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A workout for the daredevil in you

Spencer Van Dyk | Fulcrum Staff

 Art by Mathias MacPhee

THIS IS NOT your typical Foolproof Fitness. In fact, this is more of a do-not-try-this-at-home type of fitness, but it’s so badass that it needed to be written about. This is parkour, also known as freerunning. It is described as the art of motion, but in layman’s terms, it’s that cool sport where people run from point A to point B doing amazing flips and stunts along the way. Seasoned freerunning veteran and recent International Stunt School graduate Nick Provost sat down with the Fulcrum to tell us why this sport is so much fun, and why it’s so great for you.

“Parkour is described as the art of motion,” he explained. “Some people consider it the most efficient way to get from point A to point B, which would include using things like vaults, and just getting around obstacles the most efficient [way] possible,” explained Provost. “There’s also the esthetic aspect which involves flips and stuff like that. Usually people call that freerunning. They’re kind of separate things, but all wrapped up together. Basically, freerunning is the gym sport of it. You can have competitions and do tricks for fun. Parkour is more utility.”

Provost, now 21 and taking a joint honours degree in computer science and mathematics at the U of O, has been doing self-taught freerunning for seven years.

“About seven years ago my friend showed me a video on YouTube, and I thought it was awesome,” said Provost. “I figured I’d try it, and he told me I should do a flip off my deck, so I tried it, and on the first shot, I landed it. Later that day, we went to a local school, and I just did flips everywhere I could, because I was so excited. So that’s pretty much where it started.”

Provost said there are many ways that an aspiring freerunner can safely improve their skills.

“I am personally all self-taught, but there are a lot of better ways of doing it,” he said. “There are videos online that you can find to learn specific movements, and the safest way to learn would be to start off by going to gymnastic centres. There are two open gyms in Ottawa, or adult recreation night, so basically you can go there and do whatever you want. They have cheerleaders and gymnasts and a lot of parkour guys. There’s where a lot of my friends and I train, because it’s the safest way possible.”

Provost also told the Fulcrum exactly why parkour is the way to go for people looking to not only get more exercise, but get a full-body workout.

“In parkour, you’re using all of your muscles, whether it’s your legs or your arms or abs,” he explained. “Abs and legs are probably the most commonly used muscles, because you’re using them when you flip. Legs is pretty evident, because you’re jumping and running and stuff.”

Provost says that having fun is key to a successful parkour workout.

“If you’re doing a regular workout and just trying to lose weight, it’s not going to be very motivating, but if you’re doing parkour, and enjoying it, you’re going to want to do it more, and it’ll benefit your body much more in that way.”