If you haven’t seen parkour, or its cousin free running, then you really ought to get yourself on over to YouTube and take a look. Or check out the opening to “Casino Royale” for some x-treme parkour (firearms and international intrigue are a movie extra).
For me, watching an accomplished parkour athlete feels like riding a roller coaster—my internal organs are in freefall, my body wants to launch itself over the nearest railing. I can only imagine that actually moving this way must be like flying. And after seeing a few of these videos, I find the urban landscape starts to look a little different. I’m thinking: over, under, through. What used to look like an obstacle becomes a jumping off point. Things I never noticed now command attention. (Do skaters’ moms see the world in terms of ramps and rails? Certainly, when my children were toddlers every sharp corner in the world suddenly appeared to be painted caution yellow.)
Learning feels like parkour to me. Someone shows you something new and imagination lets you see the world in a different way. Let go of your fear, give it a try, stick with it, and you may get to fly. And whether I’m trying to understand a human activity or trying to do it myself, it often starts with an imaginative shift. Mastery, if it comes, comes much later. But even if I never get beyond the novice stage, I’m grateful for the chance to try out those lenses.
After class, no one seems quite ready to leave: Several people linger to rehydrate and rehash the day’s exploits; others continue to mess around on the equipment. Toorock encourages this: “Fun and community are so much more connected to successful training than you could imagine,” he says. “That’s why our program works. I tell people to forget exercise and go play.”
Fun, community, play—the stuff that keeps you going, keeps you engaged, keeps you creative while you sweat. No matter what hurdle you’re trying to jump.