Parkour can be a fun and safe hobby for everyone when done right.

Originally developed as a training exercise by the French military, parkour is a sport that is performed using fluid, freestyle movements of running, jumping, swinging, and climbing to get over obstacles without the use of assistance. 

While it may look intimidating at first glance, when practiced safely and thoughtfully from the beginning, parkour can be a fun and safe alternative to traditional exercise. 

Prior to starting parkour, you must be in prime physical condition. With the diligent practice of exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, somersaults, box jumps, squats, and running, you will be prepared for the endurance and focus needed to begin learning parkour.

Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. You don't need expensive activewear, just good running shoes with treads and clothes you can move in. Make sure what you are wearing isn't too loose so that nothing falls off or down mid-movement!

Start small. Areas with small structures, steps, or trees are great choices to practice on. Just make sure that you are being respectful of the area as well as not trespassing!

Learn to fall. In an effort to avoid injury, you must know how to absorb the energy from a fall and turn it into another movement. Always land on bent legs or a combination of bent legs and arms. If you sense a loss in balance, roll forward at an angle onto your shoulders and then use the momentum to push yourself onto your feet and then forward.

Be creative. The object of parkour is that the whole world can be your gymnasium. How you view your obstacles and getting from Point A to Point B is entirely up to you.

Be confident, but not too confident. Remember that none of us are superheroes and we are all subject to the laws of physics. If it looks like too high of a jump, it probably is.

Join a parkour club, camp, or get a coach. Meeting like-minded parkour lovers will expand your confidence and friend group and will also teach you some new skills. Youth camps like Camp Woodward offer special parkour programs that instill safe practices and spatial awareness for all skill levels.

Practice, practice, practice. Just like in any sport or activity, parkour takes practice in order to get better at it. Don't let yourself get discouraged after a bad day, remember there's always tomorrow. 

Have fun! Otherwise, what's the point?!

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