“Sometimes you just have to jump.”

by on Sep.24, 2009, under Fitness

People always ask me why I do parkour.  They’re curious why a 28 year old attorney jumps on and off buildings, monuments, rails, stairs, boxes, hills, chairs, desks, animals and almost any other object you can think of.  (I’m kidding about the animals. . .maybe.).  I could tell them that I’m a traceur because it’s fun and reminds of my childhood.  I could tell them that my mental paradigm has completed shifted from looking at things as obstacles to movement to tools for movement.  These would all be half-truths.  The main reason I do parkour is because it helps me conquer my fear.

Now I don’t mean specific fears, even though I’ll willingly admit that I’m afraid of heights.  I mean my fear generally.  The best part of parkour is that it helps you to mentally realize that all fear is the same.  If you’re not sure what I mean, maybe I can put it another way.

If you’re scared of heights (like me), or you have ever jumped off of something high, or climbed too high in a tree and were not sure how to get down, you can recognize that nervous pit in the bottom of your stomach.  That uncertainty and fear of injury.  This is one type of fear that parkour addresses.  Now, it is my belief that parkour doesn’t erase this fear, it instead teaches you how to overcome it.  Once fear has been overcome, it loses its power.  This doesn’t mean the fear goes away.  I can say that after doing 5 months of parkour I’m still just as nervous doing a new cat or kong than I was when I was trying it for the first time at Premier Gymnastics Facility.  The difference is that I can cross that threshold.  I can push my body and mind past that fear.  This is where the title of this post comes into play.  “Sometimes you just have to jump.”  I think I was practicing with Grant in Naperville trying to do a specific cat for the first time when it came to me.  I had been stalling for about five minutes when I realized that sometimes, you just have to jump.    For some reason this made the decision to jump easier.

When I was driving home from the jam that night, I realized that this saying could be applied to almost anything.  You see, I had recognized that nervousness and fear I had felt prior to doing the cat leap.  It was familiar.  I’d felt it before athletic events, before I went up and spoke to a girl at a bar, and even at work when I messed something up and had to tell my boss about it.  During all these stressful situations, there comes a moment where you have to make the mental decision to act.  And to act decisively.  Parkour has helped me to better understand that moment, and to internalize the decision making process necessary to act.

Now, why am I writing all of this?  Well, I feel very strongly about parkour.  I think it is something that everyone should try.  I’ve fallen in love with the discipline and the community and I want to share it with others.  I think that everyone can benefit from the parkour ideology.  I want everyone to be a traceur :) .  I think the best way to do that is to associate parkour with fitness.  Specifically, functional fitness.  This is how I came up with the name of the site – ZombieFit.  If the zombie apocalypse occurred tomorrow, what would you need to survive?  1)  Need to be able to lift heavy things, B) run quickly and for distance, and 3) be able to navigate obstacles in an efficient manner.  You see, parkour is eminently functional.  It is from getting from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible.  What better way to evade the zombie horde?

As far as the lifting of heavy things and running quickly and for distance, I subscribe to the teachings of Coach Glassman’s CrossFit.  I’ve been training through CrossFit for over three years now, and if not for that experience I would never have had the strength or mental toughness to try parkour.  If you don’t know what CrossFit is, spend some time on the website.  It contains an veritable shit ton of information that can be used for overall fitness.  Mainly, CrossFit espouses constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.  It is a purposeful lack of specialization.  It prepares a person for a multitude of situations and circumstances by providing them the tools to be generally fit and strong.  This is absolutely necessary when planning for the zombie apocalypse.  CrossFit creates physically fit persons who are able to adapt to their situation, not plan for a specialized occurrence.  The addition of parkour training to constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity is how you create super heros.

Now, if you’re a member of the CrossFit community or a traceur, this training methodology should sound familiar.  Reason being it is similar to what Primal Fitness does.  And if you have not heard of Primal Fitness I highly suggest you check out their website.  Mark Toorock has done more for American Parkour than probably anyone else, as well as being an incredibly cool guy.  I’ll say this here and now.  ZombieFit does not intend to take anything away from Primal Fitness.  If we become even 1/4 as successful as Primal Fitness we’ll consider this a huge win.

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