Should You Teach Yourself Or Take Parkour Classes?
Parkour classes are a great way to get some exercise while still having fun! If you’re new to this hobby, though, you might be confused about how to start your training. While it’s always great to go find other traceurs (parkour practitioners) and learn about the craft informally, you may want to consider some parkour classes to hone your skills.
What Is Parkour?
Parkour is the discipline of training your body to smoothly pass through, over, and around obstacles as efficiently as possible. While that may sound very simple, there’s actually a subtle artistry to it, and its movements have a lot in common with those that you might find in martial arts. There’s also a lot of overlap between parkour and free-running, as well as with more typical obstacle course running. In fact, parkour has its origins in military obstacle courses, which is why the focus is so heavily on getting through a given path quickly.
Traditionally, parkour is practiced informally in just about any urban location. It can involve climbing buildings, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, or simply vaulting over a park bench. First developed in the 1980s by Frenchman Raymond Belle, one can think of it as an improvised obstacle course where random objects in the environment become excuses to jump around!
It’s precisely this improvised nature that draws many people in. Since it can be done almost anywhere, you can always choose a new, interesting location that presents its own unexpected challenges. There’s also a large community of traceurs that tend to be extremely welcoming to outsiders, making the experience very cooperative and fun.
Nowadays, parkour is more popular than ever, and many people use it as a way to get some cardio while increasing agility and flexibility. Naturally, as the popularity of the disciple has grown, so have the opportunities to get involved. If you live in a major city, there is probably some kind of parkour meet up group that you could check out or even parkour classes to help get you started.
Is Parkour Right for Me?
Are you the kind of person who likes sports that require a lot of movement and balance, such as skateboarding? Do you prefer to get outside in the sun when you want to be active and would rather not spend your time at a gym? Would you rather focus on your own physical development than have to worry about doing better than someone else? You might just be a good fit for the art of parkour.
A Minimalist Practice
Parkour is perfect for people of all walks of life who are looking for a simple sport that requires no gym equipment. One of the major draws of this discipline is that you really can do it almost anywhere, and you can stretch yourself a little bit at a time, learning the movements at your own pace. This is an especially useful sport if you travel a lot and can’t take much with you. Basically any environment with a few obstacles will do.
Parkour is also really intuitive and easy to learn. All of the movements are based on natural human locomotion, and so you won’t find yourself having to strain in unnatural positions. This also means that it makes great cross-training for a variety of sports, and it will also help keep you injury free in your daily life.
A Cooperative Sport
Another aspect of parkour that might appeal to you is that it is usually a group effort. Traditionally, teams of traceurs come together and help each other clear obstacles as quickly as possible. In that sense, it is cooperative and non-competitive, which can make it a great discipline for forming and strengthening bonds among your friends.
This is not to say that parkour can’t be intense. It can really challenge your body if you’re doing it right, so it’s definitely something that you’ll want to lean into slowly, especially if you’re not currently involved in other sports. It’s a good idea to find a mentor of some kind to help you adapt to the discipline and learn the basic movements.
Getting Started – Teach Yourself vs. Pay for Classes
One of the first things that you might ask yourself when you’re getting started is whether you should teach yourself or pay for parkour classes. There are pros and cons to both, and it really depends on how quickly you want to advance.
Learning on Your Own
Taking Parkour Classes
Parkour is all about using your body to get through the obstacles that surround you. It teaches you to be flexible, and it shows you how a mundane urban environment is actually an adventure waiting to happen. It’s a great discipline to get into that you can learn both on an individual level and in a group. Best of all, it doesn’t require expensive equipment—just your body!
Like any other sport, though, it’s easier to get started if you have someone who knows what they’re doing guiding you every step of the way. While you might be able to find people in the community who will do just that, a more consistent approach that will help you get the right habits from the beginning is to invest in some parkour classes. They don’t need to be expensive, and they can help you advance much faster than you otherwise would have.