Have you ever wanted to increase your physical fitness and yet apply it to something more practical than just standing somewhere and lifting weights or doing some other kind of exercise in an enclosed gym? Then welcome to Parkour.
For those of you who don’t know what Parkour is, it is an art, the act of moving from one place to another in the fastest, most efficient way possible. If you’ve ever seen “Casino Royale,” the first chase scene of the movie has plenty of Parkour. The best way to see it in action is either to see someone doing it in person or to YouTube it. There are also handbooks, but those are often for the specifics of personal instruction, which I highly encourage you to look into. However, seeing the results is very beneficial as well, though they can be somewhat intimidating.
That’s why if you so choose to learn it, you have to learn step by step. You aren’t just going to jump off something and magically know how to land. That takes practice, and often practice without actually jumping off of something tall, or jumping at all. I learned how to roll before I started jumping off of things, for instance, just like I learned how to jump onto something before I learned how to jump over it.
But why not just work out and stay in a gym? Because that’s not only impractical for your body – it is also impractical for your mind, besides being one of the lamest and laziest ways to make yourself fit. The difference between Parkour and most other kinds of exercises is that it has real world application. It’s something that you can actually use, and if you have to, you’ll be very glad you know it.
Learning Parkour also means you can’t just zone out like you would standing in one area doing some sort of other exercise. You have to think about what you’re doing, where you’re going and how you’re going to do it. There is a lot of hand-eye coordination involved, so it’s a mind-body work out. It makes them both much sharper. You learn a lot of balance and body control as well.
But what if you’re not fit enough you ask? If you’re fit enough to jog 3-4 minutes at a time, you’re fit enough to start practicing Parkour. Running as a side exercise is also encouraged. I personally found that it made me more fit than if I just did one or the other, although I was more fit doing Parkour on its own, partly because it involves running, usually short bursts of speed. It’s a very aerobic art and pretty much works most of the muscle groups in your body.
Also, on a short note, Parkour is different from free-running, the latter being the one with lots of flips, so it’s less about practicality and more about looking cool. The former, Parkour, is more about efficiency and getting from one place to the other and back again if necessary. They both look cool, but Parkour is more on the side of practicality. And, let’s face it, people aren’t going to be doing flips if they have to get somewhere in a hurry, especially in the case of an emergency.
Parkour developed out of military obstacle course training in France and has since developed by others, most notably David Belle. He had this to say: “Our aim is to take our art to the world and make people understand what it is to move.” Once you start learning the basics, you learn how to react fluidly to your environment, thus allowing you to feel what it means to move. When I first started out, I really couldn’t even do a simple roll, but now I can not only roll but also jump off of semi-high structures and roll out of my landing. I’m not perfect, but I’m a lot more fluid than I was.
With that, I highly encourage those reading this to take up the practice and to spread it to others, as it is not only something that will increase physical and mental fitness but also something that can be used practically.