Being interested in human movement, the proposition of working with Parkour Traceurs is highly attractive. Running, jumping, climbing, crawling, swinging, hurtling, vaulting and bolting are captured, honed and packaged by this activity. The aim, some might say, is to move through space and over obstacles quickly and efficiently. Yet paradoxically, Parkour is an elusive discipline difficult to define because its potential is continually evolving. Human movement is somewhat boundless, and while Parkour has captured and named some movements with the hope to help educate and encourage others, most Traceurs would keep it organic, non-competitive and an individual pursuit which must remain unique to each person's mind-body interface.
I participated in a beginners class today, and I have to say my appreciation for Parkour has exploded. It's an amazing endeavor, and one that will keep your body and mind healthy.
After signing up online, I arrived at the very impressive gym to be greeted by the instructors. They were friendly and welcoming. They were also informative.
"Parkour is not so much a sport as it is a self-discipline which will help you overcome fear. You can apply this to every aspect of your life." Our instructor JP, opened the class at AAPES with a great deal of enthusiasm. The positive attitude the instructors exhibit is memorable, and there were many examples of individuals encouraging others, setting new goals and obstacles to help everyone grow throughout the class. One can see how this can become a way of life, even a philosophy of living.
Our beginners class was overseen by the experience trainer, JP, however, true to the Parkour philosophy, JP was simultaneously helping a new instructor, Pradeep, who was in the process of obtaining his instructor's certification.
The aim of the first session was to establish a basic vocabulary of movement patterns, as well as the culture of the Parkour studio itself. Pradeep guided us through, quadrupedal crawling forward, quadrupedal crawling backward, speed vaults, cat vaults, wall climbing, rail balance, jumping and a warm down. We warmed up for 10 minutes, moving each joint in the body in a dynamic fashion. This led to our first activity, quadruped crawling.
We did this forward and backward, crawling over obstacles. Now warmed up, we progressed to our second activity somewhat rapidly. Vaulting.
The Speed Vault was first. Here the idea was to vault over an obstacle using one hand as a pivot. Then, when one lands, the idea is to keep the momentum going forward. Efficiency of movement is key. We don't want to break our momentum, but instead carry it forward and build upon it.
Next, we progressed to a more advanced vault, the Cat Pass, also known as the Kong Vault. This was a more advanced vault, and involves diving and leaping through the air.
We then changed from the vaults to concentrate on our footwork and balance with Rail Balance. Ours began only centimetres off of the ground, and then progressed to a more advanced rail balance in the gym, about a 1.5 meters off of the ground. More advanced Traceurs will perform this outdoors in a variety of settings.
Next, we performed Wall Run and Climb ups. This was the most mind blowing experience of the day. It was very challenging to trust this movement pattern, and it helped when one didn't over-think this movement, but instead envisaged completing it as a whole. The box I wall climbed was slightly higher than my standing reach, but what one is capable of is, at first glance, somewhat unbelievable. Theoretically, with discipline one is able to overcome two and a half times their own height with this technique. Here's an example of an experienced Traceur below.
Finally, we moved on to jumping. Here, the emphasis on technique was interesting. The idea was to statically control the jump from A to B, and land catlike after bounding. The jump was meant to take the following form:
You can see that the body dives through the air. Landing, however, is somewhat tricky. Here, one is meant to control the momentum, and land with precision onto a spot, surface, pole or rail. One could combine another movement, such as a quadrapedal run, vault or another precision jump.
We then warmed down, and discussed the possibility of follow on classes, or, for a much better value, membership deals. Here, one can take advantage of the professional instruction, and grow in the discipline.
Exercise remains one of the most beneficial things we can do for our overall health. The added discipline of Parkour combines movement with an urban environment, and reshapes our interaction with that environment. It's also playful and very fun. Having said that, Parkour is not risk free. Therefore, it's a discipline best suited to obtaining professional guidance, and the coaches at AAPES were exceptional.
We will be contributing to AAPES with our Sports Chiropractic skills, and each Tuesday at 6pm, Sports and Spine will host an injury management class: Prevent Inform Maintain Perform (PIMP!) . These workshops will go through common injuries in Parkour and how we can prevent them, as well as certain aspects of injury management and self care. Following the workshop, Sports and Spine Chiropractor Matt Bulman will be around to answer questions about aches, pains or injuries that AAPES members might have.
We look forward to working with you, as well as developing our own skills as a Traceur.