During this time of year, it seems all everyone is doing is studying. I want to break free, go for a walk let off some steam. I want to run, jump and play. I believe we all feel like this. We can’t stay cooped up indoors for our jobs, our studying and our relaxing time, it’s wrong. When did taking time off or having a break mean not doing anything significant? We take time out from an office job or studying at the computer all day to browse the internet. When did that become the idea of fun?
To be happy, to relax we need to do something, anything. Go out for a walk, meet friends, try a new sport, anything. Just do something. Do you miss the time spent as a child playing outside? When you’d climb trees, run so fast you thought your legs would fall off and not care what anyone thought? You can have that back.
Why don’t you climb trees anymore? Why don’t you jump as far as you can? Why not go out and see how fast you can run? Society has told us we must act ‘grown up’ and that we must have fun in a certain ‘normal’ way. We are constantly told that we need to buy the latest phone or the newest game to be happy, but does this really make us happy?
Forget about what other people think: go out and play. The best times in your life are when you feel free. When you’re out with friends, lost in your own little world, when you don’t worry about everyone else. But we don’t do it, we are afraid of being judged. So we sit in silence tapping out conversations with our fingers, staring blankly into a screen. We watch videos of other people doing the things we wish we could, but think we never will.
I was like that; I believe that is why I hated being a teenager. I was too worried about what people might think to even attempt to be happy. But now I am part of a group of people, a group of people who are all so different but who all want to play.
‘Who are these bunch of nutters?’ You may ask. They are the Glasgow Parkour community.
When I first came to Glasgow I was sick of being stuck in my tiny room nothing to but browse the internet or drink. While thinking of how times were better as a child, I remembered a programme I saw on TV when I was about 11, Jump London. So sitting in my room, away from my family, my boyfriend and feeling more alone that I had ever felt in my life, I googled parkour in Glasgow.
I was not expecting much. Maybe a few videos of people who wouldn’t want to talk to me unless I was as good as them, but I was determined to try and contact someone.
Instead it turned out to be the turning point of my life. A bit over dramatic it seems, but nevertheless that it what it was. I had found a parkour class. Apprehensively I booked my first class, completely terrified I would be shunned for being useless or unfit, or even for being a girl. I was determined not to let this stop me though. I arrived in town for my first class no idea how I would recognise people, scared I was late and worried I was in the wrong place.
“Ah…” I spotted people jumping between bollards at the subway station. “That’s probably them” I thought to myself. I walked up still terrified that I wouldn’t fit in, but after talking to a few people realised it would probably be okay. They told me I would be fine though conditioning was probably going to be hell as some guy called Mick was taking the class. I nodded politely having no idea what conditioning was.
After being split into groups and having been for what was supposedly a “short jog” we were told we were going to start warming up. I hoped it was a joke, I was dizzy and couldn’t see, but it wasn’t. 20 minutes later I had been introduced to what felt like hundreds of new ways to be tortured, cat walks, side monkeys, duck walks and many other things that I never wanted to do again.
Then the fun stuff started and I was instantly hooked. I learned how to jump, how to land, a few different types of vault and most importantly, how much thought goes into every movement. I did my first route that night and still remember it to this day. Nothing, not even conditioning, (which turned out to be a horrible circuit of burpees (another great new fun thing), box jumps, reverse press ups and triceps dips) could put me off.
A week later and still not able to use my arms or walk without my legs collapsing I hobbled to the next class. For most of the next month I was unable to do a single press up but I’ll always remember the way, Angie, Kel and Rachel helped me through and the whole class made sure I never finished the set alone. Later when I went to my first women’s class, it was Fiona who wouldn’t let me give up or get left behind. During this time I realised just how special this community was.
Now I regularly train outside of classes with anyone who wants to go out to play. It was at one of these informal jams that I met Nina who, as well as being a brilliant traceuse, turned out to be one of the most encouraging people I know, famous for her phrase: “stop being a dick and just do it”. She knows what everyone is capable of, and wants to see them reach their full potential.
Every achievement I make makes someone else happy, and every time I see someone break a jump or do a vault for the first time I can’t stop grinning – it makes my day. Without meeting these amazing people I would never have a way to go out and express myself, to go out and just have fun. Parkour is always a welcome break to studying. It clears my head and helps me think, but it’s the people that make it so special to me. Without them I don’t think I would even make it through my next exam never mind a whole degree.
So I just want to say thank you to my Parkour Family.