Best Places to Practice Parkour

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Written by Stephen Vanderpool

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1. College campuses

Colleges campuses make for excellent parkour training grounds for a number of reasons. Firstly, the space and architecture are usually diverse and interesting enough to allow for ample experimentation. On most campuses, you'll find enough rails, ramps, stairs and elevation changes to keep you occupied for a long while. Security will probably be fairly lax as long as you aren't doing anything too disruptive. They'll assume you're just another eccentric student (which may very well be true) and let you be. You'll also be a lot safer than if you were frolicking about the downtown area of a large metropolitan area.

2. Playgrounds

Playgrounds are basically designed for parkour. Unfortunately, they're usually child-sized, but with a little creativity, you can turn them into a adult-sized training facility. There are several advantages here. One, they are a public space (ignore the sign that says "Designed for children under 12"). Two, they have a unique set of equipment that is made for climbing and jumping. Three, they often have soft mulch or rubber underfoot, so if you screw up, you have safety cushion. The biggest drawback is obviously children. You don't want to trample kids or enrage their parents. Avoid practicing near kids whenever possible.

3. Beaches

The beauty of beaches resides in their mercy. Sand is a forgiving surface. You'll have a hard time finding climbable structures, but you have all the space you could ever need for flips and tricks. Don't forget the sunscreen. You may be more worried about leaving with all your bones intact, but sunburn isn't fun either.

4. Gym

For a more controlled, artificial environment (which, yes, sort of runs contrary to the philosophy of parkour), go to a gym. A place with mats, trampolines and balance beams is the safest and most effective place to hone your skills. If you slip up, you shouldn't get hurt too badly, and gym employees will be able to get quick medical attention. For novices, we actually recommend this route above all others. See what you're capable of before you take it to the streets.

5. Open field

Like the beach, an open field provides a great area to practice flips and rolls with a fairly soft surface underfoot.

6. Wheelchair ramps

Looking for sturdy rails? Wheelchair ramps are a great place to start.

7. Forests

Forests are another excellent public space. Trees come in many shapes and sizes, and a romp through the woods will always be somewhat unpredictable. Practicing in forests is a great way to improve your flow and improvisational skills. You can also use streams, bridges, logs and rocks as platforms and obstacles. Should you fall, the forest floor is a lot nicer than an alleyway.

Frequently asked questions

First, ensure that you are physically fit for parkour and consult your physician if needed. A great way to get started in parkour is to seek out local training groups in your community, which you can usually track down by searching for them on Google or Facebook. You may also want to look for local gyms or training centers that provide introductory classes.

There are a variety of online resources available for people looking to train in parkour at home. Things you should consider working on at home as a beginner include improving your balance, practicing safety rolls and landing, learning the basic moves and putting those moves into combinations.

There are no age requirements for participating in parkour. As long as you are physically fit enough to perform basic parkour movements, you can start slowly and safely no matter your age.

The speed at which you learn parkour will be based on many factors including your physical fitness level, how much you practice and whether you have others coaching or helping you. Some people pick it up quickly and are more naturally talented while others have to put in a lot of time and effort to get good at parkour.

Parkour, like any other skill, varies in difficulty to learn. Your ability to learn parkour will depend on how much you practice, how much help you seek through coaches, gyms, online resources or local community groups, as well as how well your body is built for an athletic activity like parkour.

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