It’s sweeping the nation and taking America by storm. It’s fun to watch, and according to local athlete, Chayanne Jimenez, it's even more fun to practice.
Parkour has been around a lot longer than many people think. It actually originated in France in the 1980s, and America was the last place to pick up the trend. David Belle, the original founder, trained with a small group of friends, later known as the Yamakasi, and it spread like wildfire. Another member of the group was Sebastian Foucan, who eventually created Free Running, a similar activity that goes hand in hand with Parkour.
So again, what is Parkour and Free Running? Simply put, Parkour is the more useful of the two. It gets you from Point A to Point B the fastest. Free Running is the flashier of the two, showcasing many difficult tricks and flips. Check out some samples here to get a better picture:
Jimenez, a local Parkour artist, has been practicing the art for about five years. His interest peaked when he watched some crazy kids on YouTube videos and thought to himself “I can do that.” Jimenez has come far in the time he has been practicing. “You can’t start off with complicated stuff. You can’t be reckless, or you are going to get hurt,” he states, before doing a perfect back tuck off of the park bench. “The first thing you need to do is learn how to fall.”
Among other tidbits of information, Jimenez explains a practice run. First and foremost is stretching, like any other sport. Parkour rolls are also important, as to spread the impact throughout your body rather than straight down your spine. Many gymnastics tricks are used in daily training as well, including cartwheels and flips.
“Everyone has their own techniques and strengths,” Jimenez explains. “It’s amazing how far you can push your limits. It actually breaks the limits of what you think the human body can do. And it’s not about who can do the biggest or best tricks. It’s definitely a progressive art,” he
states with a smile.
There is a thin line between Parkour and Free Running. It’s hard to find, but it’s there. It’s not just a sport, it’s an art form. And, it’s a community in itself. Red Bull has peaked interest and endorsed Parkour, with a competition called Red Bull’s Art of Motion. The competition is a huge obstacle course, which competitors tackle with skill and speed and of course, a time limit.
The Art of Movement is another competition, held annually in St. George. There are three divisions: Amateur, Intermediate, and Advanced. Jimenez has competed twice, and in his second year, he came in first place in the Intermediate category.
So, how does one like Jimenez train for such a sport? “I train as much as I can. I try to do about three to four hours a day, about four days a week. Sometimes I train solo and sometimes in a group.”
There is a small group in Mesquite that practices Parkour and Free Running. The athletes train anywhere they can: Mesquite, St. George, Las Vegas, and some have even been as far as Los Angeles.
Locals Tyler Rhoades and Steve Leavitt are both newer to the art form than Jimenez, but their fire is catching. “It’s not about body strength or weight. It’s all about technique,” explains Rhoades. “Some people are naturally talented, and some train for years.” Jimenez chimes in “We all start as kids playing in a playground. This is just a more advanced form of that.”
Parkour and Free Running are similar to martial arts. It’s a discipline that keeps kids off the streets. It helps keep people off of drugs and out of trouble. It takes a lot of physical and mental dedication to accomplish your goals. “A word of advice to anyone interested in starting,” says Jimenez. “Never be afraid to try. Remember that everyone started at the same point. Just start slow and build yourself up.”
You might see local Parkour and Free Running enthusiasts running through the streets of Mesquite, jumping over fences, and pulling crazy tricks in the middle of the road. When they train, heads turn. When they compete, they win. They have heart.