Parkour for Fitness

As we thaw into trails of slush, I continue looking for ways to train that don’t involve my bike – despite witnessing the diehards spinning their wheels across the crusty layer of hard snow. They must be guessing as to where the trail actually lays.

My most recent workout crush is Parkour – a cross between running, martial arts, running from cops (just kidding), gymnastics, and skateboarding. You just run around town avoiding all sidewalks and stairs, using instead the walls to run across, vault or climb over.

I was at the gymnastics academy when I couldn’t help but notice a group of guys jumping from beam to beam in the midst of leotard-clad 9-year-old girls. They weren’t pointing their toes and kicking their legs high. It was more panther-like as they coiled their bodies into springs and vaulted over gym equipment. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could hop over something that gracefully. Then I realized that society never really expects people to do that. It’s like an unspoken rule that we walk along sidewalks, clutch railings for fear of falling, and walk all the way around walls separating us from where we want to go.

I’m always very focused and on a mission. As I’m driving down the road I’m constantly looking for ways to get through or around people so that I can get to where I’m going faster. Until I took a class on Parkour I didn’t realize just how stuck I am with the unspoken rules placed by a man-made society. I mean, it’s really ok to vault the bushes, flip over the bike racks, and scale the parking deck garage in order to get to a corporate interview. I mean, it’s not like I have to wear pantyhose anymore.

The first time I did a cat jump from one wall to another, I slammed clumsily against it and bruised my arms. I found a little more grace once I got beyond the thought that this was something fit for jungle animals.

Parkour uses every muscle group in the body. All of those injuries I’ve nursed from crashing on my bike will now be fixed with this strength training. Lifting weights for physical therapy can be relentless. Parkour is fun. You don’t even realize how hard you’re working because you’re so focused on whether you can make it up and over the wall this time. You get mad at your body for being weak because you just want to go over the wall one more time.

Although mountain biking requires good core strength, cyclists need some upper body strength. Spindly cycling arms may weigh less, but they’re not all that efficient.

The number one injury among mountain bikers is a separated shoulder, which I sport. I think this is going to be the perfect way to make it better…at least until spring.

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