Free runner Danny Morgan's bid to get people active

Daily Echo: Danny Morgan photos by Paul Collins Danny Morgan photos by Paul Collins

HE is the Southampton free runner who uses the city as his concrete gym and nothing but his own body weight for resistance.

Danny Morgan was inspired to master parkour – jumping, flipping, spinning and performing acrobatics across rooftops, poles, fences and walls as well as scaling everything from cranes to derelict buildings – after meeting infamous daredevil James Kingston, the star of Channel Four’s documentary Don’t Look Down three years ago.

And now Danny, who is a qualified personal trainer, has made a video called ‘Motivation’ to encourage people across the city to get fit and healthy.

The 21-year-old wants people to know they can improve their lifestyle by simply getting outdoors with nothing more than a pair of trainers and some passion.

“Southampton is a really beautiful place if you see it through the eyes we get to see it. When you get the sunrise and sunsets, they set the whole of the docks on fire, it’s incredible. It’s the best gym you can get,” Danny says.

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“Typically in England, people love excuses, they like blaming other people and saying they have no time, but it’s no good. It’s all about putting the hours in.

“A new year’s resolution is just a dream, nothing more than that. Until you take action, it will only ever be a dream.

“You just need passion and drive to make a vision a reality. Don’t wait for an opportunity, set yourself up for it. There’s no point shooting a gun without a target.”

The two-minute short film shot by Luis Arnold early on a winter morning has already got hundreds of hits online.

It shows Danny, a former Totton College student from Freemantle, performing his urban acrobatics at Mayflower Park and on Southampton Common.

In the voice-over he says: “Think to yourself where do you want to be? What are you living for?

“All I know is I want to be me, the best I can be and I’m living for the moment.”

He continues: “People rise and people fall but so do all things.

“Every morning without fail the sun will rise, only to be knocked back again in the evening.

“Every autumn the leaves fall, only to grow back again come spring.

“Life is full of difficulties and disappointments but it doesn’t have to be hard. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying look at yourself. Don’t compare yourself to anybody, focus on you.”

Inspiration for the video came when Danny, one of eight siblings, was forced to re-train after breaking his foot while free running in Southampton.

He wanted to document that with determination and motivation, anything is possible.

And that commitment to exercise is undoubtable.

Danny sold his Xbox because he says he became addicted to playing games and before he knew it, he’d spend four hours at a time indoors.

Instead, he gets up at 6am every morning and trains for up to four hours a day both in the city and in the gym where he works, LA Fitness in Winchester Road, Shirley doing plyometrics, or jump training, cardio including working out with a weighted vest, strength training and resistance training even though he works more than 50 hours a week and has other jobs including work at a Southampton bar and modelling shoots.

He even makes time for his other passion of music, singing and playing the guitar, before he goes to bed.

Daily Echo:

“You have to set your priorities straight,” he says.

“Anything I really want to do, I stick to it and make sure I do it. I guess growing up with a big family you do make sacrifices along the way due to money but with exercise all you need is a pair of trainers.

“I want to be the best I can be, I want to be as strong as I can and I want to have fun along the way.”

Danny began training with the Southampton parkour group after a chance meeting with a free runner at Southampton Central train station and became inspired by James Kingston, who is best known for dangling one-handed from a crane 300ft above Southampton’s Ocean Village.

Danny said training harder and mastering parkour changed him as a person.

“I saw the stuff James was doing and I thought ‘wow’. He was disciplined, calm, if he was doing something he wasn’t too confident in he’d either not do it, or 100 per cent commit to it and that started rubbing off on me.

“At first I was afraid of heights but you do build confidence and know what you want to do. I found the higher I climbed when I went to do something a bit smaller, the fear went, so I’d just keep climbing higher and higher.

“I suddenly went from a really excitable, loud person, always getting kicked out of lessons at school to someone who was much more sensible and focused.”

Danny now hopes to reach even more dizzying heights in his career by helping others to get motivated.

Daily Echo:

“What motivates me is what I haven’t achieved yet,” he says.

“There’s a quote I live by which is the idea of living isn’t to live forever, it’s to create something that will.

“I say to people think of where they are at now, how they feel now and how they want to feel and where they want to be and as long as you are feeling something, you are passionate about it so you can achieve anything.”

For information search Danny Morgan on Facebook or find him @DanLeighMorgan on Twitter

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