This week we attempted to learn how to vault over higher walls, about 5 feet high. I pulled off a Kong vault and even a few 180’s, walking on my hands in mid flight. The biggest accomplishment of the night was my first cartwheel and the beginnings of a handstand (always wanted to do those). I said in the previous Parkour blog entry that every week I’ve gone home with a different injury and my record still stands. This week I rip my big toe nail back on itself. Not to worry though. I wrapped it in some paper towel, taped it up and was good to continue. Enjoy the video.
Jackson returned from UCLA Film School to rejoin the parkour class with Joel at the new Valhalla Elite Training Center. I had to rush over immediately following my third ballroom dancing class of the week. I’m really packing it in these days.
We focused mainly on what are essentially vaults over short walls. We started by reviewing the vaults each of us had learned in previous lessons. I warmed up with the Butterfly, then learned the Shoulder Roll (gotta tuck more at the end), Kong (loved this one) and then we really pushed it by attempting the Panther. The panther is similar to the Kong, but you build a lot more momentum by almost diving over the first barrier. Success at all of this essentially comes down to simply letting go of the fear and going for it. Although it may look easy when you’re watching these videos, I can tell you it’s much harder than it looks. I’m encouraged by the fact that I go home with a different sore part each time. I think that means I’m pushing myself in a new way every week. This week it’s my left shoulder.
Abs felt better at the beginning, but by the end I was really favoring my right side and was trying not to stretch out too far. That’s enough with the excuses, on with the show…
I hadn’t planned on blogging about this, but I’ve been told by more than a few people that I should be 100% open and honest, sharing everything along the way, not just the positive milestones. Fair enough.
Last Wednesday, I arrived at the Valhalla Elite Training Center in Santa Barbara, pumped up and ready to go for my 2nd lesson. My abs were still sore from the 2.5 hour parkour marathon the week before, but I’m used to pushing through things with pure tenacity. (Aside: As proof of my high tolerance for pain, my wife often points out that I have had 2 root canals without any anesthetic. Truth is, I don’t have a high tolerance for it, I simply view mentally controlling pain as the ultimate challenge. Don’t judge me.)
Joel took us through a brief set of stretches and then set up an assortment of warm up exercises around the gym. I chose to begin with a simple exercise whereby I would jump over two obstacles (gym mats that were folded in a v-shape), each approximately 2 feet high, with my feet together. Simple, right? I compressed down, bending my knees, lowering my chest down to them and coiling my arms back. I took a deep breath and sprang up with a burst of energy. As soon as my arms stretched above my head, I felt a tear in my lower abdomen, and a searing pain radiate throughout my core. My legs hadn’t even left the mat and already I knew I was done for the night.
I’ve read dozens of books on how the brain works, in fact, it’s become one of my favorite topics, thanks to Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself. Numerous studies have been done through the years which prove that simply visualizing an activity can produce a physical result that mimics up to 1/3 of the actual physical activity. So rather than go home with my torn abdominal muscle and fall behind, I stayed and learned. I watched intently, focused on understanding the intricacies of each move and helped the other students. It was frustrating to be sidelined, and I unsuccessfully attempted more than once to give it a go, but I think I got something out of it nonetheless.
I’ve spent a week simply allowing my abs to rest, and it’s been a successful rehab, except for the occasional sneeze. Luckily, thanks to the July 4th holiday, I have an extra week to recuperate before my next lesson. Joel has already taken note of my early injury and will spend more time on stretching next time. Lesson learned.
Although I’ve seen all the YouTube videos, including the fails, I really had no idea what to expect from a Parkour lesson. Rather than try to describe it, here is a brief video of everything we did over the course of 2.5 hours at the Valhalla Elite Training Center in Santa Barbara. (As an aside, what I got out of this video is a visual of just how much weight I’ve lost since going vegan and that I probably need to buy some new clothes.)
Also for your viewing pleasure, here is The Office’s take on the parkour phenomenon.
My son, Jackson, has brought to my attention that you can actually take classes in parkour, which is something I’ve been dying to learn for a long time. I’ll be joining him and his friends for an introductory lesson tomorrow.
For the uninitiated, here’s a video clip of some kids doing parkour at UC Santa Barbara.