Interview with an Influencer: Gyen Ming

Hi! Welcome to Interview with an Influencer, will you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Gyen, and my Instagram is mainly based around my own parkour training edits, with some other things mixed in.

How did you get to where you are?
I started training parkour back in 2008, and started posting videos on Instagram when they first introduced the feature back in 2013. I’ve posted at least a couple of times of week ever since!

Who is your favourite influencer in your space?
Thinking about the online parkour community as a whole, my favourite influencer has to be The Motus Projects (@themotusprojects). They’re a parkour and freerunning community brand that produce great products and content, and sponsor super talented up and coming athletes. They’ve just started running community challenges too – it really feels like they’re trying to give something back.

What sort of relationship do you have with your followers? How do you make sure you engage with them?
I’d say it was pretty two-way – I do my best to reply to all the comments on my videos, and I get quite a lot of messages asking for training tips which I always respond to. I also do my best to check out my followers content too, as you never know where you’ll stumble across your next favourite athlete. I occasionally promote people that I feel are hugely underrated, which usually goes down well with my followers too.

How are you different to everyone else? How did you get 25k followers?
I think my account is different from your standard parkour account because of how I use it specifically for edits made for Instagram: most other users will typically upload quick phone clips or trailers to promote their youtube channel. All of my content is produced specifically for the platform, meaning I’ll take the time to photograph and film things properly with my DSLR and then edit it on my PC. I definitely have a certain style too, with chilled out, simple edits with a focus on flowy movement and clean technique. A pretty good recent post that represents all this can be seen here.

Because of all of this, I’ve ended up producing content that stands out when compared with your typical parkour clips on Instagram.  I gradually accumulated my following by consistently posting this sort of content over the years.

So you don’t really promote brands across your Instagram, why is that?
I started using Instagram as a kid basically as a diary for recording fun memories and keeping track of my progress with parkour, and I guess it’s never really changed. My Instagram is actually hugely personal to me, and I’d regret compromising that by promoting brands I didn’t actually use or care about.

Would you ever consider commercialising your channel? If you did, what brand or company would you like to work with?
I’d definitely consider it if I could do it in a way that wouldn’t really change how I currently post. I have an intense day job so I wouldn’t want the pressure of having to create content and post according to a certain schedule! I’d love to work with other parkour brands more, but these sorts of companies are usually small and will have focused their sponsorship opportunities into a small number of super talented athletes, often with more viral appeal. I definitely think that’s a better use of their resources though, and it helps create opportunities to make a living from parkour for the athletes that deserve it!

What is your favourite thing to share with your followers?
Definitely my training edits. Despite how simple they are, it takes a lot of time to work on a move or a line until its perfect, then film it all often from multiple angles, then edit and upload them. I’ve been making videos like this much longer than I’ve ever had any following and so do it mostly for myself, but it makes me happy knowing other people really enjoy them too.

What’s an average day like for you?
My day job is actually as a PhD researcher working on renewable energy solutions, so probably not too similar to your everyday Instagram influencer! Outside of the science work, I coach a Parkour class twice a week, so most of my content is filmed in an hour or two squeezed in before coaching, and then edited and uploaded afterwards.

How do you film everything you do? A lot of your content is video and really high quality, do you edit this yourself?
Almost everything I upload is filmed on my now ancient Canon 600D and a tripod, and yup I edit everything myself too. Editing for my Instagram edits is actually the quickest part of the process, as the edits are deliberately very straightforward and to the point: just a simple bit of colour correction and syncing with music usually!

Where’s your favourite parkour spot? What makes it so great?
My favourite spot by far is a playground in Archway filled with rocks, railings and calisthenics equipment, all surrounded by a wall that on its own would be interesting to any freerunner! I’ve spent countless hours both training and coaching there; whether you’re in the mood for small, technical jumps or big power moves this park will have something to do. I’m still finding new challenges there every time I go back! You can see some clips from this park here.

You do a lot of additional hobbies beyond parkour, such as piano, kendama, bouldering and firestaff work, how do you get into all these hobbies? How do you learn them all?
I got into them just by seeing people do them online, usually through youtube or Instagram. From there it’s a lot of watching tutorials and practising on my own usually! I’m pretty much exclusively self-taught for everything except piano, though with these sorts of things if you can find other people to practice with you end up learning a lot from each other.

And finally, if you were to give this all up and go do something totally crazy, what would you do?
Give up parkour or my day job? I’d definitely go mad without the parkour, but I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t considered running away and joining the circus at least once a week for the last few years! I could definitely be content with leaving the drizzle of London behind and performing fire staff on a beach somewhere for the rest of my life