fitness · fitness classes

All I want for Christmas is: to fly…

Exercise, and physical activity in general, really helps keep me calm, focused, and grounded. In a good way. I love the sound of rubber tires humming on the asphalt as I cycle in the countryside. Feeling my two feet connected to the yoga mat, supporting me as I reach overhead or forward or back, conveys strength, security and solidity. Again, in a good way.

I wrote recently about having finally discovered the joys of weight training, which seems (so far) all about solidity– muscle, sinew, iron. And I like it.

But these days I’m finding myself wanting something different– a feeling of airiness, of height, of weightlessness. In short, I’d like to experience the world from a different perspective. I need some air around me.

No, this is not going to be a blog post about skydiving, although I’m sure that’s a fine thing (you do you). It’s also not going to be a blog post about thrilling, death-defying (or accelerating) extreme sports. Again, go for it if you like.

I’m talking about expanding my physical activity regimen in 2019 to include something that lets me explore space in a different way, from a variety of perspectives and perches.

I’m talking about parkour.

You may be thinking: what’s parkour? Here’s a short description from this site:

Parkour can be defined as the practice of moving logically and creatively through a – typically – urban setting to get from a start point to an end point as quickly as possible. This involves physically overcoming barriers on any given route, creating inventive but practical ways in which from get from A to B as efficiently as possible.

Well, that sounds okay, like running an obstacle course, right?

No, it’s much much more than that. Check out what Dan Edwardes (guy who runs a big parkour organization) says about it:

[Parkour is] also a transformative practice which aims for self-improvement on all levels in the practitioner, developing resilience, courage, strength of mind, adaptability, humility and a sense of community. People get involved for all sorts of reasons, but often just for the sheer enjoyment and pleasure of moving and using the body the way it has evolved to be used. It’s a challenging activity that actually asks you to use your physical and mental capabilities to overcome movement tasks and achieve more than you thought possible.”

That sounds much better. But of course there are lots of activities that transform us, challenge us, please us.

You would also be right to point out that I am very late to this party. Parkour probably peaked in the aughts. The TV show The Office had an episode featuring Parkour (you can see a clip here), which I saw yesterday (thanks, Emma!) but which originally aired in 2009.

So why me and why now?

  • I’m still in PT for my sprained ankle, but that’s winding down.
  • I just saw that the Boston parkour place has classes nearby for 50+ adults.
  • I’m looking for a regimen of exercise to help me be stronger and more agile, and reduce my risk of future sprains, etc.
  • I watched some cool parkour videos and loved the idea of being able to walk on high things, jump from heights, climb things, and see the world from above. All without hurting myself (other than some minor scratches and bruises…)

Honestly, simple-looking but impossible-for-me-right-now moves like these would be great to do:

Yeah, I may not be flying through the air with the greatest of ease yet. But taking on something completely new is exciting.

Have any of you readers tried this? I’d love to hear from you. I’ll also report back after a class or two (my friend Pata is in, and Norah is a maybe).

9 thoughts on “All I want for Christmas is: to fly…

  1. I am 100% certain that if I tried parkour I would end up with a concussion and a broken leg, but I will eagerly watch your progress and cheer you on!

  2. I second Cate – I would 100% be too clumsy for this, but it sounds very exciting! Let us know how you get on.

  3. “Woman swinging her body in the air sideways over a stone table”- The woman in this photo is actually an acquaintance of mine! She’s been doing parkour for years, was featured on American Ninja Warrior, and is a stunt double for movies and TV shows. It’s amazing what the human body is capable of. Sounds like a blast!

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