How Can Parkour Help You With Obstacle Racing?

Training Tips   |   May 13, 2013

Parkour.  Wikipedia tells us it’s ‘a holistic training discipline using movement that developed out of military obstacle course training.

Wassat?’ we hear you thinking, ‘Obstacle course?  I do obstacle courses all the time!  How can this parkour thing help me?

We caught up with Kyle Gervis who has been into parkour for the past eight years and who is also a personal trainer that does obstacle course racing, just for a bit of an insight from someone who is into both concrete and mud.


parkourObstacle Racers: What is parkour? How would you describe it to someone who has never seen or heard of it before?

Kyle Gervis: The definition that the APA (Australian Parkour Association) uses and is taken from David Belle the founder of parkour is as follows: “Parkour is a method of physical training that develops one’s ability to overcome obstacles (both physical and mental). It involves movement that will help if one is in a reach or escape emergency situation. Underpinning this is a philosophy of altruism and useful strength,longevity, self-improvement and self-understanding.”


Obstacle Racers: Is it anything like obstacle racing?

Kyle Gervis: In a way yes, I think there are many cross overs. I’m sure that a lot of people who participate in obstacles races are doing in in part to develop their ability to overcome mental and obviously physical barriers, as well as just have fun. It is the same with parkour, we all do it in some way as self improvement and to try get the best out of ourselves.


Obstacle Racers: Do the skills used in parkour ever come in handy in an obstacle race?

Kyle Gervis: Absolutely! when myself and two other parkour instructors participated in Tough Mudder Melbourne and it became quite apparent just how useful these skills are for obstacle racing. To the point that the obstacles where a non-event. The only challenge we faced was the running that much of a distance, as we very rarely do very long steady state cardio. But even with out the regular training in steady state cardio we managed to qualify for worlds toughest mudder.


Obstacle Racers: What sorts of obstacles found at an obstacle race would be something you have ‘parkoured’ on?

Kyle Gervis: ”the Berlin walls” which where 3 walls in a row about 2.5 meters high, Balance beams, monkey bars & the half pipe. But there are a lot more that you can benefit from than just knowing the techniques of parkour, there is the kinesthetic awareness you get and the knowledge of exactly how far you and your body can be pushed. And the will to do more and help others and improve yourselves.


Obstacle Racers: Is there much running in parkour?

Kyle Gervis: Yes and no. We do a lot of running but its usually in the form of intervals. For example when we are practising a particular movement in order to get it as smooth and effortless as possible there is a lot of running into the movement and then out of it, then we may rest and repeat. Steady state cardio is not done very often, unless we have a particular challenge that has been set and it involves a lot of running.


Obstacle Racers: Is there much strength work in parkour?

Kyle Gervis: Absolutely! In order to make a particular movement as effortless as possible (what ever that may be) having a strong strength foundation goes a long way towards achieving that! So we train for strength in every session we do to some degree. We use a lot of body weight movements in our training and if we are training with a group sometimes we use each other as external resistance (fireman carries e.t.c.)  A lot of tracuers, myself included do weights sessions out side of parkour as well. Strength work is a big part of parkour.


Obstacle Racers: What would be the main benefit of an obstacle racer in doing parkour?

Kyle Gervis: Making the obstacles them selves the smallest obstacle. And being able to really know your body and what you can do with it.


Obstacle Racers: How could an obstacle racer get into parkour?

Kyle Gervis: You will be able to find classes in every major city in Australia and some in lesser city’s as well through the Australian Parkour Association. We also have forums for any other questions people may have.  I would highly recommend people come and at least try out one session. You will definitely to have a good time :)


Kyle Gervis has been practising parkour for eight years and have been teaching it for three. He is a senior instructor with the Melbourne branch of the Australian Parkour Association.  Also a personal trainer with over five years experience in the Camberwell area, he runs Parkour strength and conditioning sessions on Fridays through the Australian Parkour Association.


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