Your average under-stimulated hyperactive kid, I struggled for years to find anything to hold my attention that wasn’t video games. From dance to intramural sports, I bounced off 6 or 7 different exercise styles since adolescence, but mercifully I’ve finally found one that’s stuck.
I am of course referring to Parkour. And here I’d like to list a few of Parkour’s unique aspects that make it so well suited to terminally bored or screen obsessed kids – like I was.
- Parkour is generally done in short, intense bursts. When one goes for a run, it’s maybe 30 or so minutes of protracted, constant aerobic exercise. Some folks love a consistent task to zen out – not me. An average Parkour ‘line’ is closer to 30 seconds. The catch? Every second is a different task, every task requires explosive effort, and if you find your feet touching the ground more than a split second you’re probably sprinting. In other words, it’s intense. That might sound daunting to some, but to those craving stimulation, it’s perfect. You fly around for a minute doing all sorts of different crazy stuff, and then you rest. Your mind can wander and day dream a moment before you find your way back to do it again.
- Parkour encourages creativity. That ‘do it again’ makes it sound like you’re just putting in reps at the gym, but it’s not as simple as that either, because Parkour encourages creativity. Sure, you can do the same line over and over again well after you’ve perfected it, but you’d be hard pressed to find many Parkour folks actually doing that. Most of them are repeating a challenge until they finally can do it at all, then immediately start making it weirder and more exciting. You’re finally getting up and over a wall consistently? Time to work it into a pop with a stylish vault to impress some passerby. Best case scenario, you have so much fun expressing yourself this way you forget you started doing this to exercise.
- Parkour is a remarkably practical and convenient activity. It can be done just about anywhere. If there’s something in your way – a wall, a picnic table, a fallen tree – chances are you can do Parkour on it. The barrier to entry really is that low. Some days – particularly if you’re on the anxious side like myself – you just don’t feel up to driving somewhere and working out with a bunch of folks in a class. But, it’s not such a hard sell to wander outside and find a bench. Good shoes, workout clothes, gym memberships – all of these things can help you learn Parkour, but at the end of the day all you really need is a bench.