Top 10 Places to Train in the U.S

Parkour is an awesome sport with many awesome places to train. We are graced with some pretty nice areas around the Philadelphia area but the US has a lot more to offer. From fountains, to mountains let’s go down our staffs Top Ten places to train in the US.


  1. New York City, New York

New York is big, and with that size comes a ton of great parkour spots. Some must hits are, Scoops, Scoops 2, Sanctuary, and Brooklyn Zoo. Being such a big city means it takes a while to get from one end to another so tackle one borough at a time and don’t be afraid to get lost in the city.

We love New York for it’s endless challenges and amazing spots.

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2. Flint, Michigan

When I hear Flint Michigan I immediately think “fountain”. Ironically enough one of the best spots in the US is a fountain in the city with some of the worst water in the country. Flint Fountain is such a good spot it alone warrants a place on our list. The first time I was there I was left in shock at how amazing the spot is. From the high level gaps at height to the low walls and ledges to grass, this is easily one of the best spots in not just the country but the entire world.

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3. Greenville, SC

The stomping grounds of Bob Reese, and friends. There are tons of talented athletes here and an equal amount of amazing spots. You can’t go more than a few blocks before finding a place to train. Grabbing a group of buddies and exploring the city is the way to do this one.

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4. Denver, Colorado

“I’ve always viewed Colorado as the capital of parkour in America, it’s a talent pool, it just has to come down to the facilities and the athletes there, and they’re constantly spawning”

-Giles Campbell Longley, Spitting in The Wind Ep. 5 by The Motus Projects

(https://youtu.be/lTcOuHmip2M)

Colorado is a legendary place in the world of Parkour. From the late Apex Boulder, to Pearl Street Mall, the gorgeous mountainous terrain. Colorado has such a high concentration of high quality spots that you will never be bored. Well known spots such as cat fountain have been places to train since the very early days of parkour. Colorado also has tons of gyms such as the new Apec Louisville location as well as the Denver gym. Path movement is also located in Denver Colorado as well.

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5. Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, is one of those cities that slide under the radar of most athletes. It’s however a treasure trove of awesome spots, and scenic views that you won’t want to skip. Shapes and Wcet are some really fun spots that come to mind. If outside training isn’t an option don’t sweat, there’s an amazing gym facility there too, Swift Movement is an amazing indoor facility that you don’t want to miss out on.

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6. San Antonio, Texas

The city is filled with wooden playground and cool metal bridges. This city can sometimes feel like the Wild West with its big obstacles, long handicap ramps, and lots of open space. This city is perfect to explore and wander to find new and interesting spots.

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7. Portland, Oregon

Portland is somewhat of a talent pool for high-level parkour athletes, and rightfully so. From the world famous Keller fountain to the lesser known Hollywood transit center and the newly built Forge Parkour gym, it’s no wonder why they’re constantly pumping out Athletes like Max Antal or Tyler Puterbaugh.

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8. Seattle, Washington

          If you haven’t heard of Freeway Park in Seattle Washington then you’ve been living under a rock your whole parkour life. What makes Freeway Park a go-to stop is it’s size. Catering to the advanced level athlete and even all the way down to the beginner level there seem to be countless things to do at this park.

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9. Boston, Massachusetts

What can we say about Boston except that it’s our favorite place to visit in the North East. From the  amazing spots like Baby Pool, Harvard Kent, and Josiah Quincy, to HUB PTC, the premier parkour gym New England


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Hope you get to visit some of these fantastic locations!

Safe travels, and best wishes,

From the PPK Philly Staff

Training Parkour and Physical Fitness as an older athlete

    Aging as an athlete can be scary, but it’s far from the death sentence that our culture makes it out to be. Within the past 100 years our attitude toward fitness, and athleticism has changed. For thousands of years humans would stay active, and fit, in an attempt to maintain a healthy lifestyle, for countless health benefits. Recently physical fitness has changed from a basic necessity to a choice. With this shift has come the extreme focus of competitive athletics, and with that the cultural shift in who we believe needs to be in shape. Exercise is still held in high value for young people, especially athletes, but as people age, they tend to stop exercising. This has led to a serious decline in health for our elderly population. This isn’t to say that there are not exceptions. Yuichiro Miura scaled Mount Everest at 83, 40 year old Kim Collins ran the 100 meter in under 10 seconds, Gordie Howe played professional ice hockey until he was 50. Getting old isn’t the end, but believing that it is, surely will be your end.

  Yuichiro Miura

Yuichiro Miura

    There are an abundance of ways to determine health and fitness, in a person. One common way is based on their Vo2Max. Vo2 Max is the maximum ability to utilize oxygen, and is essential in all endurance related sports. Vo2 Max declines as you age. Exercise and training can minimize and offset this decline. There have been recorded examples of aging olympic athletes, where their heart rate declines, but the amount of blood that they pump each time increases enough to completely offset the negative change. Until recently it was believed that once you passed 50 years old, you could no longer increase your Vo2 Max. This belief was upended by a recent study conducted on Robert Marchand, at the age of 103. With a shift in his cycling focused training regime, he managed to increase his Vo2 Max, shortly before setting a world record at the age of 105.

    As age increases we see a decline in type ii ‘fast-twitch’ muscles, responsible for explosive power and quick movements. Our type i muscles, responsible for endurance based exercise degrade at a slower rate. This means that there is one important thing to keep in mind, that our style of movement may have to change. Instead of focusing on explosive high power jumps, there will need to be a switch to endurance based training. This can also help reduce the risk of serious injury. Another physical aspect of aging is increased possibility for injury, as well as decreased rehab and healing speed. With the decreased healing speed, comes increased rehabilitation responsibility, including active rest days, stretching, and potentially a use for cross training through yoga, or lifting.

    As elderly folk age society tends to write them off as not being useful anymore and incapable of day to day tasks. We recently talked to Victor Crittenden, one of the coaches at PK Move, a parkour company founded in 2015, which is bringing the transformative power of parkour to special needs populations, including the elderly. One of the things they work on to restore in older members of society is the ability to get down onto the floor and stand back up. Sometimes classes take place completely sitting down because the students are incapable of standing up. Training as the elderly to become an athlete becomes a way to regain your independence. As an older athlete it becomes less about pushing boundaries and riskier tricks and more about doing basic movement and maintaining basic motor functions.

 Photo taken by PK Move. Check out what they are up to at: WWW.PKMOVE.ORG

Photo taken by PK Move. Check out what they are up to at: WWW.PKMOVE.ORG

    One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Programs and classes like what PK Move are doing can help reduce this statistic. Parkour is a phenomenal foundation for learning to safely fall and gaining the strength and range of motion to get back up. Age is nothing but a number, society isn’t right about when you get past a certain age then that’s it. Make the choice that physical fitness is a necessity for your life so that you can have a longer better quality of living. No matter where you are in life there is always somewhere you can start. Start now! Look out for a future interview we want to do with Nancy Lorentz, president and co-founder at PK Move.

Sincerly,
The PPK Philly Team

Our Top 10 Favorite Parkour Tutorials

   The best way to learn parkour is in a gym, or with a coach/instructor outside. Aside from that, the boundless resources of the internet offer countless tutorials, but unfortunately so many of them are hot garbage, taught by people with little to no knowledge of what they’re talking about. Be selective on who you’re watching, make sure that they are backed by other knowledgeable coaches. Here is a selection of excellent tutorials and instructors, hand picked by the PPK Philadelphia staff. Remember these tutorials are just our opinions and are numbered at random not by who is rated best. 

1. Storm: Jumping Tutorial

   Kie Willis goes over some different types of jumps in parkour, and the techniques required for each of them. This includes the standing jump, as well as a running take off, the mid-air execution, and landings for each of them.

 

2&3. APEX: Roll Tutorial

   The parkour roll is one of the hardest moves to master in parkour, while also being one the easiest to learn in its simplest form. It is an essential progression to any flip, or any movement at height.

 

4. Kie Willis: Plyo Tutorial

   Straight from one of the OG parkour athletes, the plyometric, or plyo jump, is an essential foundation of parkour. Learn to continuously jump, while keeping, and building momentum. This technique is easily applicable for any level athlete.

 

5. Origins Parkour: Kong Tutorial

   The kong vault is one of the most important moves in parkour, progressing into the Kong - Precision, the Dive - Kong, and the Double - Kong, as well as being a progression into countless other movements. Origins parkour is an organization located in Vancouver, Canada, focused on teaching parkour, and building community based programs.

 

6. Andy Taylor: Rip Tutorial

   Ever ripped your hands while swinging on bars? Fear not, this tutorial will show you how to bandage it up, so it heals as fast as possible, and you’ll be back to swinging in no time.

 

7. Plan Zero: Backflip Tutorial

   Backflips! This tutorials goes over the backflip in a beginner friendly way, focused on overcoming the mental fear through safe, and basic physical progressions. This tutora takes a different approach then we take in our gym, but this approach works better if you don’t have a gym facility, or coach to teach you!

 

8. Andy Taylor: Lache Tutorial

   Taught by our very own head coach, Andy Taylor, the lache is the first move to learn if you’re interested in bars. The quintessential swinging tech, will propel you through the air, to whatever target you so wish. This tutorial covers the power circle, proper swing form, and release techniques!

 

9. Mastering Tricking: Gainer Tutorial

   The basic alternative to a backflip, the ‘Kick the Moon’, or tricking gainer is a simple flip. The only prerequisite to this simple tutorial is a cartwheel. Learn an epic ‘flip’ while never having to go upside down!

AND...NUMBER 10....you tell us! Have a tutorial that we didn't mention? Let us know to complete our top 10!  

We hope that these tutorials greatly aid you in your movement journey, that they help you develop the skills you wish, and that they lead to more exciting discoveries!

 

Best,
PPK Philly Team

 

The Standard Is The Standard

     No matter age, sex, or current physical ability when it comes to being an athlete the “standard” is the “standard.” However, currently the “standard” changes depending on gyms, age, sex, competitions, jams, etc; and that “standard” fluctuates from one extreme to the other. There are 4 aspects to keep in mind in regards to the “standard”, it should be uncompromising, set high, consistent and collective. Let me state clearly that the “standard” we are going to talk about is that of the top potential of the athlete in question. If there was an athlete that didn't have any muscle imbalances, fear holding their movements back and had fully flushed out and practiced technique, how would they perform? This article will go over the details of the four aspects of the “standard” we are talking about that the athlete and parkour community would use to achieve and nurture an athletes top potential.

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    Holding each other to the highest standard should be the goal for everyone in the community. We all train, we compete, we all strive to learn more and to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones. All of these are great aspects to strive for unless the bar we set to reach those goals is low. Our standard for each other should always be to be better than we were the day before and not just settle to be mediocre. We should want for ourselves and those around us to be the absolute best and well rounded athletes. However, right now in the community this isn’t always happening. We are excusing kids for using bad technique, we’re allowing them to use elbows/knees while climbing, we’re keeping them from trying hard skills; all with the excuse of them being kids or being small. The same has happened for women in the community as well. They are having classes made easier for them and technical errors at competitions are being overlooked for them. They experience being belittled at jams, usually unintentionally, just because they are women. We are so happy that they are doing parkour at all, as the attendance of women in parkour is still not that great. Interactions can be stressed when you want to encourage them to do better, but not know how to approach them without sounding demeaning or dismissive. To not scare them away we need to give them the respect we give to our other tracuers and push them at a high standard. By not doing this the expectations for them are lower than that of their male counter parts. By holding everyone, man, woman, and child to the same and equally high standard in how they train, move, and compete; we will be pushing everyone equally to be the best athlete they can be.

    A big part of what will help us as a community to keep our high caliber of training is by also having uncompromising standards. Uncompromising standards is the whole idea of the “standard being the standard” period. If we have set the bar high then that's it, it doesn’t change or discriminate, it is just that, high. You don’t change a run and make it easier because you can't hit it the first time. You work and work at it again and again until you can do it consistently; and then you don’t move on to something else until not only is it consistent, it’s clean. You don’t give up on a move because it’s hard and you aren’t getting it, you keep pushing to accomplish the challenge and conditioning it until you can finally achieve your goal and new heights in your skill. We don’t change rules for competitions because we think kids are incapable of completing it without knees and elbows; we enforce the rules so that the kids can condition themselves to always be able to do lines without knees and elbows. These are only a handful of the uncompromising standards we need to have to push our athletes to be the very best.

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    Consistency is key. Making sure to not allow double standards to bubble to the surface will keep us from lowering and compromising our high quality of movement. We see this double standard a lot with some of our top athletes. We’ve seen it happen time again where athletes start becoming a big deal and then their movement and continent start degrading and yet we still idolize and promote them. By doing this we are setting a double standard for other athletes. We’re basically saying we know this person isn’t great, but you must be perfect at everything else anyways. We should still be pushing even the top athletes to stay and surpass the level at which made them famous to begin with.

    You might say well, what does it matter if my standards for training aren’t constantly reaching higher? How could that possibly affect people poorly? Well for women, by setting the bar lower for them it will affect their skill level, possibly stunting some pretty awesome potential, simply because the men making the rules assume they are not as good as them. Saying things like “That was really good for being a girl” or praising them for any little achievement, when we know they can do better, will degrade them and their movement. Not to mention their self-esteem in general. Things like this stop people from reaching their potential and keeps them as second class people. This also shows the women that the men don’t respect them as fellow athletes. Children’s skill level will be affected when the athletes/coaches they idolize tell them that their movement was awesome when in fact it was “good enough” then those low standards will manifest throughout other aspects of their life. In general if we lower the caliber of movement for women and children then the overall level of our sport will be lowered. We will not have people pushing new movements or skills and the legitimacy of parkour will slowly but surely go away.  This certainly applies to newer male practitioners as well.

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    The standards must be embraced and enforced by everyone in the community to make them work. There has to be a collective decision to consistently and uncompromisingly hold every single athlete in the community to the highest caliber possible however, not at the expense of safety of course. We are simply saying people should be encouraged to strive higher. Together we can keep progressing the level of our sport to new heights and pave the way for future athletes to make a career from this wonderful sport called parkour.


Best,
PPK Philly Team

The PPK Philly NAPC Competition Recap

      On June 16th and 17th, PPK Philly hosted the East Coast Area Competition for SPL.
This article is a run down of some of the things we experienced as being a venue for SPL.
The Sport Parkour League (SPL) is one of the most prestigious competition circuits internationally run by Origins Parkour in Vancouver, Canada. With parkour’s recent rise to the mainstream, competition formats are becoming more refined, and more competitions are popping up around the world. The tagline of SkillSpeedStyle represents the three competitions that SPL hosts at each event.


    The ‘Skill’ event, consisted of sets of predetermined challenges that vary from single moves, or short challenges. One of the hardest challenges was a 8ft kong pre at one of the highest point in the gym until this competition it had only been done twice previously. Our very own coach Patrick and Marquis were able to accomplish this giant challenge. Because of the height it was an extreme mental challenge. The rest of the challenges were well rounded, from a giant lache cat to the most technical roll precision. There was also a taxing climbing challenge that only about half of the competitors were able to accomplish. The challenge itself was a taxing traverse across the back area of the gym. This forced the athletes to think about how to accomplish the challenge using the least amount of energy. The beginning round was open to all and peer reviewed. The last round took the top 10 scoring from the first round and was timed.

The skills podium in men's was:

1st: Tavon Mcvey

2nd: Patrick Carbajal

3rd: Jonas Neidhart
 

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The skills podium in womens was:

1st: Lorena Abreu

2nd: Emily Tung

3rd: Tara O’Brien

    The ‘Speed’ event consisted of two courses marked out by flags that the competitors must maneuver through to get to a finish gate. The competitor who had the fastest times would be the winner. The first round of speed started just before our white walls, contestants would have to run, climb and dive through the rest of the course  to the end in the back area by our blue descent wall. The average time was about 14 seconds with the fastest being around 11 seconds. Contestants had to figure out the fastest way through the course without sacrificing enough form to make any costly errors. The second round started in the back corner by our warped wall where contestants had to climb up our descent wall and through the white walls make it to our wood floor to end. Most athletes averaged around a speed of 18 seconds. The most immediate challenge that faced athletes was the interesting climb up the descent wall to start things off, begging them to think about how they would maintain their momentum throughout the course. Fastest time wins even if a person were to take a nasty fall mid route. This makes us wonder if this format represents parkour as well as it could.

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The speed podium in men's was:

1st: Tavon McVey

2nd: Marquis Bennett

3rd: Patrick Carbajal

 

The speed podium in women's was:

1st: Lorena Abreu

2nd: Tara O’Brien

3rd:  Emily Tung

 

 

   The ‘Style’ event, consisted of 3 rounds total. Two “flow” rounds and one “big move” round. During Flow Rounds competitors were separated into two different parts of the gym to create a line for each flow round. In the first round of the style competition athletes had to use the back corner of the gym to come up with a smooth cohesive parkour line. Since there are so many bars it was difficult for athletes to forgo using bar tricks so if you had a weakness in that area, it showed. Where to start was a really hard question to answer, do you want to start on the white platform by the periodic table to have immediate access to a power move, or do you want to start somewhere else that favors other strengths? The second round took place in the other half of the back next to the Rampage wall. It’s a very compact spot, so huge moves were harder to pull off. Athletes were challenged to think about how to use all aparatas while still connecting their movements in the compact area. The big trick round was intense, a notable mention was when Coach Patrick showed of his tenacity by going for a sideflip bar pre. Although he never got it he did give his best attempts despite landing on his hamstring.

 

The Style Podium in men's was:

1st: Elias Sell

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2nd: Byce Adams

3rd: Sam Weiseman

 

The style podium in womens was:

1st: Lorena Abreu

2nd: Emily Tung

3rd: Heather Lee
 

Training Calm vs Training Amped Up

    As you stand there on the concrete wall ready to jump to another wall a few feet in front of you, you start to notice your breath getting more shallow. You notice your heart rate is going up, you have a knot in the pit of your stomach, and your body is resisting the urge to perform the task at hand. “Should you go for it?” “Will you make the distance?” “Will your feet get there safely?” These questions and more are racing through your head. In an attempt to calm yourself down you walk away from the challenge for a few minutes only to feel even more anxious and nervous when you come back to it. You think to yourself, “Should I commit to this jump? Should I take more time to calm myself down, or should I throw caution to the wind and just go for it?”

    Your responses to stressful situations are controlled by the interactions of two parallel systems: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These systems work together to allow your body to respond quickly to danger and get you out of unsafe situations quickly, and to let your body recover after there is no longer danger present. Both of these systems are constantly active in the body, but the level of activation of either system depends on how stressful a situation you find yourself in. Sometimes you will deliberately put yourself into a scary or stressful situation while practicing parkour, so understanding how these systems can affect your thinking and emotions has the potential to both help your training and other aspects of your life. Thousands of years ago, the sympathetic nervous system evolved to allow humans to run away from lions, or to allow them to chase down prey while hunting. Increased activation of this system is triggered by a stressful or scary occurrence or situation, and results in a chemical called adrenaline being released at high levels throughout the body. The purpose of this system is to allow the body to function at an extremely high level physically for a short period of time when life is at stake. It also temporarily turns off all physiological processes that are not immediately necessary for survival.

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  In our daily lives, we do not have to run away from lions, or hunt for food. We most often experience adrenaline release now in the form of so-called “adrenaline rushes” when we are participating in a sport, taking an important test at school, or have a big speech to give at work. These activities are not the types of situations the sympathetic nervous system evolved to respond to. So, since the system was not designed to address these types of situations, it does not handle them well. For instance, large amounts of long-term exposure to adrenaline can result in damage to your immune system, poor sleep, and psychological conditions including depression and anxiety. Additionally, those adrenaline rushes that you may feel while training do not necessarily help performance in parkour or other sports. Some of the possible effects of adrenaline are a hyper-focus that leads to tunnel vision, inability to notice when you are injured, less attention to physical sensation, and reduced awareness of your surroundings. Practicing parkour well, and staying safe while doing it, means you must pay strict attention to your body and your surroundings. If you do not, or your ability to pay attention to or perceive these things is impaired, the result could be a bad day of training or more serious, like a broken arm.

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    When faced with a stressful situation, what is the best course of action to calm the body and mind down? Should you make yourself completely calm and relaxed? When being in stressful and potentially risky situations having a healthy amount of fear is good for you. Fear is the age old way of our body telling us to pay attention to something. Too little of it and we may find ourselves in situations where the outcome might not be in our favor. Too much of it and we are overwhelmed and reactive and may do things we did not mean to. In the book “Rise of Superman” written by author Steven Kotler, he mentions a state of mind a person can go into where action and awareness merge together, where you perform the task at hand seamlessly and effortlessly. He talks about flow in the context of action & adventure sports where it shows up almost on a regular basis. Action adventure sport athletes often need to be able to tap into this state to accomplish superhuman feats of skill and dexterity. Kotler talks about a challenge/skill ratio that needs to be met in order for the individual to experience a flow state. This means the challenge presented to you needs to be ever so slightly higher than the skills needed to complete it. In the context of parkour if the challenge you are working on is too easy you will not get into flow, but if it is too difficult you will be too stressed and won’t enter into this state.  
 

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    The heightened sense of awareness is a well known phenomenon. It’s referenced in taoism as Satori and the Shaolin Monks as Chan, where it is used to enhance their physical mastery. How can we achieve this in our training? By being calm and collected. Being calm, focusing on breathing, and being in the present will allow us to achieve this heightened sense of being. This “hyper focus” is almost the polar opposite of adrenaline which dilutes our senses instead of increasing them.


    In summary, our bodies reaction to danger isn’t always going to keep us safe. We constantly put ourselves in danger, and it is our responsibility to not let adrenaline take over in those instances. Training too calm will not keep you focused on what it is you are actually doing, while being too scared and stressed will make you not be able to think clearly. If you want to do a scary challenge in the gym or somewhere outside, the best course of action is to take a step back, breath, analyze and commit. As an athlete it is your responsibility to combat the negative effects of adrenaline and keep yourself safe.

How to Handle FIG Athletes

     In the modern world, sports entertainment and branding are nearly impossible to separate. For every baseball game, there's a sponsor. For every car race, you'll be hard-pressed to find a car that isn't plastered in some sort of branding. Moreso every day, we now see public figures, athletes, and pop stars building personal brands that tend to heavily interact with corporations, through sponsorship, promotions, and advertisement. For this reason, we have to treat all individual athletes as both people, and as personal brands. Some people have strong feelings towards athletes who decide to be sponsored by certain brands. We have all heard the term “sell out” at least once in our lives referring to singers, athletes, or actors choosing to work with a certain person or company. What is selling out though, and how does it affect people's perspective of you? The act of “Selling Out” is generally thought of as compromising one's morals, integrity, authenticity, or principals in exchange for personal gain, such as money, power, or popularity. When we feel like an athlete is selling out, how should we respond to that, especially if they are our personal friends?

     FIG, Otherwise known as Federation Internationale Gymnastique, is the international governing body of gymnastics. They are also currently attempting to be the international governing body of parkour, and have already succeeded in being the official organizer of Parkour in the Olympic committee. FIG has shown that their interest in parkour is simply to assimilate it with gymnastics, and they frequently claim that the two are akin, if not identical. Gymnastics has been steadily decreasing in popularity, and parkour continues to become more and more popular, especially with young people. They believe that by using the name parkour and applying it to their sport they will be able to cash in on the name while changing the actual sport to best fit their agenda. To do this they have set rules and regulations for parkour competitions by working with big-name athletes and a few parkour companies.

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     A popular comparison nowadays in parkour, is FIG and Red Bull. Red Bull has hosted ‘The Art of Motion’ for 10 years (2007 - 2017). Art of Motion is a freestyle freerunning competition, hosted by the energy drink giant, Red Bull. People have taken issue with this competition because the format fails to represent many aspects of the sport. Red Bull has made it clear that they are only interested in running a competition and in sponsoring a few select athletes, and that is where they greatly differ from FIG. While at this point FIG has been mainly focused on their competitions, they have made it clear that they plan to function as a governing body for parkour on an international level. As a governing body, FIG could decide what is, and what is not viewed as parkour on a large level of the general populous. FIG also could, and very likely will set standards for gym design, coaching standards, and international competition standards, that will only align with their skewed view of parkour. If that doesn't scare you enough, one of their early steps will very likely be to decide upon an international set of standardized obstacles, for gym and competition use.

     FIG has already held a couple of competitions, including the FISE World Cup, and the Hiroshima Cup. Several big-name athletes have already aligned themselves with FIG through competing at their events. Athletes that include Pasha ‘The Boss’ Petkuns, Pedro Salgado, Jesse Peveril, Kamil Tobiasz, Zen Shimada, Aleksandra ‘Sasha Sheva’ Shevchenko, and others. FIG has assembled some sort of board to make decisions regarding how their organization handles parkour, and they have included a couple of these top level athletes on that board, including Sasha Sheva and Kamil Tobiasz. A large part of the community has been very vocal when expressing their lack of support for FIG, and it has raised the controversial question of how to interact with these athletes who are now affiliated with an organization that we feel threatened by. Several community leaders have loudly stated that they do not agree with the political decisions made by these athletes, and will not support these athletes through social media, or even potentially in business deals. Others in the community have responded to this by saying that it simply propagates division in our community, and that FIG will take advantage of that division more than anything else.

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     While nearly everyone agrees that blacklisting athletes is a bad thing and that it creates unnecessary division within the community, how far is too far? The problem may come from the fact that we continue to talk about these athletes as people. They are our friends, our training mates, and our coaches. Politically these athletes aren't people though, they’re brands. Choosing to not buy their product, watch their video, or follow them on social media is a valid decision, just as it would be when boycotting any other brand. We cannot let our personal friendships dictate our political opinions. If you don’t believe in the actions a brand is taking, protesting their products, be they physical or digital, is an acceptable thing to do.

     Will FIG actually destroy our sport? Maybe, maybe not, but standing by idly, letting them do whatever they wish, is not only lazy, it’s actively siding with them by allowing them free reign over the sport that we love. We do know that FIG has every intention of profiting off of parkour to the maximum amount they possibly can, and they do not plan to involve the community in the majority of decisions they make. In the end, it's important to have your own convictions and to live by them. Do research and make sure you have your facts straight. Don’t allow people on social media dictate how you live your life.

Physical Education: Contrasting Schools with Parkour

   Picture this, It’s 9th grade gym class. Sweat drips down your forehead as you glance around the room, eyes darting between the other 20 children that look like they would give anything to be anywhere else.  You peel yourself off the gym floor for another set of suicide runs. You think to yourself ‘I hate P.E’. The ear piercing shriek of a gym whistle, and off you go. Is this really the best form of Physical Education? Physical education is handled differently in every state, county, and school in the U.S, but some themes remain pertinent. For the sake of consistency, throughout this article, we will be specifically referencing PA state standards for HPE (Health and Physical Education). Pennsylvania divides their HPE standards into 5 categories, 3 of which are primarily based on traditional classroom learning about sexual, emotional, and overall health. The other 2 categories are “Physical Activity”, and “Concepts, Principles and Strategies of Movement”, when we refer to the text as a whole, we’re really only referring to the final two sections. You can view the PA “Academic Standards for Health, Safety, and Physical Education” available online here: http://static.pdesas.org/content/documents/Academic_Standards_for_Health_Safety_and_Physical_Education.pdf
The current P.E system in the U.S is ineffective, and could benefit considerably from the introduction of parkour as a base of it’s curriculum.

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   The most striking thing when looking across the PA HPE documents, is the overwhelming presence of verbs such as “Explain”, “Describe”, “Analyze”, and “Evaluate”, contrasted with the severe lack of “Demonstrate”, “Perform”, or anything actually involving physical movement. According to PA state law, children are required to complete 120 hours of health + PE, throughout high school. After running some quick numbers that brings us to about 10 MINUTES per school day, and only 2/5 of the curriculum is actually focused on any sort of physical activity. The CDC recommends at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity for high school age children. “Students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviors (e.g., on-task behavior).” (CDC, 2018).  Most experts would agree that our current system of P.E is thoroughly flawed, and does not effectively fight obesity, heart disease, and other issues related to lack of exercise.

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   Parkour is infamously known as a high-energy sport with an incredibly high physical skill ceiling, this skill ceiling is nearly unmatched, with the exception of a couple sports including rock climbing. But parkour isn’t just about the elite athletes who soar around on rooftops, far from it actually. Parkour is about creativity, expression, technique, and discipline. Parkour is practiced at ground level, and is only taken to heights after years of training. Basic parkour focuses on safe failing, basic proprioception, and simple athletic motions with little impact. With parkour being a relatively new sport, very few scientific studies have been conducted, but as for the data that has been gathered, most experts agree that parkour is safer than many mainstream sports, especially American Football. Because of the individual aspect of parkour, it is only as dangerous as you make it. With other team and contact sports, you’re often putting your wellbeing in the hands of strangers,. This is an intimidating idea for many people, and can immediately dissuade individuals from participating in traditional physical activity.

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   With an intensely high skill cap, parkour is often times presented by mainstream media as an inherently dangerous discipline, so parkour can be a little intimidating to traditional education structures, such as schools. Luckily we already have some wonderful examples of how successful parkour can be in a school environment. The premiere example is Parkour Generations UK. In 2005 Parkour Generations introduced a program that brings parkour into London primary and secondary schools in a cost effective and safe program that maintains parkour values. The year after this program was introduced, a study was run in the area correlating the introduction of the program and a 39% drop in youth crimes. The year after, a follow up study was done and showed a 69% drop in youth crimes. Along with a drop in crime rate, children who participated in the program showed greatly increased grades, and school attendance. While this may not immediately make sense, giving kids who may not be inclined to traditional school, something to look forward to in their school day is a great incentive to participate in school.

   The U.S schools P.E system is thought of by many professionals as highly ineffective, and underwhelming. It needs a rework, and why not parkour? Parkour is a young sport, that's highly popular  among teenagers and children. Even as we speak FIG (Federation Internationale Gymnastique) is making a desperate, and ill-founded attempt at claiming parkour, because of its incredible popularity, contrasted with gymnastics exponentially decreasing enrollments. Parkour programs in school have been shown to decrease youth crime rates in the immediate area, and increase school attendance and grades. Parkour tends to be much safer than many traditional sports, when practiced properly, and what better way to guarantee safe training methods, then teaching it in schools!



 

Why Are Jams Important?

    Why are parkour jams even important? Parkour has been an outlier sport since its early days, with little to no formal governance (this is just starting to change), and with very little large scale organization. Jams have always been an essential aspect of parkour growth in every way. Jams provide a place for top tier athletes to demonstrate the newest moves and techniques they’ve been developing, for dialogue on movement philosophy, as well as a place for the exchange of miscellaneous parkour related information. Jams are a place where you can see your friend that lives far away, or where you can make a whole group of new friends. Parkour has always been a community driven discipline, and community led jams are an essential part of retaining the spirit of parkour. A fun focus on training, growth, and camaraderie, that in most instances, has nothing to do with competition.

    Meeting like minded people that do the same thing you do, and to some extent think the same as you do, help build a solid communal foundation. For proper development of the sport we need to always be looking at ways to improve parkour jams/events. It is during jams/events that the community goes from being an online presence to seeing each other face to face and socializing. That person to person interaction is vital to grow smaller communities into much bigger and more active ones. It is through actively training with one another and trying challenges that are both fun and scary that build long lasting memories and laughs with one another that will only lead to much happier and healthier communities as time goes on.

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    Jams can also be a place where the sport is pushed to its limit, and new moves or challenges are created and conquered. Naturally having a group of like minded individuals in the same place leads to the exchange of ideas and techniques that other people might have never been aware of before. Such as using a simple breathing pattern to calm yourself down before a scary challenge, or a cue to fix a particular technique that you might have never heard before. All of these are bits of information that people normally would never find out about if it wasn’t for a jam setting. Sometimes being in a new spot with new people helps you retain new information better

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    Jams have been a key element in the overall growth of Parkour. They help bring distant friends together, while also pushing the sport to new heights. Jams may come and go but the memories made, such as being super silly with your friends and sharing laughs together or conquering that sick challenge together, helps solidify its importance in furthering our sport. In the end, jams are what you make of them. Don’t get too caught up if you can’t land the biggest trick, or do the hardest challenge. Just try and make the best out of each experience that you make with old and new friends alike.

 

When the Coaching Gets Tough...

 

   Through parkour coaching we have encountered many different types of people. Some will learn much quicker than others, while some will put in more effort. A successful coach should encourage and motivate their students to want to better themselves in their parkour practice.  To be a good coach, you should be a good student. So learning how you can avoid the same issues yourself is super valuable. The first thing to mention is that every person has their own set of issues and motivations, whether conscious or unconscious, that they are dealing with. All too often a weak coach will blame a person's inability to take the time to learn the skill, instead of the coaches ability to relate to, and understand what their motivators are.

 

   Many things motivate people. Some want to be stronger for the sake of being stronger. Some may be passionate about the feeling they have when training parkour. Some may just want to get in shape. Identifying a person's motivator will help you understand what actions can be taken to move them towards their best parkour experience. A common motivator that some people have is they either consciously or unconsciously seek social acceptance. This can lead to them having a crippling fear of failure, which makes them more reluctant to try certain things. This could lead to the student not putting in effort in class because he/she is worried about looking foolish trying. What might help these students is reminding them that failure and looking a little silly is part of the process of learning. You aren't respected for rushing to learn a new move, or getting on the box. You are more popular for really trying your best.

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   A common issue people have whether they know it or not is being paralyzed by fear. The first step in these situation is for the instructor to identify whether the fear is Justified or Irrational. A justified fear is when there is a genuine physical inadequacy, there are people who have never properly exercised, or who may have some sort of disability, which inhibits them from attempting the same physical motions as other people. In this scenario, the coach could break down the movements into bite sized chunks, that they can approach in a safe manner. You still want to challenge these students, but perhaps differently than you would everyone else. In the case of an irrational fear, where they have all of the required abilities, including adequate strength, flexibility, and proprioception, a different approach is required.  Different coaches may be suited to work with different types of people you may encounter. You may encounter a student who takes his time and is very slow and methodical in his approach to learning. While another student might be very reckless and you may need to find ways to calm him/her down or channel that reckless energy in some way.

 

   You will encounter many different types of people whether you are coaching or just in your everyday life. Focusing on you faults is important, but helping someone that may need it might potentially help yourself out in some way. Training to be good athlete requires you to be a good student. If you coach, it may not be the most important thing to get someone to make that jump, it may be more valuable for the student to just get through the class while paying attention. The better you can learn from your issues/motivations and the motivations of others the more effective of a student you will be. Think about the type of person you are and what motivates you.

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Builds: Safety, Adaptability, and Inspiration

     One of the many intentions of parkour is to push one's own limits. All the limits. In just a few short years the sport has developed much faster than anyone could have anticipated. It has given kids a healthy outlet to push their own boundaries and to discover what their bodies and minds are capable of. With rapid growth and progress comes problems pertaining to parkour gyms and builds. A Build is any individual/group of obstacles designed for parkour and movement, including, but not limited to, parkour gyms, parkour parks, individually sold obstacles, or temporary build-outs. There are a few core concepts to take into account about parkour builds; safety, adaptability, and inspiration. 

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      Safety always comes first and is pretty straightforward, can you jump on the box and apply normal force without it breaking? Under normal circumstances is the obstacle going to break, shift, or lose structural integrity? Objects should be made out of high quality material, and any unsafe qualities such as excessively sharp objects (i.e. protruding screws and nails) should not be in a gym or any build. Bars should be welded together by a professional, and you should think very hard about the type of floor you want in your facility. For example, astro turf might seem like a great choice until you realize dust starts to build much more easily. Or if you wanted carpet bonded foam floor, be prepared to have your obstacles slide a fair amount. you should never use pallets or pressboard, and there are many other common sense safety guidelines that could be a mile long list but let’s not get into that unless you want to go into construction.

     Following that, adaptability is a little more subjective. Modular gyms designed with mobile obstacles in mind, are highly preferred in this genre because them being versatile makes it so that new life and possibilities can be brought to the space. In the same respect a boring plywood box is going to be less interesting then a carefully designed obstacle, like the Tetris Vault, which has multiple levels, and arrangements in which you can use it. Being able to use an obstacle in conjunction with other obstacles while being able to move through a gym fluidly without awkward obstacles blocking your way is a true blessing. It’s a long thought process to avoid adding poorly designed features which don’t add to the variations and movements in the space. Having specific spaces be adaptable for classes, workshops, and casual training is hard to keep versatile and requires a lot of foresight in the stages of planning a gym build. 

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     Inspiration is the most conceptual of these three topics, as well as the most often overlooked. Inspiration is the moment a person looks at an obstacle and is moved to try something on it. This happens while training outside all the time, you see a fascinating new architecture style, or just a weird shaped installation. You get excited, your inner child comes to life and you just need to jump on that particular object. That's inspiration. It’s hard to create new and exciting objects, that inspire people to play on them, and further their movement. People travel and take inspiration from other places in their own builds. Innovation is a hard concept to get right, because it requires lots of trial and error with designing the right “kind” of obstacle.

     Regardless of the points made, as with all large communities, there are people who disagree with the generally accepted standards. Why they disagree with these standards is what sets people apart. There are a few main reasons why someone wouldn’t follow the quality standards mentioned. Some people simply don’t understand the nuances of safely building a training facility. Some people may not do things the generally accepted way because they believe that they have a better idea of how things should be done. While others would rather just cut corners to do things cheaply. Either way the staff at PPK Philly will always strive to meet the highest quality of standards while pushing innovation forward.

Stunt Work and Parkour Training

     If someone is interested in doing stunt work and is curious about how parkour can help with their stunt career, or vice versa, then there are a few differences that one should look at. Becoming a stunt actor requires taking on the job title of a stunt actor, while parkour can be an activity that you perform every now and then. Stunt actors normally are trying to accomplish a specific fall, flip, or landing to look appealing to the camera or director. However, for parkour you have no one to appeal to, other than yourself. Granted, there are basic moves and forms you should know, however once you have the basics down it is up to you to be as creative as you want with them. This is not to take away from stunt actors because some of the stunts they perform requires a lot of skill and technique. However, if you plan on participating in both worlds with the intention of being great at both, then that is where you run into some trouble. To be great at stunts requires falls to be clean according to industry standards and to be great in parkour requires one to push to the edges of one's capabilities.

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     One of the common values of parkour is safe progression and being strong to be useful. Safe progression to being a parkour athlete means being able to work towards a difficult, sometimes dangerous skill/jump, with progressions that build towards the main challenge. Safe progressions are meant to allow us to train however long our bodies can let us. The idea behind the “be strong to be useful” philosophy is to learn skills, and gain mastery over your body to then help others when the need arises in any situation. This includes the mental strength that is gained from pushing through mental barriers in parkour, the agility from the movement, or the strength gained through training. Immersing yourself in training parkour can be very rewarding physically and mentally. However, it’s not very rewarding when it comes to obtaining money in your pocket.

     Parkour itself is not really in high demand for anything, which is why many people who are focussed on parkour as a lifestyle usually are coaches or have to find another similar avenue to make money through parkour. They may even need to go so far as to attain a completely unrelated career to support their lifestyle. Which leads some athletes towards pursuing a job working in the stunt industry. There is a vast majority of techniques that one can pull from parkour when thinking about stunt work.

     There are certain types and styles of movements from parkour which are especially invaluable to stunt performers. More specifically all of the basic vaults are used a lot in common fight/chase scenes. Most of the basic flips and twists will be utilized because everyone likes a flip on camera. What's mainly important for anyone who is interested in stunts is to be able to repeat the basics of parkour with control and technique. In stunts, the actual difficulty of the move is irrelevant, all that matters is how the audience perceives the movement, and if they feel it looks ‘realistic’ enough and having a solid foundation in parkour will help you achieve most if not all of the stunts you are asked to perform.

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     Stunts and Parkour overlap to some degree since they are both movement based, and may on occasion draw from one another for techniques or inspiration. But all in all, the requirements for Stunts means that Stunts will always be in a box of what is desired. This is in no way a bad thing. It is meant to be visually appealing, and is in a sense, movement-based acting, and has a very specific and specialized place. However, on the other end, Parkour has no lines to follow, and can, therefore, expand to become whatever the individual practitioner wants it to encompass. Creativity, technicality, power, the goals are all what you set for yourself, and training is not for an end goal, but for the joy of the movement itself. That being said, Parkour has such a great pool of creativity to draw from. It has an endless artillery that any practitioner can utilize to help step themselves into the stunt world, and then maybe just maybe onto the big screen.

Cross Training and Parkour

    All athletes can benefit from cross training. Whether it is a football player trying to get a longer range throw, an ice-skater trying to perfect that axel or an Olympic swimmer training for a marathon, for all of these people, cross training is extremely valuable, and this remains true across nearly every sport. Cross training is “The action or practice of engaging in two or more sports or types of exercise in order to improve fitness or performance in one's main sport.” Parkour is one of the very few exceptions. There really is no need to cross train for a parkour athlete, and the main reason for that is because of the inherently well-rounded aspect of parkour. Parkour being something that has already learned and taken so much from other sports.

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Why is cross training so (potentially) valuable?      

    One of the reasons parkour is such an intense sport is because it works out nearly every muscle group. We work out our legs with every jump, our forearms with every intense dyno, our back muscles with each lache. Most other sports don't have this aspect, most of them focus on just a few main muscle groups. If you are a cyclist, odds are pretty good your legs are significantly stronger than any muscle group above your waist. If you participate in a sport like Rock climbing you’re likely to have ‘strong’ upper back, shoulders, and arms. Basically, you aren't gonna be a top tier parkour athlete if you aren’t absurdly well rounded, in both your technique and skills, as well as your muscles. The main reason someone would cross train would be because you need to take the imbalances that you gain from your sport, and even your body out with training from a different sport to remain healthy and perform better.

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Why is it important to train multiple muscle groups?

    Training duration is essential to all athletes who want to improve themselves. Being able to train (effectively) for longer, generally means more training overall, and with that, more improvement. One of the best ways to increase your training duration is varying the type of training, and with that, the types of muscle groups you work out. Being able to shift your training to different muscle groups when you think you may be close to an injury is essential for longevity. Constant use of only a couple muscle groups can very easily lead to stress-based injuries in those groups. Variation is essential to maintaining a healthy training regimen. Another reason cross training is important for many sports is that training muscle groups that aren’t your primary group can help with healing, and injury prevention. For example, Achilles tendonitis, caused by overuse, can be greatly improved by the regular strengthening of the calf muscles. Using varied exercise techniques can not only give your body the chance to heal but can also very often strengthen and stretch parts of your body that were causing you pain.         

Can you have too much parkour?

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    Eh. Not really. Because of the immense variation between movements in parkour, you don’t run into the same roadblocks with only training parkour as you can in other sports. If your version of parkour is only ever strides, plyos, and other jumpy type things, then you can easily run into issues akin to other sports, but as long as you are training many aspects of parkour, then you’ll probably be fine. That being said, there are a few sports which we believe can help maximize your parkour abilities. The first is rock climbing. Absurd grip strength, top-tier mental and physical discipline, and dynamic movements a-plenty. If you’re looking to max out your laches, get that dyno that's just out of your reach, or maybe get a nasty cat leap with very little grip at the end, then maybe you should take up rock climbing to boost your training to a new level. The second (sport?) we recommend is Yoga. With great strength comes great responsibility, included in that responsibility is mobility, something that many parkour athletes tend to ‘forget’ about. Stretching and holding poses is not very fun, but it’s well worth it. In parkour there is a lot of muscle compression, so a natural partner with that is muscle extension, something yoga is king for.

    In the vast majority of popular sports/physical activities, there’s a primary focus on just a few types of movement, just a few of our many muscle groups, and there tends to be little to no importance placed on being well rounded. Because of this, cross training cannot just be useful, but completely essential. Parkour is quite the contrary when practiced properly. Being well rounded is praised in healthy communities, being extremely mobile is considered very important among every elite athlete, and the variety of movements leads to (relatively) equal workout distribution across muscle groups. Because of the extreme variety parkour brings in so many ways, cross-training is not essential but can be highly useful in some scenarios, specifically rock climbing for grip strength, upper body focus, and yoga for mobility and muscle elongation. Maybe you’ve been drifting away from your training, you’re injured or just need a break. Check out these two other sports for a healthy dose of extra variance. Also, on a side note,  if your main sport is anything other than parkour, then may we suggest parkour as your main go to for cross training?

Sincerely,
The PPK Philly Team

Positive V.S Detrimental Parkour Organizations

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   Is Habitat for Humanities a good organization? They help people build houses while teaching them how to sustain and maintain a home. Is the organization's intention to help those in need and to educate them? If an organization is created, but it does not know what its goals or intentions are, then that may lead to some complications/frustration down the line. In the book, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things”, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz writes about his experience launching and running various organizations. In his book, he writes how in a good organization, “people can focus on their work and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally, … Every person can wake up knowing that the work they do will be efficient, effective, and make a difference for the organization and themselves.” In contrast, in a bad organization, “people spend much of their time fighting organizational boundaries, infighting, and broken processes. They are not even clear on what their jobs are, so there is no way to know if they are getting the job done or not.” For parkour, if an organization knows why they do what they do, then the employees will know what to do and have some form of direction. Whether that be to give back to the community, innovate the sport further, or improve upon what is currently there.

  • There are plenty of things that can make a parkour organization good, or bad, and many, many more things that fall into a middle grey area. We’re going to bring up some things that different organizations have done, and it will be up to you, the reader, to decide if its a good thing, a bad thing, or maybe neither. We’re gonna list off some things that could, or even have happened in the parkour community. Here goes:
     
  • One prolific early parkour group had dress code rules that dictated that its sponsored athletes could not wear brands, or logos, that were not from the organization they were sponsored by. This certainly feels like an encroachment upon the athlete's personal rights, but also it is one way to clearly delineate sponsorship and affiliation.
     
  • Another organization decided that it would be acceptable to put images and text indicating multiple unassociated athletes support for the company and after being asked by those athletes to take it down, simply ignored the request.
     
  • Sometimes it isn’t technically an organization but an individual, who owns or is strongly affiliated with a Parkour organization that does questionable stuff. How would you feel if when you went to set up a website using your name, someone from your sport who claims to be progressing the discipline has already bought many web addresses that are, or resemble your name, and when confronted simply tries to sell it back to you at a higher price. Another thing that we see often is low-quality obstacle design and build.
     
  • Have you gone to a parkour gym and not been able to train on the setup, because it’s too wobbly? You aren’t sure if it will break if you play on it? (that being what the obstacle was designed to do). Unsafe building practices as well as cranking up the prices of obstacles is something that certainly happens in the parkour community.
     
  • Forming a for-profit organization and then claiming to be recognized as the national representative of your sport, with very little support, and the board of directors is same people as the board of directors of your also for profit organization which has been operating as a distributor of parkour accessories for a while.
     
  • Building an organization designed around spreading the concept of play, and through that safe movement, and providing free structures built to make people move outside of their comfort zones and to enjoy play.
     
  • Forming a gym as a nonprofit and then running progression based classes, all while spending all of their remaining budget to build and design parks and public play spaces.
     
  • Slowly advancing your business, and methodically making sure you aren't growing too fast to keep the message/heart of your sport clear and true to your beliefs.
     
  • Building on current parkour competition formats, and developing new formats which run true to the way we train and create legitimate opportunities for the sport to grow and for professional athletes to be able to sustain themselves without compromising their morals.
     
  • Creating an international organization through total transparency, electing a board which does not have a stake in the commercial shifts in parkour, and gaining support from many local organizations.

   A notable organization (which we do not mind naming) that is known in the parkour community for being poorly run is FIG (Federation Internationale de Gymanstique). FIG is considered a parkour organization because they have essentially decided to make themselves the main governing body of parkour and its athletes.  They are poorly running the parkour portion of their organization by trying to take it upon themselves to create and dictate what they believe the rules and regulations of parkour should be. FIG has not asked for community input and has set up rules for their competitions which go against the spirit of parkour.

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   There were some examples of primary things that current parkour organizations have done, for the better or worse of the growth of our sport. We hope to be an example of a transparent, and above board organization that promotes the positive growth of parkour and fosters growth in anyone who walks through our doors. If anyone notices something we are doing that seems shady or unacceptable, just bring it to our attention, our ears are open and we would love to hear your input.

Best,

PPK Philly Team

Video, Media, & Parkour

   If you are one of the many people that have discovered the sport of Parkour through a random YouTube video, congratulations! Perhaps you have come across a lovely Storror travel video, or a really action packed GUP video, or maybe even a really old school video such as Olegs, Out of Time. In some way, video and media have played a role in how you discovered the sport, how you view the sport, and how you train because of it. The current trends of today’s world revolve around media, mainly social media, in ways that people a few years ago did not have access to. The speed at which information can be passed along makes ideas now more than ever easier to share. This speed and almost immediate feedback, in the form of video comments, or social media debates, shape the way we move forward in our parkour journey.

   For starters without the cell phone cameras attached to our smart phones we would not receive the immediate feedback to further develop and progress our training. Immediate feedback is vital to any aspired student who wants to make progress towards his or her training goals. In an article written by the Center for Development of Teaching and Learning (CDTL) in Singapore says, “An important dimension of feedback is its immediacy. The longer the time gap between the completion of the work and it’s feedback the less effective it's feedback becomes. Ideally, feedback should be provided within minutes after the completion of the task.” Now anyone can set their phone down and get a quick clip of their movement so that they can then view and analyze it. The athlete can almost seamlessly shape and improve upon their skills right after the skill has been performed.

   The aspiring athletes who also seek a creative outlet through the sport can now post a video one day and get views and some attention the very next day. With today's current social media platforms an athlete or creative can promote themselves more easily than before. Part of being an athlete and a creative is the need to create content for others to share and enjoy. Before the boom of social media it would take weeks for a video or an athlete to be discovered. Now it is as simple and easy as putting up the right clip on Instagram, or a well time YouTube video upload. Internet virality and current social media platforms make it so almost anyone can have a voice in today’s age of internet memes.

   Whatever is currently trending on social media is unfortunately what most people are looking at. In return this shapes what our media consumption looks like, and also shapes the current image of what parkour might be to someone discovering the sport for the first time. Someone might think parkour is all about jumping on skyscrapers in Asia if they watch any of Storror’s new videos lately. Someone can also think that parkour is all about performing the hardest, most difficult move to win a freestyle competition if they were introduced to parkour by watching the most recent Red Bull Art of Motion. The bottom line is parkour is whatever you want it to be, and that personal definition needs to be created on your own. If certain videos inspire you to travel, then go travel. If the movements are what inspire you then learn as many as you can. Train safely, make cool content, and always find ways to improve upon your training and your mindset. Parkour is for everyone, but it doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone.

Air Wipp Challenge

   Competitions are a staple for many sports, and in nearly all of them men and women compete separately. There are serious, and unarguable differences in men’s, and women’s bodies, so to a certain extent this does make sense. Surrounding this separation of the sexes is a stigma that women simply cannot perform to the same standard as men can. This year’s Air Wipp competition, with some of the young women throwing as difficult, or even more difficult moves then the men's comp, was a huge step forward as proof that women can perform to an incredibly high standard, and no   one should assume anything different.

   It seems there aren’t many parkour competitions that have showed constant improvement. However the Air Wipp Challenge is making progressive moves forward. If you aren’t familiar with the name Air Wipp, the history of the brand started with the founders, Marcus Gustafsson and Filip Ljungberg. Before having a space of their own, Marcus and Filip decided to host their own parkour competition in 2012, sponsored by Betsafe called the Air Wipp Challenge. This gave athletes another platform to perform at the highest level possible. The competition went on for another consecutive year in 2013, followed by a year long hiatus. It returned with the current format and venue you see today called Helsingborg Arena.
The format of the competition is a 90 second freestyle run throughout the course, where the athletes run throughs are scored based on four criteria: flow, difficulty, execution and creativity. Flow is how efficient and smoothly an athlete can link their movements together during a run. Difficulty is how hard the movements are that they are performing. Execution is how clean and aesthetically pleasing the athletes movements are within their run, and finally creativity is how original the athlete is, in the moves they choose to use and where along the course they execute those movements. This years athletes that podiumed go as followed: 1st place Dimitris Kyrsanidis, 2nd place Joey Adrian, and 3rd place Erik Mukhametshin. However, the real surprise came from the winner of the women’s division. 3rd place finisher Lilou Ruel, 2nd place finisher Sydney Olson, and the youngest competitor there, 13 year old Elise Bickley taking home the 1st place podium.

   Who is Elise Bickley? Aside from being a 13 year old who can throwdown bigger than most adults…  She is a member of Team Katalyst, which is a sports facility located in the UK. In her run, she executed 2 fairly difficult tricks that any seasoned practitioner would have trouble performing. One of the moves was a double flyaway, which is a double backflip dismount performed while swinging on a bar, releasing right as you approach the highest point of the front of the swing. The second move is called a roll bomb, which is a front flip that is performed immediately after rolling off of a ledge that is tall enough for one to perform a full rotation. Although her big trick execution was on point, her run was very much lackluster on her flow and creativity. Elise successfully proved what the women in our community have been fighting for. Woman just want to be seen for the athletes they are, and their actual accomplishments, not just portrayed as a trope. All the competitors in the women's division did an amazing job and definitely set a high bar, but Elise, and the other podium athletes went out, and threw moves that were equal to the men’s skill levels that are attempted in these competitions. By doing this she not only pushed the women to be better athletes, but also showed the world how much potential women really have.

   The line ‘That’s great for a woman!’ is heard way too often, and it promotes a sexist view of how women can perform compared to men. Since parkour is a male dominated sport, men tend to “mansplain”, or speak in an overtly condescending fashion towards women in regard to parkour movements. Women are often held back by coaches or community members that hold them to a lower standard than men in the same movements. In competitions, or world showings, like Air Wipp, we can see that despite this disadvantage women still perform as amazing athletes. Elise Bickley was the youngest competitor in Air Wipp, and took gold in an all ages division.

   If you haven’t seen any of the videos from the event I highly recommend going on Youtube and watching it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvZeB8KO3sA&t=3537s ), especially the women's competition. The women at Air Wipp this year brought some seriously amazing movement, and this was (in our opinion) the best showing from women at a competition. Next time you see a woman jumping, before you speak, think about whether what you’re about to say is helpful to the growth of the mixed gender Parkour community as a whole.


Best, PPK Philly

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Etiquette of Working at a Gym

   Working at a parkour gym can be one of the most fun and rewarding jobs out there. You spend every day encouraging people to play and be creative while making them more active and healthy individuals. You get to play and jump on the equipment, and you meet some pretty awesome people along the way. However, working at a gym comes with a big workload and has to be treated the same way you’d treat any other job. Even though you get to wear athletic clothing and jump on things when you are working, like any job, you have a dress code, a code of conduct, a job description, and rules and regulations to follow. You have to wear clean clothes, get shifts covered, clean the gym, do your desk work, and provide customer service and coaching to customers. If you don't follow your gym's guidelines and rules and only have fun and play when you are working then your gym will have a hard time functioning to maximum potential.  

 Don't look like this guy.

Don't look like this guy.

   A big problem that comes up when working in a gym is knowing the difference between working attire and training attire. When training outside you probably don't wear your nicest, cleanest, most expensive clothing. You more likely wear clothing you wouldn’t mind getting dirty or scuffed up. Psychology of appearance, how someone is dressed affects how seriously someone interacts with them. Subconsciously we automatically judge people based on the immediate visual impression we get of them, if customers are constantly seeing coaches and staff dress in non-culturally appropriate clothes, then you will drive off many customers, as they will be uncomfortable. You can still wear comfortable clothing while looking work appropriate. Wear clean, non hole-y sweat pants and shirts. If you wear a hat make sure it doesn't cover your face so that you can look customers in the eye while talking to them. Keep yourself clean shaven, well groomed, and please don't forget to bathe. No parent wants to talk to you about their child's progress when you smell like you've been running around a sewer for a week. Lastly, keep your shirts on! When you're outside training and it's miserably hot, then it's understandable that you may want to train with your shirt off. However, when you're in a gym working and taking care of children and you take your shirt off it's just weird and unprofessional. Every gym has a different dress code, some are more strict and some are more lenient. No matter what the case, there's a reason for your gym's rules.

   Working time is not training time! This is something most people have a hard time differentiating between. It is likely that while walking across the gym you see a group of your friends trying this really cool challenge that you have yet to seriously try and can’t resist the urge to jump in and join them. Especially in a gym where it is designed for people to look around and be curious and find challenges for themselves, sometimes you can’t help your wandering eyes, however, that does not mean you need to slack off of your work responsibilities. If you are working and really do see it as your job then there are some standards that need to be met before playtime even crosses your mind. First and foremost, if you can’t get to work on time consistently and work the entirety of your shift then you are hardly deserving of any playtime. If you need to miss a day or two of work it is imperative that you call out of work with either someone to take over your shift for the day or with enough of a notice for the gym to find someone to cover for you. Most importantly if this is a place you believe in and what it offers to its customers then why would you not want to do your best as consistently as you can? There was a reason for you wanting to work at a parkour gym, remind yourself of that reason and let that guide and motivate you to consistently improve yourself and the business where applicable. Playtime is good to break up the monotony of the day to day tasks but keeping yourself focused as to what role you play in the company and how you can improve it whenever you can be what guides you and motivates you forward.

 Look more like this guy!

Look more like this guy!

   As rewarding and playful working at a gym can be, that is also a cause for concern as to how everyone chooses to interact with customers. A family walking into the facility and hearing the inappropriate language, or being greeted by a “Sup brah.” should not be the first encounters they have upon entering the gym. Keeping the topic of conversation towards something appropriate shouldn’t be too difficult of a task.  If speaking with a new customer, talk to them about the gym and the classes that we offer, or ask them questions like, “How did you hear about us?” or what their movement background consists of? Keep the topics relevant to the facility or the sport. When talking about the products and classes you offer it is also important that you speak to the customer in a way that conveys the belief you yourself have in the class or product you are talking about. An important thing to also stress to any family that seems curious about the sport is how encouraging and close-knit the community is because of how early the sport still is in its development.

   If you can’t follow these simple rules while also working at a place whose purpose is to instill play and creativity, while also keeping its community active and healthy, then you should strongly reconsider your goals in life. Maybe working at a parkour gym isn’t for you. Nobody wants their business to fail and everybody wants to be successful in their dreams. It takes a strong committed team to really make a business successful. If you aren’t committed to doing what’s best for the gym customer, every single day, then that will show in the growth of the business. This is not only your job but hopefully a place that you and your team create to help make your goals and dreams a reality.

The Low Down on Sponsorship

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When you hear the word “sponsor” in regards to sports what is the first thing you think of? NASCAR cars covered in hundreds of stickers? Football teams only wearing Nike, Adidas, or Under Armor? What about Parkour athletes being sponsored by Redbull and getting to travel all over the world to train for competitions or Runners being sponsored by Powerbar and given a partial livable salary? Sponsorship, as a professional athlete whether it be as an individual, or a group, has the potential to greatly enhance one's athletic career. Being able to practice one's sport as a career is something most people only dream of and very few have the determination to achieve. Through sponsorships, you can gain free gear, advertising, and the freedom to travel and practice your craft and be paid to do so. What does it mean to be sponsored by another company? The meaning depends on the company you work for, what they want from their sponsors and what the athletes want from the relationship themselves. In this article, we are going to cover a lot of facts and steer away from sharing our opinions on particular sponsorships programs (that will come later!). 


With Joanna Thompson for instance, a residential elite athlete of ZAP Fitness and Reebok, whose goal for the athletes that live and train with them is to help the company make World Championship and Olympic teams. ZAP Fitness currently has a primary sponsor where most of an athlete's annual support fees can come from. As well as two secondary sponsors, which means the athlete may be provided with products and gear in exchange for representation of the company. Their secondary sponsors are Generation UCan and Soleus. Soleus is a watch production company, that ships the athletes watches to wear; while Generation UCan is a sports nutrition company that gives the athletes protein powders, carbohydrate powders, nutrition bars, and electrolyte mixes in bulk. Their primary sponsor is Reebok, they provide the team with gear, travel compensation, and a basic monetary package that funds the entire club. If an athlete, such as Joanna Thompson, has the goal in mind of being a world-class athlete in her sport then it is an easy choice to choose to be sponsored by ZAP, a company whose objective is to cultivate and assist collegiate athletes on their journey to becoming a world-class athlete. With every sponsorship though there is always a give and take. For example, Zap has a monthly social media/marketing quota built into their contracts. Athletes may also be asked to speak at events, write for vlogs and websites, or even host webinars. So when taking on a sponsorship, one must also schedule the time to do some ground work. The most important obligation an athlete has towards their sponsor though is to perform well in their sport and to represent the ideals of the company and the team appropriately.

Following that, skateboarding has a very similar sponsorship variation depending on the seriousness of the athlete. An important point that was brought up in a sponsorship article by MUV Mag, written by Andrew Obenreder, is the idea of “Know Thyself”. This idea refers to knowing what you, as an athlete, have to offer the company, how it can benefit them and how much time and dedication you are willing to give forth. It needs to be noted that not all athletes; skateboarders, runners, swimmers, and traceurs included, need to constantly be pushing the boundaries to be the best in their sport. With most sponsorships, it simply starts by building a relationship with them and letting that grow and develop with time. For instance, two sponsorship types for skaters that one could casually venture into to start building relationships with a business is a shop sponsorship and a flow sponsorship. Both sponsorships usually don’t require a contract of any sort however, you will be promoting the company by wearing their gear and logo when skating. With a shop sponsorship, the skater simply receives a discount on merchandise with no time commitment put towards the company, whereas the flow sponsorship offers free merchandise in exchange for the time put into repping and showing off the merchandise through maybe a few social media channels and contests. The farther down the list of skate sponsorships offered the more serious the commitment becomes and the more thought and time that needs to be put into what and who the skater is representing. 

 The Venture Co. and Compadres - By Elias Sell

The Venture Co. and Compadres - By Elias Sell

The Art of Retreat through the Eyes of Andy Taylor

Craig Constantine giving an overview talk at Art of Retreat

   Since 2015, for those who do not know, the Parkour Leadership and Education Retreat or The Art of Retreat, is a weekend event held every year that includes content and activities co-created by those attending. The content and activities that occur throughout the weekend are interactive talks and discussions, movement sessions, project brainstorming and problem-solving, as well as brainstorming for early-stage ideas. AOR leaves lots of room for building of private and professional connections. This year's talks ranged from creating good coaches to event organization to gym building and design. There was also a governance session with Parkour Earth, Int’l Parkour Federation to discuss the history, and a talk on the future of the parkour governance. I had the privilege to be invited as a speaker, this being my second year invited.

   There were a lot of important talks and discussions that came out of this weekend. I thought one of the most significant conversations came out of the Governance Panels. Currently, in the world of parkour, there has been an ongoing topic about if our sport should be governed, how our sport should be governed, and if so, the best way to accomplish making an American governing body. So far, it seems that any conversations that have happened about it has all been backroom talk. Ending with no real push towards a concrete goal. I may be wrong, but I haven’t seen anything to tell me otherwise. After a talk with Eugene, I felt like there were an actual end goal and a solid plan to make it happen. Ideally, there will be a group of 6-8 organizations, the organizations with the largest parkour community support, that get together and talk about the basic format a parkour governing body would look like. Once that system is in place then that group will be disbanded with the people/organizations coming together to follow that group. For those want to know everything that went on in this talk there will be a video/Audio and transcription released mid-October. In my opinion, this will be the first concrete step forward in making a solid working American governance. I’m so thankful that something like the Art of Retreat happens to get stuff like this going.

Andy Taylor giving a talk about gym design.

   The retreat gave everyone a chance to talk freely about the things they do well in their trade and to learn from others who may do things better than them. I found this thought-provoking and inspiring because in my experience there is a lot of ego in the American parkour community. Though the way the retreat is set up, everyone was encouraged to leave their ego behind and really listen to one another. It gave leaders a chance to show others what they are doing and show us how they are building their practice with their specific plan. That their approach is working even if it is 100% different than the person who is sitting next to them, who is also running a successful practice. For example, I am pretty experienced in the build and coaching side of owning a gym; while Nancy Lorentz has been doing amazing work on senior citizen parkour programming. People with similar skills were also able to discuss and argue what work for them and how to do things better. All the building people can sit down and figure out how best to design obstacles, while all the organizational people can discuss how to better plan events. It also gave people who are newer to community leadership, the opportunity to sit, listen, and ask questions of those who have been in the business for a long time. Having a place to freely discuss all of these ideas will hopefully lead to more development in our sport and in our overall community.

   Art of retreat is an extremely beneficial event not only for our community but also for individual leaders and athletes. It gives everyone a rare opportunity to come together in one place, put egos away, listen, and learn from each other's experiences. It’s a chance to play on one another’s strengths and weakness’ and help better each other in ways that we may not necessarily get to on our own. What was discussed above is only a fraction of the things discussed, learned, argued, and developed from this year's Art of Retreat. Every year we get more and more out of this event. I look forward to seeing how everyone uses what they have learned at the retreat to grow and excel as humans, gym leaders, athletes, and coaches.

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What a Community Leader Needs and Why

   The world of parkour is a great, wide one. Many of us have been in the position where we’re the only people that train in an area, or we’ve lived in an area where the groups that do train are wildly disorganized. In these environments, something that’s important is having a solid government; whether that’s a group, a club, a gym, or a single leader to help organize and rally the troops. In this article, we’ll cover what we believe to be the most important qualities that a parkour community leader must have in order to be successful.

Outspoken and Well Spoken

   As with any leader, it’s very important to be able to communicate clearly and effectively to a wide audience. This includes being accepting of all people regardless of age, color, orientation, gender, skill level, and anything in between. A good leader can communicate across all platforms with all kinds of people and in doing so, maintains the group by being personable and engaging.

 Talking about leadership at Beast Coast 2017 - Photo by Elias Sell

Talking about leadership at Beast Coast 2017 - Photo by Elias Sell

Sell Parkour and Themselves

   A good parkour community leader can sell parkour and get their audience hyped about training, be it with the community, in classes, or by themselves. They also need to be able to effectively advertise and organize events, because otherwise the community gets stale and uninterested in meeting. Leaders also try to expand their community, be it through event planning, travelling, or performing. Parkour opens tons of doors, and leading our communities through those doors will absolutely create lifelong athletes and give everybody the opportunity to grow.

Demonstrate Movement Knowledge and Wisdom

   Ryan Ford, co-founder of Apex Movement and Parkour EDU, brings up an interesting point regarding movement knowledge versus movement wisdom; “...Movement Knowledge vs. Movement Wisdom, an analogy I use to describe a common training problem I see. All that physical preparation (movement knowledge) is of little use unless it can be skillfully applied to a sport-specific or real world scenario (movement wisdom).” Be it by coaching or example, a community leader should know the ins and outs of parkour. Being an athlete is important, but not as important as knowing how to identify problems in a person’s physical or mental approach to parkour movements. An effective leader can sort through the imperfections in movements and help their communities continue to progress through their training.

Show Respect For Authority

   Be it your students’ parents or a police officer, a good leader promotes healthy relationships with authoritative figures. This includes talking to parents after class and giving feedback for them to know what their child needs to work on, respectfully approaching security and police and promoting a healthy image of parkour. If leaders present themselves negatively to figures of authority, it’s a backpedal for the worldwide community. We don’t want parkour to follow in the shoes of “Skate and destroy”, so we need to keep parkour pure in the eyes of the public.

 Andy Taylor talks with a cop - Photo By Elias Sell

Andy Taylor talks with a cop - Photo By Elias Sell

 

Organized and Reliable

   People need structure to feel comfortable. So having regularly scheduled meetups, and replying to emails/voicemails quickly is important for a community's growth. People have to know that their leader is going to follow through on their word, and be on time about it. This seems obvious when stated, but this is one of the most lacking areas for many communities.

   These are not all of the qualities a good community leader needs, but these are some of the ones that we believe are essential. While all of these qualities can be found in one person, it is quite rare, and so often a better approach is a group, or team of leaders that can be the necessary change.

 

 A team of community leaders - Photo by Elias Sell

A team of community leaders - Photo by Elias Sell