Parkour is the daring and exhausting sport that makes a playground out of urban landscapes.
Whether it’s climbing, swinging, vaulting, rolling or all the activities together, the new sport is about freedom and creativity. In Parkour there are no rules.
But now the movement that was born on the streets of Paris is moving from the concrete jungle to the padded walls of indoor gyms across the nation. Gyms all over the country, including in New Jersey, Denver and Los Angeles, offer the sport, turning all that creative energy into an intense workout.
“I think it’s great, honestly, because it’s spreading the movement,” said Parkour trainer Luciano Acuna Jr.
In Brooklyn, N.Y., at the Beast gym, Parkour instructors invite everyone to test the limits of their bodies. They learn strength, balance and flexibility in a gym without any dumbbells or treadmills.
Parkour is a sport reminiscent of childhood playtime, a time when freedom of expression was second nature.
“If you think back to when you were actually a child, you were in a park doing all these things without even knowing it,” Acuna said.
Parkour buffs, called traceurs, take advantage of basic physics when practicing the sport. They roll when they land to lessen the impact, they harness the momentum of a run to get vertical and they kick off walls to get higher when jumping.
At its highest level, doing Parkour is like running five miles and climbing a mountain. Trainers say a person can burn between 600 to 900 calories per hour depending on the intensity of the activity.
For kids the sport is a little less work and a lot more fun.
“When I see people run up that ramp it sort of reminds me of Spider-Man climbing up a building,” said 7-year-old Lois.
But luckily there are no real buildings to get in the way, giving Parkour fans the chance to bring out their inner action hero.