Could you tell us a little more about what you do?
Since leaving the University of Southampton, I’ve been working full-time as a professional freerunner, which essentially means that I jump around for a living! The majority of my work consists of commercial shoots, but I’ve also had the opportunity to work as a stunt double in films and on television, and I occasionally perform in live shows. In fact, I’ve just got home from Italy where I was performing at a runway show – I was flipping, rather than walking, down the runway!
What does life as a freerunner involve on a day-to-day basis?
Obviously, being a professional athlete, training is a huge part of my daily routine – both freerunning and general fitness. However, on top of that, creating content on social media is a really important part of what I do. A lot of the brands and stunt coordinators that I’ve worked with in the past have found me through Instagram or Facebook, so I try to keep those accounts as active as possible.
There’s also a lot of admin to get through on a day-to-day basis. On top of client emails, I get a lot of inbox messages on social media that I need to go through. So, ironically, much of my work as a professional freerunner involves sitting behind a desk, editing and getting through admin.
Watch Katie’s 2017 highlights video below!
Image Credit: Erik Mukhametshin
What would you say is the most exciting opportunity you’ve had in your career so far?
Last summer I worked on a mini-documentary series for Channel 4 called Britain’s Abandoned Playgrounds, which is currently available to watch online on All 4. That was definitely one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve had in my career. It involved touring around the UK in a converted double decker bus to different abandoned locations with a group of other action sports athletes. It was a super fun experience, if a little exhausting at times!
Some of the stunt doubling opportunities I’ve had have also been really exciting. The first film I worked on was Assassin’s Creed, where I was very much thrown in at the deep end, as it was such an action-packed film. It was a great opportunity to work with some of the top stunt artists in the world.
What was it like to compete in Ninja Warrior UK?
Competing on Ninja Warrior UK was honestly one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life! After making it to the final of the show in series one, and being the only female contestant to do so, I felt like there was a lot of pressure on me to do well in series two and three, which I found pretty daunting! It was still a fun experience though, and the course itself is a great challenge.
In fact, for series four I worked as a course tester on the show rather than appearing as a contestant. This meant I had the chance to give all of the obstacles a go, without having to worry about falling in the water on national television!
How did you get into freerunning and parkour?
During my time at the University I was training at Southampton Gymnastics Club to work on my tumbling skills for cheerleading – I had joined the Southampton Vixens competition squad – and it was there that I met the freerunners who got me into the sport.
I thought the skills that they were working on looked really cool, so I was keen to join in with them. They pretty much taught me all the basic skills involved in freerunning, and it went from there.
What has been your favourite experience since graduating?
Recently my boyfriend and I were invited out to Rome by Fendi to shoot a freerunning video on the roof of their headquarters, where they’d built a parkour park especially for us! It was such a beautiful location and getting to work with my boyfriend on a project is always a great experience. The shoot got picked up by The Sunday Times Style, so getting a double page feature in that magazine was an added bonus.
What was the most important thing you learned while at Southampton?
I would probably have to say time management. Getting a good degree was always really important to me, so I put a lot of time into my studies. However, extracurricular activities were also a really significant part of my life while at Southampton.
In particular, coaching the Vixens in my final year meant that I had to dedicate a lot of time towards cheerleading, not only during training times but outside of training as well. Trying to do that whilst doing a Master’s degree, as well as training towards becoming a professional freerunner, meant I had to juggle lots of different things at once.
That’s a skill that has definitely helped me out in what I do now, as I need to manage my time between training, shoots, editing and other admin work.
What are you working towards, and what would be the next thing you’d like to do?
For the past couple of years I’ve been filming and uploading vlogs of my training and travelling to my YouTube channel, and on recent shoots I’ve worked on I’ve been given the chance to talk to camera more, rather than just performing stunts. I really enjoy that side of things so would love to get more into presenting work.
There are also a lot of places I want to travel to that I’ve never visited before. In particular, I really want to visit Iceland or Norway and would love to see the northern lights!
What advice would you give to our students?
Whilst working hard towards your degree is obviously very important, don’t miss out on all of the other opportunities that are available to you at university. It is such an incredible chance to join different clubs and societies and try something new. If you look hard enough you will almost certainly find something that you are really passionate about! Perhaps you’ll even find something that will end up having a big impact on your career.
Finally, do you have any advice for anyone wanting to follow a similar career path?
Don’t be afraid to pursue a career you’re passionate about rather than a ‘safer’, more traditional option. Be prepared for it to be challenging at times, and don’t give in as soon as the path ahead looks a little rough.
If you’re wanting to follow a career in stunts or freerunning…be prepared for the cuts and bruises!