Parkour is not just a series of stunts and back flips or the ability to run up walls; parkour is a way of life. It is being able to overcome any obstacle, physical or not. It isn’t just about being able to perform awesome stunts; it is about overcoming. You can overcome your sleepiness and get out of bed in the morning. You can overcome your frustration at work. You are in control of yourself, and you can use those things beyond your control to your advantage because at its root, parkour is mastering obstacles and using them to move forward.
If you spend your day at a desk and then go home and watch TV until you drop into bed, you might want to spend a few days (or weeks) at the gym before you start jumping off buildings and running up walls. That being said, anyone can get in shape, so don’t be discouraged. Here are a few exercises that will help you, as a beginner, tone your body for this rigorous discipline.
- 10 squats
- 10 pushups
- 10 leg lifts
- 10 pull ups
Do each of these exercises twice a day for a week. The next week, add 10 more and keep adding until you can do it in five sets of 20. (Taken from The Definitive Guide to Parkour for Beginners)
Even though Parkour is all about taking risks and pushing your limits, remember that you are a beginner. Don’t push yourself too hard too soon. Parkour can be extremely dangerous, so make sure you don’t injure yourself or others. Don’t move too quickly. Remember, Parkour is about discipline. Make sure you are disciplining your mind and body.
Since you’re new to Parkour, find a Parkour group. You can meet other like-minded, adventurous people and make new friendships. You can also enjoy a structured time of practice and instruction in a positive environment. Joining a group can be just what you need to jumpstart your new hobby.
You are you. Unique, one-of-a-kind you. Yes, your friend who weighs twenty pounds less than you, is built like a pool noodle, and has the energy of a caffeinated squirrel might be taking to Parkour faster than you are. That’s ok. Your body is different, so it will adapt to its environment differently. Know how your body functions best and make sure you let your body tell you when it’s had too much.
Also, know your fears. Become very familiar with them. Learn the difference between your gut telling you “I don’t want to do this, it’s scary” and “if you do this, you will quite literally die.” Ignore fear, but listen to rationality. Sometimes, your gut knows that you’re just not ready to make this jump or try this flip. Be bold, but don’t be an idiot.
Are you ready to get a move-on and slay some sick moves? Here are a few things you will need to master to be a youtube-worthy Parkour master (adapted from Beginner’s Guide to Parkour)
- Balance: You need to train your mind and body to handle walking, running, and landing on very small objects. Railings, tops of walls, and curbs are just a few of the precarious things you will need to balance on. If you need practice, try a ropes course. Also, try walking or running on a curb or on bleachers–just be careful, they can be slippery.
- Running: Never skip leg day. You need to be quick and agile to be good at Parkour. Make sure you can sprint well; otherwise, you won’t be able to get the momentum you need to make jumps and reach heights. Run for endurance but also for speed.
- Vaulting: Work out your upper body so that you’re strong enough to pull yourself up. As you move through your environment, you will need to vault over obstacles quickly and with grace. Start on smaller objects like park benches or railings and move up to larger objects like fences or dumpsters.
- Landing: Successful landings are one of the most important elements in safe, effective Parkour. When you land on your feet, bend your knees to absorb the impact. If you need to, allow your hands to absorb some of the impact also and land in a squatting position. Try to land on the balls of your feet instead of your heels; this will minimize the jar on your spine.
There is so much more to Parkour than we could discuss in one article. You need to learn it by doing it. Once mastered, it can be an incredibly thrilling and liberating experience!