What’s it all about?
This body-busting workout derives from military training, where they scale huge walls and scurry through small spaces to get ready for battle. Except in Parkour (also called free running), they do it for fun! Unfortunately, as I discovered when I leapt at the chance of a one-to-one session at London’s new purpose-built indoor Parkour centre at Trinity Buoy Wharf, it turns out that I lack upper body strength, which is crucial for free running.
Were you a complete beginner?
I’d never attempted an urban obstacle course before, but I run, cycle and play football, so my legs and my lungs were up to the task. It’s those scrawny arms that were letting me down, but my trainer Kie Willis – who represents the UK in Parkour but, sadly, isn’t a regular tutor – wouldn’t let me chicken out.
So, did you jump to it?
First I stumbled through a pipe frame (slowly). Then Willis instructed me to throw my arms forward as I propelled myself (safely on the ground). All I had to do was apply those skills six feet up. Easy, right? Wrong! When the wall is narrower than your feet and you’re surrounded by concrete, it’s terrifying. ‘Jump!’ Willis was urging, like I wasn’t risking my life. But, eventually, I swallowed my fear and jumped right in, and over, and under…
Was it more fun than the gym?
I may have to work on my biceps, but the rush I got from flinging my weight around is way more rewarding than cross-trainer tedium.
The Chainstore Parkour Academy offers daily classes at Trinity Buoy Wharf, 64 Orchard Place, E14 0JY. www.parkourgenerations.com. East India DLR. £10 (drop-in), £85 (ten classes), £95 (a month unlimited).