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Culture of Fitness: Parkour

Fitness looks different around the world. How do exercise regimens from different cultures compare to a traditional gym routine? This is the second episode of a new series called the Culture of Fitness.

After trying capoeira last week in a figurative visit to South America, this episodes takes us to France and parkour.

For more about parkour and why it is an effective fitness regimen, here is Trevor de Groot, the owner of Play Project in southern Ontario.

Parkour is a sport that involves interacting with obstacles using specific movement techniques such as jumping, climbing, vaulting, swinging and often acrobatics.

It is typically practiced outdoors in urban environments, however, with the increase in parkour’s popularity, practitioners also seek out parkour gyms to supplement their outdoor training.

READ MORE: The Culture of Fitness: Capoeira

Parkour gyms help to physically and mentally prepare parkour athletes by mimicking the obstacles that are found outdoors, and the training conditions of parkour gyms can be modified to suit the training needs of the practitioners.

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This capacity for customization of specific parkour challenges creates effective environments for teaching and learning parkour.

Parkour can be used effectively to develop personal fitness because the assortment of parkour movements provides diverse training options that allow practitioners to continue their training, even during recovery periods.

READ MORE: What’s Your Fitness Age — Senior fitness competition

For instance, if a practitioner’s legs are tired from doing jumps, they can shift their focus to train their swinging skills on the bars to allow their lower body time to recover.

Another benefit is that parkour athletes have a high degree of agency when they are training, which results in parkour challenges being highly satisfying for the practitioner.

As an example, if a parkour athlete’s goal were to traverse across an area without touching the ground, they would have the agency to decide which techniques might be best suited for that specific environment, as if they are solving a puzzle.

Play Project takes pride in providing a safe space for parkour athletes to train and learn.

Another key feature of this series is to compare each exercise regimen to a traditional gym routine. To do that, we’ve enlisted the services of Jenna Gillen, Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology to give her determination of the effectiveness of each method of training.

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University of Toronto assistant professor discusses parkour
University of Toronto assistant professor discusses parkour