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Chappy Compiles with Josh Miller

Last week I had the good fortune of sitting down for an interview with the incredibly talented Josh Miller (@joshesfault on Instagram) and his veritable curtain of hair. We had a wonderful conversation about his parkour, inspirations, and the meteoric rise of Toasty Lizards Movement. After brief introductions and small-world-type connections were discussed, we jumped into the interview proper.

Me: So to start with the obvious, how did you get into parkour?

Josh: It’s actually kind of interesting. So in Portland, Oregon there’s like, a really large infrastructure for parkour gyms, so I’m pretty sure my parents were looking in a parks and recreation pamphlet for youth athletics and other programs, and they found this gym called Revolution Parkour, which is the same gym Joey Adrian was training in at the time. I just went to one of their beginner classes, and Joey was coaching. I just remember thinking that Joey was really cool, and that I wanted to keep training.

Me: That’s sick, especially getting trained by a well-known professional athlete from day one! What was his training regimen like? 

Josh: It was mostly flow based, mostly focused on connections. So even when he was teaching a parkour class, it would consist of a lot of back and forth training, as well as taking only two steps between skills or obstacles. That was really fun, and definitely more flow oriented than other parkour coaches were. We still learned the basics, but it was more about taking the basics and putting things together. 

Me: How long have you been practicing parkour?

Josh: I’ve been training for about nine years now, I’m coming up on ten this summer. 

Me: Wow, how old are you? Josh: I’m 19.

Me: That’s a good long time. That’s interesting, because many of the athletes in my generation didn’t really start training hard until we were teenagers. But this newer generation that grew up with parkour gyms all started really young, and are hitting crazy milestones way younger than most of the people I trained with. In my opinion it partially explains the massive uptick in talent across younger athletes.

Josh: Absolutely, most of the athletes in their late teens and early twenties now grew up as parkour gym kids. 

Me: From your experience, what separated parkour from other sports?

Josh: Growing up, I always hated team sports, primarily because of the competition aspect. I think what was really empowering about parkour was that you didn’t need any equipment either. When I first started, my parents were paying for the gym membership, and then after a while they weren’t able to afford it anymore. I was still training at the gym, but I was also having to work there in order to afford my classes. The cool thing was that I could actually go outside and train for myself at that point, and I no longer needed the gym access. I have no idea if people have to pay for team sports, but I imagine you have to pay for those too. Not needing money or equipment made parkour really easily available to me. 

Me: What’s the biggest battle you’ve had to face in your parkour career? Challenge specific or otherwise?

Josh: I mean obviously there’s motivation. It’s really easy to get caught up in “being good” at parkour. But it’s a lot more rewarding to learn new things, I’ve found. One of my biggest challenges was not getting caught up in “competition style” freerunning, where you just hit double twists and stuff all the time. I was regularly injuring my body and my body couldn’t keep up with it. I was getting really demotivated because I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do, and I found that I value learning new tricks over adding harder and harder twists and things. That was a big challenge for me to realize. As far as my physical challenges, there’s a kong-pre that is going to be in my part of the Toasty Movie. Yeah, it was like nine feet, and level outside. 

Me: So you mentioned Toasty, I wanted to ask you one question in particular about your team, Toasty Lizards Movement. How in the hell did you come up with the name?

Josh: My friend Ben was living with my family for a little bit, and he came up with it. I think it was a spoof on the Sandy Banana Gang. That’s literally it. 

Me: I love that you guys are on some Alfred Scott shit. That’s fantastic. I really enjoy the recent trend of parkour team names moving away from taking themselves seriously. Like you have Storm Freerunning compared to Toasty Lizards Movement, or Beans Out the Can, I love how tongue-in-cheek it is, and the movement reflects that casualness. Who all is involved in the team?

Josh: We have a bunch of people, our most recent addition is Ezra (@ezraschroer.pk), he’s living here in Portland. There’s William Wayper (@wizwayper), there’s Jake Hlad (@jakeparkour), Gavin, Myles, Jupiter (@jupiterjumps), and Ben Tolley (@ben.toasty). I think we have eight members total.

Me: Are you guys all in Portland?

Josh: We’re actually pretty spread out right now. Gavin and Ben are actually in New York at college. Me, Ezra, Miles, and Wiz are all in Portland right now. Our friend Nathan is in Hawaii.

Me: How often do you guys get to train together as a team?

Josh: In the summer we train together at least once a week. That’s when everyone’s back in town, but Ezra and I train every day.

Me: So you’re training all the time, do you ever struggle with over training?

Josh: Oh yeah haha, I have a really bad ankle injury right now actually. I dislocated it doing a raiz twist, so that sucked. But it’s healing. That’s the thing about training every day, you just have to moderate the type of movement you’re doing. You can’t do fat drops or the hardest trick every day. That’s what I think doing dailies has really shown me, is that you can be creative without being high impact. 

Me: That’s an interesting training philosophy, when I was talking with Marquis Bennett, he expressed similar sentiments. What’s your experience with changing your training style for safety?

Josh: It really has to do with what my body is feeling up to that day. I think a lot of the time I’ll get carried away and have all of these expectations and justifications for what I should be able to do, but my body isn’t feeling capable that day. Let’s say I have a kong-pre line I want to do, but my body is feeling really crunchy. I likely won’t be able to do that kong-pre. So being able to listen to your body and be okay with what you’re capable of is really important, because sometimes expectations get in the way of just letting loose and training.

Me: Your movement style is super interesting and your skills are so varied, how did you cultivate your style?

Josh: So me and Jake took a trip to California like two years ago, and we visited Trevor and Josh Malone. They were talking about cork zero the whole time, and they’re big ski-heads so they were watching a lot of ski videos and talking about trick terminology, and that’s where I learned to call ski tricks. Which was interesting because it seemed like such a different way of thinking about skills. You’re thinking more about an amount of twist plus an amount of inversion. So that was really cool to learn and I dove into that with Jake. 

Me: How much effort did it take for you to move away from standard tumbling movements and into the off-axis movements? 

Josh: It didn’t take a ton of effort really. The freerunning I was doing was pretty limited, I’d say. I could do like a double full, and that was my hardest trick. I was really doing more parkour challenges. It was really nice to learn new things that weren’t way too difficult. I feel like the standard for hard parkour nowadays is like, triple fulls. So I would just drill doubles at the gym and wonder why I couldn’t land a triple full. It felt nice to find a way to continue improving without just doing harder and harder tricks. It felt really natural actually.

Me: What are your goals for yourself in parkour?

Josh: I would say longevity. I just want to do this forever. That’s my main goal. I was saying that I’m not much of a competition person, but I’m the type of person to get competitive really easily. It’s taken a lot for me to get out of that mindset. I get really uncomfortable comparing myself to others.

Me: Where do you want to take parkour? Is it just for you, or do you want it to become something more?

Josh: I would say at this point that it’s just for me. I’m just trying to have fun with this Toasty Lizards project, and have fun making video projects with my friends. 

Me: Can you name your favorite parkour video?

Josh: (Takes literally no time at all) Kie Willis 2014 was crazy, that’s one of my favorite parkour videos. Because he was the first person to hit the kong-pre at Imax in that video, and I really want to do that kong-pre. That’s like my bucket list kong-pre. 

Me: That’s a sick bucket list item for sure! It’s hard being American hahaha. 

Josh: I also have no idea how big Imax is, so I’m not sure if it’s insane for me to say. I didn’t realize that running pre was like fourteen feet. I thought it was like twelve.

Me: It’s interesting seeing spots in videos because there’s no real perspective, and you can’t tell how massive something is. 

Josh: I also really liked Sour Steeze by Brewman, some Try Hard Collective stuff, but I watch a lot of UK videos. Especially when I first started. The UK has been making video projects for so much longer than we have. The only old parkour videos you see from America are like Myrm videos, or Dylan Baker circa 2014 vs. the UK, they had videos all the way back into 2010 of Phil Doyle and stuff. 

Me: There’s a deeper parkour history there for sure. Are there any athletes out there right now that you specifically like watching? 

Josh: I really like watching Ezra’s movement. Since I train with him all the time, I get to see that style of movement all the time and it’s really awesome. Ezra’s really good at combining parkour style jumps with the off-axis type freerunning, and it’s sick. Jake Hlad is fun to watch, it’s interesting to watch because Jake used to only do big precisions, and now he’s going in a more artsy direction, which is amazing because he’s really good at it. On the other side of the spectrum, I love watching Joe Rizzo and Julius Porter, they’ve been going super hard.

Me: What are your interests outside of parkour?

Josh: Outside of parkour?! Man… I mean, I like to play guitar but that’s really just a hobby. I’m pretty interested in psychology, I’ve been working with kids on the spectrum recently. I’ve been doing a lot of time management work with people on the spectrum, so that’s been really interesting and fulfilling. I was doing early college and I was on track for an associate’s degree in psychology, but I dropped out to do parkour haha. Just doing that first bit of college got me really interested in stuff like that, and the field of study I want to pursue. I want to finish at some point but I’m not sure when that’s going to be. 

Me: I have one final question. What is your preferred parkour shoe?

Josh: I really like Feiyues. Feiyues are nice. I fluctuate between really thin or really thick shoes, so I usually bring two different pairs to a session. I prefer either Feiyues and Vans, or Adidas 3MC’s and Vans. Vans Ultra Range specifically, I mean. Not the rapid weld vans, which have a slightly different grip pattern. 

 

 

Josh is a really interesting athlete, especially considering his stance on the future of his own parkour. Wishing only to remain strong and continue learning is a sentiment that I think ends up permeating the vast majority of athletes, if usually when they’ve reached their later years in the sport. I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who pursues parkour simply for self-improvement and the satisfaction of movement. There’s a lot to be learned from the athletes who don’t wish to be professionals in this incredibly demanding space, particularly in terms of discipline and striving for personal growth. I’m grateful to Josh for his part in bringing us Toasty Lizards Movement, and I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.