Philly National Jam 2017


     This year was the first year Pinnacle Parkour has hosted the Philadelphia National Jam, and it was a great success, with over 50 athletes of all ages and skill levels showing up to jump, clean, and hang out! Fun was had, tons of jumps were broken, and many memories were made over the course of the two day jam, and it’s a weekend none of us will soon forget!

     For those unfamiliar with parkour jams, a jam is a gathering of practitioners. The purpose of jams is to bring athletes from far and wide to practice together. This conflux of talent and skill and different styles and perspectives brings the community closer together, in addition to providing every athlete with more complex challenges that may have never been noticed without an outside perspective. Hundreds of jams take place around the world every year, ranging from small local jams such as our Leave No Trace jam, to huge international jams like Lion City Gathering in Singapore. Jams date back to the very beginning of parkour, with many jams focused on giving back to the communities we practice in.

     One aspect of parkour that can be neglected is the “Leave No Trace” principle. For those of us familiar with backpacking and community festivals, leave no trace isn’t a foreign concept. However, when it comes to parkour, LNT is often overlooked. The concept of this principle is pretty self explanatory; leaving the areas you train in as close to the same or in better condition than they were before you were there. It’s hard to get this across nowadays to people that train parkour largely indoors, so we try our best to promote it at every event we have. Our effort at Philly Nat was a cleanup initiative at Paine’s Skatepark, and our community filled up tons of trash bags and left the park better than ever!

One of our younger athletes making sure we leave the park better than when we got there (Photo by Elias Sell)

One of our younger athletes making sure we leave the park better than when we got there (Photo by Elias Sell)

     Aside from the cleanup aspect, the jam itself was a joyride of fun jumps and challenges for all athletes involved. On Saturday, we started the jam at Markward Playground with warm-up games to get athletes moving as they trickled in, followed by a class to get everybody familiarized with the movement potential of the area. Once everybody had some time to train at the park, we gathered small breakout groups to go to pocket spots around the city. Later on, we headed to the skatepark for our cleanup hour before training, then we headed back to the gym for the indoor portion of the jam. Everybody was hyped up and full of energy (Probably from the free food and drinks provided by our sponsors; Bodyarmor and PopChips!) and training didn’t stop until we turned the lights out at 2AM! On our second and final day, after slowly arising from jump-induced hibernation, athletes travelled to the final outdoor location of the jam, Venice Island! It was incredible to see athletes from the ages of 4 to 40, from no experience to highly experienced, coming together and training with one another. The community really coalesced and made us proud to be a part of it. Athletes jammed around the area for a few hours before heading back home, completely sore, exhausted, and satisfied after an eventful weekend.

Bodyarmor provided us with some dank drinks and PopChips provided the snacks!

Bodyarmor provided us with some dank drinks and PopChips provided the snacks!

     Overall, we couldn’t be happier with the way the event unfolded! We give our thanks to every athlete, participant, observer, volunteer, and parent that made it all happen. What was your favorite part of the jam? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check out the bonus photos we posted as well!

One of the many breakout groups (Photo by Elias Sell)

One of the many breakout groups (Photo by Elias Sell)

Dealing with security is an unfortunate necessity, but we always approach them respectfully and will leave if we're asked! (Photo by Elias Sell)

Dealing with security is an unfortunate necessity, but we always approach them respectfully and will leave if we're asked! (Photo by Elias Sell)

The community gathered 'round! See if you can spot the lampshade wizard, the trash mountain, and the ginger that was in the sun for too long (Photo by Elias Sell)

The community gathered 'round! See if you can spot the lampshade wizard, the trash mountain, and the ginger that was in the sun for too long (Photo by Elias Sell)

Training Duration: Whats the Perfect Training Length?

     Getting involved in the sport of parkour can seem like a lot. The glorification of the extreme movements by mainstream media make the sport very unwelcoming to newcomers. There are multiple styles to practice that without someone’s guidance or coaching it is easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of skills one can learn with the amount of time one has. However, if someone begins to rush progress in their movement practice then they start to risk serious injury to themselves. How much time should someone put towards each skill? How much time should someone train in general? There isn’t a clear cut answer to any of these questions because each person is different, however there are guidelines one can use to find out the answers to these questions.

     If you are someone who has very little time and only has one hour every few days or so to give to practicing parkour then you don’t need to worry. “Perhaps the biggest misconception, when it comes to training, is ‘more is better,’” says Greg Justice, M.A., personal trainer and founder of Kansas City’s AYC Health and Fitness. He says that around 30-45 minute sessions of high intensity work best for him. After training for 45 minutes your body begins to produce the stress hormone, cortisol, which is counterproductive to any gains made from the session. This does not mean that every person that goes out and practices parkour casually for an hour or two with friends is losing their gains. It is possible to go for an hour or two and train for short periods of time with periods of rest in between, which is typically what happens during most parkour jams.

Photo By: Elias Sell

Photo By: Elias Sell

     How many times a week should someone train? We have an idea as to how long we might train for, but now we need to get an idea as to how often. According to an article in “Men’s Fitness” that talks about strength training, three to four total body workouts a week is plenty for most training goals. “As an individual’s cardiovascular endurance improves, they can then progressively increase the amount of sessions per week as well as the intensity, distance or time of each session,” says Justin Smith, a San Diego personal trainer and health coach. Essentially the more time you spend consistently training the more room you will have to play around with the structure of your training routine. Some might want to condense it to two days a week with a very high intensity output, and others might want to keep the intensity low and train with their friends casually throughout the week. In between the high intensity days, “there should be a minimum of 48 hours between high-intensity sessions, as well as many good nights of sleep, to optimize results.” as mentioned in the same article.

     Parkour is an exercise but it is also a skill based sport, and like with any skill it requires a certain amount of time invested to perfect it. Every skill we develop takes time and effort in order to make it second nature, through a process called “motor patterning”. According to Buddy “Coach X” Morris, “It takes 500 hours to invoke a motor pattern before it comes unconscious. It takes 25-30 thousand reps to break a bad motor pattern.” This means that direct, intentional training for these skills outside of regular workouts are necessary to become a high level athlete, however this training doesn’t have to be boring or particularly difficult. Parkour training can consist of challenges and games such as STICK (think HORSE, except with jumping) in order to make training more enjoyable.

Photo By: Elias Sell

Photo By: Elias Sell

     When it comes down to it, you can set a schedule and a routine and train however long and hard you want, within reason. These guidelines are just that; guidelines. They’re not a complete prescription for all of your training needs, they loosely cover what a healthy training regimen ought to consist of. If you, as the athlete, lose the motivation to train, then all of the planning is for naught. This makes your intentions the biggest part of being a good athlete. If you’re committed enough, then your training structure will reflect that. At any point in our parkour journey, if we can’t answer the question “Why do I train parkour?”, then something needs to change, and finding that purpose is up to us.

     How often do you train? What do you do on your rest days? Why do you train? Let us know in the comments below!


Photos Taken By Elias Sell

Parkour and How It Benefits Those With Special Needs

     Parkour, unlike some other sports, is a full body workout that gets kids and adults moving by having them run, jump, vault, and swing through obstacles in ways that they have not moved before. In addition to being a full body workout, the sport improves upon certain fitness related skills that are useful to have if a situation ever calls upon them.  These skills include agility, balance, power, speed, coordination, proprioception, reaction time, and spatial awareness; all of which play a tremendous role in the development of any athlete. Another benefit comes from the social skills that are developed in a gym setting by working with people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. A person with special needs may have trouble with any or all of these things, however, parkour can be an excellent way to assist special needs individuals of all ages.



     Parkour moves individually work different types of muscles, but as a whole, every movement in parkour engages and strengthens the core muscles. Swinging works on your shoulders, lats, and grip strength; while climbing engages the pushing and pulling muscles in your upper body which include the triceps, biceps, and chest. Running, jumping, and vaulting develop and engage your posterior chain which include the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Developing and growing these muscles is simple because parkour activities encourage play and creativity while teaching practical and fundamental movement related skills. The unintentional benefit of recruiting all of these muscle groups is the incredible development of the athlete’s proprioception, which can be a difficult thing for people with special needs, especially those with dyspraxia. Parkour is a deceptively easy way to train proprioception that is also incredibly fun.


     At a fundamental level, parkour is about learning to be able to safely and effectively use one's body in situations where it is needed by developing coordination and spacial awareness skills. Spatial awareness is an organized knowledge of objects in relation to oneself in space. Through the repetitive motion of training specific parkour skills one can develop and sharpen their coordination and spacial awareness. For example, if a child wants to explore in their surroundings, maybe on a playground or even in their backyard, having the coordination and spacial awareness to climb on top of something high or jump to something below them is going to make the child's life easier as well as build up the child's confidence in their own abilities.


     As a sport, parkour not only helps with your physical health, but also with your social health. The parkour community is an extremely close and supportive one. We have meet ups and help push each other to develop our skills in a positive and constructive way. The community consists of individuals of all ages, shapes, sizes, and experience. Another aspect of developing social skills with parkour would be in the time spent in the gym and in classes. In a school setting, children are typically restricted to only kids of a specific age range, whereas at a gym everybody has the opportunity to work with a variety of people. This helps push social development even further than a school setting or a small group would.


     Parkour is an empowering and disciplined sport in the sense that it requires time and dedication to execute the skills correctly.  For the individual, special needs or not, there is a self-fulfilling element to achieving such physical accomplishments. We all have our own obstacles in life that we find hard and struggle with, however by pushing through the doubt and uncertainty, we can eventually look back in amazement at what we have accomplished. This same mindset, if practiced enough, will translate over into how that individual views challenges or “obstacles” in the world.  More parkour facilities should offer special needs programs so that every person can take advantage of the benefits that this discipline has to offer.



Storror Jam Philadelphia - By Elias Sell

Storror Jam Philadelphia - By Elias Sell

The Importance of Training Outside

      Within the walls of the parkour gym, athletes have become more capable than ever. They’re allowed to progress quickly with a relative level of safety, able to throw double backflips into the foam pit for as long as they like before landing them on trampolines, then mats, then spring floors, then hard floors. It’s undeniable that many of our famous athletes and popular tricks wouldn’t exist for a very long time, or at all if we didn’t have access to these facilities. The value in a place where you can drill individual steps onto soft surfaces and progress as slowly or as quickly as you need to is obvious, but where does the value lie in the outside world? Why would you ever train outside when you have a readily available gym?

      There are innumerable reasons to train outside. They range from the highest of heights to the smallest specks of dust, so we’ll try our best to cover the five most important.

1.Expanding Your Comfort Zone

      The first of these reasons is one of the most intimidating for athletes that start in gyms. Training outside takes away the padding and guarantee of consistency and familiarity with the obstacles athletes encounter. There is uncertainty, there are observers, there’s a completely different headspace that comes with doing something outside of the norm in public space. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all of your anxieties when you’re the odd one out, but this also can and should be empowering. Parkour is about overcoming obstacles both physical and mental, and one of the most effective ways to push your mentality is by doing things that make you uncomfortable in environments that can’t be completely controlled. The one thing you always have control of is your body, and training outdoors forces us to know what’s doable and what’s out of our range, which gives us more motivation to get stronger in order to increase our capabilities.

2. (Un)Limited Options

      The cityscape has lots to offer in terms of nightlife, gourmet cuisine, and entertainment, but training spots can be few and far between. Sometimes it seems like the spots that we do find offer us a very limited variety of moves, however it’s more often than not a lack of creativity that holds us back in these situations. Many athletes are characterized by their ability to create intricate lines in mundane areas, popularized by videos such as “Parkour, imaginatively.”(1) This style of training forces you to practice movements that aren’t used anywhere else, which stimulates the creative parts of your brain while also training you to move in positions you wouldn’t normally try. “You should regularly challenge both your body and mind by keeping the exercises spontaneous and interesting. If you can, train and spend time in new environments and you will begin to notice new technical possibilities too, all things to keep your mind busy and your routine fresh...Do something new this week, surprise yourself with improvisation and as long as you work hard, this is a positive and productive way to train.”(2) On top of these advantages, some of the spots outside are so good that gyms can’t even replicate them, such as the massive “Dame du Lac” of Lisses(3) and the dense complexity that is Freeway Park in Seattle (pictured below).


3.Tangible Feedback

      Outside of the gym, it is very apparent how comfortable you are with your movement. You can’t move the walls around or have mats readily available just in case you bail. The ability to scale down and progress towards movements that are at the edge of your range is often heavily reduced, however it’s still possible with some know-how and creativity. This pressure testing is very good for direct assessment of how diverse your movement library is, along with demonstrating your competence and versatility within your library. Having to adapt your body to the environment instead of the environment to your body can significantly improve your parkour mastery. You can also take note of challenges you find outside and work up to them by practicing the same moves in the gym!

4.Sharpening Focus and Mindfulness

      Within our gyms, there are very few things we cannot control. We control the obstacles’ positions, their surfaces, their integrity, and almost every other buildable factor. We also control the weather, the volume, the wind, the toughness of the ground, and the people themselves, who’ve agreed upon rules and regulations within the facility. Outside, however, these factors are often hard, if not impossible, to control. Walls can be dusty and slippery or break if left unchecked, rain can start without warning, a car could honk, squirrels and bugs and people can get in the way, and security can kick us out at any moment.  All of these things require us to be focused on our training and feedback from our bodies while also being mindful of our surroundings. This teaches us how to listen to our bodies more intuitively and block out the unimportant stimuli, which is incredibly important in situations where we have to move quickly or with urgency, when one wrong move spells disaster.


      One of the factors we don’t consider as much when we think about parkour is the people we train with. Training solo is fun and should be part of your training routine, but training with your friends creates a bond unlike any other. Parkour, by nature, is inherently cooperative. This more often than not creates a positive atmosphere in which all athletes are encouraged to push themselves and come up with challenges for the team to attempt. Outdoor training brings attention to parkour, be it from passers-by, media, or kids at the park. This brings more athletes into the parkour world and increases the awareness of the discipline, and if we nurture a positive image and good training ethics when we’re outside, we can turn parkour into an instrument for change. Community is ultimately what will make or break parkour when it comes to issues like the encroachment of the FIG, and we need a strong community now more than ever.


      The list of advantages of training outdoors could go on for ages, but eventually, we have to stop thinking about it and just do it! What do you think about training outdoors? Let us know in the comments below, and come by a Philadelphia Parkour outdoor meetup! Why are you still here? Go train!!!


1. “Parkour, imaginatively.” (

2. “When Worlds Collide” (

3. Parkour Tour - Dame du Lac Climb (


Creative Environments for Creative Minds...

The Periodic Table - By Elias Sell

The Periodic Table - By Elias Sell

      What does it mean to design a great gym?  What does a great gym need to have in order to cultivate the students and people it wants to put back out into the world?  To start off with, it needs to be structurally designed with multiple different routes or “parkour lines” in mind.  It must also be appealing to look at and must have the possibility to make someone stop and think or to affect their thoughts in some way, shape, or form.  In return, those same thoughts should positively affect a person in some way and perhaps make them see an idea that they have never noticed before.  A great gym needs to be designed so that it designs the people that walk through it.

      The idea of Ontological Design is one that is very interesting and somewhat overlooked in certain facilities.  The architecture and look of the space itself will not only affect how a student learns but also the quality of the learning itself.  In a paper written by Anne-Marie Willis, theory of Ontological Design, she claims three important things:

  1. Design is something far more pervasive and profound than is generally recognised by designers, cultural theorists, philosophers or lay persons;

  2. That designing is fundamental to being human — we design, that is to say, we deliberate, plan and scheme in ways which prefigure our actions and makings — in turn we are designed by our designing and by that which we have designed (i.e., through our interactions with the structural and material specificities of our environments)

  3. That this adds up to a double movement — we design our world, while our world acts back on us and designs us.

Here at PPK Philly we try to create a place where our students shape the way we use and train in our space, as well as how our space shapes our students.  However, a well designed facility is only one of two ways in which we want our gym to passively or actively affect our students.  We believe that the utilization of art has the ability to influence people simply by active or passive observation.    

     For example, one of our art pieces is The Periodic Table, it is a great example of passively stimulating the mind in a scientifically educational way. People can be in a cat hang on the wall while unintentionally staring at the elements on the table. In contrast to the periodic table we have a new piece in the works by another community artist. It depicts two hands reaching from opposite sides of each other seeming to touch, but are just out of reach. This piece is being placed strategically over the top of the mirrors that are near the dance floor so that when someone looks at the mirrors their eyes and attention are drawn to the hands floating above them. The artist wants the hands to be an inspirational piece, and have a feeling of helping others, and pay homage to one of Philadelphia’s nicknames, “The city of Brotherly Love.”. She hopes that by having the piece on display at the gym it will inspire other students to help one another in their journey of being a parkour athlete. These pieces along with our current and many future pieces will decorate our facility and provide thought provoking images, as well as creating a mentally and emotionally nurturing space for students to be in. While simultaneously providing new energy and an ever changing feel to our gym.  

Summer Camp - Ukemi at PPK Philly

       Failure is an essential element of any learning process and the movement art of failure is known as Ukemi. Ukemi is a Japanese word that means “breaking one's fall” and is used to describe a method of falling without getting injured. The method originated in martial art styles including judo, aikido, jujitsu, and wushu and has since been translated over to other sports including parkour. Ukemi was designed to study falling techniques related to specific scenarios of a specific sport. In aikido, Ukemi is used to practice falling out of “uncontrolled” throws safely. A similar example in parkour Ukemi, would be failing a front flip and instead of landing on your head, you turn it into a dive roll. Failing is a part of every sport and learning how to fail safely is one of the most important skills that we can learn as athletes.

       Our style of efficient motion, known as parkour, has been around for decades. Throughout those years there have been controversial philosophies about the best way to approach teaching and learning parkour. There are many different schools of thought. Here at PPK Philly, Ukemi is a large part of the way that we teach. We teach people how to fail, not how to succeed. Success comes after. Ukemi (the art of “taking it”) is defined as the ability to fall, roll, or be forcefully thrown to the ground and get up unscathed. Since parkour already focuses on how to fail, Ukemi is a match made in heaven. This art of falling in its modern form originated from Jujitsu over 1000 years ago, and more famously has been modernized with the martial art of Judo. It would be foolish not to study this art. Learning Ukemi just adds another aspect of safety to an athlete’s training. It helps them deal with the fear, uncertainty, and hesitation that comes with committing to big movements. As well as, adding a boost in confidence in training time, which in turn makes training more beneficial. It keeps athletes injury free which keeps their training more consistent and helps them become stronger. Which in turn provides more fun in training because practitioners aren’t as worried about what may happen when they fall.

       Following this, knowing Parkour Ukemi makes you into a much safer athlete, every gym in the world should have some form of Parkour Ukemi in their curriculum. Imagine you’re jumping on the couch and all of a sudden a 200 pound wolf-dog comes dashing out of nowhere, and in a split second collides with you sending your tiny frail body spiraling towards a paralyzing injury on your tile floor. How do you recover from that with taking minimal physical damage? The answer? Your newly learned Ukemi. One of the focuses of our summer camp here at PPK Philly is for our students to be exposed to the various falling techniques that are used in the world of Parkour Ukemi.  We showed our students all the teachable positions of the front flip falling continuum, side flip falling continuum, and the backflip falling continuum.  The front flip falling continuum, explained in simple terms, is taking every landing/falling position an athlete may end up in, while attempting a front flip and practicing the falling techniques needed to come out of the bail with little to no injury.  The same breakdown would happen when going over the side flip and back flip falling continuums.  

       We believe that by simply exposing our students to the various falling techniques that this will make them well equipped and potentially safer when exposed to any falling scenario. The average person, if equipped with even the slightest amount of Ukemi knowledge and experience might save his or herself from a fall that would otherwise lead to an injury. Almost everyone has slipped before, whether it be on ice, wet floors, or a bump on the sidewalk. If you know basic Ukemi, and utilize it, you can go through these potentially dangerous experiences, and exit on the other side with little to no injury. Utilizing this skill ensures that our students are progressing at a much safer and steady pace giving them the potential to be smarter and better athletes than the generation prior. Our goal here at PPK Philly is to create a community full of strong and well equipped athletes so that a new generation can take what techniques we already know and build on top of them, and perhaps even create something the parkour community, or the world, has yet to witness.      

Baily Cypress is a Philadelphia mosaic artist. Also shes a freakin awesome woman. Work has started on the birds, (in the back near the bathrooms and water fountain) the whole hallway will eventually be arted in a Japanese inspired mixed media (primarly painting and mosaic) piece. This is just one of multiple art projects that are on the way for Pinnacle Parkour Academy Philadelphia. If you, or someone you know is a local artist interested in working with us, shoot us a message here . New art is always very exciting.