, and a safe bail for rail precisions.  In my practice the best way to gain this range of motion is from following the Ido Portal squat routines. Here's a link to the routine. 


PKG: Who or what is your biggest influence?

CSJ: Every person I have had the opportunity to jam with has influenced my practice in parkour. They have all presented new challenges and different attitudes towards training. Every traceur and traceuse brings a unique perspective to a training spot, and I have expanded my capabilities by training their lines and talking to them about their methods.  Even students who have only been training a fraction of the time I have consistently bring new ideas to our training sessions. Taking full advantage of the close-knit parkour community has been the driving force behind becoming both a better traceur and a healthier person.


PKG: What were your reasons for starting training / what are your reasons for training now?

CSJ: I was given a business card for APEX Movement back in college, and freshman year a few of us from my dorm decided to try it out after watching some fun youtube videos (notably Russian Climbing). I had been lifting weights consistently for a few years prior to this, so I considered myself fairly strong. However Parkour challenged my notion of strength, since many basic movements were still incredibly challenging despite my 'good' physique. I began training consistently thereafter as my main form of exercise.

As I became adept at basic parkour movements, I stuck with the activity for its recreational nature. Much like skiing, my other favorite sport, parkour does not differentiate between 'practice' and 'play'. This makes every training day, every jam, and even conditioning engaging and fulfilling, rather than just a tedious step to some 'big event'. Parkour became more than physical exercise at this point for me. Rather it became an activity where I can push myself physically and mentally, and feel the satisfaction of executing an action I conceive in my mind.

Today parkour is what I do to take a break from my busy life. Its rejuvenating and challenging, and obviously just plain fun! It also drives my fitness goals, which has encouraged me to eat better and exercise with specific results in mind.


PKG: Current favourite training location and why?

CSJ: I have had the luck to travel all over the US for work. I have met up with many fantastic traceurs and visited countless training spots. Out of all the locations I have been to, the Convention Center complex in Tucson Arizona is my favorite. There were tons of challenging spots all within 2 city blocks. But it is the fountains in front of the music hall which cemented this location as my favorite training spot. Boulders are cemented within a man made 'river' which runs through the courtyard. The structures perfectly blend the random terrain of nature training with the stability and grip of an urban environment. I mean just look at these beautiful structures.


PKG: Item in your bag you couldn't go training without?

CSJ: I have a sweatband with a zipper pocket where I keep my ID, insurance, car key, and credit cards. Keeping such important things on my person keeps my mind at ease, so I can focus on training, not where I placed my bag.


PKG: How do you approach breaking a jump?

CSJ: I count my steps out very carefully and become comfortable with the approach. Once I'm in the air I cannot change my trajectory, so I make sure to get the best takeoff possible. 


PKG: Where do you see Parkour in 10 years time?

CSJ: Considering 10 years ago parkour was practically unknown in the US, and today there are sponsored athletes and dedicated gymnasiums, it is hard to predict what parkour will be in the future. I do hope the community will stay well networked, friendly, and supportive. I believe efforts to keep it that way now will shape the future to one we can all look forward to.


PKG: One piece of advice to those just starting out:

CSJ: Commit the fundamental movements (landings, rolls, cat leaps, vaults, precisions) to muscle memory. Everything else in parkour builds off of these skills. The better they are, the smoother more advanced moves and lines will be for you.

As a bonus, DO supplemental condition. Parkour is demanding. While you will gain the fitness you need to perform through practice, you can accelerate your progress by being physically prepared to learn a new skill.


Thanks Charles!

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