I like travelling and I like practising parkour. Combining these two things is a brilliant way of getting to explore a new city together with like-minded people.
In recent years, whenever I went travelling I packed a pair of trainers and trackies to be able to practise some parkour whilst away from Glasgow. Last year, however, on each of my travels I also got in touch with the local parkour community. In Munich, I met the local traceurs at one of their favourite spots and was subsequently invited to join them when they moved to other spots, whereas in Washington and Brisbane I had the pleasure of arranging a meeting with a “(parkour-) stranger” at a random spot in town following some research on the internet and a few emails. Both these meetings were slightly comical in the way that one stands at a prearranged spot in a completely foreign town and the only thing one knows about the other person is that they are on their way to go out jumping too, so you are on a lookout for other people dressed in trackies and trainers. Luckily, both in Washington and Brisbane the general public does not tend to endorse this kind of attire so it was easy to spot my “hosts”, however in other cities I can imaging this kind of procedure as being slightly more problematic. Anyway, after a very hesitant “are you…., I am Angie” we then proceeded to head to the first spot and after a few minutes of jumping all awkwardness is forgotten. The beauty of the parkour-community is that you don’t really need to be able to (or have to) communicate as a common interest and passion already is established. Thus one can directly proceed to the fun bit, i.e. the exploring of spots. I am very grateful to my hosts for willingly introducing me to their favourite haunts either by describing to me how to get there or accompanying me there themselves. In addition to providing you with some amazing training possibilities this is also a brilliant way to see a city in a completely different way. Munich, for example is my home town (however, I had not started practising parkour when I left it), so when I explored it with the help of the local traceurs I went to places I had never been (or seen) before. The same applied for Brisbane, one of my favourite holiday and work experience destinations and which I had visited a number of times. Alone in a week, I saw a lot more of the different parts of the city this time when out training compared to all my other visits combined. Washington I had never visited before, so my Parkour-trip added a new and interesting view to the obligatory White House- (no, I did not ring the door bell) and Capitol-visit.
In addition to the cultural/sightseeing aspect, the opportunity of meeting foreign (or at least so far unknown) traceurs gives you an insight into how other people train. Usually, one is (or at least I am) so immersed in one’s local community and its certain ways of warming up and conditioning that it is very interesting to be presented with new points of focus or aspects of training. Additionally, being put on the spot in a completely new surrounding, makes you realize your own strengths and weaknesses and gives you a pretty good idea on what you need to work on. On the other side, for those traceurs showing strangers around, it can also be very stimulating to see how a traceur new to “their” spot will approach a spot so familiar to you. This might provide you with new challenges and solutions due to their “fresh” view of this space.
Finally, the last but definitely not the least advantage of meeting up with fellow traceurs in a foreign city is that you immediately have acquired a set of acquaintances with whom you share not only a interest in certain form of exercise, but usually also a lot more. Since parkour for most of us is not limited to a simple pastime but also spills over in many aspects of life such as our general mindset and nutrition (just to name of few), meeting people who do not bat an eyelid when you attempt a rather punishing conditioning-set or decide it will be more fun to scale a set of walls instead of taking the stairs can be of an advantage not to mention the fact that they most probably will join in and share the fun (and pain) with you. Most traceurs I have met have a very open view of the world, like to explore movement and new places and enjoy a good laugh. Meeting such people will most certainly make your stay in a foreign environment a very enjoyable one.
So, have fun and get travelling!