The Nature of Challenge – From Ania Grupka (via Access Parkour)

This blog post was originally published on Access Parkour’s blog –

Parkour challenges me in a way like nothing else does. What I like most about it is the empowerment, that feeling that I can do anything (think superhero ninjas! don’t believe this though, I am only a beginner traceur!).

Challenge is a concept that I have worked with in different ways in the past years and my thinking has evolved around the idea of failure a lot. To me, challenge is inherently associated with failure. This is not where it ends, only the beginning of a journey and how I deal with the idea of failure is the massively important thing. This is where motivation and persistence come in to play.

Admittedly, this is not what I always thought. In the past, I would give up on something without actually trying because I was too afraid of failing. Or I would try once, decide that it wasn’t for me and just give up. I couldn’t stand not being good enough and I didn’t take criticism well, so I preferred not to face it at all. This is what I now consider to be a “I do not actually want to do it at all” approach. It means that if we give up, the thing we were attempting was not that important to us in the first place. Ultimately, most of the things we do in life are our choice. We choose to do them because we want to do them. And so we come up with ways of getting ourselves where we want to be. Otherwise, we come up with excuses to not do them. So if something is important enough to me I will keep at it no matter what, and failure is just a step on the way. It happens, but I keep going and try again.

I have been discovering with parkour recently that I am often more capable than I thought I was. Quite often I will need a lot of encouragement and sometimes I might be the last person to believe that I actually can do something. A recent example would be a training session where I was doing relatively easy jumps just because I didn’t realise I could do bigger ones. The discovery that I can do more was pretty exhilarating. And it brings up a question of how often do we operate within our perceived limits only because we don’t realise we are capable of so much more.

So say we decide that we *do* want to do something and we stick at it. We keep failing repeatedly over time and we might start wondering why we actually want to do it. Betterment is one of the reasons for me. If I become a little bit stronger, a little bit faster, this is already great. Some days I don’t feel like I’m improving at all though. But on these days, I find that the best reason to do parkour is just the sheer pleasure of movement. The satisfaction I get from just being in my body and interacting with the environment around is a reason enough to go out and train.


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If you’re in Edinburgh, make sure to head along to an Access class! And to say hi to Anna!

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