Your Limits Are Not Really Limits – UMove PKGen Summer 2014 Parkour Workshop Recap
Last Sunday, visitors to Houston’s theater district downtown witnessed about 30 people climbing walls, jumping rails and walking across high ledges. Many of the curious visitors found out that they were watching an eight hour parkour workshop courtesy of Houston’s own Urban Movement and the UK’s Parkour Generations.
I received an invitation to the event just days prior. On a whim, I decided to sign up. After I signed up, I immediately felt a sense of dread. Here are some of the things that crossed my mind:
– This Sunday? But that’s my lazy day!
– I’ll miss half my weekend!
– I haven’t done parkour in months!
– I’m only a beginner.
– 8 hours?!?! In a row? I can’t do that!
– Where will I park?
– They’re all going to laugh at me.
I spent the remainder of the few days telling myself that I will do this. At the very least I can stay for about 2-3 hours and then leave. They can’t make me stay.
The day of the event, I looked up the weather. No rain and oh, great. With a 102F heat index, it was set to be the hottest day of the year.
I swallowed my doubts and drove downtown. Luckily there was plenty of parking and there were a lot of people there of all shapes, sizes and ages.
2-3 hours? I think I got this.
The atmosphere was charged. It may have been hot and humid, but with me were 30+ people ready to spend the day making the city their playground.
Pumped up and ready to go, we started with a warm up. And by warm-up, I mean a week’s worth of full workouts packed into about an hour.
But they kept an element of teamwork through it all. It may have been hot and it may have been hard, but it was a load of fun.
After that, we broke into groups based on skill set and explored the city. We learned how to use teamwork to our advantage. I tore my shirt up trying to scale a ledge against the wall with my whole team, but it was worth it.
After we broke for lunch, we got back together and learned the more technical skills involved in parkour. I learned about jumping onto objects properly, how to scale up a wall and how to traverse railings.
This is where the day took a turn for me.
Right up until this point, I was eager to learn everything I could. Even if I couldn’t quite jump far enough or reach high enough, I was still willing to give it a go.
Until we learned how to deal with heights.
Here’s where I admit that I’m super scared of being up high. It has been a fear since childhood. I don’t mind being up high when I know I’m protected (such as in a building) but being up on a high ledge scares the daylights out of me. I wouldn’t climb trees beyond a certain point when I was a child because I was too afraid.
When the instructor announced this activity, I immediately felt hot and dizzy. I sat down on the curb while the others walked across a bridge railing. My muscles began cramping. I thought that I was getting too hot and too tired. As I sat down, I realized that yes I was hot and tired, but I was feeling the physiological signs of terror. I was using these signs as an excuse not to do it.
When I realized this, I knew what I had to do. Life is adventure, not sitting down watching others have all the fun. So I stood up, took a deep breath and climbed the railing.
There were a few people who decided to walk it with me so that I didn’t have to be alone. For them, I am forever grateful. They were there to support me. I shook so hard, I was afraid that would make me fall.
I slowly (very very slowly) walked along the railing. I wanted so badly to stop and get off. My mind screamed for me to get down before something terrible happened. But I kept moving. I knew if I didn’t then I was letting fear control me. But I am a champion.
After what seemed like hours, I finally made it across the railing. I hopped down and, to my embarrassment, burst into tears. Adrenaline is a funny thing.
I got nothing but praise and high fives for my achievement. Sure, I may have been the only one there who had this issue, but every. single. person was supportive about it. Even a few of the guys said that they refused to do it their first time. I felt very happy in that moment. It may have been something very small, but I had become my own hero.
After my boxing match with fear, I was drained. I had made it to the 6th hour. I continued to do the exercises, but my body was moving much more slowly than I wanted it to. But I wasn’t the only one. Everyone was tired, even those who had been doing parkour for years and years. But it was amazing the emotional and mental determination and energy that still flowed through everyone.
At the end of the event, 31 of us were challenged to complete a huge obstacle course of 301 times total. I completed 5 rounds myself and would have kept going if it wasn’t for a pesky bout of heat exhaustion. In the end, I had to sit out with a pack of ice and some water while the rest completed it. We did a quick cool down at the end and then beamed at each other, exhausted and covered in dirt and sweat. I had never seen such a happy group of beat up people.
I met some really wonderful people from all over the world who had so many different reasons why they got into parkour. But the main thing that keeps us all coming back are the challenges and the fun involved in the “sport.”
Urban Movement and Parkour Generations was wonderful enough to host this event for us. I look forward to more parkour workshops and classes. I thought going in that I wasn’t going to do well, but I made it through the entire workshop. I had pushed myself to the limits and survived and because of that I am now stronger, both physically and mentally than I was before.
I have bruises and scrapes from the event. I am still sore from head to toe. I was dirty, hot and exhausted by the time I got home. And you better believe I’d do it all over again.
Photo Source: Top picture by Urban Movement