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NovaCity Announces FREE Youth Sessions

Early in September, NovaCity, an activities center based in Rotherham and Barnsley, announced that they would be running FREE youthwork sessions.

I spoke with Liam Norbury (@liamnorbury), a parkour coach at NovaCity, who kindly gave us some information on the free sessions.

The sessions are funded by Rotherham MBC, the universal youth work programme. The aim of the session is to help contribute towards tackling the cost of living crisis by providing free access to physical activities in the community, not just in parkour, but all the activities we do. (The sharing ideas and movement to provide a healthy lifestyle.) By using physical activites as a guide, we can then bring in other services that the youth need, and what diversionary activities to contribute to a stronger community.

Liam Norbury, NovaCity Coach

The free Friday sessions at NovaCity Centre in Rotherham are running until March 2023.

The parkour coaches at NovaCity are also running an Under 16s speed competition and jam day in October, with Liam saying “the main focus for the event is to bring the younger community together.”

This kicks off on October 23rd, where they run speed competitions for under 8s, under 12s, and under 16s, before finishing the day off with a jam.

It is clearly apparent that Liam and the team at NovaCity want to serve the community they are in. A recent article from The Metro (Read Here.) stated that

As a result of the bleak financial situation, nearly a third of UK parents said that their child has missed out on a sporting opportunity over the past year because of the costs involved.

Metro Article – Linked Above

Liam and NovaCity’s efforts are truly inspiring. For more information on NovaCity’s sessions, visit their website, linked here.

How To Find A Community – Getting Started With Parkour

Training parkour solo has its benefits. When training on your own, you are entirely focused on yourself and the challenges set in front of you. It’s a really good way to test your mental game when it comes to training.

With that being said, like most sports, parkour sessions with a community or with your friends are always more entertaining than training on your own.

Like most lifestyle sports (skateboarding, rollerblading, scooter, etc) parkour has a huge focus on its community aspect. The sport of parkour is approaching an age of around the mid-thirties. On top of that, it is also one of the first sports that has grown in conjunction with the internet and social media.

Because of this, parkour has become a very tight nit sport. It isn’t uncommon for practitioners to be best friends or know other practitioners up and down the country, or even the world.

When starting parkour, however, this information is not necessarily common knowledge. Today, we are going to give you some tips for finding a parkour community in your area, or, if you are looking to travel somewhere for parkour, how to find local guides or spots within that area.

Google & YouTube Searches

Google is the world’s largest search engine, but not many people know that YouTube, despite being a video-sharing platform, is actually also the second largest search engine.

You can utilise these tools to easily help you find classes, communities, groups, or spots in your local area.

A load of parkour communities loves the idea of people visiting their area to train parkour, and because of this, ‘spot maps’ have been created by these local communities.

A spot map is a Google Map that has a selection of ‘pins’ dropped onto it. These pins will be the locations of spots in that area. It’s perfect if you’re going to visit somewhere and don’t quite know where the good spots for training are.

Spot maps are definitely more common in big cities. seeing as these areas spread far and wide to the smaller towns on the outskirts too.

Parkour brand ‘Norml Brand’ recently featured a post of a London Parkour Spot Map. It’s huge. We’ve attached it below as an example.
It looks daunting at first, but after you nail down a particular area you would like to go to, it’s not as scary.

Let me give you an example of video searching. I started parkour in May 2012. When I started, I knew my town center had some spots, but I hadn’t quite developed that eye for training just yet. I visited the same three spots each training session.

I went onto YouTube and searched “My Location” followed by “Parkour.” In my case, Horsham Parkour. I stumbled across a tonne of videos from a small parkour group called Horsham Movement (who eventually became Storror… that’s crazy.) But these videos gave me a reference point of spots that were in the local town center.

A quick YouTube search of my home town, followed by ‘parkour’

I also stumbled across a second group, called Parkour Sundays. This was back in the day when you could send messages on YouTube, so I reached out and sent them a message and was out training with them, later on, that week.

Sadly, YouTube has since removed the option to message your favorite channels personally, but fear not, there is a solution to all of this.

Social Networks

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, are all called social networks for a reason. A social network enables a connection in both the real and digital world. As mentioned above, parkour’s growth has more or less mirrored those of social networks.

You can see this on Google Trends over time. When comparing ‘Parkour’ next to ‘Social Network’, with the red representing ‘social network’ and the blue representing ‘parkour’ you can see the two follow a similar search pattern (There is a spike in 2010, due to the release of the David Fincher film ‘The Social Network’)

In 2016, a lot of parkour practitioners took to Instagram after they started allowing video content to be published on the platform. This is covered in more detail in a video from ‘JimmyTheGiant’, which you can watch below.

The title of the video aside, the video goes into detail about parkour’s transition to social media.

Back to the topic at hand, many groups have social network accounts and are extremely active on them. If you have found a YouTube video or channel from practitioners in your area, have a look at the top right-hand section of their YouTube channel, or alternatively in the description of their videos. They should have a link to their social media accounts. Here, you can drop them a message and ask about meeting up and training.

Facebook also has a forum-like feature, where people can set up ‘groups’ for parkour in their local area. It’s always worth using Facebook a little bit like a search engine, and seeing what pops up concerning parkour in your local area.

We also have a ‘Get Involved section on our website. Here you can search for your location, and it will bring up parkour parks, indoor facilities, and coaches and organisations that are in or close to your area. You can find that here.

Parkour Classes

A great way to meet like-minded people is to attend parkour classes and sessions.

All over the country, there are parkour classes for all ages and abilities, with some facilities even hosting weekly ‘open jam’ sessions. This replicates outside training in a safe environment, where you can meet new people.

The coaches teaching parkour classes have years of experience within the parkour community, and the likelihood of some of these coaches being in a similar position to you is high. This could help you with spots in your local area, or let you know who the best person to contact is to arrange an outdoor session.

Some parkour coaching organisations even get involved in this themselves, making an effort to train outside with their students in order to help them start their parkour journey outside of the gyms. Team Reality, from Grimsby, does this almost on a weekly basis, where they upload videos to their YouTube channel following the session.

Jams and Events

Without trying to go all business-like on you, networking is key. A load of practitioners within the community hold jam sessions, more so in the summer, and because of this, loads of the community share it around and show up. Making an effort to go to these events to meet other people who train in the sport helps blossom friendships that last for years.

There are some general unwritten rules to follow at a jam, which we will cover in a later post, but these events help you meet practitioners of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, and friendships are spawned, meaning that if you would like to train with other people, you now have those connections dotted around the country to do so.

Parkour for Women

At Parkour UK, we promote the participation of all ages, genders, identities, orientations, and backgrounds.

We understand that currently, the sport is male-dominated. We also understand the hesitation that individuals may face when wanting to enter or participate in the sport.

We are incredibly proud and grateful that the parkour community has taken the step to eliminate the barriers to entry with classes and events for women, transgender & non-binary becoming a focus for individuals and organisations within our sport.

Photo by Scott Bass

Below, we have listed some classes, courses, or jams that occur to help promote the inclusion and practice of parkour for those groups.

Nova City – On August 1st of this year, at their venue, Nova City ran a jam to allow Women of all ages from around the UK to train together in a safe environment.

During the day we had  Workshops from professional athletes Rachel Gough and Elise Bickley. This event was also featured on ITV news.

On their website, Nova City state;

When we return to normality we will be hosting some girls only introductory sessions, workshops with some of the country’s top female athletes and creating  loads of media aimed at inspiring the next generation of young women to start their Parkour journey.

Train Hard – The Parkour Project – Dorset-based parkour coaching organisation Train hard run The Parkour Project in Poole. On a Saturday morning, they run a youth & adult women-only parkour session. This is for ages 16+ and is coached by Viv Jackson and her husband, Scott.

We posted an article earlier this year, which you can read here, which highlights the impact of Viv & Scott’s women’s parkour sessions.

One participant of these classes has said;

“I was super nervous…..but everyone has been really kind and friendly and you don’t have to be super fit or super mobile to do it. It [the class] comes with warm ups and all the drills that we do before we do any Parkour. “

The BBC also featured a piece covering and highlighting the success of Train Hard’s female-centered classes.

This Girl Jam – Hosted by Rachel Gough, an athlete who is sponsored by ‘The Motus Projects and has competed in numerous competitions.

Rachel hosts the ‘This Girl Jam’, which is a jam for women and non-binary parkour participants. This allows women to have a safe space to train or try the sport without the fear of judgment.

The jam is hosted annually, but Rachel has plans to try and host the jam on a more frequent basis.

Do you have any more tips for finding a community? Let us know your thoughts down below, and share this post with someone who might be trying to start parkour.

Get Started With Parkour – A Guide To Shoes

Unlike most other sports, parkour does not require a load of equipment to get started.

All you need is some joggers and a pair of parkour shoes and you’re good to go.

When it comes to shoes, however, some of the top Google search results are for “The Best Parkour Shoes.”

To help you #GiveParkourAGo, we have compiled a list of what to consider when choosing your parkour shoes and a list of what the community is wearing right now.

Photo by Storror.com

**DISCLAIMER – WE ARE NOT SPONSORED, PAID BY, OR RECEIVE ANY GAIN FROM THE BRANDS OR BUSINESSES LISTED IN THIS ARTICLE. THE INFORMATION HERE IS COMPILED FROM THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE AUTHOR, AND FROM THE INPUT OF PARTICIPANTS WITHIN THE PARKOUR COMMUNITY**

Before we start, there are loads of videos online that explain this in great detail. We have listed one from Kie Willis of Storm Freerun below. You can give that a watch before you read the rest of the article.

Kie Willis from Storm Freerun talks about parkour shoes.

There are 3 factors to consider when choosing a shoe for parkour & freerunning. These factors are grip, cushioning & durability.

Grip

The grip on your shoes is without a doubt one of the most crucial things when considering what shoes to wear for parkour (For beginners, it is also one of the most neglected!).

Without the grip, when you’re jumping to walls and rails or trying to climb up a wall, there will be little to no friction. With that in mind, we recommend opting for shoes with a flat rubber sole, instead of foam.

Flat rubber soles help you maximize the amount of friction between yourself and the surface you’re jumping to.

The Farang Elevate Parkour Shoe boasts a single sole piece of rubber, perfect for parkour. – photo by Farang.

Any kind of rubber sole is great for grip. However, we recommend going for a flat, single piece of rubber on the sole of the shoe. This is incredibly important on the ball of the foot and toe section of the shoe.

Having rubber that is sectioned on the bottom of the shoe runs the risk of snagging and tearing on surfaces quite easily. As mentioned in Kie’s video, sectioned soles aren’t all bad. If you find a shoe with a sectioned sole, try your best to go for vertical sectioned cuts, rather than horizontal.

The photo to the right is taken from the ‘Farang – Elevate’ parkour shoe, which boasts a flat, single sole piece of rubber on the bottom.

Cushioning

With cushioning, your personal preference really comes into consideration here.

Within the last few years, loads of participants in the sport have opted for skate shoes, popular for their ‘zero-drop’ aspect.

The term zero-drop means little to no cushioning at all. Popular shoes within the sport include the Nike Alleyoop’s or the Adidas 3MC.

If you’re new to the sport, then perhaps to start with, you would like to opt for cushioning that is more supportive of the arch and the heel. This can also be the case for those who may be training with lots of heavy impacts.

Adidas offers a wide range of thicker shoes, which can be found on their website or in your local high street sports store.

However, you may want to work on your technique, and touch and really want to feel your landings when training. That is really where the zero-drop aspect comes in. It goes without saying that when you train with less cushioning, you are going to feel the landings a little bit more, which in turn, will allow you to work on your technique, touch, and landings.

We’ve attached three photos below demonstrating what a high-cushioned, mid-cushioned, and zero-drop shoe looks like. Each is worn by the parkour community.

Durability

Finally, we have durability. There are some key things to look for when it comes to the durability of the shoe. You want to look for a shoe that is incredibly durable but doesn’t weigh too much.

We recommend looking for a mesh upper. The mesh upper allows the foot to breathe whilst training. Make sure to also check that the toe area is reinforced. Mesh without the toe cap will result in the mesh tearing easily. For a good example of this, check out this image of this Adidas shoe.

If you look on the left-hand side, you notice there is a little bit more protection in the area of the big toe. This is to add durability to help reinforce the mesh.

This allows the shoe to be incredibly lightweight, but also durable. It is the perfect combination of both.

With durability, you get what you pay for. It may be worth investing a little bit more money into your parkour footwear just for longevity purposes.

What does the community recommend?

On our Instagram, we asked the parkour community what shoes they are wearing right now. We’ve attached some of the most common answers below!

Supporting Parkour Culture

With parkour being a sport that is still in its infancy, we really try to promote and support parkour culture wherever we can.

We’ve listed below some parkour companies that have created parkour-specific trainers. These are designed by practitioners, for practitioners. These options are a little more costly than some of the big brands such as Nike or Adidas, but by purchasing from a parkour brand, you are helping support the parkour industry.

Team Farang – The Farang Elevate and Elevate Light Parkour Shoe

Storror – The Storror Tens (Another shoe is also in the works)

Storror Tens Parkour Shoe
The Storror Tens parkour shoe

The Strike Movement Haze (WaveZilla Edition)

Strike Movement Wavezilla Shoe
Shoe image by Strike Movement

The Ollo Alpha Shoes

Ollo Alpha Parkour Trainers

Summary

When it comes to parkour shoes, there really are no right or wrong shoes. Through my decade of experience in parkour, I have tried and tested many different pairs of shoes, some may not have worked for me, but other people have found them perfect.

Test out some shoes over time, and see which ones work best for you. And if you find any hidden gems, make sure you let us know!

Movement Card develops for the UK

Parkour UK has supported the development and completion of 3 new Movement Cards for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to aid making practitioners and the public aware of the laws regarding the use of public and private space.  

The Movement Card – created by Ukemi and Parkour Outreach – aims to educate and inform all who have interactions with people moving in the public domain. The card is part resource, part research and part response – created to promote freedom of movement. 

The project was part of our Development Associates programme and Hugo Knowles, Sam Strickson and Matt Hinchley played a key role in this programme.  The aim of the project was to develop the movement card product based on the already existing Scotland card for the rest of UK adhering to the differing laws between the countries. 

To achieve this our DAs spoke with Gordon Tsang to get an understanding of what the movement card was and why it was important to practitioners. They were also provided expertise and documentation from Alex May – of Serious Play Parkour – containing information about parkour, training outdoors and the legality of parkour in public spaces. 

This led the team to share a survey with the community where they listened to views on “What the law says vs what the culture says?” and compared the lawful rights to space with the experiences that practitioners have had out while training.

The surveys gave them some valuable insight into practitioners’ experiences with the law and found that although roughly 75% of the practitioners trained either daily or weekly, almost half of practitioners didn’t know their legal rights when training in public spaces.

When asked about common misconceptions about parkour comments such as
“That we are a high risk / threat – will either break something or seriously hurt ourselves. It’s seen more as a pass-time for energetic kids rather than a practised discipline.” 

and 

”They think parkour is just jumping off things without any real training. That it’s just random children playing on walls. They could see it as antisocial, although, this is more to do with the person. People that own companies or do sports see it as positive” 

emerged.

When asked ‘What do you wish security / police / property owners knew about Parkour?‘ One practitioner replied:

“That the last thing we want to do is damage something and that we just want to train. It would also be nice if they realised that when we train in these spaces, it often discourages other antisocial behaviour, drugs and alcohol.“

Practitioners talked about being challenged for various reasons which while on the surface seem valid, are actually in contrast to the law or fail to identify a realistic reason that spaces cannot be used for the practice of Parkour.

The research from the survey highlighted commonly known issues and reinforced the good work already carried out by Ukemi and Parkour Outreach which led to the creation of the original Scottish Movement Card. This mean that the work to adapt the card for the other UK nations could be carried out but still create a consistent message and aesthetic for the cards. 

The information on the law that Alex provided helped to form the England, Wales and Northern Ireland adjustments while keeping consistent with the overall principle and messaging in regards to educating movers about their rights to space.

In April the new cards digital assets were published at Movement Card – Right to the City (mvmnt-card.com) and physical cards will available to print.

Parkour UK intends to print the movement cards in future to be included with memberships and to reach the UK community in a number of ways over the coming year.  

We would like to thank Hugo, Sam and Matt for keeping the project moving forwards. We are also grateful to Alex May for his expertise in regards to the law and his contributions allowed us to develop the cards with confidence. Thanks to David Banks from Ukemi and Gordon Tsang from Parkour Outreach for their support, guidance and feedback they given to the project.

Whats next for the Movement Card?

 “We want to create a global database for the Movement Card to empower practitioners with knowledge about their rights to move in the public domain. This will allow us to draw comparisons between countries and understand the best examples of freedom to move so that we can advocate greater rights for all” said Gordon Tsang.

If you are interested in developing a Movement Card for your country – please contact the Movement Card team at hello@mvmnt-card.com

Parkour UK partnership with Sport England

Parkour UK are delighted to announce funding of £1.575 million to help support and grow parkour participation and use the sport to tackle inequalities in England over the next 5 years. Together, we will be able to build resources and capabilities that ensure more people have equal access to sport and physical activity.

The money is part of the recent funding announcement from Sport England, supporting 121 partners with a total of £550 million. This includes other National Governing Bodies, Key Charities, Safeguarding Organisations and Active Partnerships.

Dan Newton, CEO at Parkour UK commented on the announcement 

“This announcement is really exciting and a major step forward. It will allow Parkour UK to build the infrastructure to serve, elevate and add value to the parkour community. It is the result of the combined effort of the staff and board, and the award gives the organisation an unprecedented level of financial security to help deliver our Moving with Purpose strategy.  

We will make an impact across the whole spectrum of the parkour community; this includes both the ‘structured’ and ‘informal’. The structured community is where people access ‘formal’ parkour classes indoors and outdoors and are influenced by workforce of coaches, venue managers and coaching companies. The informal community is where people learn by sharing their practice with friends without structure. They are influenced by athletes, practitioners and content creators and online content for engagement.

The investment will provide the capacity and resources to act on what we know about the structured community immediately and continue the discovery phase with the informal community. Our plans align closely with the ‘5 Big Issues’ set out in Sport England’s ‘Uniting the Movement Strategy’ and the ambition to tackle inequalities.”

Dr Tracy Rea, Chair of Parkour UK believes:

“Parkour is a true lifestyle sport, and we believe that accessibility of sports like these are a key driver of lifelong participation in physical activity, tackling inequality, and in the attitudes people have to staying healthy. 

Parkour UK has a robust strategy for the next four years that moves our organisation from justification to amplification as we aspire to serve the parkour community, help grow our membership, and offer more innovative products. 

The funding from Sport England will enable us to realise our ambitions and will make a positive contribution to people from all demographics being able to take part. This investment will go a long way to progressing the sport in the UK.”

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO at Sport England, said:

“At the heart of our strategy ‘Uniting the Movement’ is a relentless focus on tackling inequalities to help everyone get active – no matter who they are, where they live, or what their background is. We cannot do this alone, and that’s why we are building a movement of partners that share our goal to level up access to sport and physical activity.”

Parkour UK are currently advertising some part time vacancies to join the team, we are looking for forward thinking and curious individuals who want to help engage the community and inspire more people to participate. Further details can be found at http://www.parkour.uk/work-with-us

Train Hard Parkour sees increase in women in Parkour after funding support from local council

Train Hard Parkour based in Poole have seen a strong increase in women attending their parkour classes after running a series of women’s courses over the last 6 months. In September 2021 Train Hard received a significant grant from BCP council via the Bounce Back Challenge with support from Parkour UK through application process. This funding was aimed at bringing those participating less in physical activity into sport.

Train Hard saw this as a great opportunity to engage with women – who are under-represented in Parkour – and introduced 165 new women and girls into Parkour over a series of ‘Intro to Parkour’ sessions for various age groups ranging from 6 years old up to adults.

Viv Jackson, Phoebe Harley and the team at Train Hard created a positive, welcoming environment for a variety of women who were introduced to parkour in The Parkour Project – Train Hard’s venue. 

With a focus on creating an entry point suitable for beginners, the team worked with many women who were completely new to parkour – preparing the women for the sessions and ensuring they felt comfortable:

“I was super nervous…..but everyone has been really kind and friendly and you don’t have to be super fit or super mobile to do it. It [the class] comes with warm ups and all the drills that we do before we do any Parkour. “

Said one participant

The sessions have really helped set a precedent of more women attending the classes at the Parkour Project more regularly with a proportion of the women moving from their ‘Intro to Parkour’ block into the main regular classes. 

The BBC have covered the success of Train Hard’s work in this piece below.

Initiatives like Train Hard’s help to tackle a wider challenge across the UK of engaging women in sport and physical activities. Parkour can be used as a key tool to tackle inequalities in regards to access and attitudes towards taking part in sport. 

“Unfortunately women are less likely to be active now than they were before the pandemic. Women struggle to be active for many reasons, not least because of fear of judgement and feeling unwelcome in sport and physical activity settings. Initiatives like Train Hard’s encourage more women to get active by providing a great atmosphere for them to experience a sense of freedom and fun in a non-judgemental setting. We need more initiatives like this across sport to help women return to activity post-pandemic.” 

Said Liz Prinz of Women in Sport. 

If you are interested in taking part in Parkour at The Parkour Project you can find out more here and if you want to find classes in other areas you can check out Parkour UK’s class finder here