Frank Mejia is a parkour athlete from Arlington, Virginia in the US. His movement is speedy, creative, and powerful. He’s part of the Parkour team Berwyn and you may have also seen him in World Chase Tag as part of a team called The Boys, who were the first American team to compete.
The old-age question-How long have you been doing Parkour for:
Frank: I’ve been doing parkour since September 2009, so I guess about 10 years now going onto 11.
Getting into Parkour
Frank: I’d already been moving around and doing a whole bunch of really reckless things when I was a kid. Climbing balconies, going on top of roofs, jumping as far as I could. Just anything a child would do in a playground, I was just doing anywhere I could because I thought it was really fun and cool.
It was around middle school when my friend went hey do you want to be a ninja? And just like jump with me outside after school? I was like Ok sure. One thing led to another and we kept doing it for like a month until eventually we looked it up online and found this was a thing already. Next thing I know I’m watching Speed Air Man with David Belle and I’m like oh this is called parkour. Ok, I guess we’re doing parkour then and then carried on from there.
A Jackie Chan Influence
Frank: I really blame Jackie Chan for all of it because I would always watch those films and go yes, yes this is what I want to do. Rush Hour will always have a place in my heart, but it was definitely like Who Am I, Drunken Master was really good. Armor of God series was really good and police story I enjoyed. Rumble in the Bronx that was a good one when he did that big jump, I was like what, why? How could he do that?
If you met Jackie Chan what would you say to him?
Frank: Oh I would say thank you. Like just thank you. Thank you for your service of making me want to do cool things.
A Decade of Progression
Frank: It’s had its peaks and valleys definitely. Like when I started the first two years, it was more of a hobby, just hanging out with friends, just doing whatever, just hopping around and stuff but then as I started transitioning to high school I started wanting to take it more seriously and so then I training harder, actually working out, trying to get stronger so I could actually do the things I wanted to try that I always see other people do online. That’s when I started upping my training and I started getting a lot better than I was before. Kind of just hucking stuff.
Then throughout the years just working with parkour or just getting more into coaching and everything. It reaches its peaks and valleys just from fatigue or just busy with a schedule but as of this moment right now its more on an upward slope, where I’m starting to progress more and getting more powerful and doing things that I didn’t think I could really do, in terms of mentality. Like the other day, I did a cast back outside, which I didn’t know I could do outside. Then I was like ok I’m going to do this I guess. It was really nice, I was like cool, I never thought I could hit it.
Frank: In the beginning, it was just jumping a lot. So that helped, then over time I realized that my body wasn’t as strong to tolerate some more jumps, so then I started doing more calisthenics, but then I transitioned into weightlifting since the co-worker I had at the time, he was like you should do this it will help with your jump. And I was like oh ok.
Next thing I know I gained probably 15 to 20 pounds in just muscle mass and I was like oh because I had just been lifting so chronically that I wasn’t paying attention to how much muscle mass I was gaining cause I use to be 135 pounds but now I think I’m 150 pounds right now that’s from not lifting anymore. I think the peak I ever had was like 165 pounds if anything.
Lifting helped a lot and then trying different methods and techniques. Like the shock drop method definitely helped a lot with getting me to use to taking the impact and redirecting it fast. And now since I don’t have the gym to really use weights anymore I’ve just been going into more bodyweight again and everything feels lighter. Like I feel like a pixie just flying in the forest. I’m just like whoa, I can just jump and it doesn’t really matter I can just keep going.
Frank: I’m not in Cincinnati, I’m pretty much right next to Washington DC in the states. I’m in Arlington, Virginia which is probably like 10-20 minutes away.
It’s been very peaks and valleys over the years, I think it was around when I just started parkour when it was at its peak moment but now it’s like very fluctuated because everybody grows up and starts getting different jobs and traveling around everywhere. There’s still a good chunk of people here that still train and we’d try to before all this like meet up as regularly as we could. So it’s here, it’s not like the booming town that it use to be but we’re still here and we’re still training.
Weirdest and coolest Parkour Jobs
Frank: I don’t know, what is the weirdest one I’ve done. I think the weirdest one I did, was some performance, well it wasn’t really a performance, they kind of rented us out I guess for like a party and we were supposed to be like hype men so every couple of minutes we would just do a backflip or whatever. And this was like the funniest thing because my co-worker he was more the break-dancer guy. There was one instance when the people were kind of doing some kind of dance battle with each other, you would see girls on one side, and then for some reason there were a lot of older Russian men on the other. Like team dance battles against each other. I was like what the heck is this. What type of party did we get to? So I think that’s the more funny one.
I guess the one that made me think wow this is kind of cool, as I remember I did a photoshoot for known obstacles, which I think still was a WFP company at the time and just did a whole bunch of stuff for their shoes and clothing and things. I have done a lot of jobs I can’t remember all of them exactly except those two right now.
It was one of the first jobs where I felt like I guess I was making the right moves in parkour, I don’t really know how to describe it, except saying it was interesting because I’ve never really seen myself in that role. I still don’t but it was like huh, they thought of me and they wanted me to participate in this. Ok, that’s pretty cool, and I also thought it was really cool cause that’s where I go to meet Lorena and also Tam and a whole bunch of other people as well. So I had fun with it. Just being on a set in New Jersey taking photos and a whole bunch of parkour stuff.
Outside or Inside?
Frank: Unfortunately due to my profession which is a parkour coach. Over the years it has been more so training in gyms but since during all of this, it’s just been training outside for the most part. Like, if I didn’t have the job I have for coaching I more than likely would just be training outside. So its more like a matter of circumstance rather than personal preference cause training outside is so much fun.
Frank: I think I would like to do a collab with The Unknown Project which is a team-based out in New York, just see what those guys want to do.
What Parkour events have you been to that you would recommend? Top 5 Events?
Frank: Definitely NAPC, even if you are not competing still go cause it is such a good atmosphere. Its almost similar to Santorini with Red Bull where it becomes a parkour town, same thing with Vancouver. You just get to meet all these athletes where you probably have seen them and you’re like whoa they’re just out in a coffee shop just drinking some coffee, ok.
Beast Coast cause it’s an American staple at this point. Beast Coast is actually one of the first American jams to happen and it’s gotten progressively bigger year after year, where they have to take a break this year because of Covid but essentially that was a really fun one where I got to meet a lot of friends that I have now, that I still talk to very frequently.
I wish I had been to more big scale jams, a lot of the jams that I have been to have been like not lower scale but just regional jams in the states. Like Michigan Spring Jam where Flint Fountain is, and another one is Cincinnati jam where if you remember Seth Rujiraviriyapinyo, that is essentially his hometown, where they host a jam every year.
But there is one event, that I really want to go to and it might not happen this year but I really hope it does somehow by some miracle, Own the Spot because we had booked flights in advance me and a couple of friends. Just so that I could go up there. We were going to do this whole Pilgrimage thing and finish it at Own the Spot but now we probably won’t be able to do that because of all this.
The next Event:
Frank: Own the spot then after that it probably would have been NAPC again just to see everyone again even if I didn’t qualify for whatever I wanted to do.
How is the Covid-19 situation over there?
Frank: We’re allowed to go outside within reason, we can’t go with anyone unless they’re from the household, and essentially all I’ve been doing is just going outside to my secluded spots that no one goes to so that’s how I’ve been keeping up.
Watch out for the next part, where we delve into Frank’s biggest achievements, obstacles and traveling.
Note: Audio Feature soon.
To Follow Frank:
- Feature Image taken by: Steve Zavitz
- Videos from: @frnkmj4 and @berwynpk
- Jackie Chan Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLcTrr3wGtY
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