How to Learn Parkour as a Weak Fat Adult Geek
When you visit Quora – the number one site for asking questions online – you often see frequently asked questions like “am I too old to train parkour, I’m [insert any adult age here]?”.
Then you will also find the same question but instead of “old” they will ask too fat (overweight), tall, weak etc. etc. etc. The short answer to all those questions is a resounding “no”! Or in other words:
You are never too old, fat, weak, geeky, whatever to start training parkour.
The long answer – as most people never believe you when it’s too simple – is below.
Sure, ideally you never stop practicing parkour, just keep on jumping as a kid after you’re “too old” for playing at playgrounds. You can also learn parkour as a weak fat adult geek though. I was one for sure.
Am I Too Old/Fat/Weak to Learn Parkour? No!
You don’t believe me? Well, I shared my story in other articles so let’s keep it short: when I started training parkour a decade ago I was too old (“late” mid thirties), fat (6 feet/1,83m and 94kg), weak (no sports for like a decade) etc. I could not walk without pain for two minutes.
My feet would ache and my left shoulder did hurt as well. I was a sedentary geek working from home and staring into the screen all day.
I was a nervous wreck suffering from chronic migraine and my wife called me “fat belly Buddha”.
Why? I wasn’t even overweight like other men (fat all over the body, I rather looked like a pregnant woman shortly before giving birth).
This post is not about me and how awful my life or wife was. It wasn’t really. I just let my body rot and thus became a wretch. So it was about time so change it!
I finally decided to start training parkour back in 2011 after watching a video called Out of Time by Oleg Vorslav:
I wanted to move like that and have fun even in the most boring or desolate surroundings – not just on vacation once or twice a year.
How to Learn Parkour As an Adult? Go Outside!
So the question is not whether you can do parkour as an adult who is presumably “too old, fat, weak insert your favorite excuse here]” but how to learn parkour as an adult of any age.
Yes, any age! I have shown some parkour techniques to my father when he was in his seventies already and he could do it right away.
As a normal adult it’s quite easy to learn parkour.
Especially compared to myself. I was a weak fat adult geek who suffered from all kinds of pain issues.
The pain I experienced before parkour was so much more painful compared to the actual pain I experienced during practicing parkour for a decade that I’d trade it again any day. Not that parkour is very painful. That’s a myth.
People watch videos on YouTube or Instagram and assume parkour is something for 18 year old daredevils. True, these youngsters usually excel at parkour and freerunning but that does not mean that you can’t do it. Parkour is not flipping between roof tops. It’s just the form it has on social media to get engagement.
Average parkour (like I do it) won’t get many likes on Instagram of course. I’m not a world class athlete whatsoever. That’s why I don’t even bother. I train for myself not because I need attention or fame.
Your most important and very first obstacle to overcome is your fear of failure that actually prevents you from even trying.
That is indeed the only failure in parkour, when you fail to even attempt it. You will never know what you missed. You won’t be even able to regret it because you probably never experienced in your adult life the actual kind of joyful movement by simply using your own body. Sure, cycling, skiing, diving etc. can all be fun but you need equipment and often travel somewhere to do it.
So how do you actually learn it once you overcame your fear of even trying? You just venture outside and look around. Are there any places you can go that are not private property, city streets (with car traffic) or so dirty that you can’t see where you actually step?
You most probably will end up in a park or regular sports stadium, probably where you jog or stretch usually. Instead of just jogging and stretching you may start with some body weight training like push ups or assisted push ups (in case you can’t do “real” push ups yet). Then you just start to
on ground level! I usually just warm up and train along or directly on
- skate parks
- soccer fields
- ping pong tables
That’s boring? OK, what’s the next step? Where do you go next after warm up?
Where Can You Learn Parkour? Everywhere!
Another frequently asked question is “where can I learn parkour?” as if the discipline was somehow limited like traditional sports.
You can do parkour anywhere and everywhere, it’s simply the natural movement we practiced for millions of years starting as primates. You can do it in the city but also in the countryside. You don’t need to have the exact same obstacles you see in the videos!
Many people these days mostly train at popular “parkour spots” or even in parkour parks specifically built for freerunning. That’s not wrong but it’s very limiting. It’s like visiting Disney Land and assuming it’s an accurate representation of real life.
Another video that had a huge influence on me was “spots are everywhere“. It shows a guy – Naïm L’Inconsolable – overcoming unusual obstacles most freerunners would usually ignore. Sadly the video seems to be offline by now.
Actually the better you get at parkour the strong your so called “parkour vision” becomes – the ability to see opportunities everywhere. One of the most popular parkour mottoes hence is
“obstacles are opportunities”.
When you start training parkour your whole mindset shifts. Instead of using the path of least resistance like most people you start wondering how to make your life harder and thus more fun. You embrace and seek out challenges naturally and you enjoy them! That’s a completely new way of life that reverberates far beyond parkour training outside.
You change on the inside as well. You stop being fearful and start being courageous. Suddenly all types of things you would usually ignore or use without thinking become your training equipment:
- bike racks
- tables (pick-nick tables e.g)
and many other natural and artificial obstacles become opportunities for sharpening your parkour skills and to simply enjoy yourself and your new found abilities.
For those who are even too afraid to jump on a curb (after all they might be “looking stupid” or “fail”) there are parkour gyms all over the world now.
Even more often there are parkour groups you join for a small fee. I even helped out teaching kids in one here called MyParkour. They asked for help because they get overrun with requests ever since covid hit and have long waiting lists. Usually parents wanting their kids to move approach them.
The only problem is that besides that mostly young male adults take part so you might feel out of place as an adult, woman or weak fat geek. That’s why I trained almost exclusively alone for the past decade but luckily you don’t have to.
In Berlin, Germany I teach parkour to mere mortals, that is normal people who are no daredevils whatsoever. You can learn parkour in 10 hours with me!
The myth that only superhuman young males who move like spiderman are able to perform parkour jumps seems strong as ever (no pun intended).
Thus there are not many people beyond the age of 20 who even try to learn parkour. Hopefully we change that. In case you don’t live in Berlin you can learn parkour yourself, no matter what
- fitness level
or preoccupation you have. Indeed the more sit during the day the more natural movement (aka parkour) you need. The main obstacle is still your belief system.
As long as you think that walking or running is all you can do, but jumping is already too hard, childish or dangerous you are just fooling yourself in order to stay in your proverbial “comfort zone”.
I learned parkour mostly by myself using tutorial videos on YouTube! Then I practiced outside.
Is Parkour Dangerous? No!
I never went to a gym or used any mats! I trained for a decade outside without major injuries. No broken bones and such. Parkour is not dangerous when you do it right. The opposite is the case! It’s rather beneficial for your health.
You have the body of a primate. It has been optimized for millions of years to be the perfect tool for chasing and evading, for exploring and discovering! Don’t waste it by sitting all day like paralyzed people in wheelchairs.
Btw. even in a wheelchair you can train parkour – in fact you are already practicing parkour all day. Every curb is already an obstacle you train on every day. The obstacle is the path the Zen Buddhists say for hundreds of years.
Once you start training parkour it’s just a matter of time and consistency.
Ideally you train at least three times a week for like two hours. I did 4 to 5 times for a few months and then around 4 for several years and basically until now.
You can’t do a particular move? Just add it to your routine and train it as often as possible. You can also divide it into several moves and train on ground level. This will also make parkour almost completely safe.
You build up muscle memory and one day you will be finally able to master it, sometimes unexpectedly and out of the blue.
You can even combine your existing tasks with parkour. For example I train with my best-friend, a border collie mix and we jump together over and through all kinds of obstacles. Why go on a separate walk when you can train with your dog?
Also when you take you take a closer look at your daily life you can add strength, flexibility and agility training throughout the day.
- I get up stretch like every hour when working from home.
- I take the stairs whenever I can instead of the elevator (I take to work three steps at once).
- I walk instead of going by car or public transportation.
- I traverse distances I’d use the bike for on foot.
- I also do everything manually, like washing dishes.
- I use my less dominant hand on purpose to train both hands.
Over the weeks, months and years you will develop into a strong person and you will also inadvertently lose weight, especially when you start running. The weak fat old geek will cease to exist.