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Daredevils Only! Healthista tries London’s first indoor Parkour gym – and lives to write the review (only just!)

Parkour Generations is the world’s largest professional parkour organization that recently opened the UK’s first indoor parkour and fitness facility. Healthista writers Alexa Tucker and Emma Reynolds reviewed their facilities. Emma reports on the experience 

London Parkour Academy 1 croppedThe facility, just opened at Trinity Buoy Wharf in East London was like a big gymnastics gym with a high ceiling and strewn with a tonne of equipment including tyres, free weights, weight machines, climbing ropes, concrete walls, metal bars (like a jungle gym) and large block structures that we were meant to jump over. The ground was concrete – mimicking a real outdoor Parkour experience.

Parkour is an activity that you may not really consider on a day-to-day basis – traditionally it involves jumping around, over or even between bits of urban ‘furniture’ (like buildings). But Parkour Generations have created a studio to introduce Parkour into people’s everyday lives. London’s very first Parkour studio is for both amateurs and professionals to swing, jump and hop their way to becoming Parkourists – while also getting in a great workout.

parkour1‘It’s a huge step for parkour to be getting its own hub in the UK,’ trainer Dan Edwardes says of opening the center. ‘The center has been designed to ensure that we are able to offer a world class parkour experience.’

When Alexa and I walked in, we were kindly greeted by the Parkour guides that ushered us to where the class was. There were about 30 other people there, some first-timers (like us) and others that have been practicing Parkour for years.

As a self-proclaimed worrier and NON-risk taker, I was nervous entering the class. All the equipment towered over my five foot frame and I wondered how on earth I was going to lift myself on top of these things. I was pretty sure my athletic ability couldn’t keep up.

Emma smiling through the fear

The class began and the first things we did were stretching and warm-up exercises such as bear crawls and mountain climbers. We then split off into three groups and were told that, individually, we would be running towards and jumping over a six foot block using only our body weight. Yeh what? The instructors quickly demonstrated the move and gave us feedback after each turn, often encouraging us to run faster or jump higher, which I never really got the hang of (funnily enough). The trick was that we had to run to the mat, hoist ourselves up by one hand, and swing our legs over and return to the end of the line before our next turn. For people that have never participated in any sort of tumbling, gymnastics, or karate-like exercise, this was a pretty foreign concept.

Outdoor session croppedThe gym was also designed so that each piece of equipment didn’t have room around it, which made me nervous that if I fell I would hit my head on the metal poles that surrounded the block. After about 15 turns each, our group moved on to the next exercise.

The next exercise we did was swinging from what looked like a giant monkey bar set with silver poles attached to each other. We had to run and jump on a wooden stool, then reach our legs to the metal pole, and grasp another pole above our heads with our hands before swinging down. Sound confusing? It kind of was. The instructors encouraged us to jump farther and run faster to lift ourselves on the box, which unfortunately for some, ended in them tripping on top of the box and landing on the floor. This was a hard exercise if you never have done the monkey bars or don’t prefer running and jumping on thin metal railings.

parkour3The final exercise we did was running and jumping over a 7-foot concrete wall. We used our feet and our arm strength (or lack thereof on my part) to get ourselves on top of this concrete wall that was about a foot in width. We then had to balance ourselves and jump over an open pit to the next thin and tall concrete wall.

The concrete wall we had to jump over in the bottom right corner.

In my opinion, it would have been great to have more demonstration because these exercises seemed risky for beginners. This workout is for daredevils, adventure-seekers and extreme sport lovers. If you are looking for an intense challenge, this activity may be for you. The class is a workout, but not in the conventional way. You don’t necessarily sweat like you would on a run, but the next day I had sore muscles in places I barely knew existed.

The trick to successfully doing Parkour is maintaining a fluid movement between each move. So, to get good at it and move non-stop on all of the equipment to make it a real workout, I’d imagine you’d have to be learning for weeks and weeks. This sisn’t something you can pick up in one class. Still, all of the instructors were in incredible shape, which proves how great Parkour can be for your body after months, or years, of training.

My first Parkour experience was a crazy one. I got a chance to do something that I probably never will again and something totally out of my comfort zone. Risk-takers and adventure-seekers are guaranteed to love it.

At the Parkour Generations facility, east London there is both an indoor and outdoor studio for training with regular classes, open training, youth academies, certifications and educational seminars. Drop-ins are welcome. Visit Parkour Generations for more or try out their Women Only classes. A 5-class starter pack is £45

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