This week Christine explores parkour. Illustration: Christine Wang.
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Clearly, my nine years of gymnastics did not come in handy

In this week’s edition of An Exploration of Sportation, I was joined at Laws of Motion by Savannah, our amazing features editor at the Fulcrum, as well as our friends, Alex and Alexei. Apparently Gaelic football had not taught me to fear death enough, so this time I thought I would try out parkour.

Well, technically we didn’t do parkour. Parkour, originating from Paris, was a race to get from one point to another at the fastest time possible.

Nick Grimard, the co-owner of Laws of Motion, explained that their background is more in artistic gymnastics. “The program we run is called urban gymnastics. We don’t call it parkour because we’re teaching the more acrobatic side of the sport. The type that you see in action movies.”

It’s an emerging sport that has come to Canada starting in Toronto and British Columbia in the last 10 years. Laws of Motion was the first urban gymnastics gym to open in Ottawa.

Did my background in gymnastics help in this sport at all? As it turns out, no. I might as well have thrown the nine years of gymnastics lessons in a dumpster fire. Then, at least it could have served the purpose of keeping me warm at night. To be fair, I had quit gymnastics eight years ago but there is something inherently sad about being better at something at the age of 14 than the age of 22.

We started off by learning a couple different vaults and somersaults on the floor. About half an hour in, we moved onto the trampoline to learn how to do a backflip. To begin, we practiced a couple safe ways to fall. The gymnastics trampoline has a lot more spring than a normal trampoline, so falling on your face does have larger repercussions. Eventually, we progressed to doing assisted backflips.

Honestly, trying it for the first time wasn’t even a part of what scared me. I was mostly nervous since the last time I had tried an acrobatic skill eight years ago, I had sprained the wrist of the coach who was assisting me. And I was about half the size I am now.

I did feel more reassured that I wouldn’t be the one doing the damage as I watched Alex jump up, twist, and plant his butt directly on Nick’s face during his first attempt. Thankfully the coaches at Laws of Motion are much more experienced and no one ended up getting hurt, which is why now I feel comfortable publicly laughing at them.

What did I take away from this experience? The sport is great in that it is three times the cardio from your typical exercise routine:

  1. The physical activity (apparently jumping on a material designed to help you jump still makes you sweat if you are me: extremely unfit).
  2. The pure, unadulterated fear of death.
  3. Most importantly, the adrenaline that courses through your veins when you do something new with your body that you’ve never done before.

When I quit gymnastics eight years ago, I thought it would be the last time I would get the chance to do gymnastics ever again. It’s a performance sport; everything from the training to the mentality centers around preparing and performing at competitions.

Athletes in the sport peak at around adolescence, which is why it’s extremely hard to find good recreational coaches for post-adolescents who just want to try doing cool things for fun–like learn to do a backflip. Laws of Motion does a great job in providing competitive quality training to recreational athletes. All you need to do is show up in shorts and a t-shirt.

And that, in my opinion, is worth so much more than the price you pay for a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Laws of Motion offers open drop-in gym time from 9pm to 11pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for $10 per session. Adult trampoline and tumbling classes are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at $312 for 16 classes. More details can be found on their website.