Almost everyday we at The Motus Projects receive messages asking how to join the team and, more often than not, these are met with responses such as ‘sorry but at the moment we’re currently not looking for any more athletes.’ That’s no lie. We’re never really ‘looking’ however we do always have our eyes open.
There’s no set criteria to become a Motus athlete. It’s much more a case of right person, right mentality, right place & right time. Our newest addition to the team, Jordan Lea, certainly ticked all of those boxes.
Jordan is undeniably one of the most underrated athletes in the world right now but this alone isn’t the deciding factor. When the stresses of high stakes filming sessions, 15 hour van journeys, and an already established friend group are on the cards, whoever is joining the ranks needs to be able to seamlessly adapt to that as well as they could a complex training spot.
After meeting Jordan at events over the last year, seeing his training, his mindset and the way he interacts with the Parkour community, the thought of offering him a place slowly crept into my mind. When this idea was backed up by other Motus athletes with no prompt from myself, the thought was solidified.
The year ahead is looking packed out with clothing releases, video projects and trips abroad & I cant wait to not only be able to provide Jordan with these opportunities but also see how he progresses and develops as an athlete throughout.
I sat down with Jordan to pick his brain.
Jordan, welcome to the team. Before we get stuck in. What are your favourite and least favourite foods?
Well... I love all food. I am vegetarian so you can rule out meat however in terms of foods I don’t think I have found a food to this date that I won’t eat, which is strange because I was an extremely fussy kid. If it’s edible and within my requirements of being veggie I’ll happily get it down me! However there is a catch, I am allergic to roughly 30% of the foods I would like to eat. All types of beans, nuts, soy, the list goes on for ages. Oh and raw vegetables. That’s right raw vegetables, cooked is perfectly fine but raw I have to watch myself. This also involves certain fruits. Basically I am allergic to many different types of pollens and if I was to show you the list, it is literally longer than my forearm! So overall love food but can’t eat the majority of it. #epipen
On to more serious matters... How and when did you first start training Parkour?
I believe I first started training, or more so started just understanding what the sport was in 2014 with two of my closest friends from gymnastics. I pursued acrobatic gymnastics for 5 years up until I had a terrible accident during preparation for a competition which resulted in me demolishing my left arm to say the least! After realising my gymnastics career was coming to an end my club started hosting “Parkour” sessions which got me and my two best mates intrigued in what that actually entailed. We went along to the sessions after watching countless amounts of Jessie La Flairs Parkour tutorials and really started to get engrossed!
That 1st year basically consisted of us getting hyped over videos like the “Tempest Takeover” and trying to learn the basics however without actually stepping foot outside. It wasn’t until the 2nd year we really started to understand what the sport was actually about and began to train outside. With many thanks to the OG Parkour guys of Newcastle. One of my biggest inspirations for training was a guy named Ross Taylor who was just so above the game at that time. He really helped me start my Parkour pursuit and showed me how to train properly! So altogether now I have been training for 5 years but have really been pushing myself and progressing a lot this last year!
You recently moved from your home of Newcastle to Oslo in Norway. What were the motivations for this aside from running away from Theresa May’s wrath?
Unfortunately at the time the Parkour community was dying and had been for quite some time in Newcastle. Which I think was mainly due to the closing down of our home the “Mill Lane Youth Centre” or better known to the Newcastle scene as “Millaz”. This Youth centre was the hub for indoor training and really kept the scene alive, it was also my coaching job for a good amount of time. However due to many complicated reasons that will take too long to explain that place had closed down.
Thankfully I had seen this coming for some time now and got myself a job at a trampoline park during this hard time of fighting to keep the building open. Unfortunately we lost the battle to keep it open but I was all good with my other job. During this time I had been traveling to parkour events such as 4TLOM as well as going on Parkour trips with friends. One of these trips was Oslo. As soon as I visited for the weekend to help a friend out with filming a project I knew I liked the place.
A new friend that I met in Oslo that trip turned out to teach Parkour at a school in the Norwegian countryside every year. Teaching the kids Parkour for 2 weeks, ending with a choreographed show to reveal to the parents and show what the kids had learned. Luckily the year after I visited this friend needed somebody to help him teach at the school for two weeks, so naturally I had my flights booked and experienced still to this date one of the best trips of my life and this really made me connect with Norway as a country.
So after experiencing this trip a few years passed and during those years I kept on going back. My Parkour career was going good, training was going good. Sadly though the Newcastle community was a bit dead. I had been working the same job for over a year now and I wanted a change. I got told by my friend they were looking for somebody to help them coach with this new Parkour company “Oslo Movement” out in Norway and I seized the opportunity. Two months later I had planned the move and I was gone!
That was only 50% of the reason though, the other 50% is definitely escaping the wrath of Theresa May and getting as far as i possibly can away from this mess they call Brexit!
Since being in Oslo how has that affected your training? Assuming your winters are restricted to gym training?
From moving to Oslo all I can say is that it has progressed me as an athlete incredibly, well I think so at least! The move itself was all about going there to teach Parkour and be part of this new company “Oslo Movement”. I had nothing else on my mind, Parkour was the be all and end all which meant I really put in the work. 1 month before the move I knew what I was getting myself into and what I wanted to gain from this experience and that was to progress as an athlete and hopefully make something of myself within Parkour. So... I started training at the gym to get myself stronger and prepared, the move occurred and I had all time access to the Oslo movement gym and another indoor place called “skurr13”.
Having access to these spaces means I am training all the time, and often by myself. So I just start training, prop my camera on my shoe, and crack on! Which I’ve noticed training by myself has really impacted how much I’ve progressed seen as there are no distractions, just me and my goal! So being restricted to indoor training during this harsh Norwegian winter has not hindered my training at all and in fact has forced me to challenge myself and upped my skill set a lot!
You’re a well rounded athlete but definitely have a huge strength with your lache and bar skills. The UK is pretty lacking in bars compared to some countries so I’m curious, was this out of chance and you just happened to have good bars around or did you really put a strong emphasis on progressing in this area of your movement?
So that venue I mentioned in one of the previous questions, the “Mill Lane Youth Centre” is the root cause for having a good strength in bars. This gym was a small building, filled with home made vault boxes and a lot of scaffolding. Over the years we got more and more gear to kit it out. That gear mainly being scaffolding. So from the beginning of my training at this venue it was pretty much all bars. I remember after coaching I just used to set up a vault box a size-able distance away from a bar and max out my lache. So this obviously got me confident with casting into laches, learning giants and overall just having a strong and confident bar game!
I noticed recently there has been a lot of attention around you and your training and I am frequently asked “how do you get more noticed in Parkour”. Did you up the ante with your training and the amount your posting or has this always been the way you have worked and it’s more a case of ‘good things come to those who train consistently and progress at a good level?’
One thing is for sure, I did not up my ante with training, I’ve always been training at a consistent rate however did not post much content. Don’t get me wrong I used to release content however, I have always been really interested in the content creation side of the sport and only released a post if it was a somewhat nicely edited video with a good amount of clips. Which I still enjoy doing, however I realised from a lot of friends telling me I am a talented athlete so I should post raw content on the regular.
I took action just before my move to Norway, I started releasing more video content, and especially when I moved to Norway I really really started to focus on posting my jumps. I still enjoy putting a nicely edited video together however if I can’t find the time I just transfer my files to my phone and upload them raw. So that has 100% had a good impact on getting a bit more attention. Regardless of that though I believe if you train consistently and progress at a good rate, as long as you get yourself out to events and make contacts the attention and good things will come.
So now that you have joined this dysfunctional Motus family. I assume you’re looking forward to some exciting video projects and hopefully with that, some travel. Have you managed to travel much with Parkour so far?
Yes! I can not wait to dive in head first and just fully get involved as much as I can with new video projects and travel around with like you said, this “dysfunctional Motus Family”. Myself over the years I have travelled a good amount with Parkour, one of my favourite things about this sport is getting around to different countries, making new friends and jumping on walls creating some of the best memories. I try every year to get to as many events as possible and that has just seemed to increase every year from when I have started. Due to my ability getting better, getting more noticed and increasing my contacts. My first Parkour trip was Munich, it was absolutely amazing seeing all the iconic spots like red city that I had only seen on videos and that just only made me want to travel more!
Last year you competed at the (sadly final) Air Wipp Challenge. Had you ever competed before that and is competition something you have a focus on moving forward?
So my first ever competition was at Hop the Block 2018, I wasn’t planning on competing however the atmosphere was so chill and it was only a speed competition so I thought why not. I signed my name up and gave it a go, I did surprisingly well as I was up against some athletes I look up to as being extremely strong and fast in there movement. So coming 7th out of around 30 people was a good success for me. It got me into semi finals which I was more than happy with and I left with a good first experience of a competition in my bag!
Then Air Wipp came along, I knew I wanted to compete in Air Wipp for a long time and I felt 2018 was a good year to give it a go. Not going to lie I had very little expectations of making it anywhere but out of I think roughly 120 people I managed to qualify and be part of the Air Wipp challenge which honestly blew my mind considering this was my first ever style competition.
After that experience I realised competition is something I definitely want to pursue while training Parkour. It adds a whole new level to the sport and I feel is definitely pushing the sport in a good direction, so i 100% want to be part of that! My goal for this year is to hopefully hit up the American competitions and tick a skill comp of my list.
You’re also incredibly talented behind the camera, specifically with photography. Is this something you want to pursue as a career alongside being an athlete?
Photography is the next best thing alongside Parkour for me. I love photography and capturing moments to create memories. I have ever since I started traveling with Parkour. I am extremely interested in taking up photography as a career along side being an athlete. One main reason my Parkour content was limited on Instagram is because photography was starting to take off for me in Newcastle and I was really focused on that at the time. I was still training consistently but I started getting DM’s of people for photography work. So I just focused on using Instagram as a portfolio for my work.
I now have a website and I have created a separate account for my photography. So yes, alongside being an athlete photography is on the cards for a career, and Motus is going to help me pursue that career as I can help out with product photography and document trips and events through my shots.
Finally, where do you see yourself and Parkour as a whole in 5 years time?
I find this an extremely hard question to answer because if I was to ask myself 5 years ago from now where do you think you will be, I would have definitely not said moved to Norway and now a sponsored athlete! However I will try my best! For myself I’d like to still have a strong place in this Motus family continuing to produce content and helping the brand grow, as well as my Parkour ability. I see myself still training and hopefully at a good level.
In 5 years I am definitely going to make it a goal to be able to sustain myself from photography, most likely doing freelance work. This work also supporting me being an athlete traveling around competing and training. For the sport itself I’d like to think it has just grown as a whole. The community being bigger, hopefully more competitions like the Air Wipp challenge as I feel like that competition portrayed the sport to the public in a very good way!
I’d also like to see more skill competitions like the American ones in England and Europe. I feel like with the gyms getting built at this moment in time that is definitely going to happen in the upcoming years. So overall still smashing jumps, taking good photos and using this to sustain myself financially for traveling the world creating content for myself and Motus!