Parkour and the Art of Movement

APEX Movement APEX Movement Pro Team Member Justin Clark APEX Movement Pro Team Member Justin Clark

Vaulting, running, climbing, swinging, and balancing to pass over, under, and through obstacles. Welcome to the world of parkour, where you will tap into your inner child and accomplish things you never thought possible.

What is parkour?

Parkour is a method of training your body and mind to overcome obstacles with speed and efficiency. However, the practice of parkour also includes many challenges that need adaptability, creativity, and strategy.

Parkour athletes, known as traceurs and traceuses, use movements such as vaulting, running, climbing, swinging, and balancing to pass over, under, and through obstacles.

Face fear, set goals, develop your body

While parkour can borrow movements from other disciplines, extraneous or purely aesthetic such as flips and twists are not typically considered parkour. Requiring you to see the environment in a unique way, parkour will teach you to face fear, set goals, and think critically to develop gradual plans of progression. As a physical discipline, parkour teaches respect for the environment and development of the body.

"Exercise should not mean suffering through 30 minutes on a stationary bike, only made bearable by the TV on the wall and the headphones over your ears. A gym should not be a dreadful place, easily erased from your schedule by the slightest excuse. And fitness is not only for the bodybuilding magazine model or the elite athlete. Instead, we aim to inspire fitness at its purest roots, movement.

Think back to when you were a kid, jumping off benches and climbing trees for fun. Fitness used to be something we achieved without consciously trying. Fitness is for everyone, no matter what your goals are. Movement is the foundation of any physically fit lifestyle."

- Ryan Ford, APEX Movement


Parkour & Freerunning

Originally intended as a synonym for parkour, freerunning evolved into a style of movement similar to parkour that also incorporates acrobatics and extraneous movement for fun, creativity, difficulty, and aesthetics. Freerunning allows an individual to express themselves by overcoming mental and physical obstacles without being limited to traditional parkour’s ideals of efficiency and utility.

Most practitioners of parkour and freerunning nowadays are not concerned with the names or labels of their style of movement. It is good to know the definitions and differences between movement arts like parkour and freerunning, but the modern trend is to experiment with and blend both. For the sake of simplicity in this article, I am going to refer to “parkour and freerunning” as simply, “parkour.”

Who can do parkour?

Anyone can do parkour. If you think parkour is only for shirtless and athletic teenage guys, I don’t blame you; parkour videos on YouTube are definitely dominated by a young male crowd. But don’t let that fool you, I have trained with people of all ages and abilities. The two most common excuses I hear are, “Maybe if I was younger” or “I’m too out of shape.” Even if you think you are too old or too fat, parkour will help you shed the pounds, revive your health, and make you feel young again. Whether you are working on stepping over a bench or doing a double backflip; parkour is all about exploring and improving upon your own capabilities. Some of the most inspiring traceurs are overweight, female, 45 years old, or living with cerebral palsy. Through parkour, anyone can learn to overcome all types of obstacles ranging from actual walls and barriers to gender stereotypes and disabilities. 

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This article originally appeared on APEX Movement. Republished with permission. To Learn more about parkour, visit!
Ryan Ford

Ryan Ford is known internationally as a top parkour athlete and coach, having performed around the world for organizations such as the U.S. Embassy, Hewlett-Packard, and K-Swiss. Ryan has been featured by media giants including the New Yorker and ESPN. In addition to founding APEX Movement, Ryan also has a parkour channel on YouTube with over 5 million views. Although Ryan’s specialty is parkour, he has continued his movement education through certifications such as CrossFit, pole fitness, and barefoot running. One of’s 50 hottest trainers in 2013, Ryan is an alumni of YouTube's prestigious Next Trainer program and a FitFluential ambassador.

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