On Parkour

Parkour is a way of movement that emphasizes speed and grace in overcoming obstacles.

In a way, I’ve always done parkour – climbing trees, rafters, and more for the sake of exploring what lies beyond. But when I first discovered that it has a name, and is something you can train for, my immediate reaction was, “Why am I not doing this and when can I start?”

That very week, in the summer of 2009, I joined a beginner class. Since then, parkour has become an important and delightful part of my life, for all of these reasons:

  1. Parkour makes me feel boundless and free. By teaching me the moves I need to get over a wall or across a gap, it gives me access to new places.
  2. Parkour encourages spontaneity and playfulness. It’s like being a kid on a jungle gym, but being better at it.
  3. Parkour builds strength and agility. And yet, unlike other workouts I’ve tried, it doesn’t feel like work.
  4. Parkour is a peaceful form of self-defense. If I find myself in a “fight or flight” situation, I am trained for flight.
  5. Parkour helps me to forget about how I look, and instead focus on what I can do. When I have a specific goal like “scale that wall” or “vault over that box,” appearance is irrelevant.
  6. Parkour is empowering. I can’t count the number of times when something that I found “impossible” one week was suddenly “possible” the next week. It’s such a triumphant feeling!
  7. Parkour is humbling. I was embarrassingly bad at it when I first started, but continued to train anyways – and improved over time.
  8. Parkour offers helpful metaphors. From the idea of “overcoming obstacles” to the importance of learning how to fail safely, parkour has taught me lessons that are more than just physical.
  9. Parkour surrounds me with interesting people. It seems to attract a crowd that cares just as much about creativity as they do about precision.
  10. Parkour feels epic, like being in a movie or a video game. Watching chase scenes, I can now name the various moves that the actors are doing, which makes me feel more connected to the story. And when I go out and do such things, I’m in a story of my own.

This was originally posted on October 15, 2016, and has not been edited since.