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Take a leap

india Updated: Jul 19, 2009 01:31 IST
Sai Raje
Sai Raje
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Spiderman never has to worry about tipping the weighing scales, does he? His scaling walls and railings routine must surely be enough to keep him fit and lean.

It’s quite the same for a traceur practising parkour, an urban adventure sport that combines free running, gymnastics and a bit of martial arts to overcome typical city obstacles, from walls and railings to rooftops and pillars. The aim is to move from point A to point B in the fastest and most efficient way.

As the crow flies
What is Parkour?
It’s an urban adventure sport that combines free running, gymnastics and a bit of martial arts. The aim is to get from point A to B in the fastest, most efficient manner, never mind the walls, fences or buildings in the way.

How do you get started?
Log on tohttp://parkourindia.ning.comto know about parkour in your city.

There are a variety of moves that are used to pull this off, like balancing, drops, rolls (to cushion impact) and precisions (jumping precisely on a spot and balancing). “You can modify these moves to suit your situation. In parkour, there is no right or wrong. It’s all about what you do best,” says Chase Armitage, member of 3Run, UK, one of the best parkour groups in the world today.

It’s not all that easy though. Even doing a half decent job needs years of regular, painful practice. But there are fringe benefits for your fitness. “Parkour keeps you on your toes, literally. It makes your muscles stronger and improves your balance,” says NOS, the coordinator of Parkour Mumbai.

Animesh Tripathi, of Urban Escape, a parkour team based in Delhi, has been practicing parkour for four years. He agrees that parkour is the perfect mix of thrills and fitness, ideal for an urban sport. “I wasn’t in good shape earlier. I had a frail structure and bad posture. But there’s been an enormous improvement; I now have great stamina and core strength,” he says.

Since the moves involve quick thinking to overcome the obstacles that the urban landscape might throw at you, a traceur learns to concentrate better too. “I have had problems with my concentration. But I can feel my concentration improve as I practice parkour. It’s so mentally challenging, am totally enjoying it,” says Riddhi Desai, 22, who started doing parkour two months ago.

The thing to remember is to never push yourself beyond your abilities, says Nigel Rajan, a member of Parkour Mumbai. Also, to be good at parkour, practising other sports like gymnastics, martial arts and weight training is important. “Our group does a lot of indoor gymnastics, weight training and rock climbing to do better at parkour. Your joints, muscles, ligaments get stronger,” says Armitage.

Parkour is not just a sport, but also a lifestyle. If you eat poorly after all that exercise, it’s a sheer waste. NOS is so seriously dedicated to his fitness that all deep fried food is a no-no for him. Armitage and group also have a strict diet: “We stick to a high-protein, complex carbohydrate diet as far as possible.”