Interview with Julie Angel about Parkour and the Power of Movement

Julie Angel
Dr. Julie Angel

Dr. Julie Angel did her PhD thesis on parkour. I didn’t know you could do PhD theses on things like parkour, but she did it. Oh, and she can jump. Pretty good at it, too, from what I hear. 

After living a sedentary lifestyle for twenty years, Julie found parkour and fell in love with movement. Twelve years later and now in her late 40s, she’s a veteran of both parkour and MovNat, among other movement practices. Julie trains with a group of women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, which is probably not the first demographic you’d associate with parkour (more on that later).

When Julie is not moving, she makes films, does photography, and other creative projects.

In her own words

I create work I like, for, or about, people and companies that I like. I spend a lot of time documenting the current ‘age of athletisiscm ‘ – Parkour, MovNat, buildering and much more. Films, photography, action promos, research, writing and presentations. Anything but drama. Filming and understanding what people do so I can share their vision and stories to inspire others.

I first learned about Julie’s work when I watched this mini-documentary series on MovNat. I also saw that she did some work with Christopher McDougall (the author of the best-seller, Born To Run – recommended!) while on tour for his latest book, Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance (also recommended!).

Julie has also done some writing of her own. She is the author of Breaking The Jump: The Secret Story of Parkour’s High-Flying Rebellion.

And most recently, she’s also the founder of See & Do, where she hosts Strong Body Strong Mind workshops and courses. Needless to say, Julie wears many hats – with movement being the common theme.

Here is one of Julie’s short films on parkour…

Note: there are many more great films on Julie’s Youtube channel.

What I Learned After 1 Year of Cold Showers

How I Jumped Into Cold Showers, 10 Lessons Learned, How To Get Started, Tips For Success, Overcoming The Mind Gremlins, A Challenge, And More!

cold shower

WARNING: Please do try this at home.*

Cold showers give you superpowers. They make you feel like James Bond. And they can truly change your life, in both subtle and powerful ways.

I challenged myself to start taking cold showers about a year and a half ago – beginning in the dead of Winter, where the ground water up here in New England is a bit nippy. While it was unpleasant at first, the experience has done me a world of good. So, I’d like to share a little bit about it, what I’ve learned, and how you can start experimenting with this powerful tool to enhance your health, fitness, mental toughness, and quality of life.

So, why cold showers?

Well, the main reason why I started taking cold showers is because I didn’t want to. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but hear me out.

You see, I kept hearing about this guy, Wim Hof, who is known as the Iceman because he’s trained himself to endure extreme cold. While I’ve always been skeptical of some of his claims, he’s definitely on to something big. After some of my friends attended Wim’s training events with positive reports, I decided to dive in, too. I read articles, watched documentaries, and then started doing my own research on hydrotherapy and using cold as a training stimulus.

So, the seed was planted. But I wasn’t taking cold showers yet, except maybe an occasional cool shower on a hot summer day.

Then I watched the following TED Talk, and I was totally sold on the idea. Not because of the long list of health benefits I would experience, but because I knew this would let me exercise my “willpower muscle.” And that’s the main reason why I’ve kept up the habit for the last year and a half, and intend to continue for the foreseeable future.

So, why do I take cold showers? Because I don’t want to.

Simple as that.

Of course, there is a long list of benefits to be enjoyed from cold showers. For starters, they make you feel awesome. They wake you up, energize you, and increase your alertness and ability to concentrate. They also strengthen your cardiovascular and immune systems, among others. Cold showers enhance recovery, reduce inflammation, increase testosterone, and improve skin and hair health, too. But that’s just the icing on the cake. Deliberately getting uncomfortable daily – and doing what I would really rather not – has provided the best rewards.

Because let’s be honest. Nobody likes taking a cold shower (at first). But if you stick with it, big things start happening.

If you’re seriously considering cold showers, then that TED Talk is worth the eleven minutes of your time. Here’s the take-home point…

How To Get Better Results From Any Exercise

dumbbell bench press

Here is a simple concept you can use to dramatically improve your fitness results starting today.

Barbell Bench Press < Dumbbell Bench Press & Barbell Bench Press together (i.e. in the same workout and/or program)

In other words, you’ll get better results from bench pressing with both barbells and dumbbells than you will from just using barbells alone.

Here’s another example.

Barbell Bench Press (BBP) on a flat bench < BBP on flat bench, incline bench, and decline bench

In other words, you’ll get better results from bench pressing at different angles than you will from specializing in just one.

How about another example?

Barbell bench press < BBP with standard grip, wide grip, and close grip

In other words, you’ll get better results from varying your grip width on the bench press exercise than you will from only ever using the same grip.

Okay. Want to really throw your head for a loop?

Clubbell Complexes For Legs

Below, you’ll see a video from a semi-recent strength training session I did using clubbells to strengthen hip flexion/extension, internal/external rotation, and abduction/adduction. Basically, the whole kit and kaboodle to strengthen all of the musculature surrounding the hip joints (e.g. hip flexors, glutes, quads, and hamstrings).

Now, whether you call it strengthening a variety of positions, hitting the muscles from different angles, training different functional patterns, or strengthening muscles through movement using 3D/6DOF training, good movement is good movement. And you’ll get better results if you try to strengthen your muscles throughout their full range of motion in a variety of ways.

But John, everyone knows that clubs are for grip strength and shoulder mobility. But legs…really?

O ye of little faith. Have a look-see.

Training Hips & Legs With Clubbells

If you want the technical details, here’s what I did…

Fairy Tales We Believe About Fitness

coffee with butter

You want to put butter or coconut oil in your coffee? Be my guest.

You want fitness in a few minutes per day? Have at it.

You want to drink red wine often? I won’t stop you.

You want a pill for that? Go for it.

You want to believe you’ll get into great shape without sacrifice? You keep thinking that, Butch.

But sooner or later, you’ll be back.

Most people know the truth, but they’d rather live in a fairy tale. It’s easier. It’s more fun. And it feels safer, too. But that’s the big lie.

Reality is a hard sell. But it’s real. And it works.

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