Who’s Up for a Little Parkour?

As I said at the beginning of the MovNat episode on the Being James Bond podcast a few months ago, I’ve always wanted to be Tarzan.  I’ve been fascinated by the ability to use your body to get places and overcome obstacles.  That, obviously, is what led me into my fascination with MovNat, Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), and pretty much all the stuff I do today.  But there’s one step I haven’t taken yet… until now.

Ever since it first came on the scene, I’ve been fascinated with the sport/movement philosophy of Parkour.  I’m sure most of you know what Parkour is – that crazy thing kids do where they jump off buildings, climb walls, and otherwise do stuff that is just death-defying and dangerous and no one has any business doing because it’s not safe.

And that’s where you’d be wrong.  Here’s what Parkour really is:  the art of getting from one place to another, and overcoming obstacles with speed and efficiency.  This video shows the art of Parkour admirably.  It’s not particularly flashy, but it gets the job done and allows the practitioner to get where he wants to go, quickly and easily.

Like anything, it can be taken to extremes – which is where the crazier stuff comes into play.  And at that point it’s more free-running – a level of Parkour where the practitioners do flips and tricks and take bigger risks.  And there’s certainly a place for that, don’t get me wrong.  I am in awe of the people who do this stuff – it’s one of the reasons I love things like American Ninja Warrior so much.

But that’s not what I’m after here.  What I’m after is the ability to get where I want to go and to create a body and mind that sees obstacles as assailable.  I’m already partly there, there’s no doubt.  MovNat and OCR have helped me to get into a place where I see the possibilities for movement as I walk around downtown Columbus and elsewhere.

But to be frank, I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit.  After the Mud Ninja race (which I talked a bit about back here) I have been in a bit of a funk.  Partly that’s been because I wasn’t able to complete two obstacles that I completed last year with… well, I won’t be so bold as to say no problem, but I completed them.  Some people would describe that as just getting old.  But as I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, I see that as a misunderstanding of what the human body is capable of and what “getting old” really means.

And let me clarify what that really means:  it’s not that your age has caught up with you, it’s that the less-than-sterling choices you’ve made in life, such as what you eat, how you move (or don’t), and how you treat yourself have caught up with you.  And unfortunately, that tends to be a situation where it builds over time, almost unseen, until the body decides that yes, it’s had enough. And things like Type 2 diabetes and brittle bones and brain fog and such come on the scene.  This tends to happen at a time that we’ve come to call “middle age.”

So one of the reasons I’m taking this on is because I think the training of Parkour will help me to conquer those obstacles once again.

But another one of my goals, then, is to disprove that things like Parkour can be taken on by someone in their forties.  And it absolutely can. For example:

I’m fortunate that I’ve already discovered the proper diet for me, that’s one less item I have to worry about as I start this journey.  And having done the OCRs that I’ve done and the like, I know I can take on physical challenges that others see as crazy.  And given the similar functionality between doing OCR and Parkour, I would lose nothing in the training for “something else.”  It’d just be a different focus and methodology with a very similar outcome.

And to be frank, I’m amazed by the things that the human body is capable of.  Those precision jumps.  The supple strength of a muscle up.  The awareness of surroundings and the ability to look at a wall, or a sidewalk, or what have you, and see the possibilities for movement there.  There’s so much about movement that we have lost because of our sidewalks-and-roads culture, our “get-in-your-cardio-and-burn-those-calories” mindset, and our  that methodologies like MovNat and Parkour are re-teaching us.

So to me, it’s a win-win-win.  I get motivation back with a new thing, I stay in shape for what I love to do, and I find out some new stuff about myself.

Currently I’m planning on starting by myself.  As I said, a lot of the MovNat philosophy and methodology is exactly in line with the training that Parkour demands – vaults, jumping, landing, and more.  I already have some of the skills I need to move into that line of training. I just need to polish and strengthen them.

There are a couple of great websites out there to support this:  One is NerdFitness.com, the famous Steve Kamb site with the idea of “leveling up in life” as a goal, taken from fans of video and role-playing games.  He’s got some great pages and articles, as well as a kicking community, that talk about Parkour and how to get started.  The other is Parkour athlete/coach Ryan Ford’s site, Apex Movement.  He does a fantastic job of helping people to practice this stuff and I’ve been following his work for a while.  He also has a basics program and I’ll be using that as well.

And if I get to the point where I want some hands-on coaching, there are schools for Parkour here in Columbus where I can go and try some of this out!

So wish me luck as my off-season training commences for next season’s OCRs!  I’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing both here and on my Facebook page.