Bounding over obstacles. Leaping across gaps. Climbing up walls. You’ve seen those YouTube videos, right? The videos are usually of young men and women moving through a cityscape, over and under various barriers, apparently without effort. This new movement is called “parkour”, and has risen to immense popularity in the last few years, making appearances on TV commercials and Hollywood movies, like the chase seen from Casino Royale. The activity originates from France (hence the French name), but can now be found across the world.
If pressed to give a definition of parkour, a traceur (parkour practitioner) will likely tell you that parkour is the discipline of being able to move through one’s environment with maximal efficiency and fluidity. Consider this analogy: If karate is the “art of the fight”, then parkour is the “art of the flight”, or the ability to get away from danger quickly. Don’t get too caught up that concept though — parkour can also be practiced for fun, as well as for a wicked workout.
A few basic parkour movements include:
· Vault: Moving across a waist or chest high obstacle, using your hands or feet for support. There are multiple varieties including the speed vault, kong vault, and dash vault.
· Precision jump: Leaping between two targets, emphasizing full balance and control.
· Wall run: A method to climb a wall, running up it a few steps, then using your upper body to propel the last few feet upward.
· Cat Leap: Jumping from one surface to grab another surface with your arms, so you end up hanging from your hands.
Interested in trying parkour? There has been a rise in parkour gyms across the globe, so if you’re lucky there might be one close to your home where you could take some beginner classes. If there aren’t any gyms nearby, try to find a meet-up group and start slow, learning cautiously from the more advanced traceurs. Likewise, there are numerous helpful websites that provide great video tutorials on a variety of parkour moves. A few of the best sites include AmericanParkour and 3Run.
Aside from the pure thrill of moving across obstacles quickly, parkour can also be performed as a form of fitness training, emphasizing awesome body-weight conditioning. Jumping up form the ground. Pulling your self over a wall. Walking across a narrow balance beam. These are all great calisthenics and can be performed in different sequences, as a form of circuit training.
Consider adding these sorts of skills into your regular fitness regimen. You will have fun - guaranteed. Welcome to the Parkour Movement!
Ben Musholt is a physical therapist with over 10 years experience, who lives in Portland, Oregon, USA. He posts garagegym workouts on StrengthMob.com and just launched Parkour Parkour to blog about his new passion.