BlogHer, Fitness

Parkour: No Obstacle is Too Big

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

If I were outdoors and happened to see someone leaping over park benches, dangling from tree branches, and balancing precariously on things most people wouldn’t bother with, I’d probably think they were a little bit crazy. Or at least I would have thought they were crazy before I heard about a sport called parkour.

According to Wikipedia, parkour focuses “on moving from one point to another as smoothly, efficiently and quickly as possible using the abilities of the human body. It is built on the philosophical premise that any obstacle, physical or mental, can be surpassed.” Doesn’t that description sound nice? The reality involves much more, though.

There are thousands of matches for parkour on YouTube, and this amazing example was posted just a few days ago from a parkour team in Germany:

What gets me is that most people try to exercise safely. We wear expensive shoes designed for the specific activity that we engage in most often; we wear wicking fabric to absorb our sweat; we pay attention to minute twinges in our body which signifies something is wrong and needs attention before it gets any worse.

Indeed, some people have expressed concern about the popularity of this fast-growing extreme sport. According to Jacqueline Stenson at

With all the jumps and falls, participants risk stress fractures, ankle and knee sprains, and ligament injuries, among other potential problems, says Ross [spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine], a foot and ankle specialist. And the sport could be quite dangerous if participants attempted over-the-top stunts such as jumping from one building to another, he says.

I’ve never seen anyone do this activity in real life, but it would be interesting to witness. Who are the people who decide to do this? Do they do it by themselves or prefer the camaraderie (and safety) of a group setting?

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