Parkour is an art in motion. Parkour is to run, to jump, and to roll from place to place. Parkour is to get from “Point A” to “Point B” the fastest. Parkour is for fitness freaks and adrenaline addicts, for stay-at-home sugar junkies and cooped-up crazy people. Indeed, parkour is for none other than for those looking to get the most out of an otherwise drab urban environment.
Ybor City, known worldwide for its cuisine and entertainment, is also a worldwide “hot spot” for parkour. In September of last year, as part of Red Bull’s “Art in Motion” competition, parkour athletes from around the world were invited to compete in this annual event. These parkour practitioners, or “traceurs”, came from all corners of the globe: France, England, Brazil, Austria, and the United States, just to have a chance at showcasing their skills many a spectator to see.
Parkour may seem like a crazy and grueling sports, and that’s because it is. Traceurs, in their everyday practice regiments, will jump off of walls, vault over objects, and run great distances, just to push themselves to the expectations the sport sets for their bodies. Parkour is a sport for those who have always wanted to experience the world for what it really is; for those who don’t mind stepping past the boundaries society has set for them. The great thing about this sport is that one does not need fancy equipment, nor do they need to join a gym or pay any membership fees. Parkour is the human body at its simplest, because it utilizes nothing more than one’s own muscles and joints, and the obstacles one’s mind is willing to overcome.
As a fellow traceur myself, I was originally concerned about where I was going to practice the sport. If you are interested and parkour and feel the same way, do not worry: there are “hot spots” everywhere. One prime example of a marvelous place to practice parkour is Tampa’s own University of South Florida. With its many benches, railings, steps, and half-walls, USF is an sanctuary for anyone hoping to get into parkour. Without the intimidating obstacle height of many other “hotspots,” the university offers many opportunities to get out and fling one’s self around like an urban chimpanzee.
If one is hesitant about jumping right in to parkour, there are other ways to start. For one, any upcoming traceur can inquire at Xcel360, a parkour and gymnastics gym in Tampa (right off of 41, on Gunn Highway). For only $10 per session, with sessions lasting two hours on Saturday nights, from 7-9PM, one can receive instruction from world-renowned traceurs, and exercise in a friendly environment, free of competition from more experienced athletes.
All in all, parkour is the ultimate expression of freedom, made tangible by the human body. Any ol’ John Doe can begin practicing parkour, as long as his body will allow him to do so. One does not need to possess master acrobatic abilities, nor any previous experience with other similar sports (though that does help). Any practice area will do: a playground, a set of railings, a few walls in close proximity to each other; you name it, it is able to be overcome by a traceur. Additionally, a beginning traceur needs only to be in a moderately fit condition, so that his or her body does not give out on them in the middle of a session. However you plan to go about practicing parkour, remember these rules:
- Do not push yourself beyond what you can’t handle.
- Make sure your sessions are safe. (for the most part)
- Have as much fun as humanly possible.