Saturday, January 12, 2008

This ain't no weak man's Gym.

Last Saturday (January 5th) I closed a deal with a local Rochester gymnastics gym, Zenieth. Basically, we pay them a bit of money on a weekly basis, and they let us go to their gym for an hour and a half on Saturday afternoons. Today was the first time we went, and we had a blast.

People from Gymnastics Club and Parkour came, as well as other people we've come across who are interested in gymnastics and/or tricking. I didn't end up getting a final count, but I would estimate about twenty people. The best part is there are even more people who want to show up (regularly, too!) who just already had plans for this weekend and couldn't make it. Everyone had a great time, and it seemed like Amy and Neil - the owners of the gym - enjoyed having us there. The two coaches (who are both Olympic level coaches... yeah. wow.) both seemed like they had a great time teaching and watching us.

We started off in a big circle and ran through some warmups and stretches. After that, everyone just scattered. People worked on backtucks (and other things) on the trampoline, tumbling on the floor, cartwheels, roundoffs, 540 and butterfly kicks, layouts, and then we even set up some padding on the wall and worked on wallflips. When I started to put it against the wall, the male coach came over and said "Flips off the wall?" and I just smiled. DJ and Andrew came over to join me, and the three of us were doing one, two, and Andrew even attempted (and landed!) a three step wallflip. We even had some of the nine year olds that were there (not with us) there, and they nailed some pretty awesome flips. Artem came over and tried (which was pretty funny. His still needs some work..), and I'm a lot more comfortable with them now. I'm going to move to a less padded wall in the wrestling room here at school and drill them there for a bit, but I think I'm close to the point where I can try them outside. Just a few more sessions of drilling to make sure.

We gave a brief Parkour demonstration to the owners of the gym. I think they were a little bit wary, but I gave them a pretty good description of what was going on, and what Parkour was all about, and I think with a bit of time we can win them over and get them to really understand what Parkour is all about.

There were a few pictures taken, and I'll edit this post and put them up when I get ahold of them, but I mostly just didn't have time to take any. Too busy doing everything else! Everyone had a great time, and we will definitely be back in force next Saturday.

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Friday, January 4, 2008

New York Parkour Goes Primal

On Wednesday, January 2nd, I hosted a group of traceurs from New York and New Jersey who bussed and drove down to visit Primal Fitness and the DC scene. Chris "Phreaknite" Salvato (spelling) is moving to Colorado soon, and wanted to visit Primal before he left. So over the course of a few weeks, we planned out and organized the trip. In the end, nine traceurs came down and joined Travis Noble, who was down visiting Primal from Michigan, and RandomPKGuy (RPG) and I for a really great jam.

It started at 10:30 when I picked up Jesse “Hardcoretraceur” from the bus station in Baltimore. We came back to my house, cleaned up a bit, and then I (almost) taught him to juggle while waiting for everyone else to arrive. We heard Vert and Arfel yelling as they got out of the car, and so we met them at the door, along with Pheaknite, Pyro, and Ish. My roommates from school, Artem and Charlie "ChadManX", arrived shortly later. We hung out in the basement until it was time to go to Xtreme Acro and Cheer, a nearby gymnastics gym. We called M1L3S, who was still en-route, and had him meet us there. We piled into cars and drove an hour to Acro to meet up with Travis and RPG.

Much fun was had at Acro! Wallflips, backtucks, layouts, frontflips, diverolls, trampolines, butterfly kicks, and more. We ended up staying about 30 minutes past when we were supposed to, and then packed in the car and came back to my house. The twelve of us promptly ordered 7 pizzas, and finished them off in about as many minutes. The rest of the night was pretty low key, the highlight being Jesse giving himself quite the shiner after running into a pole in my woods while playing Predator versus Prey (Aliens!).

The next morning Charlie and I got up at 6:45 and started making pancakes. Artem soon joined us in our endeavor, and Happydud's Emporium of Pancakes was moving along at full steam ahead! 64 pancakes, 1 box of pancake mix, 7 eggs, 5 cups of milk, a dash of olive oil, and one failed batch of pancakes later, everyone was up and eating pancakes, cereal, fruit, yogurt, and anything else we could find in the house. We managed, amazingly, to get out the door by 9:00AM (I did NOT think this was possible) and we headed to Primal Fitness, the main attraction.

After some creative convoying, we got to Primal as Jesse “Gearsighted” Woody, Steve Low, Leonn, and Britney were setting up a projector. We projected a big PRIMAL FITNESS onto the far wall, traced it, and then painted it in red. Other things got painted throughout the day as well, like the spiderweb, and a recreation of a Banksy. As far as the Parkour went, it was pretty awesome, as always. Leonn and Travis ran a really good warmup, which actually gave me a lot of ideas of what I want to incorporate into my standard warmup. Skipper stopped by, and the training continued throughout the entire day. The room was rearranged every few minutes to create new obstacle combinations and to drill different techniques. Later in the afternoon, Mark decided to run us through a workout.

The warmup: 3 rounds: 25x20lbs sumo-deadlift high-pulls, 1 lap of QM, 1 lap “uncomfortably high stepping” (stepping through a line of 3 to 4 foot boxes), 10 decline pushups.

I'm still convinced that Crossfit style “warmups” are equivilent to the workouts that some people usually get.

After the warmup, we got to the workout. Mark yells “Okay, who's ready for 3 minutes of conditioning?” I respond sarcastically “Only 3 minutes? This should be easy!” We went back to the line of eight 3 to 4 foot plyometric boxes and lined up.

The workout: 3 minutes, as many rounds through as you can. Two footed jump from the ground to the top of the first box. Jump from box to the ground. Jump from the ground to the next box. Rinse, wipe hands on pants, repeat. It was pretty hellish. By the end of the third minute, my legs felt like lead.

Afterwards, we ran through some jumping and landing drills designed to facilitate the ease of continued running after a landing, without stumbling, slowing down, putting your hands down, etc. We were supposed to start at one speed and accelerate throughout the course. We started by running and jumping off of different sized plyo-boxes, and then we eventually built up to running, jumping onto one box, jumping to a higher box, and then leaping to the ground and resume running without ever slowing down. We then modified to it getting over the second box the fastest way for you. For some people, this was a kong, for others, it was stepping on it and jumping, still others speed vaulted it or just leaped straight over it. It was a fascinating thing to watch: to see four different people could pass over the box in four completely different ways, and each path was the most efficient for them. It was a great example of how there is never one correct way to do something, and how what works for one person may not work for another.

In the end, everyone eventually went their separate ways and headed back home. Everyone had a fantastic time, and the jam just reaffirmed something I see traceurs from different places training together. Despite being from DC, Brooklyn, Michigan, or anywhere in between, despite some people having never met before, or others only having met once or twice, traceurs can come together and instantly become best of friends. We may come from different communities geographically, but we're all one big community when it comes to Parkour.

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