The New Workout Spot

IMG_3982

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.

Advertisements

Happy International Day of Sport for Development and Peace!

GoOutandPlay

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.

The Answer is Always Yes

The answer is always yes. Yes, you should move… move it… move it…

Sorry, playful mood tonight. Why? Because I MOVE(d) IT. Seriously, though. This last week of work has been insanely stressful for me and I’ve been sick at the same time. Needless to say, I have not been in a fantastic mood nor have I felt up for training much.

I’ve been taking it easy until tonight when I realized I really needed to blow off some steam, despite how exhausted and sick I still felt. I got home at 9:30pm, ate some Greek yogurt, threw on my sweats and ran down to the little park near my house.

I still thought I was too tired to do much when I left the house, but I figured I’d at least get some fresh air (even if it was in the dark) and maybe do some stretching and mobility.

Well, turns out what I really needed, more than anything else, was to play.

Don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said for a workout helping to relieve stress, but I’ve found that what really makes me feel better is when my workout turns into play and I’m having fun with my training.

I did a light warmup tonight, jogging around the park, and then I started with a few little precision jumps. There are some wide stone steps in the grass at the park that I like to do precisions and plyos on. They’re perfect for a warm up or just jumping around. There is also a wall next to the steps that I normally practice vaults on but Mr. Big Black Spider had already called dibs on that tonight so I respectfully stayed out of his way.

Moving on to a little garden patch with stone stairs of a different variety (don’t you love my descriptions?) I did some more precision jumps and plyos and strides. Then I started playing around a bit and getting silly with some plyo 180s down the stairs until I made myself dizzy. Before wrapping up my workout, I decided tonight was a great night to try 360 precisions on these little stone stairs. Why not?

I didn’t quite make it in the end, but I was having a lot of fun trying. It was so simple, and it made me so happy. I probably looked like a crazy person spinning in circles in the middle of a garden in giant sweatpants in the dark… Well, when you put it that way… But who cares, right? I was laughing at myself, getting lost in the fun of the movement. That, more than anything else, made me feel sane again.

I was sick, exhausted, had just worked a 10-hour day, but I went to the park to move around for “just a minute” and I felt a million times better after letting myself get lost in the training and just have fun with it.

So, should you go train? Yes. The answer is always yes.