How efficiently do we move about our lives? Most, simply walk along pre-designated paths that limit our need for physical output and takes more time to negotiate. Ryan Doyle, however, does not use sidewalks, footpaths or even trails. Doyle is a free-runner and a very good one at that. Ryan goes in a straight line between point A and point B and to hell with whatever is in his way.
Ryan is a Red Bull Adventure Sport Athlete, a pioneer of free running and one of the best free runners in the world. He can be seen flipping off walls in Mexico, not minding the gaps in London and flying through downtown Los Angeles. Ryan is not the ultimate athlete; he is the ultimate human. He has no fear of failing, no mental blocks forbidding him from doing what he wants, and little bone left in his left leg. His abilities are only surpassed by his want to teach his students at his Airborne Academy the basics he never had, basics that will enable them to take free running to the next level.
Talking with Ryan, we find that he wanted something more than just playing football (soccer). He idolized Jackie Chan and enjoyed martial arts while growing up in England and he soon found parkour. He decided to make free running his career only after he started to tour and compete.
As a professional free runner, Ryan is often on the road, traveling from one end of the globe to the other, competing, touring and shooting some insane footage. Unlike many pro athletes, though, Ryan’s passion takes a toll on his body. He can only train as hard as his body will let him, since he does not kick a ball around or shoot free throws during training sessions. It is this aspect of free running that entices Ryan most. One does not need fancy Nikes or hundreds of dollars of protective equipment to become a free runner. In fact, all humans are born with the tools they need.
Ryan’s mindset is not that he is supernatural, but just natural.
“When you see all these fat, obese kids and they’re all playing PlayStation games and they’re conformed to taking the long way, it’s all a nightmare to move. I’ll flip off buildings and be like Spiderman for the day where as they have to pay 50 bucks for a game to be Spiderman for a day.”
This is not to say that Ryan is elitist. He does what he does to encourage people to put down the remote and try to reach their basic human potential. What he does, according to him, is primal. He relates free running to what monkeys do on a daily basis: “They haven’t got a brain cell between them but they flip through trees without a problem.” Ryan cannot see why people, with their level of physical/mental ability, insist that free running is only for the gifted.
Ryan sees free running as more than a sport; he sees it as a state of mind that makes people more efficient human beings. He wants society to break the shackles of conformity in believing that free running is just stuff you see in the movies. He even receives Facebook messages from people calling him a fake, claiming he uses CGI and that he is harnessed to wires when competing or shooting videos. This is the exact conformity to mediocrity that Ryan hopes to end, anyone who claims that he is a fake need only look at his titanium leg or glance at his reconstructed shoulder. These injuries, however, are but small obstacles for Ryan. He is determined to see the end to mediocrity, laziness and obesity and he sees free running as a perfect way to get every human being moving around.
Free running has no boundaries, there are no equipment requirements, size limits, or style hindrances. Ryan equates free running to art. “I can go up to a canvas and paint my picture and no one can say it’s bad or good because it’s whatever I want it to be,” and just like art, Ryan insists that free running cannot be taught, only fostered. No one can say a particular style of parkour is wrong because it is not a sport that is hindered by set criteria he said. “It’s like Beethoven telling Mozart ‘You’re doing it wrong because you don’t sound like me.”
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