Free-running from London to Korea
At London’s World Power Show, HealthGauge caught up with Parkour Generations founder Dan Edwardes, who we last heard from at the launch of writer Chris McDougall’s book “Natural Born Heroes” (read more). Such has been the success of Parkour Generations in the UK that the company is now reaching to new communities worldwide given the demand. But why is parkour now the world’s fastest growing lifestyle sport?
Made you look
The increase in visibility of parkour is of course a factor. Whilst less then a decade ago most people wouldn’t have even heard of it, modern audiences have now come to expect parkour as a staple in mainstream action movies, games and even television shows like Ninja Warrior. It has also becoming less unusual to see people incorporating parkour elements into other training practices or training full parkour in public, re-energising the space in which skate boarding has become rather comfortable.
Don’t need dollar bills to have fun
Gym memberships and equipment can be expensive. Even more so if you live in a big city like London where not only are membership prices astronomical, but so to is the price of the commute to the gym. With no money and informed primarily by YouTube videos, people can start to take their first steps into parkour. In adopting this discipline the world surrounding us transforms back into the playground that we viewed as a child, with the walls, rails, steps and benches of urban planning offering opportunities to run, climb and jump. Without the need for expensive apparel to look the part, it is also a fitness movement that manages to overcome divisions such as status, with Parkour Generations sessions seeing street kids training right alongside bankers and lawyers.
Welcome to the jungle
Whilst bodybuilding is booming, so to is the other end of the spectrum, with people desiring a holistic return to nature that involves not only their food but also their fitness. MovNat and Wild Fitness or “rewilding” are helping to redefine how people approach health and fitness, in tandem with the growth in development of activewear products that, rather than being restrictive or dull sensory feedback (e.g shock absorption), are purposely designed to strip back to the bare essentials and in doing allow the body to return to doing what it does naturally. Whilst more commonly practiced in urban environments, parkour is actually very much a part of this natural movement trend as it enables it practitioners to ‘reclaim the streets’ and once again develop an physical relationship with their environment.
Human after all
The physical effects of practicing parkour doesn’t always mean broken bones or missing teeth. In fact it has historically been one of the more low-injury sports due to the fact that practitioners are more likely to be aware of the risks and instructors always recommend to develop slowly and safely. Whereas a sport like football doesn’t always have the same focus on safety, making it all to common to see a player come limping of a pitch following a bad slide tackle. Parkour promotes flexibility and range of motion with those who have trained to a more advanced level able to move with more effortless fluidity than your average lumbering person. There is also the calorie burn that comes from continued full body motion, not to mention the full body muscle development from jumping and lifting your own bodyweight repeatedly. Parkour trains the body athletically, densely packing muscle fibre into the lean build that for many is the preferred Bruce Lee/beach body look and not the bulky, pulsating bodybuilder look.