Article by Carrie Carlson
You've learned a little bit about this thing called 'Parkour' and now you're ready to give it a try! You've taken the first big step and registered for a class, or connected with the local community, but this is really new for you. Making the decision to step out of your routine and learn something new is a big change. Change, even when it's positive, is hard and can be intimidating. When it comes to Parkour, we've got your back and won't let you walk this road alone.
Parkour is a whole-body activity, and as you get started, you are very likely to find yourself moving in ways you may not have ever considered before. That’s what makes Parkour fun, and why we like to refer to training sessions as ‘play’, rather than 'exercise'. There is no ‘minimum strength level’ for exploring Parkour, but taking some time to prepare your body in advance is a good thing. Doing this will help you begin to develop a mindset of personal challenge while also strengthening your muscles and joints for the exertion and movement to come. This, in turn, will increase your fun and decrease the risk of strain-related injury. Below you’ll find a list of five categories of exercises you can begin doing on your own right now, without a lick of equipment. Some of these may not be right for you at the moment, but nearly all of them can be scaled up or down in difficulty to suit your personal needs.
1.) Things that will strengthen your legs and ankles. Particularly those muscle groups used for jumping. Why? There’s a lot of jumping and impact absorption in parkour. Building up your leg muscles will make those movements easier to execute and minimize stress related injuries. Feet are to the traceur/traceuse what hands are to a pianist, so you’ll want to take good care of yours.
- Examples of exercises you can do: squats (standard, weighted, split, pistol, etc.), lunges (standard, jumping, etc.), ‘frog hops’, box jumps, tuck jumps, broad jumps, balance exercises like those listed below
2.) Things that will strengthen your wrists and shoulders. Particularly those muscle groups used for pushing and pulling. Why? Apart from jumping, parkour also involves a lot of pushing, pulling, clinging, hanging, etc. Your arms, legs, hands, and feet are what will generally make contact with surfaces and objects the most and they will (literally) carry most of the burden. You’ll need your hands for holding onto things, your arms for guiding the angle and direction of movements such as vaults, and your shoulders and upper chest muscles for pulling or pushing yourself upwards.
- Examples of exercises you can do: pushups (incline, knee, standard, knuckle, clap, etc.), wall dips, planks (standard, side, knuckle, etc.), pull-ups (band assisted or strict), rows (can be done with a sturdy table or broomstick braced between chairs)
3.) Things that will help strengthen your core. Why? The fact that we call the muscles in our lower torso our ‘core’ says it all. Strengthening your core will help lend some extra power, stability and control to movements like vaults. Core strength is also vital for a lot of the swinging movements seen in parkour.
- Examples of exercises you can do: Planks, hanging knee lifts, sit-ups, presses (hand/headstand)
4.) Things involving balance. Why? Not everything in parkour is about strength and power. A lot of the time it’s about balance. Standing, crouching, or walking on balance beams, narrow ledges, bars, or railings is very common. Other times you may want to jump onto, or between very small targets. Developing your balancing skills will also help improve your overall awareness of your own body and its center of gravity, which is critical.
- Examples of exercises you can do: Walk along the edge of a curb or low planter box (be mindful of your environment and stay safe), follow lines in the sidewalk or lines drawn in chalk (or tape), one foot balance drills, drinking birds. You can also train anywhere inside your own home at any time using our handcrafted precision sticks. Each stick comes with a guide filled with ideas to help get you started and can be purchased here.
5.) Mobility exercises. Why? These will help shake the dust off and clear the cobwebs. The idea is to gently loosen your muscles and joints up and improve your range of motion. The better your range of motion and flexibility, the smoother and less tense your movements will be.
- Examples of exercises you can do: Your favorite low key movement activities like stretches or yoga. If you're not sure where to start, YouTube is full of video tutorials for every imaginable level; from 'I can't touch my toes or turn my head', to 'this could double as a party trick'. There are also a number of phone apps available that will guide you through yoga routines if that's your thing.
Stay safe and remember to have fun. We're excited for you to attend your first Parkour class soon!
Have questions? We’re here for you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
(My cat, after my workout)