Today’s blogger: Marissa Stephenson, Shape’s associate fitness editor
You probably look at a fence or fallen tree in your path and think “obstacle.” But that will change after you try parkour, a sport that challenges you to scale everyday objects to get from one point to the next. Parkour became popular after it popped up on NBC’s The Office (if you haven’t seen the clip, get ready for a chuckle) and the MTV show Ultimate Parkour Challenge. Now gyms on both coasts are introducing indoor and outdoor classes to help people safely get in on the fun. I recently took a 90-minute indoor session at Equinox Fitness at Columbus Circle here in New York.
We began with a 20-minute warm-up of exercises to get us in the parkour mindset, like logrolling across the floor and then popping up into plank position. Then we practiced vaulting over stacked mats, walking on a beam, and doing shoulder rolls (think: diagonal somersaults on one shoulder). Finally, the instructors spaced mats, hurdles, and balance beams throughout the room and it was up to us to decide how to navigate our way through the obstacle course. I was shocked by how much strength and energy it took to tumble and jump. My arms ached the next morning, but I barely noticed—I was too busy chatting up my coworkers about how much fun I had!