Note: This post was originally published on Movement Unleashed.
Parkour is amazing to watch and fun to do. It’s a high-energy activity, a great way to develop functional strength and fitness, and a rewarding discipline as you see yourself progress and overcome physical obstacles you never thought you could. But understanding it can be confusing. So we’ve pulled together a simple guide to understanding parkour: what it is and how to get started.
1. What is Parkour?
As described on the parkour classes page, parkour is:
a physical discipline based on being strong and skilled enough to move freely in your environment, often with the goal of getting from point A to point B as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
As a practice it reveals your physical and mental limits, and simultaneously offers a method to surpass them.
Parkour practitioners are referred to using the French terms of ‘traceur’ (male parkour practitioner) or ‘traceuse’ (female parkour practitioner).
However unlike a sport such as Rugby, for example, which has rules and organisations and governing bodies who set what the game is about and how you play it; parkour has no governing body, no set of rules, and no standard definition – and so it can be interpreted in many different ways. Instead, parkour is created from the bottom-up by the practitioners as they practice it. So as you’ve probably seen from doing a video search for parkour online there’re many different styles of what parkour is. What remains similar across the different styles of parkour is a general sense of moving within your environment using only your body. Perhaps the best way to understand it fully is to get started yourself, so read on.
2. What is Freerunning?
Have you heard both the terms parkour and freerunning being talked about? There’s a subtle but perhaps confusing distinction between how the terms parkour and freerunning are used. So we’ve written a guide on parkour vs freeruning to clear up the confusion.
3. There’s a Philosophy of Parkour?
Parkour goes beyond just being able to move well. No experienced practitioner would deny that parkour has a guiding mindset and a deeper meaning behind the movement. However, what this philosophy exactly entails is debatable… so see our discussion on ‘The Way of the Traceur’ and learn about the philosophy of parkour.
4. How Do I Start Parkour?
Parkour is about movement, and you’re probably dying to get out there and try some. While you can perhaps lean from watching tutorials online, the best way to learn is to learn form others in person. There’s a few ways we can recommend to get started:
Attend a class
First of all, we recommend you attend a class. This is perhaps the most effective way to learn as you will get personalised feedback, exercise prescription, and advice from experienced practitioners who’re devoting their time to helping you get better. Many cities in New Zealand have classes available, with Movement Unleashed leading parkour classes in Wellington. Our instructors run multiple classes every week in Wellington. Signup to a parkour class.
Join the local community
To complement classes, or instead of classes, you should get involved with your local community of passionate and awesome practitioners who’re already training parkour. Most local groups have regular times to meetup and practice together. NZ Parkour maintains a list of local parkour community groups on social media which will allow you to find one nearest to you. In Wellington the community uses a Facebook group for ‘Wellington NZ Parkour and Freerunning’. Go along, introduce yourself, and make friends to train with. The parkour community is open and friendly, so don’t be afraid to get involved.
Attend a gathering
Alternatively, take the plunge and dive right in to attending a large gathering of practitioners. This way you’ll see some big moves being thrown down and share an experience of being at a gathering with others. We’ve put together an up-to-date calendar of events from around New Zealand for you to attend in the parkour and freerunning events calendar. See if there’re any listed near you, or arrange to travel to one.
Start your own group
If you find yourself stuck with having no one nearby to train with, why not take the lead and start your own training group? You could be the one to develop it and get others started in it. From our experience doing similar actions, we’ve put together 7 tips to start a parkour community in your area.
Any further questions? Something else you want to know about parkour? Feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to help out.