Lifestyle man doing parkour

Published on September 19th, 2013 | by Joe Starks


Exercise Spotlight: Parkour

In this exercise spotlight we’ll discuss a more modern type of sport, which has become increasingly popular all over the world. Parkour, elsewhere known as free running, is even considered an art form among many of its fans. Jumping from roof to roof, speeding through parks and alleys, the parkour master is quite an impressive athlete to behold. People shake their heads or their mouths gape in awe when seeing a young person indulging in this risky behavior, which too often is also considered taboo or even trespassing by some. Not all like young athlete jumping on their roofs and climbing their walls. But what is the essence of this behavior? No sport can be so popular without having some serious appeal to all its athletes. This is why we’ll take a closer look at parkour and find out why people love and hate it all over the world.

What is Parkour?

Parkour is the way to get from point A to point B in as straight a line as possible, jumping and climbing over obstacles instead of circumventing them. This way you climb over a building, not move around it, and you jump over walls instead of finding even ground to get where you want. There are plenty of techniques to achieve your goal and many traceurs (the people who do parkour) choose the ones they like best and invent their own style.

The levels of difficulty can wary from a simple straight park run to crossing urban landscapes filled with tall buildings and closed alleys.

The concept of parkour was born from David Belle, a man whose father went through dangerous military drills in the Vietnam wars and whose grandfather followed the principles of Hebertism. Influenced by both of these men, David Belle created his own free style of crossing distances in a liberated, revolutionary way.

How to train for Parkour

Parkour is an extremely demanding sport, which means only the physically able can actually do it. This is no sport for children, the elderly and the physically impaired. Injuries are an unavoidable reality of learning how to do proper parkour, so people who dislike pain and extreme effort are not suited for this sport. Climbing walls and jumping from building to building can have dangerous consequences when done wrong. Hand injuries are the most common with blisters and scrapes being unavoidable, but back injuries, head injuries and broken bones are pretty common also.

The best age to start parkour is as a robust young adult. One should be pretty lean to do parkour. Heavier people are in danger of getting injured easier and some exercises of parkour are plain impossible if you aren’t in top physical shape. Even lean people need to be at their peak of physical condition. Being able to do a few sets of push-ups, sit-ups and squats is a mandatory prerequisite.

To do parkour you need no special gear. A good pair of running shows and comfortable clothes you can easily move in is are all you need to start your training. Some might like to wear fingerless gloves.

To train for parkour you have to start simple, knowing that it might take years to reach the level you desire. Find a park or similar space where you won’t bother anyone and start training how to fall without hurting yourself and how to cross low, safe objects with your own style. You have to train balance, distance jumping, and vertical jumping and grip strength. After long sessions of that you can start creating your own trek, doing it slow at the beginning and becoming faster each time you do it.

Pros and Cons of Parkour

The feeling of individuality and freedom is what draws most people to parkour, because no matter what, you will express your own character in the way you cross urban landscapes. If you are lean, like to take risks and feel a bit rebellious, parkour can perfectly express you. It certainly isn’t for the overweight, unfit and timid.

It is important to be respectful of your environment when you do parkour, lest you wish to make other people miserable without need. Do not ruin sensitive surfaces, break roof tiles and wire fences, just because you like that path. Not only are you in danger of getting hurt when choosing unsafe paths, you will cause people a lot of grief. Be responsible if you ever break something and make sure you learn from your mistakes. The good traceur does not ruin his paths; he uses them ideally to reach his goal in his own individual style.

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