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:
- 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.
- Parkour encourages spontaneity and playfulness. It’s like being a kid on a jungle gym, but being better at it.
- Parkour builds strength and agility. And yet, unlike other workouts I’ve tried, it doesn’t feel like work.
- Parkour is a peaceful form of self-defense. If I find myself in a “fight or flight” situation, I am trained for flight.
- 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.
- 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!
- Parkour is humbling. I was embarrassingly bad at it when I first started, but continued to train anyways – and improved over time.
- 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.
- Parkour surrounds me with interesting people. It seems to attract a crowd that cares just as much about creativity as they do about precision.
- 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.