When you walk down the street, do you ever look up or do you just look straight ahead? Do you ever see what is above all the Pret A Mangers and the Tescos? Parkour is a sport that became popular around 1998 and has benefits that go beyond the physical, so that practitioners actually become freer individuals.
What is parkour?
Dan Edwardes, one of the leading experts in parkour, wrote in an article that “parkour is the refinement of one’s body movement during the interaction with one’s environment as one progresses though it.” Parkour teaches people to adapt to any terrain using just their body to move through it.
Parkour is an outdoor sport that incorporates the natural environment. Parkour, because it is all natural human movement, can apply to any sport.
Why participate in parkour?
One of the goals of parkour is to make people better versions of themselves. One of the main focuses of parkour is psychology and making people more confident. Participants gain real, improved confidence because, unlike some sports, they know that they can perform the movements. It helps to make participants freer individuals.
Parkour also has numerous physical benefits. Anyone can practice parkour and there is no prerequisite for beginning. Parkour is a very individualistic sport because there are no set movements, it is what works best for each individual. Individuals are encouraged to be creative and progress at their own rate.
Parkour, because of the physical nature, is a good way to lose weight. It helps to build functional strength. There is no gym required because participants build muscle while practicing. Parkour takes care of all physicality within itself. Parkour is a total body workout, from fingertips to toes. It also helps to improve coordination, flexibility and strengthens your heart.
How do I start?
There are many ways to get started in parkour in London. Parkour Generations
has classes almost every day of the week, including classes specifically for beginners. Anyone is welcome at any one of Parkour Generations classes, with few exceptions. Those wishing to get started can show up to classes and pay there or they can get monthly memberships to Parkour Generations classes.
Parkour Generations’ beginner classes are on Tuesday and Friday evenings. The Tuesday classes are indoors and take place from 8-10 pm. Friday classes are outdoors and take place from 7-8:30 pm. Classes are £6 and £10, respectively, but the first indoor class is free.
It is suggested that people start outdoors. Outdoor classes are usually limited to around 12-14 people.
When beginning, participants will focus on breathing and getting into the right mental state as well as being introduced to the basic movements. Visualization is key in parkour. One of the goals of the beginner classes is to get people just slightly out of their comfort zones to help get rid of any fear.
Participants progress at their own rates, so progression depends heavily on how much you practice and train.
There are many locations throughout London that are good for practicing. The Southbank Centre, Vauxhall and Abbey Road are all suggested places to train. It is suggested that participants train in areas with dense architecture, lots of street furniture and somewhere that is private, without crowds.