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Defying vertical limits

Parkour The French fitness routine popular with urban youth works best in cities where space is at a premium. Neyaz Farooquee explains

health and fitness Updated: Feb 25, 2012 01:54 IST
Neyaz Farooquee
Neyaz Farooquee
Hindustan Times

They pirouette in the air, climb steep walls and vault over obstacles with the ease of trapeze artists. What’s a motley group of students, BPO employees, fitness trainers and dance choreographers engrossed in, on the roof of a West Delhi apartment block?

In a city that is crying out for open spaces, a number of youth are going the extra yard to beat the space constraint with Parkour, a new workout that is gaining new converts in the country. Once alien to India, the traditional French martial art first caught the fancy of the city’s fitness fanatics in the 2006 Bond flick Casino Royale, where Daniel Craig chased Sebastien Foucan, a free runner in real life, spectacularly crossing every object that came in his way— whether it was buildings, walls, cranes et al.

Beyond Bond mania, what has helped fuel the popularity of Parkour, which means ‘distance covered’ in French, is the city’s topography. “There is little space in city for outdoor workouts. That’s why Parkour suits the fitness needs of city dwellers the best,” says Avinash Pahuja of the Delhi-based Parkour team, Mutants.

The workout has attracted a sizeable number of women practitioners owing to its unobtrusive nature. “If I were perfecting the moves in a park, I would attract a number of nosy Parkers,” says Shravya Jain, 21, a BPO executive. “Parkour can be practised on a rooftop or in small spaces.”

Not recommended for the faint-hearted, Parkour involves a great deal of running, vaulting, rolling, climbing and jumping. Even as it demands high fitness levels, it’s loved by those who hate to go to the gym.

Besides Parkour, a few other new workouts are also finding favour with urban youth. A recent addition, for instance, is the ‘12-minute equipment-free home exercise’ launched by It can suit the hectic schedule of business travellers as it provides you the luxury of practising it at home, in a hotel or a park.

If Parkour is reminiscent of sports, another interesting workout that helps you put on your dancing shoes is B-Boying. This form of street dancing involves four major steps. Top-rock is performed from a standing position; downrock is done with the hand and feet on floor. And power moves involve circular movements that need
momentum and control.

Boot Camp is another workout that is gradually capturing the imagination of fitness fanatics in the city . This fitness regime involves a series of exercise in succession that can be adapted to facilitate simpler workouts such as as running. “We did exactly this during the Delhi Half Marathon last year,” recalls Prachi Gupta of fitness website

Krav Maga, the Israeli form of hand-to-hand combat, helps you perfect moves such as striking, grappling and wrestling. And then Jukari, which means ‘to play’ in Italian, is a workout that involves being suspended mid-air through harnesses. One of the few places that teach Jukari in the national capital region is Fitness First. Many more people in the city are moving from machine-led exercises like the treadmill and cross trainer and experimenting with workouts that challenge more than an isolated set of muscles.

And then, there is always good old James Bond for inspiration.

The workout-cum-sports routine includes running, jumping,
vaulting, rolling and climbing. Requires high levels of fitness and flexibility in the body.
Where: Workshop centres at a neighbourhood near you
For more: Call Avinash Pahuja for free training at 9873274810

The 12-minute equipment-free home workout
A combination of cardiac and plyometric exercises, the best thing about the routine is
its flexibility.
Where: Tips on the Internet
For more: Read a training
manual online at

Boot camp
A high-power and high-energy combination of different forms of exercise, the workout is
suitable for those who hate to sweat it out in a gym. Last year, almost a thousand people used an improvised version at the Delhi Half Marathon.
Where: Get lessons at
Lodhi Garden
For more: Call Prachi Gupta of at 41040070

B-Boying and B-Girling
Also known as ‘Breakdancing’ or breaking, this popular form of street dancing involves four major steps that require strength and equilibrium.
Where: Shiamak Davar’s dance studio at Nehru Place, among other dance studios
For more: Call 2629659

It involves suspension and
cardio work-out using a series of loops to attach your arms and legs as you stretch, push, climb and swing.
Where: Certified trainers at Fitness First, Gurgaon.
For more: Call 96542-98834

Krav Maga
An Israeli martial art involving hand-to-hand combat and techniques such as striking, grappling and wrestling.
Where: Learn the nuances of the form of self-defence at
the Krav Maga India
headquarters in Saket
For more: Call 4176 4207

First Published: Feb 25, 2012 01:41 IST