Updated: Jan 24, 2018
So you want to take your parkour knowledge from our coaching sessions and onto the streets, but you're struggling on where to start?
Every practitioner has been there. You enjoy the coaching sessions because things are set up for you, but here, I am going to be giving you my top 5 tips for starting out training outside of our sessions and helping you adapt your "Runner Vision"
1.) Get a squad together
The best way to fully get yourself into training outside is to get a group of practitioners together. The best way to do this is talk to your friends to see if they want to come give it a try, or maybe you have friends that do it already. Parkour is a non-competitive sport, so instead of competing with the people around you, everyone is willing to help everyone. Message some mates and see if they are down to come training with you.
Alternatively, if you live in a town or a city, there is bound to be at least one or two practitioners in your area. A quick Google/YouTube/Social Media search will help you find people in your area who are willing to train. A lot of towns (such as Horsham) and cities (like Brighton) actually have communal Facebook pages where people can post to train, and anyone is welcome to join. This is a good way to meet practitioners both new and experienced! However, this step isn't a necessity, sometimes training on your own can mean better focus and progression and you're more self-involved. However, starting out, you might prefer to do it with a group of friends.
2.) Finding Spots
At first, you'll go about your local town, looking for obvious jumps. Walls that are a relatively normal distance apart, maybe a Kong Pre. This is where you want your "Runner Vision" to grow. Parkour is about adapting to your environment, so sometimes, the moves and challenges may not be obvious at first glance. You'll have places that will have obvious jumps, and that's when you start limiting yourself.
For example, talking from experience, I lived in Horsham and decided one day I wanted to train in Crawley. I'd heard that there was a Parkour Training Area (PKTA) and figured this would be the best place to start. When I first went there, I couldn't stand it. I found it dull, and boring and there wasn't any "big jumps" or "obvious moves" for me to do. Back then, my training was very narrow-minded. Now, nearly four years later, I love training in the PKTA due to me developing my training using new skills and challenges. If I see some rails, I will see how stylishly I can get over them, can I create a line out of what is in front of me? "That looks like a Cat 180 over there!". As you progress in your training, your runner vision will grow and challenges will be easier to find.
I saw a good video explaining some challenges you can use in Parkour, I will link that here if you want to give it a watch! It's from the dudes at Northern Parkour!
Alternatively, if you know your town has a Parkour scene, hit up the training pages in Step 1 and see if anyone can show you about. Parkour athletes are some of the nicest people in the world and are always welcoming new people on board! Check out YouTube videos too of Parkour in your area for some ideas of sweet spots. I saw this video one time from Storror, showing a secret hidden spot in Horsham!
Step 3.) Parkour Etiquette
I think I'll cover this more in a future blog post, but I'll briefly go over the basics here. Parkour is still relatively new, and that means there is a lot of stigma around it for being "different" particularly whilst training out in the town. (Trust me, Horsham is filled with it). However, it also depends how you react to someone asking you to leave a spot, or generally how you present yourself whilst training that will change people's perception of you.
Picture this scenario, you're training at a spot in the town center. It's 1:00pm on a Saturday, so around lunch time and probably the busiest day of the week. A worker from the food shop next to the spot comes out and swears aggressively at you. Do you A.) Swear and shout back, causing a scene in front of everyone or B.) Apologize for the issues, maybe ask if he/she can be a bit politer next time, and maybe discuss if there is a time when you can come back, perhaps when they're shut. In these sorts of situations, I know it maybe difficult to keep you cool, and there have been times where i have been frustrated and totally lost it, but in order of taking the high ground, you make yourself look like the bigger person. Some people will be nice and ask you to leave, but some people do get verbally aggressive, so just brush it off and go to the next spot.
As well as this, if someone is looking in awe, disgust, confusion, go over and talk to them. Take an interest in them, discuss what you are doing, how you are doing it safely, etc. If you broaden their knowledge and understanding of parkour, they might be willing to accept it more.
And now, I know I sound like a parent when saying this, but don't swear loudly, don't shout, don't play music full blast from the speaker you got for Christmas. Respect that it is a public space and it isn't just you in the area. Also don't damage any property, if something looks unsafe, do not use it. Don't break trees because they're in the way of the jump. Just respect the property and the people around you, as this will make training a lot easier for you & the public.
4.) Try and Train In All Conditions
This one sounds a bit weird but hear me out...
In order to be the best athlete you can physically be, try training in all conditions. Have a late night training session with the squad when it is dark, this will really test your abilities and mental barriers (it's also quieter than during the day, see Step 3). Marrero Gang made a good "Darkour" video which you can watch here where Jamie and Greg train in the dark, testing their abilities. Also try your hand at training in wet conditions as this well help with your placement and control (be careful though, I don't want any bumped heads), PK GEN made a video of this over ten years ago now, but I believe there are still some new ones floating around. Or why not try barefoot training? This is good, usually for a warm up. Start by doing small sessions bare feet (5, 10 minutes maybe) and slowly build up the strength on your feet. Storror made a video a few years ago of them training around Horsham barefoot and it's insane! My man Philly Dee also did loads of these barefoot videos in Cambridge yonks ago! If I can find any, i'll link them here.
Step 5:- Explore
The best part of Parkour training is exploring. I cannot tell you some of the hidden gems I have found on the outskirts of my town centre, or even local neighbourhoods (such as Roffey in Horsham, Gossops Green in Crawley, etc.). Exploring is one of the greatest things because it means you can venture into places you wouldn't typically go, and this is where some of the best spots are. Behind shops normally have some decent running pres, or maybe just around the corner from that small car park there are some really nice challenges. Not everywhere is going to grant you some amazing spots, but that is why looking around is key. See if you can find anything to work on your strength and endurance, maybe find a balance challenge. I can guarantee 8/10 places will give you something to work on at the location!
When I recover from my ankle break, I'll be releasing a short series on my Youtube Channel, www.youtube.com/callunlavington , of hidden spots in and around Horsham and Crawley!
Hit up my instagram, @callunlavington
for any spot worthy potential, updates to come!
So there you have it, the 5 Tips I use for my training! They're sure to help you out, but everyone is different, so just use this as a template!
Train safe my dudes!