How to get started in Parkour?
In an earlier story, I described the landscape of parkour, including a brief history and the idea that, at a much-reduced level of athleticism, many of us engage in it on a regular basis. I wanted to know more about parkour from the perspective of an enthusiast, so I asked my Fifty/50 BJJ teammate Tim Koren to share some of his experiences with me. A relatively new traceur, Tim is also a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu and an information technology systems engineer. Tim also happens to be super smart, thoughtful, and articulate about everything he does, which made him a great person to talk to. The first thing I wanted to talk to him about was how he got started in parkour.
Breakdancing turned out to be Tim’s “gateway” activity to parkour. A friend alerted him to a local gym that was offering a promotion for parkour classes; this same gym also had breakdancing classes, which Tim had been taking at a place that was a relatively lengthy commute into Washington, DC, from his home in northern Virginia. Tim explained:
I honestly had no intention whatsoever of ever going to the place, but I guess I tucked the information away in the back of my mind until about a year later. In that time I’d gone through even more BJJ-related injuries than usual, the last of which gave me a lot of time to reflect and think about how I’d be more efficient with my time when I got healthy. I realized that although the breakdancing teacher in DC was extremely good, I wasn’t going to make the progress I wanted with the difficult commute limiting me to only one session a week.
The gym Tim’s friend had mentioned was much closer and also offered other classes, which translated into a more effective use of Tim’s time. The next step to studying parkour happened naturally.
So when I got healthy again, I started doing breakdancing classes and really enjoyed them. But before, during, and after the breakdancing classes I would see the parkour guys working out. Not only did the movements look very different and exciting, but everyone seemed to be extremely positive and to be having a lot of fun with it. I tried out the weekend Introduction to Parkour Basics class and had a great time.
Since then, Tim has been learning parkour at this gym, the evocatively named Urban Evolution, and watching shows such as Ninja Warrior on television has helped fuel his addiction He has found that one of the many cool aspects of Urban Evolution is there isn’t really such a thing as a “typical” class. On one day students might go through a progression of a single move such as vaulting over a three-foot box, then a five-foot box, and then a series of boxes. Another day, the obstacle might be the constant, with the type and difficulty level of techniques for engaging with the obstacle the variable. The actual layout of the gym must change to accommodate these different goals and emphases, so he has a different visual and spatial experience every time he attends.