Welcome to cold days and long nights. For many of us, that signals a retreat to the training space of our local parkour gym. For one jolly fellow at least, that means braving the elements, and dashing across rooftops with his reindeer buddies. I’m referring of course to the ultimate traceur, that red-garbed fellow who shimmies down chimneys each year.
In the past, his gift selection for parkour athletes was limited to baggy sweatpants and cheap kung-fu shoes. Not any more. Parkour has evolved, and along with that evolution have come many exciting gift ideas for the aspiring athlete.
Whether you believe in Santa Claus or not, here are a handful of items to add to your wish list:
GoPro Mouth Mount
Head mounts are shaky, and chest mounts don’t quite capture the right vantage point. A mouth mount solves both problems, providing an ideal POV for capturing your action. If you haven’t seen it already, watch Storror’s rooftop escape video for a good idea of what I’m talking about.
With the MyGo Mouth Mount, you can show your friends and family exactly what it is like when you are out on a training mission. The MyGo model is $35 on Amazon, and has 70 four-star reviews. For those of you who can’t wait for Prime shipping, pro-athlete Jesse LaFlair has a quick tutorial on how to make a do-it-yourself mouth mount.
By the way, falling down with anything in your mouth could lead to a nasty injury. Save yourself a huge dentist bill and be sure to spit out the camera before any crash landings!
Ground Rail Trainers
Building confidence with rail balancing takes hours and hours of practice. A ground rail trainer is a simple tool that lets you hone your skills indoors at home. Sitting just a few inches off the floor, it lets you practice your static rail balance, rail walking, and rail squatting without risk of injury. Bring one to your next holiday party and you’ll be guaranteed with endless fun.
A three-foot long ground rail trainer can be ordered from ParkourEDU for $79.99. Buy two or more of them, so that you can work on precision jumps and partner challenges.
Parkour Summer Camp
Does your kid love parkour? How stoked would he or she be to train with a few of the world’s top athletes? Woodward camps, previously known for their skateboarding and gymnastics camps, now host parkour sessions every summer. Previous visiting pros included Tim “Livewire” Shieff, Damian Walters, Jason Paul, and Alexander Schauer.
Woodward has camps in both Pennsylvania and California. After travel costs, expect to pay around $1000 to attend one of their sessions. Adults are allowed to attend the camp in late August, so hurry up and get your registration. The spaces are guaranteed to fill fast.
For a less expensive option, check your local gym. Boulder’s APEX Movement hosts weeklong day camps for $300. The even have a winter session starting soon.
For the parkour enthusiast, nothing beats a camp with the pros.
Parkour doesn’t require special hardware, safety gear, or clothing. In fact, you don’t need much more than a decent set of kicks. Over the past six years, I have gone through at least half a dozen shoes searching for the perfect pair. Those of you who have been training for more than a year know my struggle. Finding a good shoe is hard!
Concrete wall runs and jumps shred outsoles. Big drops can bruise your feet. And too stiff of a shoe won’t let you feel the obstacle enough. The ideal parkour shoe must walk the line between durability and flexibility. It also needs great traction and the right amount of padding. You want enough padding to protect your feet, but not so much that you might rolling your ankle or limit your sensitivity.
One of the companies that I’m most excited about is Str/ke Movement. Their shoes are light, flexible, and have the perfect amount of cushion. The new Chill Pill Mid has a one-piece outsole for better durability than previous models. Its minimal 2.5mm heel rise ensures that your ankles operate as nature intended.
Two other parkour-specific companies to keep an eye on are Know Obstacles and Ollo. Although I haven’t tested their products, I like their low profile designs, and it looks like they would both have decent grip.
Skill is essential for parkour, but it is only half the story. Successful athletes need both technical mastery and excellent physical preparation.
This past year, Ryan Ford and I released the first strength and conditioning manual for parkour practitioners. Parkour Strength Training covers 272 pages of drills to make you a more powerful and injury-free athlete. After building a foundation of bodyweight strength, it explores the progressions to help you crush climb-ups and other advanced moves.
If you already have Parkour Strength Training, consider buying a copy of Julie Angel’s Breaking the Jump. From David Belle, the Yamakasi, and Jump London, it tells the story of parkour’s origin. History buffs will also enjoy Christopher McDougall’s Natural Born Heroes for how it combines parkour and World War Two lore.
Why should you train parkour?