The first thing most people picture when someone mentions parkour is people doing dramatic flips and scaling shear walls with ease. However, the president of Miami’s Parkour and Slacklining Club strongly believes that there is much more to the sport than what’s typically depicted in most YouTube videos.
The club had its weekly practice this weekend, and while the weather outside was wet and dreary, MU Parkour didn’t let that stop them from meeting.
After meeting at the club’s usual spot, the Central Quad sundial, they quickly relocated to the Rec Center where the president, senior Jonathon Goulding, spoke a little more about the history of parkour at Miami.
“The peak of our activity was around my freshman year,” he said, “but I’m doing a lot to boost membership for this year.”
MU Parkour is open to members of all skill levels, from more highly trained individuals like Jonathon to beginners just interested in seeing what parkour is all about.
Idecha Hunter, one such newbie, stated that she’d seen videos on the internet and gotten interested in the sport, and felt that learning under the guidance of an organization like MU Parkour was a safer idea than trying to learn on her own.
Jonathon went on to say that the club prioritizes the safety of it’s members, proudly stating that they hadn’t experienced a single accident during the club’s seven year existence.
During the practice, the instruction focused on whatever each individual needed help with most. If a member was struggling with a particular maneuver, Jonathon would be there to encourage and help them through it at their own pace.
While perhaps not as glamorous as a more typical, outdoor practice, both indoor and outdoor practices are valuable to the members of the club.
“Indoors we mostly use the rock wall, as well as working on cardio,” Jonathon said. “The better you can breathe, the longer you can practice.”
Personal fitness certainly seemed important, as Jonathon scaled the slanted rock wall with ease. The goal is for members to be able to run, jump and scale obstacles without tiring too easily.
The practice wasn’t all drills and workouts, however. The club played a game called Take Away, where members repeatedly climbed the rock wall, gradually limiting which hand and foot holds they could use until the wall became unclimbable.
But despite the enjoyable environment, declining membership is a big struggle for the club.
“I get a lot of interest from people,” said Jonathon, “but when I tell them to come out and try it, they often shy away from it, thinking they can’t do it. It’s a mental block that’s hard to overcome.”
That block certainly looked like it was worth overcoming, as the club showed videos of “Parkour Jams” — large-scale events where groups come together and do parkour throughout an area — and discussed how they wanted to participate in one come spring, once membership numbers were higher.
Instead of glorifying flips and tricks, MU Parkour does its best to instill in its members a deeper understanding of what goes into the sport, and how they can learn and improve.
“You don’t need flips right away, you just need an interest,” Jonathon said.