By Jeff Bayer
Parkour, also known as Freerunning
Parkour is one of the most rapidly growing forms of exercise right now, and it was originally introduced by the French. With the aim to get from one place to another with precise movements that have the utmost efficiency with regards to both time and energy expended, it requires large physical demands by the body to perform these exercises correctly. Parkour has gradually been introduced into pop culture through appearances in movies, music videos, TV shows, video games, and finally in literature. A few examples where it can be seen are in the James Bond movie, Casino Royal, in one of Tony Hawk's skateboard video games and in Splinter Cell.
As well, parkour websites are popping up all over the internet where people are exchanging messages and connecting with others interested in this form of exercise. One forum in particular, based out of New York and London, has more than 11,500 members conversing on the subject. Parkour is rapidly catching on all over the world and large groups are now meeting up to practice together in various locations.
The health benefits of parkour are numerous, with one of the most important factors being that it encompasses both your mental abilities as well as your physical skills. In order to be proficient at parkour you must be constantly "thinking on your feet," always anticipating what will come next so that you know the best way to move your body to accomplish your goal. Those who are successful at practicing parkour, have really learned how to master their own bodies and are always fully in control. Individuals who overestimate their abilities of strength, flexibility and balance often wind up injured. In this way, parkour is much more than just exercise; it's about knowing yourself and your own personal limits. By practicing parkour, you not only gain a great deal of physical benefits, but you also learn how to trust your body and your judgments. This will translate over into the rest of your life with a definite increase in self-esteem.
Below you will find the exercises that you should include in your fitness routine so you can strengthen the muscle groups that will be used when executing parkour.
1- Jump Squats
Benefits: As many of the movements in parkour include rebounding off walls, the ground or other objects, you are going to want to have explosive quad strength. Jump squats are just the thing to get those results.
How to do them: Begin by crouching down in a low, squat position so your knees are fully bent at 90-degree angles and your arms are crossed in front of you -- keep your back as straight as possible. Next, use your quad muscles to jump as high as you can off the floor; as you jump, extend your legs and raise your arms up as well. Immediately move back into the squat position once you land and repeat. Do a series of 10 jumps before resting after the completion of a set. Perform 2 to 3 more sets.
Benefits: Among parkour participants, handstands are quite common, which require a great deal of upper-body strength. This is not only to hold the handstand position, but also to rebound out of it as many of participants choose to do. Pull-ups will help to develop that strength as well as work on your proprioception abilities (awareness of body position in space).