Katie McDonnell is an immensely hard-working, relentlessly dedicated, and extremely talented freerunner! She has been a big inspiration and motivator of mine from very early on in my training. She is one of the rare few that most would say has "made it," in terms of parkour/freerunning as a career, but that hasn't stopped her from continuously pushing her skill level and progressing hard! Her parkour and tricks, while already amazing, are always improving and evolving. Complacency doe not seem to be in Katie's dictionary.
How long have you been training?
Coming up to 8 years now.
What got you into parkour?
I met some guys at the open gym sessions I was going to - I was a cheerleader for my university at the time and was going there to try to learn some tumbles etc. Those guys became my really good friends and I started hanging out/training with them more and more and it went from there really. I had actually tried parkour once before that when I went to meet up with the parkour guys down in Bournemouth (Scott Jackson being one of them) who I had been in a dance show with (I used to do ballet and modern). They were going out to train so I tried a few things with them, but I never EVER considered that I would start training it more in the future and I definitely never imagined then that it would be my future career!! It wasn’t for another year or so that I met the freerunners down in Southampton (where I was at uni) and started training with them.
What do you do for a living?
I do parkour/freerunning for a living but I get to work in stunts from time to time too.
Do you have any other skills/passions besides parkour? If so, what are they?
Mmm parkour and all the things surrounding it (editing, shoots etc) honestly takes up the majority of my time. I also enjoy doing crafts with Fizz though haha, which I literally started doing because I wanted to have some downtime where I could do something creative that didn’t involve being physical or staring at a computer screen. I’ve also started playing around with some basic skateboarding stuff but I’ve been out of the country so much recently that I haven’t had a chance to do much of that in the past few weeks. Buuuut yeah, parkour definitely takes up the majority of my time and energy!
How do you manage fear when going for something scary?
I don’t often go for things when I’m really scared actually. I definitely used to go for things I was scared of a lot more than I do now (I don’t know if that’s because parkour is my full time career now so I’m a lot more wary about getting injured and not being able to work?) And sometimes I think that holds me back from progressing as quickly as I could, which isn’t great. So I tend to built up towards things super slowly until I’m so sure of them that I don’t feel scared anymore. Obviously shit happens and I still take bails haha, I just never see them coming now!! This doesn’t really answer your question though. Sorry!
Do you have any obstacles that interfere with your training? If so, how do you deal?
Work. Especially if I’m working on something for a few weeks. It’s REALLY hard to find the time to train around that because I’m normally so knackered when I finish for the day that dragging my butt to the fitness gym for an hour for a half hearted session is the best I can manage!! Also, emails, editing and general life admin takes up a lot of my time, so some days there’s just not enough time to train once I’ve done all the life things! Oh and actually a big one for me is not having people around to train with... Or not knowing where to train. Which is the biggest reason that so much of my training is in the gym, because at least that way I know there will be other people about training too! I don’t like training alone and I never know who to ask to come and train with me haha (get your violins out everyone lol!!)
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out?
I have so many pieces of advice haha, I dunno which one to go for. Mmmm when you’re starting out I think it can be really tempting to try to dive right in at the deep end. If you’re starting parkour with the aim of becoming a good athlete rather than just doing it as a hobby for fun (in which case, frickin go for it and chuck yourself in at whichever end you wish and have ALL the fun haha), then I would say to make sure you don’t neglect learning good techniques for all the basics from the get go. It might feel like you’re progressing more slowly than you’d like to to begin with if you take the time to really perfect the fundamental skills (vaults, jumps, laches, pres etc), but it will TOTALLY be worth it in the long run and actually you will find that when you have a solid foundation like that then you will progress at a much quicker rate in the future because all of your fundamental skills will be so on point. Is that a really cliché answer? Probably is but it’s the first thing that came into my head!
Who is a woman that inspires you and why? (in or out of parkour/freerunning)
Arghhhh hardest question ever. So many women I inspire me. When I first started training Luci was my biggest inspiration. There wasn’t a big female scene at the time and she was absolutely smashing it. Career wise my friend Fizz inspires me so much for taking the leap of faith in quitting her job and deciding to start training for the stunt register (which is NO easy task, the stunt register in the UK is really difficult and takes a lot of time, effort and hard work) to be able to have her dream job as a stunt woman (which can be a scary step to take) and now she is working in the stunt department on huge feature films and absolutely killing it. Anyone who takes risks in order to go after their dreams inspires me. I feel like I could list so so many people and I’m too tired to do that so I will just leave you with that haha. But seriously though, so many women inspire me. Urghhh!
Check her out ↓