Sitting down at his computer desk, Brodie Shaw is editing his next parkour video for his team, Podi Boys. In the video, Shaw is running towards a slanted cement wall. He jumps on top and front flips off, landing on both feet. He then runs again, climbing and flipping off the side of an elm tree to finish the line of trained movements. The video clip fades to black.
Shaw has been taking parkour seriously for a decade now. There are many directions one can follow in the sport of parkour, whether it’s attending competitions, creating a team or just doing it for the overall health benefits and enjoyment. Parkour can be physically and mentally demanding toward your body with the fear of getting hurt. This can be mitigated by proper strength and flexibility training. As well as a ton of dedication.
Shaw is currently working as a manager for the Flying Squirrel, a trampoline park, while running his parkour team, Podi Boys. His goal is to make parkour his full-time gig.
“I want to have it make a living for me so it can be my full-time job, nine to five, just doing what I love,” he said.
Shaw knows the dangers of parkour, but with constant training, the support of his team and community, he has conditioned himself to mitigate the risks.
“There’s a lot of conditioning involved and strength training to make sure your body is at the level where you want it to be, to do bigger and crazier stunts,” Shaw said.
Parkour is a sport, when not adequately trained, that has a higher probability of getting hurt. For example, in parkour, there is a move called a Kong or Kong Vault. This is where the person jumps towards an obstacle head first landing only on their hands using the momentum to push off landing on the other side.
“The worst injury I’ve had in my 11 years of doing parkour was just a high ankle sprain,” Shaw said. “It was basically just from me being foolish. I didn’t get a very good sleep the night before, and I was trying new tricks that I wasn’t quite ready for.”
Parkour, known primarily as an individual sport, is becoming much more than a solo effort. Athletes are now coming together to train as a group. This, in turn, can help an individual gain skills they might not have if they parkour alone.
“To start a parkour team, you don’t really need anything other than just people that you like to train with. That’s how Podi started,” Shaw said.
Another founding member of Podi Boys, Josh Dohy, said the team is there to do more than just help you get better, they inspire each other and build community.
“The first people I look to would be my team. I would look at the skills they have, the progression and how hard they train, [and I think,] yeah, I gotta get there,” Dohy said.
Competition and festivals
The Podi Boys are unconventional as far as parkour teams go, they’ve created Alberta’s largest parkour competition called Dupe Jam.
Dupe Jam has been running for five years, located primarily at Breathe Parkour Gym in Calgary. The competition is an easy way to bring the parkour community together. It’s meant to be a casual no-pressure competition that celebrates the local and greater parkour community in Canada.
“We bring people from all over Alberta, Canada and beyond to come to our city and train. A lot of competitions can be scary as a newcomer, so we try and make ours less so,” Shaw said.
With each passing year, the jam has something new to offer to its guests.
“Last year we started our film festival, people can edit and submit videos for all of us to watch and vote on,” Shaw said.
Tyler Harder, a part-owner of Empire Parkour in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has been to every single Dupe Jam. Harder talks about the impact that the Podi Boys have had on the community and himself.
“Everyone who’s an important person in my life is someone I’ve found through parkour, including Brodie and the Podi Boys. Those guys have been friends of mine for years. Every time I go to an event, they are the first I see,” Harder said.
Shaw knows that the dangers of parkour are constant, but his strength training, support of his team and the influence of the community help Shaw mitigate the inherent risks that come with the extreme sport. Shaw has created a team that inspires, informs and unifies the parkour community.
Shaw said, “my hopes for Podi Boys is that it becomes big enough to make a living off of. I want to be my own boss and be able to create cool stuff for as long as I can.”