2014 NAWPJ photo by Anya Chibis

Credit: Anya Chibis

This year’s North American women’s jam in Toronto, hosted the last weekend in July by The Monkey Vault Movement Training Centre, looked to be the largest parkour girls gathering yet—but the sheer number of women at the jam wasn’t the only reason why I was so honored to train with some of the best athletes on our continent.

One of the supremely talented Canadian traceuses, Amanda Voll, gave me some great advice about how to approach my training (I’ve heard much of it before, but it’s always reassuring to hear it again). Our philosophical conversation ran the gamut of ideas that apply just as much to parkour as they do to work and other life situations.

We all know that parkour makes us face our fears every time we train, no matter how big or small—so when we conquer those fears, we should honor and celebrate that.

roofclimb-photo by Anya Chibis

Credit: Anya Chibis

Remember that everyone’s training journey is different, everyone’s starting point is different, so why give yourself a hard time if you’re not a [fill-in-the-blank-with-some-ridiculous-stunt] beast?

Beware that whatever emotional or intellectual worries you have on the brain, they’re gonna manifest themselves in your training: It happened to me as a gymnast, as a Lindy Hopper, as a weightlifter, and now as a traceuse. More than paying attention and focusing, be present. Be now.

I’m happy to say that over the jam weekend, I succeeded on several occasions at leveling up my climbing skills (no pun intended). I got mentally stronger, too, from clambering onto a bridge at Cloud Gardens; not-so-legally climbing into, on top of, around, and out of an abandoned warehouse, and scaling the side of the Monkey Vault to get to the roof. My only regret of the jam was not focusing more on my weakest technique and mental weaknesses surrounding precision and tacs.

A million thanks to Brandee Laird, Caitlin Pontrella, plus Mandy Lam and Dan Iaboni of the Monkey Vault (and the rest of their crew) for hosting a fantastically fun and inspiring jam. I can’t wait to get to the women’s jam in 2015, hosted in Seattle, to show off how much I’ve learned this year.

QM photo by Anya Chibis

Credit: Anya Chibis

Elaine is a member of APK Academy DC, amazing paleo treat maker, a rookie traceuse, and recovering journalist living in D.C.