The first class was an intro class into the street fitness trend: parkour. This kinetic, plyometric, dynamic activity was popularized by David Belle, who is considered its founder, but its origins are found with the French Army and its early 20th century obstacle course training methods. Most people have that "oh yeah" moment, though, when I tell them it's like the opening scene from Casino Royale with James Bond chasing after a man with a backpack.
The next phase was to teach you safe dropping and landing techniques. Here we identified the impact of moving your center of gravity lower to reduce the impact of the drop and landing on the balls of your feet to absorb some of the downward force. The somersaults were not my forte, I can tell you that! I can't even tell you the last time I did tumbling of any sort! Add to that the mental challenge of twisting yourself to do a shoulder roll, then finish the move straight, get to your feet and run...my brain and body were just not connecting! Finally, we learned about mounting tall objects and vaulting over them. The focus here was on maximizing your movement to get up efficiently and to position yourself to land quickly and accurately. That James Bond clip has great examples of effective body positions/landings that allow you to maintain momentum. This is also called freerunning. The class ended with a "graduation" obstacle course that incorporated all the techniques we learned.
Later that day, nursing my bruised butt and tight/slightly injured shoulder muscles, I was thinking about what I learned from the class. First, much of what was demonstrated is very applicable to everyday life and any sport one may play: economizing movement and energy while not breaking momentum. Just think about the last time you tripped over something and fell. The second takeaway was that, in my opinion, parkour is for the young and very limber! I think a lot of my issues with the obstacles were mental, thinking about potential injury and how that would impact and disrupt my ability to work, drive, walk my dog, etc. The final lesson was observed two days later: I was more sore from this two hour class than I was running in a half marathon last month. Crazy, right?
Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria to take a class to refresh some of my indoor rock climbing skills. Probably not the best idea considering my sore muscles! I actually learned to climb several years ago, but haven't been to the climbing gym in awhile because I don't have a belay partner. I thought I could benefit from a class in movement skills, continuing on the theme of efficient energy use, as a refresher and as a way to get me on the wall. The class is called Intro to Climbing, but it really should be taken after the Basic Skills class. There is no belaying involved in this class, just moving along the wall close to the ground and doing a little bit of bouldering. In the first part of the class we focused on walking the base grips with no hands to demonstrate the effectiveness of transferring your energy and weight the right way. Next we talked about ways to conserve arm strength, which boils down to keeping them as straight as possible. Finally, we got on the bouldering wall to climb a little higher. I can tell you now, I will never be interested in bouldering because I don't like the idea of climbing 15-20 feet with nothing securing you and only a padded mat to cushion your fall. I much prefer top-roping with a belay partner! And now, I just need to convince some friends to get belay certified so I can go back and climb again...