Forget the Gym - Check Out This Urban Parkour Training and Conditioning Video

This video demonstrates a number of incredibly great bodyweight workouts - some of which I’ve never seen before, but will definitely be adding to my own routines. Never even thought about doing a hop after a one legged squat (pistol). And the L-sit on the balance tape is seriously wicked.

The two man partner exercises might also be good for a class (although I did go to a Crossfit class in San Fran once where someone took a serious header during a fireman lift/walk team WOD - ugh… that was aweful). The two man squat reminds me of these donkey calf raises (lol).

Granted, some of these exercises are somewhat advanced and/or require an urban landscape appropriate for them, but trainers take note - the gentlemen from Norther Parkour have a lot of great exercises that can be incorporated into your programs.

The Parkour of District B13

Here’s a clip of the opening parkour sequence in District B13. The movie is French and stars David Belle (one of the creators of Parkour). As the sequence shows, David has some serious skills. The whole movie is really one stunt sequence after another, full of all sorts of great free running movements.


We’ve all been there, walking down the sidewalk, seeing a nice curb and spontaneously deciding to walk on that instead – finding our balance, making our way to the end without fault. As a child, jumping and running on things that were never meant for such abuse was practically a day to day ritual done perhaps simply for the enjoyment of the challenge to conquer the urban landscape. Today, more and more individuals are taking this childhood pleasure to the next level in the form of what is known as parkour or free running.

Parkour is a sport where city streets become the runner’s jungle gym and the main objective is to overcome the urban architecture as quickly as possible. Picture yourself going for your morning run and coming across a 6 foot brick wall that you would normally just run around. However, this time you go over it. That’s the idea. Brick walls, fences, large staircases, even buildings and the gaps between them – to a traceur, are all things to overcome, not get around.

The sport began in the Parisian suburbs and is quickly becoming recognized and practiced globally. Perhaps akin to skateboarding’s rise in popularity after only a handful of individuals began “surfing” the streets in Santa Monica. The popularity of parkour is becoming evident in pop culture and media. The recent (2006) James Bond film, Casino Royale, featured an amazing feat of free running (a variant of Parkour) skills as Daniel Craig (007) chased Sebastien Foucan, the creator of free running, through a construction site, performing intricate free-running moves. Sebastien Foucan was also one of the free runners in Jump London, a BBC documentary showcasing the sport as he and his crew took on many of the great London monuments and buildings.

Besides being interesting to watch, elements of parkour and free running can be seen as great exercises, some of which are part of well established training programs. Weather for scaling a wall or jumping from one building to the next, parkour necessitates exceptional upper and lower body strength. Pull-ups, dips, squats, handstands, and jumping are great conditioning exercises that would probably be involved in parkour training. Why not bring these into your own routine. Change it up a bit. That pull-up bar at your gym probably has dust on it. Give it a go. Find an empty wall and try to kick up a handstand. No gym, no problem – for dips, just use a couple of chairs as dip bars and let your legs sit on the floor in front of you, or raise them on another chair. Air squats, handstands and jumping don’t even require any equipment and 5 back to back sets of 10 reps of each exercise provides a great full body workout.

Looking up parkour in youtube provides endless movies of parkour acrobatics. Here’s just one of many for a bit of inspiration. It’s of David Belle, the founder of parkour, showing off:

Update: Jump Britain, the “sequel” to Jump London can be found on Google Video, in its entirety, here.

Update #2: The New Yorker recently published an article on Parkour, titled “No Obstacles”. Read it here.