Parkour

The Situationists said “concrete breeds apathy” but just because we live in Asphalt Nation doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to enjoy the outdoors. “It’s about creativity and freedom,” says Tim Shieff of Derby, England. “I like it because you have no restrictions.” Hmm…I like the sound of that, but what’s he talking about? The answer is: Parkour.

Sometimes abbreviated to PK, Parkour is “an athletic discipline, in which practitioners traverse any environment in the most efficient way possible using their physical abilities, and which commonly involves running, jumping, vaulting, rolling and other similar physical movements.”

“Parkour originated with French naval officer Georges Hébert, who was impressed by the way African tribespeople moved through their environment,” writes Violet Snow in the Energy Times. “He devised a system of physical education based on natural movements that he later adapted…using obstacle courses to build agility, strength, courage and self-confidence.”

Parkour is old school. No electricity, no computers, no treadmills, no giant health clubs, and few restrictions and rules. Parkour harks back to the type of unregulated play we enjoyed as children. You’ll be leaping from walls and over gaps, performing ground rolls and executing precision jumping. A little bit of gymnastics, a dash of bouldering, and a helping of chess-like strategy—all combined to condition you from head to toe, inside and out. It’s all about making the most basic movements of the day with the maximum physical and mental benefit (i.e. taking your fitness out of the gym-routine box).

Five Star Gymnastics in East Rockaway hosts regular Parkour classes at their 25,000 square foot facility. “We are looking for people interested in learning, as well as additional instructors,” they explain. Summer’s here…so why not take some classes and then start navigating Long Island, Parkour-style?

(Parkour, of course, is strenuous and challenging. If you’re unsure about your ability to participate, consult a health professional.)