Last week, I posted about primal workouts and the philosophy that we need to get back to the fundamentals, back to what we as humans are built to do physically. “[Parkour] emphasizes natural types of fitness, the way our bodies are meant to be used. We are not meant to use treadmills. We are meant to run over stuff, climb over stuff and interact with our environments,” says Ryan Ford, of APEX Movement (as quoted in “Urban Acrobatics,” by Joel Warner on Westword.com.)
Honestly, while watching Youtube clip after clip of parkour, I didn’t get how this was a natural type of fitness; it looked way too Matrix-y to me. At one point in a clip, however, the camera had pulled back to fit the whole of the parkour gym in the frame, and about 20 or so guys and girls were leaping, jumping, flipping and running all over some man-made jungle. They really did look like monkeys. Really sexy monkeys.
According to Parkour-Online.com, parkour’s philosophy is to not be controlled by your surroundings. Parkour is a way of thinking to develop inner strength through movement and finding the most efficient path possible, without letting architectural boundaries get in the way. With this way of thinking, a traceur (a practitioner of parkour) can start on the ground between two close-together apartment buildings and Cat Leap all the way to the top, like Super Mario Bros or something.
Freerunning is a sort of spinoff from parkour; it’s still about choosing your own path but with a little bit more flair. Freerunning involves more flips and somersaulting and part of its goal is to impress. The way I see it, parkour is the part in a movie where the good guy is jumping off buildings and diving through windows trying to find the best, fastest path away from the bad guys. Freerunning is the bad ass fight scene where the chick in some kind of jumpsuit is running up a wall to do a back flip and then lands in a handstand before front-flipping onto a stair railing, all the while taking out the bank robbing creeps.
The traceurs in the videos that I watched make parkour and freerunning look so simple, so you know that means there’s got to be an absurd amount of work put in behind the scenes. Thanks to American Parkour, we can begin to get an idea of the training that’s involved. I found one workout that actually takes place at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The workout is divided into four stages, and each stage has at least three rounds. The stages involve push ups, sit ups, quadruped movements, using the various architectural elements like walls and stairs, and a lot of hanging from walls and ledges, like when you were a kid and you played Lava on the playground. There is a lot of parkour terminology in the workout, but just reading through it will give you an idea of the strength and awareness the training will help build.
I was pleasantly surprised that there are a couple parkour gyms in the area; APEX Movement has got one gym in Boulder and one in Englewood. I’m super interested in taking a class, but just watching the videos was enough to give me anxiety. Are there any of you traceurs out there, Denver? I might need a little bit of convincing…