All About Parkour

Angelo CabreraDarren Tobia Angelo Cabrera, 19, from the East Village performs “the flag” in Tompkins Square Park. He is a member of the NYC Parkour team, which performs gymnastic maneuvers against an urban backdrop.

The Local East Village takes a look at the fitness phenomenon known as parkour through a pair of reports. First, Community Contributor Al Kavadlo, a personal fitness trainer, offers a first person account where he tries out some parkour moves. Then, NYU Journalism’s Lesley Messer and Suemedha Sood report on four neighborhood teenagers who’ve formed a bond through their practice of the sport.

What began with a group of teens in France running and jumping through the city streets has turned into a worldwide fitness movement, with the East Village as one of NYC’s primary hubs. Tompkins Square Park has had a reputation for many different things over the years. You can now add parkour to the list.

Parkour involves training to overcome physical obstacles by adapting to the environment. If there is a ledge, you vault over it, if there is a tree, you climb it and if there is a gap, you jump it.

Tompkins Square Park features so many great obstacles for parkour practice,
 such as the jungle gym in the Northeast corner, that it has become one of the most popular 
spots in the city for traceurs (that’s what people who do parkour call themselves).

While parkour is a fun way to exercise, it is also quite challenging and potentially dangerous. Make sure to progress gradually and seek out a qualified instructor before trying any advanced moves.

I recently got to train at Tompkins Square Park with Rick Seedman, a neighborhood personal trainer and group fitness instructor who specializes in bodyweight training and parkour. We had a blast (and a great workout!) along the way.

Check out the video below to see how it went:

For These Teenagers, Parkour is an Art and a Discipline

Sharif Va’Don was playing outside his Avenue D home one day, when two teenagers from the neighborhood asked him if he knew about something called parkour. He didn’t. Those teens, Rashaad Gomez and Darrious Perez, were childhood friends who’d been practicing parkour for years. When they saw Sharif sprinting across the courtyard at breakneck speed, they had a feeling he’d be interested in learning about the discipline. The teenagers, and their buddy Angel Santos, tell NYU Journalism’s Lesley Messer and Suemedha Sood about their affection — and respect — for parkour.