Exercise to try: Running, leaping & rolling with Parkour

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If you want to rebel against town planning, then this is for you...

Parkour

© Parkour Generations

On the look out for a new way to keep fit that combines adventure, bounding around and basically jumping off stuff? Then Parkour may be for you.

What is Parkour?

Do you ever look at where you want to get to and think there is just so much stuff in the way? Parkour aims to get you from a to b as efficiently as possible, using a person's surroundings and their own body to propel them. That means jumping between buildings, over cars, bounding between stair wells and over walls, all in a fluid motion.

If you see someone doing flips or tricks as they jump off things - that's not Parkour. They're just show offs. The discipline is all about keeping the momentum up and taking the most direct line to somewhere, regardless of what is in the way.

Physically it is an all over body cardio workout, and practisers build strength, a strong core, agility, and have improved flexibility. And let's face it, it looks kind of kick ass.

Get started

Before you do anything silly like jump off a wall or commando roll over a bush, the first step for anyone interested is to take a look at activities in your local area and find out whether there are any existing Parkour classes run by an ADAPT qualified coach (ADAPT is the official global teaching qualification for practitioners).

Start to use your body

'Start with trying to grasp basic movements. Balance is a really important aspect so experimenting with balance work is a good idea, as is climbing and exploring different levels,' explains Shirley Darlington, Parkour professional.

'Start with learning jumps that challenge you but that aren't too ambitious. As soon as you've mastered one move or jump, you'll be able to move on to bigger ones.'

Parkour

© Parkour Generations

Jumping, running, leaping is all part of a typical class



'Once you've mastered a few movements, the key then is to start thinking about how you link these together. Try building up sequences and experimenting with how jumps, balance work and climbing can be brought together. Once you're able to start moving from one idea into the next, the world is your oyster,' Darlington told us.

Train in a group for encouragement and support
Training with other people can help to motivate you (and safety in numbers is probably a good idea). Parkour Generations host daily classes and there are sessions for beginners and women only.

Even if there aren't classes nearby, there may be a qualified coach who will offer sessions. Check the Parkour Generations website as their coaches are spread fairly widely across the UK (parkourgenerations.com).

Warm up, cool down…and stay safe

'Doing a proper warm up every time you train is important. It will help you to avoid injury and will also increase flexibility so you'll be in a better position to attack the movements,' explains Darlington.

'Remember that while Parkour is designed to be taught outside, the terrain outdoors can be unpredictable so make sure you familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Try a local park or field as a good starting point.'

Practice makes perfect

'Like with any form of fitness, the more you practice, the better you become. Over time not only will your fitness levels improve and your levels of strength increase, but you will also become more confident in your abilities,' says Shirley.

'Try to practice and repeat movements that you learn. This will solidify that motion into your muscle memory. How often you train is entirely up to you but the more familiar your body becomes with moving freely, the easier movements will become.'

Do you fancy giving it a go?

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