Parkour has been growing over the years, attracting an increasing number of practitioners from all walks of life.
But as with any sport or discipline, it comes with its own set of rules and etiquette that should be followed to ensure safety, respect, and success.
In this “Getting Started with Parkour” article, we’ll discuss parkour training etiquette, and how to be responsible and safe when training outdoors, as well as being a great ambassador for the sport!
Before we get started, it’s worth discussing where parkour is typically practiced.
Parkour is primarily practiced outdoors, as well as in parkour facilities (gyms), or gymnastic halls.
This article is going to mainly focus on training outdoors, however, these rules can (and should!) be applied to indoor facilities (like parkour gyms and gymnastic halls!).
When selecting an outdoor training location there are a variety of factors that will not only enhance your experience and keep you safe but will also help grow Parkour/Freerunning as a community, sport, and activity that can be enjoyed and understood by everyone.
Respect The Space & Stay Safe!
Parkour is all about movement and exploration, but it’s important to remember that we are guests in the spaces where we train. Whether it’s a public park, a private gym, or any outdoor location, we must always respect the space and the people around us. This means not damaging property, not leaving or dropping litter, and being mindful of noise levels, especially in residential areas.
Parkour, like all other sports, can also be dangerous if not practiced safely and responsibly. Always be aware of your surroundings, and don’t attempt moves that are beyond your skill level or physical abilities.
To keep safe:
- Always check the surfaces you are moving on, to ensure they are stable and appropriate for your movements and your level of experience. Check that the structures you are using are weight-bearing and can withstand the impacts you may expose them to.
It is beneficial for everyone if you train in spaces that are welcoming and open to Parkour/Freerunning.
Consider the members of the public who may be affected in some way by your training, for example;
- Are there residents nearby who may be disturbed?
- Will you be obstructing highly crowded areas?
- Are there young children nearby who may be influenced by your actions?
Be aware of the context of where you are training and you are far more likely to have an undisturbed session that will lead to improvements in your ability and a more enjoyable training session overall.
We’ve also outlined some more parkour training tips below!
Start Small, and Progress Gradually!
Parkour is a challenging discipline. It’s important to start small and progress gradually to avoid injuries and frustration. Don’t try to perform advanced moves before mastering the fundamentals, and don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Take your time to learn the fundamentals, and gradually increase the difficulty of your training.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
This point is one from our community and builds from one of the points above.
When training, it is important to be aware of your surroundings.
As mentioned above, this includes residents nearby who may be disturbed, obstruction of highly crowded areas, and young children who may be influenced by what you’re doing.
You will also need to be aware when it comes to the people you’re training with.
It’s important to take notice of the other people you are out training with, especially at big jams or events. When you’re looking at a jump or a challenge, it’s important to make sure that the run-up or landing point is not in the way of someone else doing a challenge.
This will also keep everyone safe, making sure no one collides with one another, or gets in each other’s way, enabling a more productive and safe training session.
It can be very tempting and easy to get amped up when trying a challenge. Whether this is listening to music through a speaker, or celebrating yourself or a friend completing a challenge that you/they have been looking at for ages.
Remember, be respectful of other people in the area. Try not to play music too loud in places that are crowded or have a large amount of footfall. Also, if in residential areas, it is important to be respectful of the residents, keeping loud noise to a minimum.
You should totally celebrate your wins, but just remember that there will be other people in the area too!
Embrace the Community
It’s fairly unusual to a lot of people why lifestyle sports use the term “community”.
Lifestyle sports is a term used for sports like parkour, surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding that recognises a commitment to not only the activity itself but also an accompanying lifestyle.
This means that the involvement in the sport stretches far beyond just participating in it!
Parkour is often considered a lifestyle sport because it is more than just a physical activity or sport. It requires a combination of physical and mental training, as well as emphasising personal development and self-improvement.
Beyond the physical aspect, parkour also emphasises mental and emotional development. People who practice parkour are encouraged to push their limits and confront their fears, which can lead to increased self-confidence and a sense of personal achievement. Additionally, parkour has a strong community aspect, with many practitioners forming close-knit groups that support and encourage each other.
Parkour is a community, and it’s important to be respectful and supportive of each other. It’s important to be mindful of other practitioners and their training needs. Everyone progresses at a different rate, and your experience could help other people progress!
Offer help and advice to other practitioners, and be willing to learn from them as well, but remember to keep it appropriate. Before offering any help or advice, be sure to engage in a conversation with people and introduce yourself. Although your help and support can be with the best intentions, it can sometimes confuse or overwhelm people who are training, so make sure the situation is appropriate before you offer any help and advice.
Most importantly, be respectful of each other’s differences and backgrounds.
Our community has also come forward to say “Ask questions. We’re a friendly community who are always looking to answer questions, whether you practice parkour or not.”
Leave Every Conversation Better Than How It Started
Parkour is still incredibly new. Some people could still be unaware of what the sport is.
When training parkour, you could potentially be moved on or asked to leave a spot, or have some people approach you asking what you are doing.
In these situations, it’s crucial to never go on the offensive. Not only will this ruin your relationship with the spot, making it more challenging to train there in the future, but it also paints the sport in a negative light.
Open a dialogue with these people, and explain to them what you are doing and what Parkour is.
My Personal Experience
I am going to give you two examples from my own personal experience when training outside.
Please remember, that this is my own experience, and every situation is different.
I live and train in a market town called Horsham. This is a town that has a typically older residential population and is seen as one town where people go to live when they retire.
Horsham has a varying mix of spots, the vast majority of which are in public spaces.
One day, I had an elderly women approach me, saying “You will break your neck one day” – Instead of brushing off the comment, or snapping with a comment back, I climbed down off of the wall and asked, “What makes you think that?”
What ended up happening was we had a fifteen-minute conversation about how she didn’t quite understand what I was doing, or why I was doing it. I explained to her that I haven’t just gone up on the wall to randomly throw myself off and hope for the best, but it was actually the result of years of training and practice. I also explained the benefits I find from training for both my mental and physical health. The conversation ended, and we both went on our way.
The second, again in Horsham, we were getting moved on from a spot by security. It was one of those first encounter situations. The first time we had been moved on, and the first time the security had to deal with something like this.
Although a bit of a tense situation at first, I started speaking to the security guard about it. I wanted to know what caused the tension when he first left the building.
What he explained to me was that there was a bit of an issue with vandalism going on near and around the building, and he thought that was the reason we were there.
Again, this is where we had a conversation regarding the situation. I explained to him what we were actually doing, and he explained what he saw from his point of view.
We still had to leave the spot, we understood he was just doing his job, but he said he would speak to his management, as the space we were in “wasn’t being used for anything.” – We have a pretty good relationship with that spot now.
In summary, if the situation allows you to do so, take the opportunity to speak to people and teach them about what you’re doing. In some situations, it’s the unknown nature that worries people, not the activity itself!
In conclusion, when training outdoors, there is a number of ways that we can be responsible, respectful, and supportive of each other, as well as respecting our environment, and the people around us.
By following these guidelines, we can create safe and positive training environments that encourage growth, exploration, and self-improvement.
Remember to respect the space, start small and progress gradually, practice safety, respect noise levels, and be respectful and supportive of each other.
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