Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rochester Parkour Visitor's Weekend

A month or so ago, Bryan Augstein (Maryland) and KC Parsons (Michigan) told me they wanted to come up to visit me in Rochester. I met both of them on my trip this summer, and (through the wonders of free verizon-to-verizon texts) texted back and forth quite a bit during long bus rides. We became good friends, and so of course I was enthusiastic about having them come up! KC Decided to bring a close friend of his, Nate Manly (Michigan), and soon Jesse Danger (NYPK) and Christopher Price (Michigan) were added to the list of attendees. Soon enough... we were having ourselves a Rochester jam!

Jesse arrived at the bus station Thursday night, and we hung out with some friends and watched The Dark Knight on our projector downstairs. We went to sleep late, and then got up early for a workout at the gym. We left straight from there to go back to the bus station KC and Nate arrived early the next morning. After a great (and cheap!) dinner at the local diner, we came back to my house and... immediately dropped to the floor and went to sleep. Jesse and I had 3 hours of sleep and a workout, and KC and Nate had a 14 hour bus ride under their belt. We woke up 5 hours later and went to the Red Barn, the local rock climbing gym (it's a big red barn. Go figure!). Chris showed up, and we all packed in his pickup truck and went to the bus station to pick up Bryan.

Everyone was hungry again, so it was time for dinner. If it's your first time in Rochester, there is only one meal your hosts will give you: a garbage plate:

Ingredients: hash browns, chili sauce, macaroni salad, 2 hamburger patties, American cheese, diced raw onions, mustard, ketchup.

So... I sort of kind of challenged Jesse to an eating contest, to see who could finish theirs faster. We decided on to have a good, old fashioned gentlemen's wager: The loser had to eat a second one. Long story short, I didn't lose. I got annihilated. Destroyed. Pummeled into the ground. I still hold that it would have been at least a fair fight if it hadn't been for the mayo on the mac salad.. but alas. I ended up chickening out of the bet, but I accepted an alternate punishment: The Hundred Burpee Challenge. Outside. In the snow and wind and cold.

I have to say, I did fairly well. I've never actually done the Hundred Burpee Challenge before, and a time of 9:16 isn't shabby (all things considered). I did it without vomiting, which was A) A nice perk, and B) means I didn't try hard enough. This event gave rise to a series of challenges throughout the weekend, with a complex series of governing rules (such as the hundred burpee challenge is an acceptable alternative punishment for losing, but if you don't “one up” the previous challenge in some way (ex. Faster time, fewer clothes, etc), you had to do the original punishment as well).

We got back to my house that night, and things kind of slowed down. We spent the next few hours laying around my living room, half-trying to find something to do, but really just trying to recover from the garbage plates. Then someone saw the slacklines on the staircase, and we had an idea.

We hopped in cars, drove to a nearby abandoned Kodak building with a huge secluded parking lot, and played in the snow for a while. We ran and slid and played tag, explored some woods, and had some epic snowball fights.

Saturday was Parkour day! We woke up, Happydud's Emporium of Pancakes was once again visited, and then started piling on the layers. We drove up to campus to pick up the locals, and then drove over to Manhattan Square Park in downtown Rochester. After a good warm up (because it certainly was not warm out), we decided it was just too slippery and dangerous for Parkour training. Instead, we had a series of truly legendary snowball fights. We started in a field, then had a Capture the Flag match in another area that was a great mix of nature and urban environments, all the while snowballs flying everywhere. We wrapped up the day with a game of Humans vs Zombies – Snowball Style, then stopped by a coffee shop and a mexican resteraunt for dinner.

After warming back up at my house, we went to a playground for the night. While everyone else was either doing random strength training stuff (rings, muscle ups, finding routes through the playground), or having 2v1 wrestling matches (I still say it was a draw... if I can go that long without tapping out it has to count for something!), Jesse was busy constructing a sled out of two skis and a precision trainer he found in the back of my car.

Well, that was an awesome freaking sled. We went SO FAST. Graham, a local traceur and EMT (foreshadowing!), had brought a bunch of real sleds. We all took turns on the various sleds and picnic table (which, it turns out, makes a fantastic sled as long as you bail fast enough), until Chris went snowboarding on one of the sleds. Turns out, Grade 2 ankle sprains are the reason you use sleds as intended, and not as snowboards. Graham was able to wrap him up and make sure he was okay, but it was still a bummer.

The next day was gymnastics day! I went to our gym, Zenith Gymnastics, and taught my kids Parkour class, and then the visitors joined the RIT Gymnastics club in a gymnastics training session. It was loads of fun, people worked on everything from back tucks to side summis over things, from rings to jumping over things. It was a pretty productive session, and everyone had a lot of fun finally getting to run and jump and flip and horse around. We wrapped up the day with pizza and movies, and then I started shuttling people back to the bus station.

That wraps up the Rochester Parkour Visitor's Weekend. Not much actual Parkour, but still great fun was had by all. I'm glad we could give Nate a great first jam-weekend, and it was great seeing all my old friends again. We're already planning our next few gatherings!

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Write up - Leave No Trace/Beginner Parkour Workshop

On Saturday, December 6th, Rochester Parkour held a “Leave No Trace Initiative/Beginner Parkour Workshop.” Thirty five people put on layer upon layer and headed out into 25 degree weather to Manhattan Square Park in downtown Rochester, New York.

We arrived at 2:00pm with three brooms, three dustpans, two (very) small rakes, six pairs of rubber work gloves, and about four thousand gallons of elbow grease. There were a lot of new faces, people out for the first time, so we all circled up and had a brief introduction to Parkour. Zachary Cohn explained what Parkour is, what it isn't, and what it means to be a traceur. We discussed the different facets of respect – respect for yourself, respect for others, and respect for your environment. Respect for yourself included a discussion on safety and an emphasis on slow progression. Respect for others was about respecting your fellow traceurs, pedestrians, property owners, and law enforcement. Respect for environment was the focus of the discussion however – we talked about how lucky we are to have these amazing locations to train on, and how it is important to give back to the community. We discussed how important it is to pick up trash as you see it; such a small effort can make a huge difference. On Saturday, we decided to clean up Manhattan Square Park.

Manhattan Square Park had several years worth of trash, broken glass, cigarettes, leaves, and other miscellaneous junk scattered around it. For the first 90 minutes of the day, we spread out around the park. We raked, swept, and picked up everything we saw. We ended up removing twenty one bags of trash and leaves from the park. It looked AMAZING afterwards, so much better than it did before. And the best part? I found out from a Fire Marshall that was there preparing for a fireworks show that night that there was a parade that evening, and it ended right smack in the middle of the park! So we ended up doing the whole city a huge favor by cleaning up the area for them. It was a very gratifying experience... even if as a whole the city never finds out who cleaned up, we still know and we still can be proud of that.

At 3:30, we started the Beginner's Workshop. The group was split about 50/50 between traceurs who had been coming fairly regularly and very inexperienced people. This workshop was focused on the very basics of Parkour, so that's where we started. Jeff Whalley lead the first half of the warm up, and Charles Moreland wrapped up with quadrupedal movement variants. Once the warmups were finished, Zachary Cohn taught landings in six separate phases: 1) Just jump. 2) Jump and land on the balls of the feet. 3) Jump, land on the balls of the feet, and bend the knees. 4) Jump, land on the balls of the feet, bend the knees, and use your arms when you jump. 5) Jump, land on the balls of the feet, bend knees, and maintain good back posture. 6) Jump, land on the balls of the feet, bend knees, maintain good back posture, and be silent when you land.

After everyone was taught how to properly land, we broke up into three separate groups. One group went to a playground with Charles to work on rolls, one group went to the park benches with Jeff to work on vaults, and the third group went with Zac to the field and worked on precisions. We brought three homemade precision trainers use, and then the precision group drilled footwork by taking two steps and then precisioning to a stair. The vault group learned safety vaults, and then some of the more experienced people drilled their speed vaults. The rolling group started by rolling from a squatting position, and some of the more experienced traceurs drilled rolls from standing.

We had to rush a little bit at the end, they were going to be shooting off fireworks and we needed to clear out. We packed all of the bags of trash into cars, gave out a few of the new “Rochester Parkour” t-shirts, then went across the street and stretched a bit. We decided to head to a local coffee shop for some well deserved hot chocolate to wrap up the day.

All in all, it went off better than we could have possibly expected. The weather was tolerable (and for Rochester, that's as good as it's going to get), we had a HUGE turnout, an article in the paper that morning, pulled out 21 bags of trash and leaves from a great training spot, made friends with several parents who were watching their kids play near us, and we all met new people and made new friends.

All in all, I'd call it a win.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

PSA - Rochester Parkour Beginner Workshop

Zachary Cohn and Charles Moreland of Rochester Parkour are hosting a Leave No Trace Initiative and Beginner Parkour Workshop on Saturday, December 6th in Manhattan Square Park. The Leave No Trace cleanup will start at 2pm and will last approximately 90 minutes. Afterwards, the more experienced traceurs of Rochester Parkour will assist Zac in teaching the 90 minute beginner workshop to all of the attendees. This will be a great event for new people interested in learning Parkour, for fairly new traceurs who need to review the basics, and for experienced traceurs who need experience teaching.


Who: Rochester Parkour
What: Leave No Trace Cleanup/Beginner Parkour Workshop
Where: Manhattan Square Park, Rochester, New York
When: 2pm, Saturday December 6th, 2008
Why: To clean up a popular training location and to instruct newcomers on the basics of Parkour
Cost: Free!

Contact zac@rochesterparkour.com and check out http://www.rochesterparkour.com for more information.

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