There are 10 million online searches for Parkour every month and a new video uploaded to YouTube every 30 minutes, which is why Parkour Generations, established in 2006, wants to take it to the masses. Dan Edwardes, one of the founders, explains…
What is Parkour?
Parkour is a discipline of self-improvement through mental and physical challenges based on movement. It’s effectively a movement discipline focusing on adapting yourself to terrain and challenges that you encounter, and that’s why there appears to be so many different elements to it. Parkour is about everything you need to overcome a certain challenge or physical task. It is adaptable. It doesn’t have set techniques like most organised sports. It is more of a concept or way of thinking and a way of training your body’s mind to be adaptable and complete to be able to deal with any situation. It requires a lot of physical attributes such as strength, power, endurance, speed, agility, coordination, balance and spatial awareness, but it also requires real psychological strength to overcome the mental limitations we encounter.
What are the benefits?
Your body was designed solely to move you around through running, jumping, climbing, crawling and swinging – basically getting around – and that’s the purpose of Parkour. It has huge physical benefits because it uses your body the way it’s meant to be used. It will make you very fit, very strong, very fast, physically confident and coordinated. It’ll give you all of those functional strengths your body is meant to have.
It changes the way people perceive their environment. It liberates their mind in terms of assuming what they can do in a space. It frees them and reminds them that they have more potential than they originally thought, and at the same time gives them a method to overcome fear, lack of confidence and lack of self-esteem. It makes you realise you can do amazing things and changes people’s perceptions of themselves; this then carries on with them for the rest of their lives. They’ll become more confident in other parts of their lives such as work or social life.
“Your body was designed solely to move you around through running, jumping, climbing, crawling and swinging – basically getting around – and that’s the purpose of Parkour.”
Can anyone do it?
You already do elements of Parkour; moving around, jumping, climbing. You’re already primed for it, so it’s a question of taking it to the next level and looking at your potential. Most people are told to stop playing around the age of 14 by society, which means they’re only outlet into physical activity is organised sport. But if people don’t go into organised sport they end up unfit, out of shape and overweight with postural problems in the 20s, when instead they should be in prime physical condition. Parkour is just reminding people that they can move like that. It will take you from where you are and make you better.
Is there a difference between Parkour and Free Running?
Essentially, they’re the same thing. One of the founding guys started calling it Parkour as an adaptation from the original name: ‘Le Parcours’, which means ‘the course’, because he liked the look of it. Then, in 2003, we did a documentary called Jump London on Channel 4, which was the first production using the English language to focus on Parkour. It was thought that an English word was needed for the audiences to understand it better, so the production guys created ‘free running’. Now however, because of the Internet and its ability to spread misinformation, a lot of people now view free running as a separate thing – people say that free running is just the movement aspect and Parkour the philosophy behind it. But to me and anyone else that has been training since before the English translation came about, it’s the same thing.
PARKOUR: THE NUMBERS
- Parkour is most commonly practiced by young men aged 13-35
- The number of female practitioners is growing, with the Parkour Generations London Academy classes having 20-25% female practitioners
- 100% of people surveyed felt a significant improvement in their fitness, balance and strength within their first month of training
- 100% of people felt a big improvement in their self-confidence within the first three months of training
- 90% of traceurs said training helps relieve anger, stress and upset and that they feel more relaxed after training
- 75% said that they became more focused when they started practicing Parkour
- People now watch more YouTube videos of Parkour/Freerunning than skateboarding, surfing and BMX combined
- Those with learning difficulties and disabilities said that they felt their academic learning improve after practicing Parkour for three months, and that they felt more confident about themselves in school after practicing Parkour
- There are over 40,000 channels about Parkour on YouTube
- In 2012, Parkour videos received a combination of 111 million views
- There are now over 2 billion views on videos related to Parkour