Parkour jams are events organised by the parkour community. The structure of these events is usually very loose and relaxed.
A jam session is where community members come together to train at a specific location, town, or city. These are also typically arranged on social media. Within the last five years, jam announcements have risen on platforms like Instagram, which has slowly been taking over from forums and Facebook groups that came before it.
For someone new to the sport, attending a jam session can be very daunting, especially if you’re travelling on your own. In this piece, we will give you some information about attending a parkour jam, some of the unwritten dos and don’ts, and some of the key bits of information you need.
Starting and Finishing
When a jam is announced and advertised, there will most likely always be a meeting time (Usually around midday). Although this is the time the jam “starts”, the structure and timings are very loose. You can reach the spot early if you wish and start training then. Usually, if a jam starts at 12:00 PM, there will be some people who get there at 11:00 AM to get an early warm-up in.
It is also very rare that a jam will have an end time (This is different if the jam is held at an indoor facility, like Fluidity Freerun in Wales, or Team Reality in Grimsby.) Because of the loose structure of these jams being arranged by people who practice the sport, practitioners will tend to train until they feel like it.
Here, it is important to not wait for a structure. Jams are just like any other training session you may have, just with a few more people and set in a specific location. If you’re ever unsure, ask someone! The community is really welcoming, and there will be loads of people who are willing to help newcomers.
Don’t Be Afraid To Approach People
Parkour jams are incredibly sociable events. Don’t be too shy and approach people. Ask people questions like how long they’ve been training and where they are from. These are typical questions that usually pop up when parkour practitioners first meet each other, but they can help spark conversations between people.
It can be scary approaching random people for the first time, but everyone is really understanding and helpful.
It is worth keeping in mind, however, that if someone looks like they are just about to go for a jump or challenge, or they are in the middle of filming a clip for someone, then it may be best to wait a moment before speaking to them.
Let People Know You Are New
There are loads of individuals within the parkour community who are willing to help people who are new to the sport. It’s also very likely that some of the jam’s attendees are also parkour coaches. Although they will be off the clock, they will happily share some of their coaching knowledge with you and would be able to help you learn while training.
The Community’s Advice
Jams, typically (but not always), are usually held in cities, which requires a little bit of traveling.
We put out a story on Instagram asking for the community’s tips and advice for parkour jams, and there seemed to be a hive-mind-styled agreement on the following;
Introduce Yourself – One member of the community put it very well. “Introduce yourself to the people you’ve never met. They could be just as nervous as you.”
Stay Aware – Parkour jams can become very busy and crowded places. It’s important to stay aware during a parkour jam and try not to stand in the way of someone’s jump or challenge. It can also be a very easy mistake to make when walking from one side of the spot to another to walk without looking. Much like crossing the road, we encourage everyone to exercise their awareness at these events, and it’s something the community is very passionate about.
Be Respectful of People The Public – Unless it’s a jam session arranged at an indoor facility, like a parkour gym, the majority of jams are hosted at outdoor spots in public places. It is important to remember in these public places, that the public comes first. If your jump or challenge goes across a path or a walkway, make sure you check to see if any members of the public are approaching before you jump, and always give them the priority to pass first.
When you’re training at these spots, you are representing parkour and the parkour community, and your actions and behaviour could positively influence someone’s view of the sport.
Public spaces are for everyone to use, and with parkour, we challenge the conventional use of public spaces, but it is important to respect the community outside of parkour too.
Be Respectful of the Environment – As mentioned above, a lot of parkour training takes place in public spaces. Be respectful of the area you are training in, we’ve listed some tips below;
- Don’t use walls that are fragile or breaking.
- Clean up your litter (Leave no trace)
- Clean up others’ litter (This can really help your relationship with the spot)
- If you’re playing music, keep it at a respectable volume.
- Be respectful regarding where you put your bags – Don’t leave them obscuring walkways or paths.
Be respectful of other Practitioners – Everyone is at a different stage of their parkour journey and when it comes to parkour, there is a reason we focus so much on the term “community“.
When at these sessions, be respectful of everyone’s ability, age, identity, background, race, gender, or story. Parkour is for everyone, and jams are a great safe space for groups and individuals to feel safe within their community.
Regardless if you’ve been training for 1 week or 10 years, everyone does parkour to progress their own movement. Let’s be supportive of one another!
Bring Portable Chargers – These aren’t always essential, but if you’re using Google Maps to try and navigate the busy streets of London or Liverpool, you’re going to need some juice to keep your phone going, especially if you want to capture any of the action later in the day. Again, these aren’t essential, but they’re a nice touch to bring and alleviate worries throughout the day. (Don’t forget your cable!)
Portable chargers can be handy if you’re attending events like the Sheffield or York Takeover (Read Here), having a portable charger is essential in order to capture the number of challenges you do.
Water – Where portable chargers are more of a choice, there is no denying the essentials of water. Some spots at jams are a fair bit of distance from the nearest shop, so bringing a bottle (or two!) of water will keep you hydrated throughout the day. Parkour is exercise, and you need to keep yourself hydrated when exercising.
Location Pins for Maps – As mentioned above, most jams are organised casually, usually being announced in the form of an Instagram post. An address and a location would be given for this, but sometimes the location isn’t always clear. We always encourage people to ask about locations, trying to get information like street names, postcodes, etc. If you can, put it into Maps and “pin” the location – this will save you from having to search for it each time you open the map.
Do you have any more tips for people attending their first parkour jam or event? Let us know by reaching out to us on Instagram, @ParkourUK