Sometimes you meet an athlete who does things that make your jaw drop. My guest today is one of them. Tim “Livewire” Shieff is a professional parkour and freerunning world champion who’s been on MTV’s Ultimate Parkour Challenge, numerous commercials and campaigns, and graced the obstacle courses of American Ninja Warrior numerous times, leading the European team to victory. iIcould go on and on about is athletic prowess, but I highly recommend watching the video above for some solid visual proof. [tweet this]
On top of all of this, Tim is a compassionate and deeply spiritual individual. So when had the pleasure of sitting down with Tim, we talked about his formation into a professional parkour champion and ethical vegan.
Be sure to watch the video for Tim's full story, but here are some choice nuggets:
on why and when he went vegan
“I went vegan, I think it was October [or] september 2012. So, just under three years now. I think my friend just mentioned vegetarianism to me and I had a few friends who were vegan, but I didn’t see them very often, they lived in California. They never really spoke to me about it. I never really took that much interest, I didn’t really get it. It wasn’t in the forefront of my mind, and then I saw Gary Yourofsky’s talk. The YouTube video where he gives his speech to the school and no one ever put it so bluntly. I think that’s what I needed all along was someone to just go…just tell me straight what I’m supporting. …
“[S]ome people say he’s too harsh with it but I think there’s, you know, different deals with different people. But that was certainly what i needed to hear so that’s…that changed my life from that moment.”
On the spiritual side of parkour
“As you become an adult you lose that childish nature, and think it’s important to keep that. Parkour was…so cultivated that for me because it kept me seeing the world as a playground and you get…as kids we want to play around, and climb on things, and play fight.
“Then you get older, parents tell you to sit still. And it really is so damaging to a child because it’s makes you so linear. We just use our bodies then to work, walk to work, walk to school, and become these robots. You miss all the freeness of our bodies and what it’s capable of. So, that was, certainly without knowing it, was a spiritual decision to just pursue…it looked cool, I want to do that kind of thing. I pursued that and then the evolution for me was…and when I became vegan, I became a better athlete, I became a lot leaner. A lot more my actual…the body type that I think you should be. I think veganism changes people in different ways. Some people get skinnier, some people get bigger. So, it just makes you the optimum type for what your kind of function is and what your role to play is, and I found that through veganism.” [tweet his vegan conversion]
On his journey into parkour and pro status:
“It’s an interesting one because it wasn’t really a potential…when I started parkour you couldn’t really be a professional parkour athlete so we kind of paved the way to professionalism. Within 9 months of starting, I got into a team that was just at the brink of becoming professional. I traveled to Iceland. … I did a job out there for Nokia, and I was [saying] ‘Oh, I could get paid and travel, and do this’. and I got into university to do a math and physics degree. I do really enjoy math but I decided to defer and pursue this, and it worked out.
“I started to get more and more jobs, sponsorships, things like that. And then [in] 2009 I won the world championships, and that helped again with my profile, my CV. and it grows from there. I always kept my YouTube channel going, I put a lot of parkour content out so I was always a prominent figure in the parkour community. … I was just really blessed to be able to pursue [it]. When you, there’s like a pure thing within you that has a passion for something. and it’s when you live it through that, and you let that guide you, you’re rewarded somehow. I didn’t have that belief until afterwards, and I’ve like, looked backwards and been, that’s how it works. It’s hard going forwards and have that leap of faith and believe in that but i can promise you it works out.” [tweet a leap of faith]
On rewarding experiences in parkour and freerunning:
“It took me all around the world which is nice. I went to Egypt and climbed the great pyramid there which was technically illegal, but we did that. I went to Hong Kong and filmed. I think that’s my favorite video I ever shot. It was a 20 minute documentary in Hong Kong with one of my best friends, Jason Paul. And then I did a photo shoot where I was naked over the rooftops of London. These are all amazing moments to look back on but…they were amazing at the time. I don’t know, I think once I discovered veganism and then was able to sustain, and not just sustain, but become a better athlete through that, and show that evidently. That is you know, a bigger reward for me because as far as I can see it’s an injustice. It’s so wrong and that angers me more than anything. So, to be at a time where I can contribute, to showing people there’s a better way. I think that’s, you know, giving my service to help a better cause is the best way I found.”
On other athletes' responses to his vegan lifestyle and activism:
“It’s kind of a split thing. You know, diet brings out a lot of emotion in people. but, everywhere I go, every place I visit, there’s kids that hit me up with a vegan…through my introduction to some of my videos. And then you get the other people that say it’s not relevant speaking too much. They just want to see me do parkour. Then I did an interview on YouTube with the founder of parkour, David Belle, and it was, no one had interviewed him in years, and it was quite the big thing in the community.
“Everyone that was part of the community watched it and I know there was a moment when I talked to him about veganism. I said ‘parkour is kind of a spiritual connection to the environment. We’re about preserving the environment. If you damage any of the things we’re interacting with we won’t be able to use them or the next generation can’t train on those obstacles. So, we’re definitely mindful when we train. So, why are we encouraging people to leave a trail of chicken carcasses and ribs after we’re training when we eat when we don’t need to’. And he connected with it. He understood it. He’s a wise guy and has got perspective but some people really didn’t like the fact that I brought that up and thought it was irrelevant. But I think they must be more narrow minded not to see the relevance there.”
I hope you enjoyed hearing from Tim on his journey into being a parkour champion and vegan advocate. Be sure to check out the video for some of his insane moves and stay tuned to the series for more with him including his tips on qualifying for American Ninja Warrior and what he eats in a day. find links to his YouTube channel, website and other social media below to keep up with this impressive antics.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on what Tim shared in the comments below.
The Gary Yourofksy Interview Series
Gary’s Talk That Made Tim Vegan
Vegan Health, Nutrition & Fitness
Vegan Athletic Performance
Nutrition Concerns Series
The Worst of the Fitness Industry
From Meat-head to Vegan Bodybuilder
The Makings of a Vegan Bikini Pro
The Controversy Video