When I first started my Parkour training, I was running around downtown on my lunch breaks.
Definitely not ideal, but I wanted to get out and move. Between work and family, it was tough finding opportunities for play, so I worked with what time I had.
Despite coming back to work a bit damp with sweat and out of breath, my co-workers were thankfully always supportive and encouraging.
I learned a lot during those lunch breaks and eventually started carving out more time for Parkour and recreation. Bringing these three things with me made my experiences much more enjoyable.
Many people I know are chronically dehydrated without even realizing it. It can’t be over-stated how important it is to bring water (or another hydrating beverage) with you to train. I recommend drinking about a liter of water per hour for a 1-2 before training. I’m a big older guy, though, and I need a ton of water, so if that seems like a lot to you, try drinking 20 ounces of water at least half an hour before you go out.
I usually bring my APK Stay Fluid water bottle when I workout or train (I’ve dropped it HARD so many times and it is STILL in amazing shape), but that’s not usually enough for me. Fortunately, one of my favorite spots here in Lincoln, Nebraska has a bathroom and a water fountain nearby. When I think about where I want to train, it definitely helps to consider what public facilities are nearby. Water fountains are usually available in many city establishments like parks, playgrounds, and libraries.
I have a five-gallon jug that I use for camping which is incredibly helpful when training with a group. Everyone can fill their water bottles from that multiple times.
One or two 20-32 ounce water bottles is usually enough for an hour or two of training.
#2: Comfortable Shoes and Clothes
Having a full range of motion will make moving easier and more fluid. Make sure your clothes aren’t restrictive. Can you rotate your arm from your shoulder in a full circle? Can you twist your upper body back and forth? Can you bring your knees to your chest? Can you extend your legs for full jumps and strides? That’s not a complete checklist, but if you feel your clothes resisting those motions, you may want to change.
If you’re working hard, your body will get warm, so wear clothes that you’re comfortable in and won’t make you overheat.
Keep the weather in mind. Layers in the cold and breathable material in the heat works great for me.
As far as footwear, I recommend anything you’re comfortable running and jumping in. A strong sole is great, but anything is fine with the understanding that it will receive some wear.
I love barefoot training, but it’s taken some work to become less painful. If that’s something you’re interested in, start slow. I began by walking and jogging through my neighborhood with some light Parkour before I was able to take bigger jumps. It takes time to develop thick feet.
#3: A Healthy Attitude
Parkour should be fun and enjoyable. If you’re playing or training and find that it’s not, analyze why you feel that way. Part of the beauty of Parkour is that it connects you with your body in ways that modern culture sometimes shadows. I’ve learned a ton about myself from Parkour; not just physical things. A lot of people report that Parkour training helps us overcome obstacles in every sense of the word and that expands to our entire lives.
The Parkour professionals make huge achievements look effortless. Don’t expect to be the best in the world the first time you go out. It takes time to establish the strength and technique that professionals have.
You will take some bumps. When you’re first starting, spend time figuring out your limits carefully. What’s your longest standing jump? Running jump? Can you land on narrow surfaces? How narrow? What kinds of climb-ups can you do? Start slow and low and figure out what you’re able to do before you begin pushing yourself.
Play is part of human nature and makes the body feel awesome.
Be respectful and courteous when training. Avoid damaging property. Test things before you jump or climb on them and don’t play on things you feel you shouldn’t. Even if you’re doing nothing wrong, some people may misinterpret Parkour as problematic, so if you’re asked to leave, don’t resist. When you’re training, whether you intend to or not, you’re a representative of the whole Parkour community and we want to show the world that we care about and respect our fellow humans. When I’ve been asked to leave a spot, I apologize, explain that I was training Parkour, and sometimes even talk about what Parkour is while leaving.
BONUS! #4: Music
Everything else aside, I find it super fun to bring music to a training session. Either through headphones, a mobile device, or Bluetooth speaker, music can really help to set the mood and/or pace of your training. Whether you want to chill and relax or get really intense, having some good music can massively enhance your training.
Stay safe and GL HF (good luck, have fun)!
Picture from APK Store.