When you think about leg power, you immediately picture a muscular dude at the gym with extremely short and tight shorts, pushing 500lbs on the leg press with all of his veins popping out of his body.
Instagram has become very smart to display posts on your research page that matches with what you are interested about, based on hashtags or people you follow, likes, comments, and basically any interactions you can have on the platform. That's also why as a fitness enthusiast you probably end up with booty pics on your research page, making your Instagram account interactions look suspicious for your significant other... I personally love acrobatic stunts, ever since I was a kid, I always admired actors like Bruce Lee. This guy was able to perform such impressive jumps and kicks looking like he was floating in the air, that's insane. There's just something about hanging in the air that I find fascinating. My wife and I are big fans of Avatar: The Last Air Bender series. We are currently watching The Legend Of Korra which is the sequel, except Korra is not as badass as Aang, she actually is kind of lame as a character in my opinion, but the show is really fun to watch regardless. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about right now, the series is about a world in which people with special abilities (Bending) can manipulate one of the following four elements: Air, Water, Fire or Earth. The Avatar is the only one who is blessed with the ability to learn and master all of these, and there is one Avatar for each generation. Obviously, my wife and I had the debate many time over which element we'd like to master if we could. Of course, my choice would be Air! For flying reasons, I want to Fly! So yes, my Instagram account, aside from fitness booty pics, is filled with jumpers, guys dunking with two balls (one in each hand, obviously...), touching their head to the rim, stunners, parkour or tricking athletes and other amazing performers. In the middle of all of these, I remember seeing a guy looking pretty much my height or shorter (I'm 5'9) who was jumping on walls same height as his chin... I was impressed by his videos and intrigued by his tagname: @the_russian_frog. I realized this guy was really on top of his game when it comes to what I like to call "temporary levitation", the art of mastering your jumping abilities and float in the air. The guy posts every day a new stunt or his progress on his next challenge, the slow motion effects on his jumps almost gives me goosebumps. He also gives precious advice on stretching, rest and other important aspects of the art of jumping. I got in contact with him and we clicked instantly, he is really chill and humble, he's in love with nature, parkour and overall health. I wish I was able to fly to Denver to visit him, I would have loved to actually film this interview and spend a full day hiking in Colorado's wild side with this dude. But I also couldn't wait to ask him a whole bunch of questions, so we ended up doing the interview through Instagram, a solid 3 hours exchanging messages that felt as if I was simply making a new friend. Here is the full interview:
Outscore: Can you quickly introduce yourself and your journey for those who do not know you?
The Russian Frog: My name is Andrey Kravets, I'm 27, born in 1989. Originally from Siberia, Russia. I migrated with parents to the US in 96. Originally staying in California, we moved to Colorado in sometime of 98. It's here in Colorado that I was first introduced to bmx, skateboarding and rollerblading. I've always been a high energy individual so those types of activities kept me busy and allowed me to express my energy without getting into too much trouble. From these activities I learned progression.
So from years of participating in these activities it was burned into my mind that all great skill comes from practice and time dedicated. Over the years as time went on, the moves happened and I began to slowly lose touch with my old group of friends. And that was that, with no old time friends to hang with I slowly pulled away from skateboarding and continued to bmx. Some years went on and I could not find a new crew to grow with and eventually gave up on my bmx dreams.
In high school I never fit in with anybody. Pretty much a loner that got picked on for my size. After a really bad street fight I decided to do something about my size and strength and began weight lifting for strength. Some time went by and I was introduced to parkour by a friend of mine in shop class. It was the classic "out of time" by Oleg Vorslav. (Now, you have to understand this part, by this time I was already a few years into weight training and bodybuilding and was getting very Bored with the monotonous activities and routines).
I was literally blown away by what I was seeing. And then the thought that changed my life for the better: " I can do that with the proper training". So from that moment on I devoted my life to parkour training.
Not many did it back then, definitely no one I knew so I had to train solo for a solid year. I would jump precision jumps in the creek for hours at a time. People would walk by and laugh or say rude things to me but I paid them no mind. Over time I developed a level of confidence that I never had before, all the naysayers actually helped me become comfortable with what I was doing.
After my first year I began to meet others and started thinking about flips (had to get my ninja skill on lock before I trained anything fancy) and that's when I started training freerunning as well. I first saw that video(out of time, Oleg Vorslav) in summer of 2009.
Outscore: What type of music you listen to as you workout/practice?
The Russian Frog: I love dnb. Absolutely love dancehall reggae. Psychedelic trance. Used to be a big metal head lol. Chinese traditional for stretching. 80s, dnb or classic hip hop, rap.
Outscore: Do you remember your very first attempt at parkour?
The Russian Frog: I remember most my first backflip, like one year into training. Did too many jumps to remember the first attempts. I got so psyched up that I ended up doing my first standing backflip on wood chips, my spotter couldn't even assist because it was done right the first attempt. I was so scared to land on my neck that I told myself I was going to do it right on first attempt. My buddy and I analyzed a few YouTube videos before for tips.
Outscore: Your slogan on Instagram is "Mad leg power is the mission", did your interest for leg exercise grow as you practiced parkour or have you always had an interest for leg power and jumping?
The Russian Frog: The leg power definitely came from the parkour training. Leg power is big in the community, a way to show strength. As I trained with more and more people I noticed how many would point out my ability to jump far. So I just kept on training my jumps. It was a way to stand out from the crowd, my chance to shine hahaha!
Outscore: Is that how the nickname 'Frog' came up?
The Russian Frog: Pretty much, I've had a few people make that remark. I kinda liked it and just started using that as my Instagram name. I figured frog was most fitting due to legs and my small stature.
Outscore: Have you ever watched the mechanics of frogs jumping to see if there was any secrets that could be applicable to athletes?
The Russian Frog: No, I actually have not done that. I've always watched wild large cats, but we have different bone structures and movement capabilities. I learned from them to crouch deep before jump and to remain as still as possible during flight to travel further.
Outscore: I saw you posting vids with a homemade device that seem to be for evaluating your jumps, can you explain us how it works?
The Russian Frog: It uses water and a simple set up to register or indicate the amount of downward plate travel during jumping. It's finely tuned to allow me to register up to 250 pounds of static force/weight. I use it to see how much force I am producing during my jumps. Having a calibrated system allows me to test different jump styles and techniques to see which ones work so that I may absorb that technique into my training. It's basically a poor man's force plate. Used along with video it allows me to see things in detail and in slow motion.
Outscore: I guess you heard about tricking?
The Russian Frog: Yes, but since I started training parkour to become more ninja, tricking never made sense to me. Beside creating good leg power most of the tricks are not practical or useful in real life. I adopted a while ago, the motto "train to be useful". Besides my side flip all my skills are totally useful. I do tons of mountain hiking, resilience to injury, strong joints, quick reaction skill and leg power all keep me safe while I'm in remote areas by myself, miles from the nearest road.
Outscore: Do you think Tricking was born from parkour?
The Russian Frog: Hmm. I don't really think I know enough of the tricking community to speak on their behalf, but I think bboying had much more to do with tricking. I think since parkour has blown up a ton of different disciplines have been mislabeled. But for sure, tricking and parkour do go together because it is human self expression through movement. Just different styles of movement and different reasons for the movement.
Outscore: Did you attend parkour competitions?
The Russian Frog: Yes I have, August 2nd and 3rd of 2014. Placed dead last for qualifying round. Placed 3rd overall in the end! It was such a good feeling, such an unreal high. I was so sore from training the previous 3 days and almost did not compete. So 2 hours before qualifiers I went and sat in a cold river waist deep to let my legs recover. That cold water helped so much but I still was not confident in myself. It took my recently deceased friend (Justin Harwood) like 5 minutes to get me out of my head and into the game. I took all my friends out for tacos that night with my 50$ winning hahaha! It was never about money, it was always about demonstrating self mastery, earning my place in the community.
Outscore: May your friend, Justin Harwood, rest in Peace, sorry to hear that.
The Russian Frog: Thank you.
Outscore: What are your parkour/leg goals for 2017?
The Russian Frog: 11 foot standing precision. Lock down side prees. Maintain knee joint health and learn more.
Outscore: I recently read that athletes such as LeBron James and Roger Federer sleep 12h per night on average to allow optimal recovery. How is your sleep routine?
The Russian Frog: I didn't know that, but I do know that sleep and rest are crucial. I usually get anywhere from 6 to 8 hours of sleep during regular days, up to 12 + hours if I'm nursing serious injury. I kinda just do what the body feels, I always listen to my body.
Outscore: Will you consider teaching parkour or offer leg exercise programs at some point?
The Russian Frog: Yes, that is the end goal. Become valuable, share your knowledge. The new generation will always be better than the last (sports) so I find it important to inspire and educate the youth. They will always surpass us.
Outscore: Totally agree with that, couldn't have said it better. Which other sports do you enjoy watching or practicing?
The Russian Frog: Hands down without a doubt, skateboarding. It's still something I love, but don't do. I love watching skate vids, they motivate and pump me up! I'm pretty sure that skateboarding led me to parkour, I was always doing drops and gaps.
Outscore: Lots of respect for the skaters, if they fall 10ft in the air it's straight concrete, a very badass sports in terms of guts, very similar to parkour in that some stunts could injure you seriously. Speaking of injuries, what was your toughest one?
The Russian Frog: Without a doubt, my meniscus tear in December 2013. Bad times, full on depression. Only thing that kept me together was the hope of hiking again. I would day dream and play images on my head from previous hikes of the most beautiful places I could remember. I did it to myself but could not afford surgery so I went about healing it myself. It wasn't until April of 14 that I started to rehab with the help of my friend Justin. He would pick me up to go have little rehab sessions, I'd do like 4x 1 foot jumps and be in pain, and that was the session. After many weeks I got much stronger and my rehab turned to hiking mountains. I healed my knee in the mountains. The mountains are pretty much my ground, I'd be a mess without them.
Outscore: I went on a small hike the other day, it felt awesome, couple of years ago you would have asked me to go on a hike I'd have said: "no, that sounds boring". But last time I totally changed my mind, I was gone just to see how high the mount was but couldn't stop and ended at the top. Will definitely do that again! Do you hike every weekend?
The Russian Frog: Yes, if I can, I do. At least, minimum 2 times a month. That's good that you got the nature bug! It's so good to get out. I bet you have some serious mountains to explore in your neck of the woods.
Outscore: Montreal has a lot to do with my nature bug, love that city, Outscore wouldn't even exist if I never came here. So many people stay active and connected to nature, organic products etc... lots of lakes and mountains in Canada, you'd love it for sure! I became a better person mentally and physically just living here. When you see people jogging and biking all year long even through snow, if you're not physically active it gives you a big wake up call.
The Russian Frog: Yup, I totally agree. Got to be surrounded by the right environment. For instance, like 1/4 of my Instagram feed is Bruce Lee. Big inspiration to all. Showed us what could be done. I strive to have a similar impact on this world, not as great, but to inspire people.
Outscore: Bruce Lee is the reason my family sent me to Karate at 4 years old, couldn't stop kicking stuff in the house, ended up banging my eye corner on the table, blood everywhere... Can't believe how much he accomplished in such a short life. In terms of your personal achievements, which one means the most to you so far?
The Russian Frog: My change in consciousness. It was always about me; Give me, Let me have it, like I deserved something. But with time I've realized that I'm nobody and that if I want something I'll have to be willing to give my all for it. Mental growth and maturity, I prize the most. I too took up karate! Loved kicking people hahaha!
Outscore: Here in Montreal there is a place called "The Spot" which is a big indoor parkour space that contributes to introduce this art to more people. How is the movement growing in your area?
The Russian Frog: Very good to hear that. Apex movement is doing good things here. Ryan Ford is doing good work. I too try to represent well also. Everyone is definitely doing their part here.
Outscore: If you could teleport yourself anywhere now, where would you go for a parkour session?
The Russian Frog: Hmm. That's a good one... Probably Europe, hit up some iconic spots.
Outscore: Would you climb the Eiffel Tower if you were allowed to?
The Russian Frog: Yes, scared to death of heights but love climbing hahaha!
Outscore: I feel like climbing goes well with parkour, you need a good grip, right?
The Russian Frog: Yes good grip, but more important to have a strong mind.
Outscore: What should we expect from you this year?
The Russian Frog: Expect to see gains in explosive power, consistent work and some sketchy sideflip precisions.
Outscore: My last question: Jumping high, far and quickly is an important part of overall athleticism, if you could give one piece of advice for those athletes chasing the mad leg power, what would it be?
The Russian Frog: Research! Information is power. Too many just do as told. So few actually question.