A few weeks ago, as I was typing into Google “Parkour in Madison WI”, I had high hopes and was begging for their to be results. Real results, because I wanted (No, NEEDED) to join a Parkour group in Madison. Google once again provided what I had searched for and I arrived at this website: Wisconsin Parkour
After jumping through the links and getting information, I arrived at the conclusion that for the winter, I could join Gymfinity. They provided Parkour classes for an hour and a half each week twice a week. Could I have gotten any luckier? Of course.
That week I had to take a ride out to Apple Wellness in Fitchburg to replenish our stock of recovery drink mix. The reason we drive 30+ minutes to get our recovery drinks there can be found in my post, An Apple A Day, Will Make Success Stay! The reason I state that, in addition to finding a place to practice Parkour, I was lucky enough to discover that the place I would be training is right down the street from Apple Wellness.
The day we took a trip to Fitchburg, we stopped at Gymfinity to get more information. The first bit of information was that the class was only being held once a week, not twice. But they still had the Parkour workshop every other Saturday. The second bit of information was that the first class was free. The third bit of information was that there are two trainers and only a few participants each week.
Vaulting to the present, it is three days after I participated in the first free session of Parkour training. I can’t say I am still sore from the workout, since I lifted weights today, but I sure remember how my entire body was sore the day after Parkour training. A bit of quick information so you can follow the rest of the post easier; Gymfinity is a large gymnasium typically for gymnastics. It has everything. I would be happy to list all it has, but I am not an expert gymnast and I have yet to learn the proper names of all the training equipment. I will definitely learn the right names of the equipment for next time. Now, I am going to run through the list of activities I participated in and summarize with a Life Training lesson. Afterall, the reason I write about Parkour is to tell everyone that it is much more than a physical sport, it’s a life sport.
7:30 – 7:40 Learned new stretching methods that the two trainers used with our warm-up.
7:40 – 8:00 Trained endurance with core workout moves. Ex: Everyone had to hold a plank while the first person in line would crab walk around the large square line that surrounded the area we occupied. When they reached the kiddy corner of the square, they would have to do a side plank and hold it while the next person in line transitioned from his plank to crab walking around the square. They would then have to do a side plank and hold it while the next person in line went. We did this three or four times with different exercises.
8:00 – 8:20 Practiced balance techniques by stepping and periodically jumping to small semi-spherical squishy balls and landing on the balls of our feet. We would have to jump to each one as quickly as possible without falling over or stepping on the floor. We did a few different unique activities with this and it seemed to really tune in foot-eye coordination and balance.
8:20 – 8:45 Exausted ourselves by vaulting continuously over and under polls in different methods. We also spent a short time leaping off a 5 foot box to bars, cat walking up and shimmying across. While I excelled in the vaulting since we got to do my favorite (Monkey Vault), I received some extra advice from one of the trainers with the cat walking. I was using my muscles instead of momentum to get up, exhausting myself even more.
8:45 – 9:00 Played on all the different gymnastic objects and set up obstacles for ourselves. Quite plainly, it was free time that we got to jump, vault, run, and Parkour however we wanted.
So far in this post I have used the plural, “we”. It’s time to fess up that I was the oldest of the group of four participants. The other three were 12 and 13 year olds. It was quite a shock at first and I did not think I would want to go back. I was hoping to find a place to Parkour that I could make friends, not get a babysitting job. In the end, I think I had higher energy and got more enjoyment out of the hour and a half because of the passion, freedom, and overall exuberance that was continuously radiating from the kids. So, what lessons other than Parkouring lessons did I learn?
1. Just because we can do something easily, does not mean we are doing it easily.
We often pride ourselves a bit too much with our strengths. For example, while performing the cat walk, I would muscle my way up as if I were doing a pull up. The correct way would be to kick your foot and propel yourself up and then bend forward so that you are only lifting the bottom half of your body over the edge instead of all of it. I suppose you can make this directly proportionate with the saying “Work smarter, not harder”. Though, even for those who tend to always work smarter, I find that they fail to use their intelligence in the ways they are already strongest.
2. Being young, you actually have the advantage.
In the workplace it is always suggested that because you may be young, that you are underqualified and can’t play with the “big boys”. However, you can see in my post that boss’s, worldwide, are making a huge mistake. Not only are they making a large mistake, but they are losing productivity, losing employees positive attitudes and self-assurance, losing the efficiency and quick-twitch mentalities in the workplace. How? Because they are avoiding the younger generation. I succeed so well in my office with the other older co-workers (I’m 19 and they are 40+) because I motivate them to stay on the level of work ethic that I perform at. I bring out the best in them, their younger versions of themselves. Call me naive, but I am not as down on the world as those who have lived on the planet 40+ years. (Actually, I’m not even as negative as most 19 year old’s). Surrounding yourself with whomever is “young” to you will always be beneficial, whether its in a gymnasium, at home, or in the workplace. No doubt, whatsoever.
3. Cushion, lots of cushion! Others, and maybe even you, will call what I am about to tell you, planning to fail. I however, believe it to be creating a safety net because I am going to make a risk. (A huge risk) During the last 15 minutes of Parkour training, we got to move the equipment around and I got to really test myself. With a running start, I jumped onto a 5 foot box to jump up to the 12 foot box and vault over it (only using my hands to touch the 12 foot box that had roughly a four foot width that I would have to vault across). I had a trainer hold the 12 foot box so that it would not tip over as I used my hands to vault over it. However, he held it in one direction but not another and it tipped over as I pushed off of it. The result: Instead of landing on my feet, I landed completely on my side. Luckily, I landed on the cushioned mat that was there for that exact reason. I was safe. Having that cushion there allowed me to take a bigger risk than I thought I could honestly accomplish successfully.* Now I have to ask you. Instead of avoiding the risks in life and in business, what are you doing to cushion your landing?
*On a side note, I would have made it, had the trainer held the 12 foot box from both angles.
Stay Positive and Just Because You Place A Cushion Before You Make A Risk, Does Not Mean You Will Need The Cushion
Garth E. Beyer