My first class was a really exciting experience. It was also scary, thought-provoking, and difficult.
Coming from a background of CrossFit, I had no idea what to expect when walking in. There were a few women there, which made me feel a bit more at ease, and I’d also brought a female friend with me. We might as well have carried signs on our chests that said “CROSSFITTERS HERE.” While everyone else was dressed in loose sweatpants and t-shirts, the two of us were wearing skin-tight athletic pants, sports bras, and fitted t-shirts. She was wearing gloves, which I found out are not accepted lightly in parkour.
Beginner crossfitters will frequently start out with gloves to protects their hands. I did. But after a few weeks, I took them off. Not only did my grip improve, but the callouses that formed on my hands made it easier and less painful for me to do things without having to rely on my gloves. Our instructor, Kurt, insisted my friend remove her gloves. She did it, but not without a prominent frown.
The class was held outside just in front of the Chicago River. It was balmy out. We all stood in a circle working our joints and loosing things up. It seemed relaxing until our instructor, Kurt, instructed us to do 100 steps of quadrupedal movement on all fours. I thought I’d be good at it since running around the house like a dog was a pastime of mine as a child. WRONG. Spending more than a few minutes in a quadrupedal position will burn your legs like they’re on fire. I then found out that resting position is also in a squat. Bummer.
After the warm up, I got my first taste of an actual parkour course. The setup was little more than a jungle gym in the yard but, as traceurs and traceuses do, Kurt was creative with it. We played follow the leader, doing exactly what the person before us did, and we had to do it in complete silence.
As I followed along, I was nervous. Walking silently was ok for me. It made me think about how I set each foot down onto the floor. Swinging under bars and trying to jump over them was a little harder, especially with no instruction coming to me other than from my eyes. The most challenging part was hopping over a wall. A seven-foot tall wall with just a sliver of grip tape on it. Somehow, though, I managed knowing that Kurt was there waiting in case I took a fall. I failed in keeping silent, because it seems that a habit of mine is to laugh when I’m nervous, a takeaway I wasn’t expecting from a parkour class and something I watch out for in daily life.
As the sun started to set and the mosquitoes started to buzz loudly in our ears, the class came to a close. There were plenty of difficulties, and while I may not have solved them in a pretty way, I solved them. It was a huge confidence boost because now I know that if those damned zombies are coming at me, I WILL get over that wall.
I felt nervous, I felt uncomfortable, and I felt challenged. And I definitely decided I wanted more.