Free running -- or Parkour -- got its start as an extreme sport in France. Free running is a type of acrobatics usually practiced in urban areas but also performed in rural settings. Participants known as "traceurs" negotiate through various obstacles and structures at different heights and angles as swiftly as they can and using only their bodies, according to American Parkour. Throughout history, African tribesmen relied on a version of free running to efficiently negotiate jungle terrain during hunting, and military personnel engaged in a form of Parkour to gain advantage over enemies, according to an article on Reuters.com. Parkour is gaining momentum in the U.S. as an extreme sport and a kind of meditation.
Watch and learn from a Parkour group before you begin Parkour training. Free running is a challenging but dangerous sport. If you try and take on moves you don't understand or you're not ready for, it could prove fatal. Safety is key to enjoying and excelling in Parkour, says American Parkour. Meet and learn from other free running enthusiasts at local "jams" -- Parkour meetings and events -- through Parkour organization calendars and directories, such as APK U.S. Parkour Links and Directory and USA National Calendar.
Test your physical fitness level with Parkour organization fitness challenges before getting started with free running/Parkour training, such as the American Parkour warm-up. Successfully perform the recommended warm-up, which involves a running challenge and calisthenics, including squats, pullups and pushups, as well as agility drills and stretches, to discover your fitness level for Parkour.
Start out slowly with Parkour training and "work on always being in control," suggests American Parkour. Refine important free running movements such as landing and rolling before anything else. Practice efficiently conquering lower and smaller moves and jumps next before adding height and tricks to your routine. A professed goal of traceurs is to elegantly "traverse any terrain as swiftly and fluidly as possible" with ultimate effectiveness and precision, according to Parkour Generations.
Cross-train and build stamina, power and flexibility to prepare for free running. Perform Parkour exercises most days of the week, such as "Ice Cream Makers" -- a type of swinging pull-up -- or "Cat Hang Dynos" -- a short and repetitive structure climbing exercise, recommends American Parkour. Another important goal for many traceurs is to "master their own physical vessel," but some train and participate in the sport just to keep healthy and fit," according to Parkour Generations.
Practice some sort of meditation, yoga or tai chi to prepare for the spirituality of Parkour. Unlike other extreme sports, free running is a noncompetitive discipline that places an emphasis on the mind-body-spirit connection. It requires self-awareness and self-control over all three -- oneness. According to Primal Fitness gyms free running/Parkour instructor Mark Toorock, "Parkour is a method to train the body and mind using obstacle coursing as the medium."
Train with professional instructors if you want to take free running to the next level as a serious athlete. Although you might find reliable Parkour instructors at local jams, you can get training from certified personal trainers experienced in free running through fitness organizations such as Primal Fitness.
Enter Parkour events as a trained free running athlete. Find out about and attend local jams through Parkour organization calendars and directories, such as APK US Parkour Links and Directory and USA National Calendar.