Watch professional freerunner and parkour athlete Kie Willis enjoy the ultimate playcation in Dubai as he navigates his way around Madinat Jumeirah the only way he knows how. In this extraordinary video he demonstrates exactly what the human body is capable of as he traverses his way across the roof tops with a series of acrobatic stunts. He gracefully jumps over sheer drops, leaps up walls and rolls his way around the famous Arabian Resort of Dubai while taking in views of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the world’s most luxurious hotel. Part of “Storm Freerun” the no.1 freerunning team in the world and XDubai athlete, Kie insists there was no adrenaline rush and that this latest stunt was ‘just another day in the office.’
How did you get involved in free running/parkour?
Some of my friends at school watched freerunning/parkour on YouTube and told me about it, they said it was pretty cool and I should try it out! I used to skateboard and compete in athletics at school so this seemed like a natural combination of the two. At school we started jumping off the stairs and it progressed from there after watching other people’s YouTube videos.
Why Madinat Jumeirah? And how much research and planning went into this stunt?
We were shooting for XDubai and were just trying to gather as much Dubai based content as we could, this looked like it would be really cool. My 12 years of training is my main research. Every athlete knows their capability. This is exactly the same, I learn and I know exactly how far I can jump. I always go to the location beforehand to check the feasibility of the stunts before I attempt them. There’s so much analysis that goes into the stunts, even with low level ones. It’s important I train in how to fall safely if I do overshoot a jump and when it comes to taking things to height, I reduce the risk as much as possible. Everything is well within my physical, mental and technical capabilities so that there isn’t any true risk in what I’m doing. It’s not thrill seeking, it’s all very carefully calculated. I’ve done hundreds of thousands of jumps at ground level to learn exactly how I can jump and control it, then I just apply that and rationalise it as much as I can in high level situations.
How did this stunt compare to the others you’ve done, was there anything particularly dangerous about this one? It must have been an incredible adrenaline rush?
No not at all. It was just another day at the office! There’s no adrenaline rush, you generally only get adrenaline when you’ve made a mistake which is never a good thing. Before I jump, if I am a bit nervous, I’ll check my pulse and just wait until my heart rate has lowered so that I’m not just doing the stunt based on adrenaline.
Do accidents ever happen?
Yeah of course, accidents happen to everyone all the time, it’s inherent of life, no matter how much you plan. Most of my mistakes are really stupid things like tripping over a curb! A momentary lapse of concentration is when they happen but the good thing is, there’s no lapse of concentration at height, because I’m so focused the chance of failure is much less. I’m not blasé.
How do build your strength and keep fit?
I do a lot of high intensity interval training (HIIT), lifting for my posterior chain and explosive power training. I don’t train in the gym so much, it’s more in the winter months that I try to improve my fitness. Most of my training is done actually practising the sport itself. The technical aspect of it is the hardest part to improve on and takes the most time. I supplement it with lifting but nothing quite beats the technical training.
Dubai is definitely one of my favourite places for parkour and I visit around four times per year. We have a lot of new ideas for the city but I’m not allowed to tell you what they are just yet!