Parkour is for Girls Too!

DC Women try Parkour through Free, Monthly Meetups.

Girl Group

Photo: Peter Waterman

It’s no secret, there are more guys than girls in the parkour community. But why? Surely girls are just as creative and adventurous. So, how can we get more women in parkour?

To answer this question, we made it our objective to create new opportunities for them to come together and train.

Through online platforms including Facebook, ActiveLife DC, and Meetup.com, we reached out to women from all around DC, Maryland, and Virginia. We wanted to recruit girls who were already part of the parkour community as well as those who have always wanted to try it but never found the right opportunity to do so — something we hear a lot from new members!

Inspired by our own experiences, and with the support of American Parkour (APK) located in Washington, DC, we began holding free monthly women’s parkour meetups at a local park. Our overall objective: get more women and girls outside jumping, climbing, and playing.

high-five

Photo: Peter Waterman

Now the big question: Men and women alike are asking, “Why single-sex training?” There are many pros and cons, and we recognize this is a larger discussion than this article allows. As a brief explanation, we approach female-only meet-ups as an entry point for women who prefer training, especially initially, with other women. Perhaps due to the public’s perception of the ‘typical’ parkour athlete, we often find that beginners in particular feel intimidated or out of place in a male-dominated environment. Picture a middle-aged mom seeing pictures of parkour classes or local jams. She may think it’s not a place for her, that she wouldn’t fit in. Perhaps she just wants to challenge herself alongside other women. That’s where our meet-ups come in.

One of our traceuses states, “As much as I love hanging out with guys, I enjoy learning new exercises and skills with just women around–I’m personally more comfortable not having to compare myself to guys…as I pick up new skills.”

However, for women who do feel comfortable with coed training, we encourage them to attend a jam or train at the gym; we do not want our meetups to limit or preclude that in any way! In fact, many of our women go on to take coed classes at the APK Academy.

girl speed

Photo: Peter Waterman

Currently, every month, women from the DMV area come together to learn, practice, and improve their parkour skills. Although each meetup looks a little different, we always warm up as a group and give a brief introduction to parkour including safety reminders and basics such as landings, stretching, and quadrupedal movement. We focus on specific skills (precisions, vaults, rolls, cat leaps, wall runs, etc.) then play parkour games or come up with different courses to develop flow and creativity. In addition to being a lot of fun, a great workout, and motivating experience for our individual participants, as leaders and members of a larger (coed) community, we are excited to be bringing new members to the family!

The results have been incredible so far. We have a consistent turnout of about 15-20 women every month, totaling more than 70 participants. We’ve received lots of positive feedback. One of our regular participants expresses her enthusiasm for meetups, “Love, love, love these activities! This is a great way for any woman to be introduced to the very basics of parkour–or for those with more experience to continue improving their skills. It’s truly an all-skill-level meetup!”

Girls Cat

Photo: Peter Waterman

We strive to create a fun, safe, and creative training environment. While we think it is beneficial for some women to train together, we hope that women at our meetups will walk away with the same lessons ALL parkour practitioners learn; by exploring our environment, respecting ourselves and the community, and sometimes just by playing, human beings are capable of amazing things!

As we approach our one-year anniversary, we couldn’t be happier that more and more women are sharing our love for parkour and becoming a part of the local community.  While we will continue to inspire women in the DMV area, we also hope to provide opportunities and access to information for even more females across the country.

This is why we were so excited to learn that Katherine Block, a traceuse in Minneapolis, is starting a Twin Cities women’s meetup group. Read her article below to learn more about how she wants to inspire women, why women training together can be powerful, and her personal journey through parkour.

http://katherineblock.com/blog/2014/4/inspiring-women-to-get-out-and-play

Climb-Up

Photo: Peter Waterman

For more information or if you’re interested in starting a women’s parkour meetup in your community, feel free to contact us at  girlsmeetup@americanparkour.com.

The  above  article was written by three very talented traceuses. They add a lot to APK and the Parkour community in DC.

Melanie

Melanie is currently a high school English teacher and gymnastics coach planning to pursue an advanced degree at Columbia University next year. A former collegiate gymnast, Melanie now enjoys jumping, flipping, and swinging over obstacles. She’s also a big fan of high fives, smiling, and traveling.

Kate

Kate is a high school Physics teacher by day and traceuse by night. A gymnast for most of her childhood, Kate continues to express her love for movement through parkour. Kate enjoys long walks, I mean flips, on the beach and sunsets.

Adrienne

Adrienne is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University. When she’s not trying to solve the world’s problems, she spends most of her time training parkour, baking things her paleo roommates won’t eat, and doing handstands.

Written by

Patrick Witbrod

Patrick is a Technology and Business senior at Missouri S&T where he practices parkour. Constantly trying to improve himself, he's lost 30 lbs because of parkour and martial arts and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.