Why I Started Parkour

When I turned thirty, I didn’t want fitness to be a constant uphill battle. I wanted it to be something that I could maintain without too much effort. I also wanted to knock the fuck out of any zombies that might decide to pop up from the grave at some point in the future.

As a child, I was a musician with hyper-flexible joints. That meant that I sat out of a lot of gym classes, frequently hid my slings and casts under my sweater so the kids wouldn’t make fun of me for yet another injury, and spent quite a few hours in physical therapy. My parents were terrified that I’d hurt myself and end my potential musical career. As a product of all that, I ended up being a pretty lazy adult. I was never overweight, per se, but I certainly wasn’t athletic.

At age 29, I took up running. That lasted all of about a year and a half before one of my hyper-flexed knees started acting up and ruined the last several races I attempted. Instead, I started spending hours alone in my living room with Jillian Michaels DVDs and a yoga mat full of cats. Something was definitely missing.

Around age 31, I decided I wanted to get certified to be a personal trainer. Fitness had become a huge part of my life and I wanted to get paid for doing something I was passionate about. I called up an old friend who I knew had opened a CrossFit gym on the north side of Chicago and asked him if I could shadow his coaching for a few weeks. He said that, in order to become a shadow, I had to be a member with at least several months of training. I had no idea what CrossFit was but I trusted him and was willing to give it try!

After three weeks in on-ramp, I realized that I was in no way ready to be a coach. Fitness training had totally changed for me. It was no longer about hopping up and down in my front room alone. It was about community, having fun, and participating in a program that gave me an entire life overhaul. I quit eating tons of carbs, realized that dairy was a huge allergy for me, and added fish back into my diet. (I had been a vegetarian for 15 years.)

The biggest change was learning about my body. I learned more about what it could do and what it couldn’t do. More times than not, it could do more than I had given it credit for during our life together.

After two years in CrossFit, I decided I wanted a greater challenge. Am I the best CrossFitter out there? No, not by a long shot. I focus on what feels good for my body rather than keeping up with my peers. One day, as many parkour participants do, I was watching American Ninja Warrior. I’d always thought they were pretty bad ass but kept saying “I could never do that.” For some reason, on that day, I thought “Why not?”

That’s when I decided to join a class at Parkour Ways in Chicago. A lot of people think parkour is just for boys, specifically young, flexible teenagers who have no fear. I fit none of those categories, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.  I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. I just know that, every time someone gives me a crazy look when I say “I practice parkour,” I feel a little proud.