When you think military-inspired workouts, images of mud-filled obstacle courses or boot camps likely come to mind, but there’s another army-inspired fitness trend making waves in Calgary these days. And as a bonus, this one won’t find you coming face to face with an angry drill sergeant, but rather making friends and having more fun than you thought was possible while breaking a sweat.
Parkour was originally developed in the late 1980s as a training method by the French military to teach their troops to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way. In recent years, parkour has become the fastest growing “extreme sport” since skateboarding. Athletes run, jump, swing and vault their way through urban landscapes around the world.
The only parkour training facility in Calgary, Breathe Parkour offers classes for every age group and physical fitness level. Whether you are hoping to improve your speed and agility in another sport, shake up your regular workouts or just get your body moving for the first time in years, here’s why you should give parkour a go.
It’s a multi-tasker’s workout
Don’t get me started on the empty promises Pilates instructors make about developing “long and lean” muscles. The fact that parkour training allows (and pretty much requires) participants to work on strength, mobility, balance and agility simultaneously does result in a rather nicely balanced physique. Parkour guys or gals are pretty well-muscled. Even more impressive, they can take a fall without risk of injury and have far superior flexibility than traditional gym-goers who focus solely on building strength.
To stay young at heart (and body)
Remember how much you used to love the jungle gym as a kid? Parkour offers that same burst of joy and fun at any age. A lot of folks think parkour is the perfect thing to sign their kids up for – and it is, Breathe even offers summer camps. But it’s not just a youngsters activity by any means. Hence the adult classes. “Some of the best Parkour athletes in the world are over 40,” says MatthewTalbot-Turner, co-owner of Breathe Parkour. “We’ve built a unique playground that people of all ages can, and should, come experience.”
The community is seriously cool
One of the first things you will notice upon entering Breathe is that these aren’t your typical jocks. “Parkour attracts a wide audience, and a higher percentage of people who have never considered sports or their physical health a priority in the past compared to other sports,” explains Talbot-Turner. “This creates a very unique audience and membership base.”
The next thing you will notice is how friendly and encouraging they are. This support lends itself well to the fact that beginners will inevitably feel like uncoordinated clutzes, not matter what their previous athletic prowess.
To feel the fear and do it anyway
You know how they say you should do one thing daily that scares you? Making parkour part of your life would have you confronting multiple fears on any give day of the week. Whether it’s the fear of walking into an unfamiliar situation, not being good at something, failing, or the more widely understood, fear of falling on your head while trying a backflip, this discipline offers endless scary prospects for you to work through. And you will work through them, improving in technique and becoming less fearful with every passing class.
It’s functional fitness
The concept of “use it or lose it” does not ring truer than when applied to balance. Parkour relies heavily on moving from structure to structure and from limb to limb. While anyone can work on balance by standing on one foot, parkour teaches you to balance on one foot while in motion, or to keep your balance when moving from one hand to the other as you travel over an obstacle. This is complicated stuff that, when does right, looks effortless. “There’s novelty and then there’s practical application,” Talbot-Turner explains. “Don’t just be strong. Be strong to be useful.”
Breathe Parkour, 8, 401 33rd St. N.E. 403-273-2245, breathepk.com