Unbig

Watching videos, it’s easy to get the impression that parkour training is all about the biggest jump, the highest drop, the scariest feat. Videos can all to often seem geared towards bigness.

That’s not the crux of parkour training, for me.

Parkour is not about big.

Parkour training is in the little things. Fine-tuning a landing. Making little improvements to jump technique that happen every time. Maintaining strength under varied pressures. Progressing step by tiny step. Getting stronger, getting smarter.

Well, I fear for the knees of those who practice ten thousand jumps once, but I gaze in admiration and love when I watch those people who have clearly practiced a one-metre drop ten thousand times.

Parkour is not about big.

Every jump, every vault, every step is a series of minute adjustments in time and space, tiny changes in tension and flex of each muscle. Time slows down and these nuances seem to unfold in an irresistible flow.

And that’s the same whether it’s an x-foot drop onto a rail, or a little pop over a gutter.

So when you’re watching yet another video of someone fronting a 10-storey high gap, remember…

Parkour is not about big.

Parkour is for everyone.

Think unbig.

Crowdfunding campaign for coaching qualifications

We’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign to get women qualified to coach parkour in Scotland!!

Please contribute here:
www.indiegogo.com/projects/women-parkour-coaches-for-scotland

And share the link far and wide!!

 

This campaign will mean we’ll have a woman coaching in Scotland, and it’s only the beginning!

Please support us!

 

Superchared thanks and infinite gratitude to those who have already donated!!
Ellie Dubois
Naomi Honey
Nicole Brandon
Chrissie Jamieson-Ardill
Paul Raj Lagah
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Ruth Savks
John Harte
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I was inside, I was outside.

Who was this ‘I’?

It is something everyone knows, unemotionally and as a matter of fact. You only have to pass through a small opening, a blocked corridor, swing over a handrail or on a balcony high enough to provoke vertigo for the body to become alert. The body knows by itself how to say I. It knows to what extent I am on this side of the bar, and when I am outside. It judges deviations from normal balance, immediately regulates them and knows just how far to go, or not go. Coenesthesia says I by itself. It knows that I am inside, it knows when I am freeing myself. This internal self proclaims, calls, announces, sometimes howls the I like a wounded animal. This common sense apportions the body better than anything else in the whole world.

From The Five Senses, a Philosophy of Mingled Bodies (I) by Michel Serres.

Translated by Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley. (Continuum publishing, London and New York, 2008, p 19.)

Clamjamfrie memories…

By Ellie Dubois

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It’s now two weekends since the Clamjamfrie took place in Glasgow and I just wanted to write about it here, firstly because it was a brilliant event and secondly because it’s important that both the personal achievements of those taking part and the overall achievement of pulling off an event on this scale be remembered and celebrated. So to celebrate, here are a few of my favourite memories of the Clamjamfrie:

1) The beginning. Standing in the rain in the Glasgow at Clydeside surrounded by 40 other women warming up at the start of the Clamjamfrie. I have never seen that many women training together in Scotland before, and what was even more brilliant was that I knew maybe about five of them. There was so many new faces: some people that had travelled across Europe to be here, some from other Scottish communities and (for me most excitingly) women from Glasgow, who had never done parkour before but they were out there in rain giving it a try for the first time. I think that it would be fair and honest to say that it has been hard in the past to get women involved in Parkour in Glasgow. They often say that they are interested and would love to give it a try, but that they are scared or don’t think that they are strong enough or they don’t have the time,. So getting all these new and unfamiliar faces together for the first time is a massive achievement.

2) The Coaches A massive thank you needs to go to all the coaches. It was great to have so many different coaches with a massive amount of expertise to share with the participants. They bought new thoughts and ideas about how to train, new exercises and games to play, and new eyes to Glasgow’s walls and rails to see new jumps and challenges that we hadn’t spotted in the past.

3) Watching everyone push it seriously hard at the end of day one, despite being exhausted. It might be a bit of a parkour cliché but at the end of a hard and challenging day everyone worked super-hard in the conditioning. I don’t think that I will ever stop finding this impressive.

4) Teaching people something different. I was lucky enough to teach a bit of aerial stuff on day two. Everyone I taught was massively enthusiastic, despite their sore hands. Some people achieved their first first rope climbs or meathooks, and that was seriously impressive. But there were also great teachers doing contemporary dance, handstands, barefoot running and strongwoman. And from all these things you can take what is useful and leave the rest, and maybe find that some of the rest is useful at some point in the future.

5) The seemingly endless supply of protein bars. YUM!

6) The girl, whose name I can’t remember, who left halfway through day two, because she had to go and rescue a seal. I know that that seems a little weird but I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t an elaborate excuse to get out of conditioning and that it was actually part of her job. She told me that she was very sad that she had to go because she had had an amazing morning and had done lots of things that she never had thought she would be able to do. And that’s wicked, because that is ultimately what these events are about; to get people involved and to help them to prove to themselves that they are more capable than they ever thought they were.

7) The lovely Kel and Fiona. And thank you most of all to Kel and Fiona for organizing this event. It was a massive event not just for women’s parkour but also something that the rest of the parkour community in Scotland should be supporting and celebrating. I am certain that it will only make our community stronger for the future. Happiness.

Why No Boys? (Sometimes)

GPG in Edinburgh

Glasgow Parkour Girls in Edinburgh with their parkour girls

By Fiona B

For those who haven’t heard, Glasgow Parkour Girls will be hosting a 2 day training event for women* only. We thought it would be appropriate therefore, to take this opportunity to directly address a question we are regularly asked: why don’t you let men train with you?

 Firstly, we’ll begin by pointing out that this isn’t a hundred percent true. We do train with men. We actually quite like (training with) men! Some of our favourite (training) people are men. But it is true, that there are some times in our training (like girls’ jams, girls’ class or the above mentioned Clamjamfrie), where we aim to have women only spaces.

 We do recognise that a hundred percent women only space is not always feasible in parkour. We train in public spaces, and we know therefore that men may be at out spots. We also recognise that we may bump into male practitioners while out training, we share the same spots after all! And we don’t mind that. Despite the fact girls jams are advertised as women only, we would never make anyone unwelcome. As many of you know, there are no women coaches in Scotland at the moment, so girls’ class is always taken by a male coach.

 However, we believe it is important to strive for women only training spaces sometimes, and we think it is important that we are allowed these spaces. Anecdotal evidence and research has shown that many women feel uncomfortable training alongside men. This is due to many complex and intersecting social issues. Parkour, and sport in general, is often portrayed as a masculine pursuit. The media image of who does parkour often features a large, muscular man, who can easily perform feats that require incredible mental and physical strength. While this image is alienating to potential practitioners of all genders, it is particularly relevant to those who are not men. A women only environment allows women to try parkour in a more relaxed atmosphere, were they may feel less self conscious or nervous.

 Female athletes face different issues in their discipline to their male counterparts. There are general physical differences, such as strength, distribution of weight, body shape, etc. For example, many parkour women have a different understanding of climb ups: most beginners lack the upper body strength to learn them, and many women find their breasts to be a hindrance to the movement. Many women menstruate, which can effect their athletic output over their cycle, but this is very difficult to discuss, let alone get advice on, from male coaches. It’s not just physical differences that are present, but also mental ones too. In my experience, women face more fear and self-doubt, many women are turned off by competitive or aggressive tasks (such as ‘chase situations’). While this is a generalisation and not essential to every female practitioner, these differences (which are due to the socialisation of young children) are present in many women practioners.

 Some people have suggested to me that the creation of women only spaces is unfair to male practitioners. I don’t think so. Women are in the minority in parkour, and there have been many times when I’ve gone out training and been the only women there. As a friend and (male) practitioner once said “Every jam is a boys jam”. Women’s uptake and participation in sport in general is lower than men. The reasons are complicated, and often to do with societal ideas of gender roles. For example, even from a young age we encourage young boys to play rough and get muddy, where as young girls are often presented with gentler sports, or even discouraged from sports entirely. Women face different societal pressures which men do not, and these act as barriers to women’s participation. Therefore creating women’s only spaces seeks to readdress that imbalance and allow more women to comfortably enter the discipline.

 I don’t think women should only train together for all of their training. I think training with a wide variety of different people is important to develop in parkour. However, I would have never started parkour if there hadn’t been the option of a Girls’ Class, and it took me a while before I felt comfortable to train with men. Because of this I will always advocate for women only training spaces. I know how amazing and helpful the male community is, but I understand the feeling of intimidation towards training with a large group of men. I would hate for someone to miss out because they didn’t have a chance to fall in love with parkour because there wasn’t a situation where they felt comfortable to do so. In a perfect world we wouldn’t need these spaces, but we don’t live in that world, not yet. And until we do women only spaces are important to attract new practitioners and strengthen the women’s community.

International Women’s Day Parkour Clamjamfrie

Clamjamfrie: A Scots word meaning a large, loud group of people.

On the 8/9th of March, Glasgow Parkour Girls is proud to be hosting the UK’s first parkour event for women. The Clamjamfrie is a 2 day training event in Glasgow, aimed at encouraging women to try parkour for the first time, as well as challenging and connecting existing practitioners. The all woman coaching team will be drawn from over the UK and Europe, featuring women from Parkour Generations, Milan Monkeys and more. The event will also have skill sharing seminars, allowing participants a chance to try out new but related disciplines, such as strongwoman strength training, circus skills and capoeira.

Tickets cost £20 for both days (includes a t-shirt), or £10 for one day. If you can’t attend the event, but wish to support it, t-shirts and jumpers can be purchased separately.

For more information, to buy tickets, and to keep up to date with announcements check out the clamjamfrie website: http://parkourclamjamfrie.wordpress.com/

Anxiety and Training

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By Fiona B

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. People with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and often affect their daily life.

GAD is a long-term condition which causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.

People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. These vary from person to person, but can include feeling irritable or worried and having trouble concentrating or sleeping.

In previous blog posts, Kel discussed her depression and how it has affected her training. To carry on talking openly about mental health and parkour, I’d like to address training with anxiety.

My anxiety manifests itself in several ways but the key ones are crippling self doubt, inability to trust myself, fear of social situations and, at my worst, panic attacks and a fear of leaving my flat. Most of the time, my anxiety is like some kind of background noise in my life. Imagine mild tinitus: it’s there and it’s irritating, but it’s not making too much of an impact. Most of the time I can tune it out. When it gets bad however, anxiety can take over my life: it’s all I think about. It’s very difficult for me to overcome, and it makes me feel like a failure of a person.

Obviously, my anxiety can impact my training from time to time. So, while everyone’s anxiety is different, here are some gems that I can pass to you in the hopes you’ll learn something. Even if you don’t have anxiety, its changed the way I approach my whole training, and maybe it can offer you a new way of thinking too.

  • All fear is real fear – I do not accept the distinction made between real fear and silly fear. If something makes you feel afraid then it’s a real fear. All my fears are real, and they all have real affects. They may not follow a logic that everyone else recognises, but all fears have a basis somewhere, even if they are distorted or projected elsewhere. You can’t talk yourself out of being afraid, but hopefully you’ll be able to do something despite being afraid. You have to face that fear to overcome it; you can’t just make it go away by telling yourself it’s silly or illogical. Just admit you’re afraid and deal with it. This leads on to the next point…
  • Respect your fear – You can’t talk your fear away, not all the time. You can do things despite your fear, but it’s often still there, and you should respect it. Spending time berating yourself and your brain is not productive. Please don’t do it. I am guilty of doing this, I call myself all kinds of names when I’m afraid of doing something I think I should be able to do. But, this doesn’t help. If anything, it makes me feel more pathetic. You’re not weak or silly if you’re afraid of something. Respecting your fear doesn’t mean never try and overcome it, but there’s no need to abuse yourself over it.
  • It’s Okay To Ask For Help – It doesn’t make you weak or incapable. Everyone needs some help now and then, and some more than others. You’re not a burden. You’re a person who maybe just isn’t very well at the moment.
  • Cut Out The Bad – People, situations, training patterns: whatever isn’t working for you, and is actively making you sad/stressed/in pain, get rid of it. Never feel bad about it. Shit happens, life is hard and training sometimes means doing things that suck for a long term win. But, as far as possible, you should fill your life/training with good things that make you happy and help you to progress. Don’t keep the things in your life that that pull you down, especially if you’re feeling fragile. Remember, this includes people or friendships- there are people whose influence is not helpful or may even be harmful to you, whether this is their intention or not. You don’t owe them anything, and if they’re causing you stress, avoid them.
  • Don’t Define Yourself By Your Training – When I’m feeling anxious I’m totally off my game. I find it difficult to get in the head space to progress in my training the way I’d want to. When I’m feeling pretty stressed I tend to think quite lowly of myself, and a bad day of training can add to this. While it’s great to progress your training by breaking loads of jumps, this isn’t always a useful way to think about parkour, or even practise it. While parkour can come to shape and define us, don’t attach too much self worth to the idea of being “the best”. Having the biggest jump doesn’t make you a better person.
  • Change Your Training – If you have to! So my confidence is low, I don’t trust myself – this means I’m not breaking a lot of jumps, but I’m trying to not let it get to me… To avoid entering a vicious cycle of bad emotions creating bad training, sometimes you might need to change how you train. For me this means lots of conditioning and weights – negative emotions and self image don’t impact this kind of training for me as much, so when I’m not feeling up to other stuff, I can spend my time getting stronger. This works for me because I enjoy it, it’s useful and I still feel like I’m training, rather than wasting my time feeling bad because I can’t do anything. At some point fears have to be faced, but if you’re not mentally up for something it’s best to come back to it when you are. Training is an amazing way to help you get better, don’t turn it into something painful.
  • Stay Safe – I get stressed out by new and unfamiliar places/people/situations. So when I’m feeling anxious I limit the places I frequent to those I feel safe and comfortable in. When leaving your house is scary. you need to minimise other stresses. I like to train at Glasgow Uni because I’m in my fifth year of study there, I know the campus really well, and it’s pretty near my flat. When I’m scared it’s nice to have a training spot that’s familiar – don’t be ashamed to admit to needing specific things to help you train, especially when you’re not feeling good.
  • Don’t Stop Training – Hobbies are a great way to distract yourself and get out of the house. Sport and exercise is a fantastic way to sweat out a lot of bad feelings. Sometimes parkour will be hard, and it has nothing to do with the physical obstacles you’re facing. Parkour has been an amazing help to me but the times I’ve needed it most have been the times I’ve wanted to give up. For me, parkour overall has a very positive impact, and its got me through stressful times. That’s not to say it’s never caused some stress, or made me cry, or feel like shit. If the decision is right for you to take a break or walk away, don’t feel bad about it. You should always look after your health. But sticking with it helped me, and I think it could be of genuine benefit to others who feel anxious.

    This isn’t a definitive list of ways to deal with anxiety while training, it’s just some that help for me. It’s taken me a while to work out how I want to train, and I wish that could have come sooner to save days of frustration. Remember if you are struggling with anxiety, or any other mental health issue, you’re not alone, and there are people/places you can reach out to if you need help. Train safe pals, and don’t doubt that you’re still strong.

Weekly Watch

by Fiona B

Hiya pals!

For our second pick, I’m offering another well loved classic which was recommend by Kel. Like last week’s video, I watched this fairly early in my training, but I had totally forgotten about it. I’m happy to reshare it with yous because it’s such a nice wee video. I’m a huge fan of night time training, I think it’s the best. There’s nothing better than heading out in the dark to have some chilled out training and enjoying jumping around while people are going to bed. This video really sums up that feeling for me, it’s relaxed but at the same time it still makes me feel a bit buzzed to go training. I hope you find yourself inspired to go out and train tonight.

[p.s. Weekly Watch posts have now been moved to a separated page. Click the Weekly Watch tab up top for a new video recommendation every Monday]

Weekly Watch

by Fiona B

Hello, and welcome to weekly watch, where we’ll share with you our favourite parkour videos, old and new!

To start us off, I’ve picked what is possibly my favourite parkour video ever. I find it to be incredibly inspirational, and to me, sums up the spirit of parkour. I first saw this fairly early into my training, and it was the first video that I felt I really connected with, and showed something that felt more realistic to me. While it’s great to watch people doing amazing movements, I find watching Jo try this wall climb again and again is more relatable to my training. All in all it’s a beautiful video, so enjoy!

If you have any suggestions of great videos for us to watch and share, post them in the comments or on our facebook.

[p.s. Weekly Watch posts have now been moved to a separated page. Click the Weekly Watch tab up top for a new video recommendation every Monday]