Lifestyle >> Fitness

Free Running Your Own Course

Going to the gym and doing focused reps has its obvious benefits. But what about engaging the mind along with playful movements? That's were Free Running comes in. Free Running or Parkour engages our creative minds to enhance our strength, coordination and agility. American Ninja Warrior is proof of how climbing walls, balancing on rails, swinging on bars and vaulting over barriers can take great physical and mental strength.

Avoid The Hype

If you search Parkour you will see high flying acrobatics that can be overwhelming. These aerial acrobatics can be used to traverse obstacles, but are best kept in the gym.

The Natural Method

Originally Free Running was modeled after indigenous African Tribes by the French Naval Officer Georges Hebert. He called it the Natural Method. The tribes moved through nature in a creative, mindful, flexible, nimble and fluid way. This aspect of movement is much like yoga in terms of how it can be applied to overcome the everyday obstacles of life. The Natural Method is a mindset and a great way to see things from a different perspective. Now that park bench or retaining wall on your daily walk can become a way to increase your agility and balance.

"There are many paths that you can take to reach the same destination."

Some Basic Moves To Get Started & Progress

When learning Free Running moves it is important to remember to take it slow as you start off and learn control. Make the necessary variations along the way to making sure you don't trip or fall. Over time and with practice you will be able to the do moves faster, higher and bigger. It's all about having fun, creativity and exploring what your body can do.

Vaults

Vaulting gives you a good base of moves and ability in Free Running. It engages the whole body using the arms, legs, core strength and flexibility. The approach takes foot work and timing, which can look a lot easier than it is.

These are generally done on hand railings or small walls and are a great introduction to Free Running moves. Beware as railings can be sketchy as you can get your foot caught underneath the top bar.

Safety Vault - beginner

As it says in the name the safety vault is all about safety and control. This generally is how any beginner would naturally clear a hand rail or wall. It is also known as a typical hurtle or straight jump and you can go as slow as you like.

  1. You can use one or two hands to push over the obstacle and use your feet to control your momentum as your going over.
  2. You can use either foot to safety stop on top of the obstacle, and then carries the other foot through the arms as you clear it.

Speed Vault - beginner

The speed vault is very similar to the safety vault in motion except your not going to be using your feet on the obstacle and your only planting one hand. Use your momentum to clear the obstacle and allowing your body to be thrown more to the side. You can lead with the left or right side of the body.

  1. Jumping up with the right leg.
  2. Plant the right hand.
  3. Kick the left leg in the air to create the sideways kicking motion over the obstacle.
  4. Kick back and land on the left leg, allowing you to land in a fast run.

Turn Vault - beginner

This vault progresses from the basic sideways vaulting motion and is for when you want to get over an obstacle without completely clearing it. There are many variations to this vault like: one handed flaring the legs out like the speed vault or planting the foot like the safety vault.

  1. Plant your hand facing backwards, so that as you rotate and turn your body over the obstacle, you can spin without twisting your hand.
  2. As you clear the obstacle pull your feet back to where you want to land. Spot your landing so you don't miss your feet.

360 Vault - intermediate

As a variation of the turn vault, this isn't some much about practicality as it is about style, flare and incorporating creativity into your lines. The 360 vault is also great for helping you gain overall body control.

  1. Just like the turn vault your going to take off the same way, having your supporting hand flipped around so you can get that initial turning motion started.
  2. As you jump over the obstacle, instead of focusing on planting your feet back where you came from, your going to keep rotating your hips and chest.
  3. Pop your hips out and push away to get the extra rotation.
  4. Land facing forward again.

Lazy Vault - intermediate

This vault is design to move almost parallel with the object but lead with the inside leg.

  1. Use your close hand to initially plant on the object.
  2. Then use your inside or close leg to kick over.
  3. Jump off your opposite leg, letting that leg follow the kick over leg and through.
  4. Once your feet are over, plant the opposite hand to push off with to clear the obstacle. You can also push out with both hands as a variation of this move.

The best way to practice this move is to work your way down an obstacle going back and forth, consecutively vaulting from one side to the other.

Thief Vault - intermediate

This vault is exactly like the lazy vault, for moving almost parallel with the object and coming in from the side, except it leads with the outside leg.

  1. As you approach the obstacle plant the inside hand on top as you come up to it, then alternate to the outside hand as you cross over the obstacle.
  2. At the same time lead with the your outside leg to kick over first. When learning the vault it is okay to plant the outside foot on the top of the wall or obstacle till you get advanced enough to clear the foot without a safe plant or touch.
  3. Take off with your opposite leg, letting that leg follow the kick leg over leg and through .
  4. After clearing the obstacle you want to land on the leading leg and push off with the second hand to continue your movement.