Most people have never heard of Parkour, but chances are everyone has done it. Have you ever balanced on the curb of a sidewalk, or climbed a fence and jumped down? Then you’ve done Parkour.
If you read no further than this first paragraph, please absorb the following facts:
- Parkour (when practiced properly) is NOT dangerous and requires NO trespassing on rooftops.
- Anyone can do parkour…yes, even your grandmother.
- The future is ripe with opportunities in Parkour.
Unfortunately, the word “Parkour” is often unknown to the average person, and if vaguely familiar through the media or YouTube, then it is likely attached to a very misleading set of assumptions. If you’ve ever seen a “Parkour fail” video compilation, then it is understandable that you want nothing to do with the sport [and if you have children, want them to stay far away from it]. But these videos often depict people who are not formally trained by Parkour professionals and have not spent the time and effort to learn the basic skills and philosophy behind the discipline that make it so safe and effective.
Parkour teaches the most fundamental set of tools for movement through the world, naturally enhancing your level of fitness and enjoyment of movement, while also protecting you from injury and accidents.
Parkour is not dangerous.
In a recent study of Parkour practitioners, participants reported that Parkour skills actually helped them avoid injury, and most injuries that are sustained in the practice of Parkour are minor bruises and strains, with much lower rates of severe injury than all major competitive sports such as basketball, baseball, football, and soccer.
Parkour is a martial art about efficient, practical movement. Getting from point A to point B quickly and safely is the foundational philosophy. When trained by professional Parkour coaches and athletes, students learn the most basic techniques of jumping, landing, and yes – falling – in a safe and controlled environment.
Practitioners learn the art of Ukemi – the martial art of falling. Ukemi equips students with the skills to practice safe, intentional, falls, which programs the brain to react optimally when unintentional falls do occur. Parkour athletes don’t ignore the risk of failure; we make carefully calculated decisions about our movement, based on prior knowledge, skill, and intense preparation.
Attempting to execute movements outside of an athlete’s capabilities without the necessary training and practice goes against the fundamental principles of Parkour, and is often the primary cause of avoidable injuries in the sport.
Parkour does not require trespassing.
Trespassing laws vary among countries, states, counties, and cities; and it is often unclear what building entrances, stairways, and parking lots are considered public spaces as opposed to private property. In the United States, an ever-looming perceived threat of lawsuits contributes to fears among authorities about liability, and leads to more frequent objections to Parkour being practiced, even in public spaces.
As such, Parkour practitioners in search of good “spots” to train in an urban environment sometimes run up against security guards and police asking them to leave. The trained reaction of seasoned Parkour practitioners worldwide to such a situation is to calmly and respectfully explain what the sport entails, and immediately complying with authorities’ requests to vacate the premises. (Of course, taking all our belongings and any trash with us – “Leave no trace!” is our motto.)
With the increasing number of Parkour gyms and outdoor parks cropping up all over the world, this issue is diminishing. Practitioners now have more designated spaces in which to train, and security officers are more likely to be familiar with the discipline. However, in general, it is always a good idea to learn which spaces in your community are available for the public to use, and avoid training on private property.
Parkour is for everyone – yes, even your grandmother.
Women and men upwards of 75 years old are rediscovering their confidence and balance in movement through a Parkour Dance program for older Parkour students in London, and Parkour facilities everywhere have students of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, and abilities. Although the majority of visible Parkour practitioners are indeed under the age of 35 and male, this dynamic and diverse discipline has a movement lesson for everyone.
Competitive team sports often require a baseline level of physical fitness, coordination, or skill – but Parkour can be practiced immediately. The accessibility of this sport means that it can meet you exactly where you are, with your current abilities. It can also work around and help rehabilitate old injuries, with a carefully tailored regime.
Systemic ageism in society often keeps older or even middle-aged people from feeling like they can participate in physical activities like Parkour, but recent research on the subject suggests that common misconceptions about aging actually make people sicker. Watch a TED talk by anti-ageism activist, Ashton Applewhite to learn more… (Also, Check out Ashton’s book on the subject)
Similarly, deeply ingrained sexism often discourages women from participating in male-dominated sports, believing that they are not as physically strong or capable as men. There are some physical differences, on average, between men and women; for example, women tend to have stronger lower bodies and better balance while men have stronger upper bodies and explosive power. But the fact is that anyone can get really good at Parkour with enough hard work and dedication; it’s all about finding the movement style that is fun and enjoyable for you and your body. Visit Julie Angel’s See & Do website to see photos of women doing Parkour at the 2016 North American Women’s Parkour Jam in Colorado.
Practicing Parkour will increase your opportunities for the future.
Research has shown that practicing Parkour is a huge confidence-booster for anyone who does it regularly, which can have long-lasting, life-changing benefits.
In today’s hyper-competitive culture, children are forced to participate in organized sports (often against their will), and adults often endure boring workouts at the gym (or avoid them), in a tireless effort to stay fit and healthy in the midst of the typical sedentary lifestyle of most Americans. Parkour is the answer to all of these dilemmas – it is not only beneficial to the body and mind, it is also fun!
In addition to the physical and mental benefits of Parkour, its rapidly expanding market for professional careers has tremendous potential to offer. Paid performances, professional teams, individual athlete sponsorships, photography/videography, and business entrepreneurship are all on the table for motivated people who want to get involved in the international Parkour community.
Even if Parkour itself doesn’t directly translate to a job opportunity, the skills learned in this incredible art of movement build up individuals into becoming self-starters. Confidence, commitment, and the ability to learn from failure are just a few qualities Parkour instills into its practitioners. Skills like these are essential to becoming the CEOs, Presidents, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Hundreds of practitioners worldwide have made successful careers from Parkour already, and you could be next.
Try Parkour today in a local facility or community where professional coaches and trainers can help you get started. If you’re in the Temecula Valley, Freedom in Motion Gym is in your backyard. What are you waiting for?
If you are not in the Temecula Valley or greater San Diego area, we encourage you to search for a Parkour gym near you and give it a shot. What do you have to lose, other than your misconceptions?
Share your experience!
Are you a Parkour athlete with insights to share about these common misconceptions? Tell us about them in the comments below☺
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