Reading the bio’s of many well known parkour practitioners or freerunners you start wondering whether they were simply born for this and you weren’t.
Freerunners seem to have some superior genetic predisposition for scaling walls and jumping off roofs.
you lack it appears.
Are Parkour Practitioners Superhuman?
These people seem to have been training all their life and apparently never had major difficulties.
They just continuously improved over the years and became professional athletes or stunt people after a while. It was all a straight line with a logical happy ending. Bullshit!
Parkour is natural movement for everybody and wimps have the biggest opportunity to improve.
When you are already training martial arts since you were four and ran your first marathon at 12 you don’t need parkour. It may be even a step back or boring.
Parkour is best suited to make the weak stronger, faster and more agile.
When I started training parkour I was a wimp. How did I transform myself from a weak fat geek into a fitness wonder without paying for a gym? All I did was consistent body-weight training.
I attempted training in a gym long before I started parkour. I even did it twice for like six months. The first time was when I was still a teen and still looking sick years after a long illness made me radically lose weight. Back then I dropped from almost obese to almost anorectic.
Building Your Body Under the Sun
I tried the well-known approach: body building. Of course being very weak and having no body mass allowed me to progress quickly.
I simply ate lots of protein powder. After a few months I looked “normal” again – like an average guy – but not like a body builder.
Looking at the real body builders weight lifting 200 pounds on the bench was frustrating to see.
These guys didn’t make it easier for me by displaying a condescending stare from time to time when I walked close by.
I’m not even sure of that. I may have imagined their attitude but the simple fact they were there didn’t motivate me but instead made feel somehow underdeveloped.
Fast forward 20 years and here I was again – weak as hell – experiencing pain from mere walking and panting after taking a few steps of a staircase.
Should I try body building again? No. There must be something else. Then I remembered those parkour videos where young men would move like monkeys and overcome obstacles effortlessly.
Moreover these parkour practitioners were grinning and kidding all the time while at it. That’s a far cry from the tense atmosphere of the typical gym I was used to.
Again at first I thought I am nowhere near the ability to do this. First I need some muscle before I can even dare to try that I thought. I attempted to get fit for like three months and gave up when I got a cold.
Strength training even without using weights and machines was boring and frustrating again.
The main difference was that I made a jerk of myself by doing it alone outside with random people moving by. I felt discouraged and defeated. I even felt silly!
Did I really think I can jump around on roofs like some 18 year old kid who has nothing to lose?
Moving Around Like a Kid Again without Excuses
I kept the parkour idea at the back of my head while my excuses grew larger and more important over time! I convinced myself that was I was too
Yeah, I had scoliosis since early childhood, a skewed spine and feet flat like some tortillas. I had pain from mere walking both in my feet and my shoulder.
Now – a few years later – I know better. At that time – or in the end rather half a year later – I needed someone else to tell me.
I met this well trained guy who was loitering in the place I usually walk and play with my dog.
I already thought, what the heck does he do here? Then it dawned on me: he was actually training parkour.
Somehow we started chatting and I told him that I was too weak, stiff, old, fat, sick and every single “reason” not to train was quickly debunked by him.
It turned out that this “young guy” was just one year younger than me (not in the late twenties like I suspected).
He also has “had a belly” before he started training regularly and yes he also had a spine illness but his was much more serious. A few weeks without training and he risked to lose his ability to walk!
It was no joke. I experienced that later when after an injury during moving flats he was unable to train for three months.
He literally had to stop in the middle of nowhere and lay down to exercise because his spine would get “locked” otherwise.
As you see I ran out of excuses quickly. Then I agreed to join him on the next day. That’s how I started training parkour. The rest is history.
From Weakness to Strength and Back Again?
Often I regret that I didn’t make photos or videos of my poor state of health and fitness back then.
I could barely move, especially compared to now. I’m still not a professional traceur – I just move again like a kid that I probably never was.
As a kid I was always smaller and weaker that the other boys.
At 16 I was the oldest guy in my class but the smallest when it comes to size. I never really excelled at any sports.
I played basketball occasionally but we didn’t even have a court to play on. Only schools had them here in those days and we weren’t allowed to enter after school was out.
We did come in anyway by climbing over gates and fences (parkour!) but we often had to leave after the janitor showed up.
Now as an middle-aged man I finally undertook the journey to become what I could have been all the way – stronger and more self-confident. I wish I hadn’t waited for so long.
The later you start the harder it gets. You need to un-wimp yourself as soon as possible.
A friend of mine who was obese in his late teens/early twenties undertook regular swimming for example.
He did it like almost every day for two years and looked like a model when he was in his mid to late twenties.
When I met him a few years back he got fat again because he embraced the sedentary lifestyle of an office worker who always short on time. This way he didn’t manage to train regularly anymore.
He might have more money now and he is also able to sail with his boat on the weekends but it’s not enough to make him fit and healthy again.
You don’t need a boat or something expensive to start training natural movement. That what parkour is about essentially. It’s possible everywhere at any time.
Some people complain that they have no obstacles to train at but that’s nonsense. You don’t need the same kind of obstacles you see on YouTube videos.
will also do in the countryside. You can even build obstacles yourself out of wood for example. Some people even sell parkour obstacles online!
Are You a Wimp, Disabled or not Even a Man?
Many people claim they have no time to train but you can even train on the way to school or work in case you do it without excess. People who ride a bike to commute are also moving and can get a bit sweaty.
You can leave earlier in the morning and instead of cycling for 20 minutes walk and practice parkour while at it for 40.
While you may think that you are too weak, old or fat to train parkour or any sport as excuses work for most disciplines you may also need to know that even disabled people practice it.
I’ve seen videos of excellent parkour practitioners with various ailments, for example a
- schizophrenic who also suffers from side-effects of medication like obesity
- blind guy who is not just “visually impaired” – he almost doesn’t see anything, there’s also a completely blind traceur
- an adult guy who has the height of a little kid
- amputees both with one arm or even just one leg and without using prosthetic limbs!
You could argue that people in a wheelchair are all practicing parkour because every curb or stair is an obstacle for them but some wheelchair users are training more than others.
Aaron Fotheringham even invented a whole new discipline he calls “hard core sitting” to give a name to what he does using his wheelchair.
Aaron Fotheringham even managed to be the first person to attempt and succeed at doing a double-backflip in a wheelchair. Yeah, he flips not just once but twice in a row!
As you see there are all kinds of “wimps” who are unable to match the standards of manliness
and who haven’t been awarded perfect health and abilities by nature from day one. It’s basically not about where you are – it’s about where you want to go. Do you want to stay weak?
Of course part of my audience are hopefully girls and women. Don’t believe those who say that parkour is just for boys or men.
There are girls and women of all “body types” and ages who jump better than me and most other people.