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Discover Parkour Fitness

written by: CatNorth • edited by: DaniellaNicole • updated: 5/13/2010

Learn more about the extreme sport of Parkour and discover parkour fitness. Get the basics about this sport and find out how to get involved. Discover the conditioning needed for Parkour and see if you're ready to meet the challenge.

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    Introduction

    With the birth of extreme sports came an entirely new way of looking at sports and fitness, as well as a limitless potential for new games that typically involve becoming and staying airborne for a length of time. Ever since our early cave ancestors admired winged creatures that weren’t bound to the earth, people have wanted to fly.

    Parkour (a.k.a. free running) is just one of many types of extreme sports that gives athletes that feeling of freedom as they exploit common objects and obstacles in an environment to propel their bodies through space. So, with all sorts of risk involved, Parkour is definitely an extreme sport, except the focus is not as much on competition as it is on the art form of the body, mind and spirit connection.

    If you’re feeling restless, bored or disconnected, discover Parkour fitness and transform your typical workout routine while you transform your inner being.

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    Where Parkour Began

    Parkour has actually been around forever in a sense, because it’s basically just a very efficient and quick way of moving over and around things in an environment with a certain goal in mind. Ancient hunters probably first used it while chasing prey or when running from predators or other enemies. Later developed out of related philosophies and techniques on movement technique and training, the idea of Parkour was first introduced in the late ‘80s by French born David Belle.1 Therefore, French athletes called traceurs who first followed Belle, often share the credit for growing Parkour and introducing it to the rest of the world.

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    Traceur Learning and Training

    Although you can find tons of online Parkour videos and tutorials, it’s probably a good idea to get some training from an expert if possible. The sport’s popularity is still fairly new, so you might have to search a bit for Parkour instructors, but with more people than ever stoked about the sport, it’s getting easier to find the training you need. Check with your local Parkour association or meet up group to find qualified instructors and coaches.

    Remember, though, Parkour is mostly about the mind, body and spirit connection as well as overcoming all types of obstacles in life, and you have to be physically and mentally ready for the demands of the sport. So, if you find yourself in a group that either expects you to do activities you’re not ready for, or behaves and practices in a careless way, consider looking for another group and/or instructor.

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    Avoiding Obstacles and Conditioning

    Parkour is critical thinking in action. Practicing Parkour can help you learn to better negotiate many kinds of obstacles in your life. Staying fit is one of the biggest obstacles in life for a lot of people. Conditioning for Parkour is one way to get past that obstacle because you have to be fit to tackle the sport, and you must stay fit to practice it.

    Follow guidelines online and from experts in your local Parkour group for conditioning. However, pretty much anything you can think of that will build both your upper and lower body strength will be good training for Parkour, e.g., push-ups, running and weightlifting. Also, any type of exercise you can do that will increase your agility and flexibility, such as yoga, basketball and gymnastics, will be beneficial.

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    Practicing Parkour

    Although it would be perfect and exciting, you’re not going to be leaping or swinging between buildings like Spider-Man once you start Parkour, and honestly, you never will because that’s only in comic books and movies. However, the main thing to remember is to start out slow and don’t try to perform Parkour moves you’re not ready for, or you’ll probably get hurt.

    Follow online and expert training advice and start with smaller objects, obstacles and spaces. For instance, practice jumping from one from one low level surface to another, or practice push-ups from a handstand position (assisted). Try “Cat Hang Dynos” or “Clapping Climb Up”2 too.

    Safety is the key though—whatever you do to get ready for bigger jumps and moves, make sure you’re doing it with stable surfaces without sharp edges and that you work with a partner and/or have some sort of balance support until you build up the strength and balance you need.

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    Check Your Health

    Before taking on any type of new fitness hobby, as always, get checked out by your doctor. Explain what sort of fitness requirements you will be following and ask for a physical that includes checking you out for reflex, movement and balance too. It’s a good idea to visit your eye doctor as well. The last thing you want to do is miss your mark when jumping through obstacles, especially those made of cement. Be perfectly healthy and fit to discover Parkour fitness.

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    References

    1Parkour Online - http://www.parkour-online.com/index.html

    2American Parkour: apk - http://www.americanparkour.com/