If at first you don’t succeed…

… Try try again. And again… and again… and again…

I was feeling quite slow and heavy but I was determined to go to the gym, especially since I blew it off the day before due to complete exhaustion (and a touch of laziness). I just felt totally sluggish. I decided to try to kick the heaviness with a workout. Sometimes this works, and sometimes I really am just exhausted. I didn’t know which it would be until I got to the gym.

I warmed up a bit, climbing and doing some precision jumps to see how I felt. My heart wasn’t in it. I just felt off.

I decided to work on something that required less effort, something on the soft floor with soft mats. I started with basic vaults and then I finally started to become a person again and naturally transitioned into setting the boxes up so I could work on kong precisions. For my non-parkour people… it’s when you jump over something and land on something else. That’s basically all you need to know. Or you can watch this old tutorial.

I then proceeded to work on this one specific kong pre, which was at a pretty significant distance (for no reason, I could have easily moved it closer) for the next 1.5 hours. No joke. For 90 minutes straight, this was all I did. One after another, after another, after another. I got close a few times. I landed right in front of the block a few times instead of on top of it. I got one foot on, one foot off a few times. I fell on my bum a few times. I kicked the block I was supposed to be landing on across the room a few times. Never once did I execute a perfect precision landing where I wanted to. And I was totally okay with that.

Did I fail? I don’t think so. I got my ass up and went to the gym. Success. I trained for 2 hours. Success. I challenged myself and humbly accepted defeat… for now. I consider that a success. What would be the point of our training if we always landed everything on the first try?

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The New Workout Spot

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I’m currently living in Santa Monica, about 2.5 miles away from the beach, which basically means I’m the happiest girl in the world. I love walking/running/cycling down to the beach to get some fresh air, sit and write by the water, or to workout at Muscle Beach. During the week, I don’t have as much time to do this so on the weekends I try to spend as much time as I can down by the water, catching up on my Vitamin D intake and making up for my shorter weekday workouts.

Muscle Beach is definitely my new favorite place to go for a workout. I can train barefoot, cool off in the ocean breeze, play in the sand… oh oops, sorry, I’m supposed to be training. Seriously though, I love it there.

I love to see people skateboarding in their bathing suits and cycling past me with their surfboards in tow, dancing or playing guitar on the beach, and swinging back and forth on the traveling rings, which is my new favorite exercise.

It’s a killer workout and it is so much! it feels like you’re flying when you’re swinging from one ring to the next. When I first started, I felt so awkward and weak but every time I go it feels a little bit smoother.

The only downside of the rings is how my hands feel afterwards. Normally, I don’t use any sort of grips, gloves, or pads when training parkour – we’re too cool for that. Also, as I explained to a rando who asked me, if you’re running away from someone in any kind of real life danger situation, you’re not going to be able to pause to get your grips out before climbing to safety or hanging on for dear life. I know that’s dramatic, but it’s true. I’d rather train with bare hands. It just makes more sense.

That being said, I might cave and buy some grips. Strictly for the rings, I swear! That way I can have a solid workout and stop when my muscles are tired rather than giving up after four or five go’s because my hands feel like they’re going to fall off. I feel like that’s reasonable…

Anyway, this is definitely my new favorite workout spot. Whenever I go, there are always lots of people playing on the bars, monkeying around on the rings, hoola hooping, slacklining, rope-climbing, doing acro-yoga and anything else you can think of. It puts a huge smile on my face every time.

Happy International Day of Sport for Development and Peace!

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Photo by Pete Waterman (whoispete.com). Athletes: Kate Miller, Adrienne Toumayan and Melanie Hunt of American Parkour (APK).

Today is the third annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) and it is definitely something to celebrate!

A few years ago, as I became more and more involved in the parkour community and I began traveling and meeting athletes from around the world, I started to recognize the profoundly positive impact parkour has on its practitioners. I started to collect these stories…

A young man in the Caribbean who used to be an angry teenager prone to violence, but since training parkour had become a much more positive and healthy person.

A young woman whose parkour journey helped her find joy again after the death of a close friend.

A group of young women in Iran, empowered by the freedom of movement and self-expression found in parkour training. Women who continue to train despite the cultural restrictions they face in this pursuit.

Young men in Pakistan who never would have interacted coming from diverse ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds, but who were able to see past their differences and keep themselves out of trouble through their parkour training.

Young men in Gaza who find freedom through parkour, bringing joy to their friends and neighbors who enjoy watching them play. They maintain hope for a better future as they jump, flip, and tumble around.

There are countless more examples I’ve found, through news stories and personal accounts, of parkour improving people’s lives and bringing people together, particularly in areas divided by conflict. I have seen examples of this throughout the Middle East, in China, Eurasia, and more.

As I collected these stories and neared the end of my Master’s program in International Peace and Conflict Resolution last spring, I saw an Instagram post with one of parkour’s founding fathers, David Belle. He was holding a #WhiteCard in his support of this International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (6 April). This was the first time I heard about this International Day and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about such an academic and professional topic. I realized that the UN has an Office of Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) and that there was a whole field of people who shared my passion for both peace-building and sport. This is it, I thought. This is the ultimate combination of the two things I am most passionate about.

I will continue pursuing this passion, and hope to find a place for parkour in the larger field of Sport for Development and Peace. In the meantime, let’s celebrate all of the positive ways it has already helped people around the world.

Share your story. Go outside and play. Lead a class for your local community to share parkour with others (or to share another sport/physical discipline that brings you joy).

Join the conversation on social media by posting a picture of you holding a #WhiteCard to show your support for #IDSDP.

Lastly, if you’re interested in parkour & peace-building, send me a message! I’d love to talk to you and share ideas.