Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

Parkour is not done in the Gym

by Cliff (CAK010), founder of PKCali

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Parkour is Not Done in the Gym

Cliff (CAK010), Wednesday 10 October 2007

Parkour is Not Done in the Gym.

The basic physical aspect of Parkour is about traversing the environment to get from point A to point B. This is true for any environment be it urban or rural. The obstacles are those that we encounter in our surroundings and on our paths. These obstacles, both man-made and natural, are built/created with an intent that is appropriate for its surroundings. A tree provides for our ecosystem, a wall is used to separate sides, a rail is used for support, etc. These obstacles are obviously not put there with the specific purpose of having people train Parkour even though they may be utilized by a traceur in her journey to point B. In fact, it is the ability to get passed and utilize these obstacles that helps define a traceur.

Many of us have found training inside a gym with pads, foam blocks, spring floors, etc. to be fun and a luxury of sorts. In fact, training in gyms has become very popular recently as more facilities become available and open to our types of drills and techniques. Moreover, those just starting out will now look to receive instruction in a gym before attempting actual Parkour outside where it is meant to be done. As a result, lots of people who are a bit more experienced find themselves teaching Parkour classes inside gyms. I am one of these people. I have been holding gym sessions and classes for a while now. I've seen many people come and go. Some people understand it, progress, and then train outdoors. Some attend a bunch of gym sessions or classes, but never go outside. Too many people come to the gym once, then never show up again after having "tried it out." I've even dealt with media people who want to do a news piece about Parkour with only having been to a gym and not outside. I've also found some gyms starting Parkour classes that are taught by gymnastic coaches who don't actually do Parkour. I'm seeing a very bad trend develop that looks to be leading toward confining Parkour to gyms and/or specific facilities.

Parkour is not done in the gym. It is not a gym activity. The basic physical aspect of Parkour is about traversing the environment(urban or rural) to get from point A to point B. Parkour is not gymnastics. Parkour is not tricking. Parkour is not a sport. Parkour is not something that can be understood or experienced by going to a gym. Our surroundings and environment are not pads, foam blocks, or spring floors. One cannot move buildings, angle a tree, soften concrete, or raise a rail the way one can with the gym equipment. Parkour is not about manipulating the environment to suit you. It's the other way around. You learn to adapt yourself to be able to traverse the environment. The gym is unable to provide this. One can drill techniques and set things up to build strength, body awareness, and agility in a gym, but it will never be the outside. There will always be that difference that defines what really is the physical aspect of Parkour.

To understand Parkour, one has to go outside. To be able to begin to describe Parkour or even report it, one has to go outside. To be a traceur, i.e. someone who actually "does Parkour," one has to go outside. When I hold my gym sessions and classes, I make it a point to explain to the participants that they need take the strength and knowledge they've acquired and go outside with it. Simply vaulting some foam blocks or jumping the balance beams means nothing in relation to Parkour if you can't take it outside. That's not to say it's useless, but its just not Parkour.

Many of us first learned the physical aspects of Parkour outside a long time before getting to play in a gym. It is said that the best way to learn something is to do that thing. Training outside is the best way to learn Parkour as that is where it is really done. By training outside, I was able to progress physically as well as mentally and emotionally. My overall understanding of Parkour became clearer.

Many people are afraid to train outside. This obstacle is easily overcome with a little intelligence. Being smart about your limits and training appropriately is key and not difficult to do.

I write this to build awareness. Don't let yourself get caught in this wave of gym popularity without also training outside. It's okay to go to the gym, but realize Parkour is done outside of the gym. Be wary of people advertising gym sessions and classes who don't encourage you to leave the gym to train outside. Often those people are just looking for money. Training outside is FREE! Also, if you run any gym sessions or classes, make sure you constantly encourage participants to train outside. Parkour is about utility, progression, and durability. It is about traversing your environment. It is not about what you do in the gym. So go outside and train!

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