Blake Evitt is the Boston-based Director of Parkour Generations Americas. Like all great leadership paths, Blake's journey has involved travel, building a community, and plenty of self-learning. Read about his journey and how he's helping people learn about, and get into, Parkour.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I actually came into this role after travelling all the way around the world to end up right back where I started. I suppose it's a bit of a metaphor for Parkour in general, but the journey has been pretty incredible.
I started with a post-graduate fellowship through the Thomas J Watson foundation, studying Parkour as an agent for positive social change. After that, I keep my momentum to continue travelling for another year and ended up back in my hometown of Boston to help build a parkour community here.
What kind of work does your role involve?
Most days involve wearing a few hats and a mix of managing our local branch at Parkour Generations Boston.
I still teach a few classes, because I love coaching too much to give it up completely, but I spend the bulk of my time helping our fledgeling branches in other parts of the country get started, coordinating the ADAPT instructor certification program in the US, and serving on the founding board of our national governing body for Parkour in the US, USPK.
What gets you excited about your industry?
It's been a pretty wild ride over the last 10+ years, and the pace of development and growth only seems to be accelerating. We've had several communities around the country for quite some time, but we're now seeing many the peripheral supporting industries really operating at a professional level; apparel brands, equipment manufacturers, gyms, public parks, etc. These are essential elements to building the community further and create more parkour-related work opportunities for our community members.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Don't look for the job with the highest salary or the most prestige - find something that you can wake up every morning and look forward to building.
At the end of the day, you want to look back and be able to feel good about leaving your world just a little bit better than the way you found it.
What, or who inspires you?
I get a lot of inspiration from our community members and celebrating the small victories. We're lucky enough to have a huge range of ages, backgrounds, and abilities in our community, so celebrating this community inspires me.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
During "normal" times, I travel quite a bit to teach instructor training courses across the country, so I use it as a way to keep tabs on communities at a grassroots level.
The parkour community is relatively close-knit, so there are a few events that we're involved with (American Rendezvous, Art of Retreat, etc.) that bring together leaders to spend face-time with each other. Additionally, there are more and more "business network" groups springing up around various topics to help share knowledge and support each other.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
COVID has been an extremely challenging time and steering our teams through the morass of closures, government mandates, and schedule disruption has been rough. We've seen a number of friends and industry colleagues close up shop due to the pandemic, but our team has been remarkably resilient and adaptable, so we've been able to continue supporting each other and our community.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Exactly what I'm doing now, although with (even) more stops at local cafes and a bit more time/budget for fun adventures and travel (parkour-related of course!).
The biggest change would be the ability to start more programs in places that currently aren't within our budget due to funding restraints (primarily lower-income and less-resourced areas in Boston) and apprenticeship/mentoring projects that take much longer to pay for themselves.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I was a competitive distance runner before Parkour, so I'll often take some time to go for a run or row to clear my head when I can - it depends on the day. However, my perfect day definitely finishes with time monkeying around in a playground or my backyard.
I'm also a bit of history nerd, and a bookworm at heart so will happily get immersed in a Bernard Cornwall or Conn Iggulden novel to unwind.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
It would be really great to see Parkour have the ability to steer our own growth on an international stage (without the encroachment of larger sports like gymnastics) and to see how things develop organically. Parkour folks are extremely creative and independent, so it will be fun to see what offshoots and supporting industries develop around the sport!
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
My go-to books are "Reinventing Organizations" (Frederic Laloux) and "Let My People Go surfing" (Yvon Chouinard). Both have shaped a lot of my approach to building a company and culture, and help me stay strong in avoiding "the norm".
For podcasts, I listen to a lot of "Freakonomics" and "How I Built This" as I find that they both offer many different viewpoints on business (and life in general).
How should people connect with you?
You can reach me on:
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/blakeevitt/
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/blake-evitt-15307125/ ,or
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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