Parkour jumps out as a new trend

sprints off a wall
Freshman Lori McEwen’s friend Chris Walsh from Seattle sprints off a wall.

Parkour: the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment. Freshman Lori McEwen shares her insight about the sport she loves.

Imagine you are walking across campus and pass a brick wall, you suddenly see people vaulting over the barrier and launch off a nearby pole. You watch them jump onto a tree branch and dive into a sommersault across the grass. The new recreational trend: parkour.
Many people have never seen these gymnastic-like moves, but parkour is a new sport growing in popularity in countries across the world.
Freshman Lori McEwen learned about parkour when she was a sophomore in high school at Bishop Blanchet in Seattle. She watched classmates perform the stunts. When one of the students asked her to join, he told her to jump over a picnic table without using her hands. It took her about a week to learn the stunt, but she eventually got the hang of it and has been addicted to the sport ever since.
“It’s a whole different way of seeing things, and it’s a release,” McEwen said. “When I parkour, it’s like I can let go of everything that’s on my mind and just focus on my moves. I love that about parkour. It looks like a really physical sport, but it’s mentally challenging, too.”
Although McEwen has not participated in parkour much during her time at
Linfield, she said that she would love to find someone at school who shares the hobby. She described herself as clumsy, always falling up the stairs in high school, but she caught on to the physical sport.
In parkour, individuals use their bodies as a tool to get from one place to another in eccentric ways. They tumble, run or jump off obstacles such as bars, trees, buildings, roofs and anything else you can think of.
YouTube videos of parkour have skyrocketed in popularity. People of all ages are lacing up their tennis shoes and finding obstacles in their everyday paths to navigate over, under and through.
Parkour is comparable to free running, which is more focused on the aesthetics and movements of getting around obstacles rather than the simple activity of getting around at an eccentric angle. Parkour is also seen as a form of martial arts.
Parkour participants usually use urban areas and gyms to explore and catapult over obstacles.
Even though parkour is becoming more popular, parkour gyms are rare. A recently opened gym in Seattle has attracted a lot of newcomers.
Tyson Cecka, owner of Parkour
Visions in Seattle, was thrilled when his gym opened in late October 2009. The gym is the only one located on the West Coast.
Cecka has been practicing the sport for more than five years and started teaching about a year and a half ago. After seeing that many people were abusing the sport by being unsafe, he decided he wanted to open his own gym with friends to teach classes in a controlled environment using his own obstacles.
“The idea with the gym is that we are taking elements from outside, and we are using them under our roof,” he said. “We are also mixing in stuff that we wish we could see outside, like bars on the walls everywhere, walls you can climb, windows you can crawl through.”
Cecka says about 60 members have joined since the gym since it opened.
McEwen and her friends have not yet joined the gym because they are each away from their Seattle homes to attend school.
Cecka also recently started a female parkour class that has been attracting a lot of ladies. Each class averages about 10 people and includes both adults and children.
Cecka also said that each class is about preparing for a situation where you have to be able to get from one area to another, with body instincts strong enough to navigate around any obstacle.
“Parkour is just like how a rock climber sees a mountain,” he said. “They could take a trail around the side of the mountain, but instead they challenge themselves up the wall to get to the top. That’s why I love it so much. Every single day you go out and parkour, you can find something new to train, a new challenge. I’m not a fan of routine, I just go outside and jump on stuff.”

Lauren Ostrom
Features editor Lauren Ostrom can be reached at [email protected]