Always Learning: My Experience with the 1st4Sportlevel 1 award in Assistant Coaching for Parkour/Freerunning

During the first week of December, I attended the level 1 Assistant Coaching award for parkour/Freerunning at The Parkour Project in Poole. My motivation for signing onto the course was spurred by a desire to expand the reach of parkour to people with additional needs and disabilities. Over the summer at the Parkour Generations event, Rendezvous, I had a traumatic experience, brought on by a poorly presented and managed activity, that raised a lot of concerns in me about the way parkour is coached and the possibility that in many cases people with additional needs may be driven away from it. Parkour has such vast potential to provide countless opportunities to people with additional needs and I have become passionate about working towards a point where I can provide these opportunities to people.

To achieve what I want to achieve I want to gain as much knowledge as I can and seek learning experiences that will ensure I can be the best coach I can be. My experience over the course of the 4 days I spent doing my level 1 course was extremely positive. I came away a more confident coach and a more confident practitioner.

Our first day was spent doing a first aid workshop and a safeguarding and child protection workshop, both of which were excellent and extremely useful workshops to do. The guys leading those two courses were very good and provided general training as well as training more specific to Parkour coaching.

On the second day, the main segment of the course began. Over the next two days, we covered a range of topics and faced a number of challenges. As well as discussing the essentials of what makes a good coach we covered how to effectively plan sessions, how to adapt sessions when faced with difficulties and how to manage sessions once they are in progress. We also discussed the spirit of Parkour and were presented with physical challenges to test our limits and progress our own abilities.

I previously felt somewhat lost when it came to planning and programming. The course helped me understand more clearly how to achieve structure in a class and gave me a much greater understanding of effectively programming strength and conditioning. We also delved into a few finer details of coaching certain movements, covering useful cues and looking into the different reasons why someone may be struggling with a particular movement.

The physical challenges that occurred progressed my confidence massively. Prior to attending the course I had significant confidence issues carrying out movement at height. The Parkour Project is a fantastic location and it’s high bar set up allowed me to become comfortable at height. At the start of the week I was moving on all fours on top of the bar set up, but by the end, I was walking around on the bars and jumping. Carrying out a jump over 2 metres above the ground was something I would not have considered before going on the course. My confidence has increased substantially. I feel as though I have undergone a significant mental shift with regards to my understanding of my own ability and potential. This will absolutely allow me to become a better coach.

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Moar achievements from my week in Poole. Haven't considered doing drop rail pres for a long time. Over the course of the week we were regularly challenged and I was able to dismantle a lot of my confidence barriers. The pole to cat was a bit of a mental battle the first time round. I feel much more comfortable moving at height than I did a week ago. It feels like my confidence is now back to the point it was prior to losing my mum and experiencing an upsurge in anxiety depression related issues. The difference now is that I also have more experience and strength to start to fully capitalise on that confidence. #parkour #parkourwomen #railbalance #drop #jump #learning #confidence #strength

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The course also encouraged us to be aware that we are always learning. Seeking different coaching experiences and gaining knowledge should be something that we never stop doing. We are always capable of learning more and although we will develop our own coaching styles we can always utilise ideas from other people to ever improve our classes and ensure we are providing people with the best experience we can.

It was a fantastic week and thinking about putting it all into practice gives me great joy.

Train safe,

Jess

Finding Balance, Finding Control

Balance and Control are words that probably create different feelings in different people. For some, the word ‘control’ might conjure restrictive images and be seen as something to avoid, or it may represent stability and comfort. Perhaps it has different meanings in different situations. Balance is often perceived universally in a similar way by most people. Achieving balance is a good thing, a positive thing.

I always feel that the two concepts of balance and control often need to exist together in most aspects of life. Most of us rarely actually achieve both, but it seems to be what we aim for, whether we’re consciously aware we are working for it or not.

In the westernised world we tend to live very busy lives. Whether this busyiness is due to work, the constant stream of information that gets thrown at us, family, friends, all of the above, it tends to mean that the brain seeks ways of instilling control in a life that often feels like it’s moving at full pace. Sometimes in trying to control certain elements, you can end up bringing negative effects into your life, which has certainly happened to me in the past and continues to happen during times when I lack self-awareness.

In trying to control certain things you seek to find balance, but perhaps without fully understanding what balance is for you personally or without considering all the options. Again, I know I’m definitely guilty of doing this even now. Jumping to conclusions with the desire to sort out a problem as quickly as possible is something that I do far too often and I doubt I’m the only one.

Taking a step back to evaluate yourself and why you do the things you do is a practice I find extremely helpful to undertake on a regular basis. Self-awareness seems necessary in order to really progress. but at the same time, we come back to that idea of balance. Being self-aware is important, but getting dragged down and buried in the emotions that come with it can be damaging. Having balance here is vital. Learning how you process things, how you tackle problems, how many things can you realistically work on at once, is all part of a long process or developing self-awareness.

In training, I am learning to ask myself why I am afraid of a jump. I take the jump itself out of the equation and instead break it down into individual parts. I look at each part and when I have established where the fear comes from I can tackle the issues before I re-assemble the pieces and re-create the jump as a whole. Usually, after re-assembly, the jump looks much less scary. Often this is because the fear can be rationalised. Initially, it feels irrational, ‘I should be able to physically do this, why am I scared of it?’, but upon breaking it down I start to see that no, I am afraid of how I will land if I don’t quite make it, I am afraid of the height, I am unfamiliar with the surface I’m moving on, etc etc. These problems can be tackled separately and ultimately once you have spent some time practising how you react to not quite making a jump, practised moving around at height, spent some time exploring the surfaces, the fear will have lessened and it’s likely that you will conquer the jump.

We seek control. When something scares we shy away from it because there is no feeling of control, but in facing fear and achieving that balance with our emotions we strengthen our own mastery and control of ourselves.

Train safe,

Jess

Adapting, Re-adapting, Learning, Re-learning

Long time no type. Life has been in a decent routine lately and fitness has been progressing for the most part. As always, there are constantly things to learn and realisations to be had, so right now seems like a good time to reflect on my health and fitness journey over the last month or so. There are things that I need to alter and improve and I feel the need to discuss some concepts that probably apply to a lot of people.

On the whole, I’ve been feeling good. I’m getting stronger, doing a lower body (mostly just legs) session in the gym once a week and now I’ve added in an upper body gym session once a week with the intention of building strength. This strength training is showing results in other areas, which is gratifying to see. My standing jump distance is definitely growing and my running speed over 5km seems to become significantly faster.

As well as the strength training I have been doing 3 Parkour sessions a week on average, varying from relatively light movement to fairly heavy sessions, I’ve been running usually twice a week and on one day each week I have been rotating through different activities over the course of 4 weeks. Far example, I’ve been doing trampolining one week, climbing the next week etc etc. This format has been fun and I’ve felt busy and felt like I’m constantly progressing, which is nice, but the drawbacks of this approach have begun to show.

It would seem that in my general eagerness to do the ‘exciting’ elements of this routine, I have let some of the fundamental and important groundwork work slip. I appear to have stopped doing my daily morning yoga, I haven’t been spending much time on mobility exercises and in general, I haven’t necessarily been thinking smart, when it comes to conducting my training. As a result, I’ve developed a bit of tendonitis in one of my Achilles’ tendons and my upper left arm has been experiencing some minor, intermittent pain.

This apparent desire for constant and tangible progress is the devil that repeatedly rears its ugly head. Many of us fall foul of this creature over and over again, which is understandable, progression is addictive. In our ‘modern’ lifestyle we are constantly exposed to other peoples progress or the image of their progress, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others whether we want to or not. It takes a lot to try and break this almost automatic process of self-judgement so repeatedly suffering from this certainly doesn’t mean you’re a lesser person for it, but being aware of it is certainly the first step to finding a path that definitely works for you.

I’m aware I do still struggle a lot with over-comparing myself to others. I’ve got better at dealing with those thoughts but they’re definitely still there. The process of being ok with the fact that I will be slower at picking certain things up or the fact that I won’t be as good at certain types of movement is an arduous process, but sticking to a journey of progression that best serves me is important for both my mental and physical wellbeing. Maybe I am capable of achieving massive running precisions or a round-off backflip, but with the time available to me each week at the moment, those things aren’t going to happen for quite some time. The point is that I am moving forward, I’m getting stronger and my skillset is gradually improving, which is the main thing.

Recently I have been feeling great and in many ways, my training and nutrition have been working well for me, but it’s important to be constantly aware of what is going on deeper down and it’s always important to listen to your body. My left Achillies has been feeling extremely tight and somewhat painful upon waking up, after sitting down for too long or during some exercises. I can’t assume it’ll just go away on its own so I need to deal with it if I do want to continue to progress. This morning simply doing some ankle mobility while still lying in bed meant that when I got out of bed I didn’t have the twang of pain and the uncomfortable stiffness that I’ve been experiencing when getting out of bed in the mornings. Getting back into my daily yoga and actually spending time on a few simple mobility exercises will also help. Some problems can be relatively easy to fix or mitigate if you listen to your body and respond in the early days.

Train safe,

Jess

 

Training Progress: Continuous Learning in Fitness and Health

As ever, the journey of learning continues and new findings continue to impact how I approach my training and nutrition. In all, I’m feeling good. Joints and back are feeling pretty great and progress is occurring in my training as a whole.

It’s been three weeks since I started heading to the gym every Tuesday. Each week I’ve done a slightly different workout because, as I’ve discussed previously, I’m always learning new things and finding new ways of figuring out what’s best for me and I suspect it’ll take me a little while yet to settle on a program that I feel benefits me the most.

My goal with the Tuesday gym sessions is to increase my leg power. Over the last three weeks, I’ve just been trying to get used to weightlifting again and gaining confidence with using the equipment. Despite not going max weight on my squats I’ve been seeing improvements in my jump distance and when I did the Park run at the weekend I knocked over a minute off my personal best, which I really wasn’t expecting to do but I think I have to put it down to having the gym sessions in my schedule now. My overall fitness hasn’t quite caught up with my leg power because I was pretty wiped out at the end of the run, but my legs just didn’t seem to want to slow down.

The method of training every day, but not going full intensity very often, feels like it suits me. I love moving and I love training, so ensuring that I’m not too wiped out from the previous session to do much the next day seems like a good way to handle things. Ultimately I want to be training well into old age, so looking after my body, varying my training and balancing the high impact stuff with appropriate conditioning and low impact movement will be something I’ll need to maintain.

Working out the nutrition side of things alongside this is still a work in progress. I need to make sure I’m getting enough fat, but obviously the right fats. Protein and carbs are fine I think. Being mostly plant-based hasn’t made it too tricky to maintain protein levels and I’m gradually kicking the sugar addiction. I think I am just going to have to keep a blanket ban on myself from buying bags of sweets at all. For the moment keeping my snacking to fruit and veg will help me kick the need for overly processed sugar.

Overall I’m seeing steady progress in my strength and fitness and I’m feeling much better in myself. It’s working well for me at the moment. Lot’s of positive thoughts about my progression and the future.

Train safe,

Jess

Training Progress: The Next Steps

As ever, health and fitness is an ever-changing sequence of learning and unlearning. New knowledge impacts how you train, what you eat, how you recover, but there are so many sources of information and new methods and findings appearing all the time it can often be tricky to feel like you’re doing the right thing.

For me, the next stage of my training progression isn’t set in stone. I attended the Les Dames Du Movement event in London over the weekend and it gave me a lot to think about with regards to my approach and attitude to training and how best to move forward. There are lots of things I want to achieve but obviously, I’m human, and I’m not capable of learning everything I want to learn and making the progression I want to make in mere weeks or months. Is it best to chip away at multiple things? or prioritise some things? Questions that frequently mill around in my mind.

One thing that I had decided prior to my weekend in London was that I would get a gym membership and try and go once a week to work on my legs. I feel that a bit of weight lifting will aid me in unlocking some power. My technique is decent, so I should be able to handle the additional strength as it begins to take effect, but it will probably also take a bit of time for my confidence to catch up to my full strength anyway, so there is time to continue improving my technique and general skill. Once a week seems like a manageable place to start.

I’m pretty unfamiliar with all the types of equipment available in the gym, but the primary goal of my first session was to get familiar with straight legged deadlifts again and start working on squats. Straight legged deadlifts are high on the list because over the last month it has become apparent that I need to do more hamstring work. I have experienced some muscular stress in the area behind my knees that is likely due to my hamstrings needing some attention, so I’ll have the deadlifts in my gym routine and do some hamstring exercises at least a couple of times a week in order to see if that is indeed the case.

My knees have been feeling a lot better since doing regular strength training and yoga each morning, so I’m pretty happy with the work I’m doing there. Once I feel less afraid of taking impact I can start to be a little more ambitious in some of the jumps I try. As ever I really want to look after my knees so I’ll continue the strength training, with the gym session each week adding into the knee and ankle exercising, so hopefully I’ll encounter fewer issues going forward. My knees never reached a point where I was legitimately worried, but it’s wise to listen to your body and start making adjustments to your training before anything serious does end up occurring.

Over the weekend of coaching in London, I do feel like another aspect of my confidence has been unlocked. I’m not going to be performing massive jumps immediately but I feel that I can view mentally difficult challenges in a different light.

There are other factors in play in life at present that may stall or negatively impact my training, or cause me to throw myself into it harder. I’m not happy in my job at the moment and I can’t see a point where I will start to be happy in it again, so while I plan the next step I may see my confidence take steps back or I may be at risk of overtraining to escape the problems with work. I’ll need to be extremely self-aware to avoid the possible negative effects. As always I will endeavour to look forward in a positive manner and keep progressing, even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

Train safe,

Jess

A Relaxed Afternoons Training

Went out for a wander along the river and challenged myself to come up with creative movement at various obstacles along the way. It was an interesting endeavour and I feel like I learned a lot about how I approach movement and how I process challenges.

 

Train safe,

Jess

Different Minds React Differently to Different Things: London Rendezvous 2018

This ended up being a long one. I delve fairly heavily into my mental health situation, fair warning haha.

Every year there is a wealth of Parkour events for both the casual and more serious practitioner to fill their calendar with. One of the larger coaching events that has been available each summer over the last 13 years is the London Rendezvous, run by Parkour Generations.

This event was held over this last weekend and Greg and I attended it for the first time. When we got back into training in May we figured Rendezvous would be a good short-term target to give ourselves so we could have something set in the calendar that we were getting in shape for and helping us to structure our training as we started back up again after 2 years away from the discipline. This year the event had a lot of emphasis on world renown coaches and in the run-up to the event there was lots of social media content on how all the coaches who would be at the event had been training for many, many years and that there would be a vast well of knowledge for us to tap into. All pretty exciting, especially as someone who is still re-finding their feet with Parkour and who is keen to learn as much as possible.

Most of the weekend was really positive. There was some exploration of technical elements such as foot placement, preparing for sketchy jumps and learning how to bounce out of an unsuccessful jump safely, but there were also plenty of creative sessions exploring movement games, quadrupedal movement and finding movements in spots that initially looked like they offered nothing to train with. These sessions were all very useful and both Greg and I felt like we took a lot away from what was given to us during these sessions. We have plenty that we can begin to apply to our own training and to apply to our approach to training as we go forward.

There were some less positive aspects to the weekend, although overall they were outweighed by the positives. I’m still processing a lot of my thoughts on the aspects of the weekend that I found odd or uncomfortable, but I can begin to discuss my feelings on certain subjects.

The one occurrence that was, in the moment, very much a negative thing for me was the triggering of the worst panic I have ever experienced. I hurt myself. I caused myself damage. I haven’t done that during an attack for a while and it was a pretty significant cause for concern that my level of stress escalated that rapidly and to that degree. The reasons for the attack were fairly complex in some ways and I can attempt to break down why it occurred and what it allowed me to learn about my own approach to training and my views on certain training methods in use by some of the wider Parkour community.

Since a very young age, I’ve had a lot of issues with anxiety and depression, although this wasn’t diagnosed until I was an adult. More recently I received a diagnosis of ADHD. It was also suggested by the doctor at the time of my ADHD diagnosis that I should get checked out for an Autism diagnosis. I haven’t pursued that, because I’m not sure it would benefit me at this stage, but it does play a factor in my day to day life and helps to explain some of why I experienced what I did during the last physical exercise at Rendezvous.

At the end of the day, we were brought to the Spanish steps in front of Wembley Stadium. It’s a decent number of steps. We were told that the task was to, as a group, reach 500 reps of the steps (upwards) in backwards QM, or if backwards QM was an issue to squat on each step as you went up the stairs. This seemed like a good challenge. As a group we’d probably need to do 5 reps minimum, 7 maximum to reach the 500 reps target. This seemed like a challenging but achievable amount of exertion for most of the people present after the activities we’d all taken part in over the weekend. We were told we needed to choose a partner and carry out the challenge with them, with the goal being to make sure your partner didn’t get left behind and to work through the challenge together. Also fine. Starting together and finishing together is a moto that PKGen always appears keen to follow. The final detail was that we were told that we had ‘1 hour to complete the challenge’, which seemed reasonable and would allow the slower members to get a few reps in without the faster members ending up doing too many more. The wording there is important though, 500 reps as a group and we had an hour to complete it. So we began the challenge and as I predicted I found it a challenge, but I felt that 7 reps were achievable and I’d be ok to manage that despite feeling physically and mentally tired after two days of training.

At a bit past the half-hour mark, it must have become apparent that we were going to reach the target decently within the hour. Because of this, the parameters were then changed. Two of the coaches would now be working against us. Every rep they completed removed one from our total.

At this point, I was on about 5 reps and therefore pretty close to completing the expected target I had worked out I would probably need to do. I was also fairly mentally tired. The environment was loud, the Spanish steps are very colourful, it was hot, my mind was pretty tired from the two days of thinking, concentrating and training I’d just undertaken. Looking back this is not an ideal situation for someone with ADHD to be in. It’s a perfect recipe for a sensory overload. in a worst case scenario, a sensory overload is often followed by some form of panic attack or a seizure depending on the other related conditions an individual may have.

A potential issue that a lot of people on the Autism spectrum can experience is the need to have a plan, a need to know what is happening and have pretty specific times, targets and goals. This can often mean that we take things that have been said very specifically. Whereas a neurotypical person might be able to see additional outcomes in a spoken phrase, someone with Autism might only be able to accept one outcome, the outcome that they have understood from what has been said. Later on these additional outcomes migth be able to be understood, but it takes time to process why the outcome was different from what we expected to occur. The ability to understand why something has changed is not something that comes easily to a lot of people with ASD. This plays a bit of a factor in why I completely lost it when the new parameters were suddenly introduced.

When we were told we needed to do 500 reps as a group and we had an hour to do it, that is exactly how my mind accepted that phrase. As we began the exercise I was able to process it and figure out what was expected of me. So when those expectations were changed from ‘you have an hour to complete this task’ to ‘we are spending an hour doing this task’ I no longer knew how many reps I was expected to do, I no longer had a goal, or a plan and combing that sudden jolt of uncertainty with the fact I was already primed for a sensory overload, the wash of anger I experienced from no longer knowing what I specifically needed to do pushed me aggressively over the edge.

It was a pretty fucking terrifying experience. My entire face and my forearms became enveloped in a strange tingling sensation that I haven’t ever experienced before. Breathing became difficult, I was shaking, I couldn’t see properly, all sound became catastrophically loud and the shapes my eyes were registering were painful. I think initially I bit into the area between my thumb and forefinger in an attempt to release some anger and ground myself back into the reality that was swimming around me. I’m not sure exactly how hard I bit it but it was hurting for about 24 hours. I think I had some semblance of a conversation with a coach that I can’t really remember. I may have spat out some confused and angry words. I’m not completely sure. I didn’t understand why these new parameters had suddenly appeared, I didn’t understand why they were doing this when we were all already physically and mentally tired and I felt a colossal level of rage because ultimately the goal I had been set had been dissolved and replaced with uncertainty. Shortly after that Greg found me and began to help me regulate my breathing. At around that point the next announcement was made, which pretty much served to re-escalate the situation. I can’t remember whether the next announcement was that each rep the coaches completed now counted as 5 reps deducted from our total or whether it was that all the coaches were now working against us, but those were the next two announcements. Breathing got worse again, I might have punched myself in the head? but I definitely bit into my arm hard enough that there’s a lump of swelling over 24 hours later. The level of uncertainty was being increased before I’d figured out how to cope with the current level of uncertainty we’d been presented with.

Greg managed to walk me up the steps to where the bags and the water bottles were and at around that time, the next announcement was made that each rep the coaches completed counted for 10. This meant that each member of the group would have to be completing reps faster than the coaches because there were roughly 10 of us for each coach. Each member of the group would need to be completing the reps faster than people who had all be training parkour for over 10 years and who were arguably some of the physically fittest people in our sport. They were stalling us to make sure it lasted the hour. I think I punched myself a few times but managed not to keep biting myself and gradually tried to zone it out and calm down. When the hour was nearly up the announcement was made that the coaches would be working with us again and the conditions would be as they were when we started. I pulled myself together enough to go and complete a rep of squats with Greg (he’s not very good at QM) but my head was still very clouded with anger and stress for a while.

I stopped training Parkour for about 2 years because I reached a point where I was having panic attacks anytime I tried to do anything. I gradually became paralyzed with fear for every movement. To experience that level of emotional pain at an event for a sport that I have been growing to love again came very close to being utterly soul-shattering. I didn’t want to find my own brain driving me away from this discipline again. I didn’t want to experience that level of sheer terror ever, ever again, but there it was, filling me to the brim and erupting out of my eyes, my skin, my mouth, writhing around in my insides and stabbing into my ears. That’s the best description I think I can give.

I understand that the exercise was probably supposed to create a strong ‘start together, finish together’ type feeling, but at the time it simply felt like a challenge that was already going to leave me physically exhausted was being made harder for no reason other than to make it last an hour. To make people more exhausted after a weekend of training that had basically been a lot of fun just removed a lot of the positive emotion from the achievements I felt I’d reached over those two days. Ultimately it wasn’t fun, it made me feel trapped, it made me feel scared, confused and angry when ordinarily in my training over the last 4 months I have felt free, I have felt strong, happy and positive about my steps forward.

Perhaps I just don’t possess the mental fortitude to take part in massive conditioning challenges, which is understandable, I used to be incapable of walking down the street without headphones in and at my worst panic attacks would be triggered by something as simple as knocking a pencil off my desk. There are some obstacles that will take me a long time to be able to tackle and although I am continually trying to move forward, situations like this may always be beyond my reach.

The mentality of conducting conditioning exercises to breaking point will always confuse me and I don’t think I will ever be able to understand it. It’s very old school, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself but this extreme conditioning doesn’t feel particularly applicable to a lot of the people who are coming into Parkour today. I’m not the only person like me. I’m not the only person like me who could potentially experience colossal benefits from training Parkour. From what I’ve gathered since initially starting my Parkour journey back in 2012, PKGen is an organisation who seem to want to bring Parkour to a wide group of people and open it up to all who wish to try it. Does that include people with additional needs? Parkour is about adapting to an environment and a situation but how does the average coach respond when they have a student who is considerably slower at responding to a situation and processing what is being asked of them? I am worried that a situation similar to what I experienced on Sunday could drive a person away from this discipline when it could serve to help them massively when presented in the right way. The last exercise they asked us to do at Rendezvous was not presented particularly well. It could have been done better, but it brought forward a lot of emotions and thoughts in me that I feel I can turn into a positive force.

The end of Rendezvous was horrendous for me at the time, but I feel a strange surge of energy and motivation to find out who is already delivering classes for those with additional needs, for those with mental health problems and for people who are less physically able, such as the elderly. I want to discover what is already being done and how I can potentially become a part of that effort. An effort to make Parkour a discipline for as many people as possible regardless of ability and to research how a discipline based around adaptability can be coached in a way that allows people with additional learning needs to learn how to adapt and move with their environment under significant levels of potential adversity. Parkour teaches skills that could improve lives a hundredfold and I would love to become involved in making that happen. To give people who are not wired for this world the tools to potentially cope with living positively in a society that often actively disables them.

Achieving a level 1 coaching qualification will be my first goal, then I will look to the future and how I can transfer my skills and knowledge from my (approaching) 3 years as a support worker into a discipline I am very passionate about.

That went on for a while. Congratulations if you read this far! I hope I’ve presented my thoughts as I intended to.

Train safe,

Jess

A Female Parkour Community in Devon: Building and Growing

It feels somewhat frustrating to me that I’ve got back into training Parkour a few months before we plan to relocate to a different part of the country. It’s frustrating in the sense that I’m trying to build the foundations of a Female community here in Devon and I’m hoping that by the time I leave there will be enough of a seed for it to continue to grow and develop.

Those frustrations are present, but there is also plenty of hope. The beginning of this project has begun through an exchange of disciplines. My friend is teaching me Poi and I am teaching her Parkour. We’re very much enjoying the experience so far and it makes me extremely happy to see her taking to the discipline so enthusiastically. The exchange works wonderfully because we are both a teacher and both a student. We are both equals learning together and progressing through a discipline that is new to us. Through this exchange, we aim to bring more people in and although not everyone joining us will be female it’s still fantastic to have more women, even if it is a small number, beginning to train.

It’s a beginning and I have faith that if regular meetups can occur with 3-4 women or just regular meet-ups with a training group where women won’t feel isolated, that will provide a solid foundation for it to keep growing. It’s pretty easy for a woman to feel out of place in a training community that is often made up of guys under the age of 20, so encouraging a training environment that builds confidence is the first step to bringing more women into a local community. Even though I’m relatively confident in my own training I still feel uncomfortable turning up to the larger group training sessions in the city. This is something that can change and I feel that change can occur if we have a group of like-minded people who aren’t afraid to turn up to the larger group sessions because they are together and not alone.

The goal is to have a group of 4 women, including myself, training together fairly regularly by the time spring comes around. This seems achievable and if we manage to bring more people in then all the better. By the time we move, I would love to have at least those 4 feeling confident enough to train with the wider Devon community fairly regularly.

I feel very positive.

Train safe,

Jess

Training Progress: Looking After Yourself

As well as working to progress with strength and skill it’s vital to listen to your body and respond to its needs. Resting and changing how your training works to take care of joint complaints etc, might feel like you’re halting progression, but not resting may ultimately hinder progress even more than trying to soldier through things. I’m not an expert, at all, by any means, but this seems like a really obvious thing that people frequently forget or wilfully ignore for the sake of immediate progress rather than endeavouring to achieve longevity.

Since experiencing some minor knee complaints after putting my legs through a little bit too much in a short space of time, I eased off any impact training for a short while and have been trying to put more work into joint strengthening and mobilisation exercises. As much as I want to train jumps and improve my confidence and tech, there are other things I can do to aid in my general progress while I work on my joint strength and mobility.

Life has been fairly busy over the last week couple of weeks so I haven’t managed to implement quite as much of this strength and mobilisation work as I’d like, but it seems to be making a difference anyway. For dedicated Parkour sessions I am spending a chunk of time just balancing and starting to try different forms of balance to help me warm up gradually and encourage my ankle and knee joints to work in a way that makes them stronger. Going forward I will probably aim to try and find upward precision jumps to add into any impact sessions I do since these should also help to encourage knee strength. In my strength training, I have begun using a weighted vest for squats, which in theory will also encourage knee strength providing I also pay attention to my form during the movement.

Just getting out to train in a non-serious capacity and play around with different movements has been important recently. I’m pleased with some of the things I’ve done lately, even if they weren’t particularly impressive. Just being aware of the improvements I’m making with my strength and confidence has been wonderful.

As always, I’m just learning and figuring things out as I go. Simpler, more fundamental movements feel very enjoyable at the moment but it’ll probably be a good idea to try and work at a few scarier challenges while the weather is good. Once Autumn starts to set in it might be trickier to train certain outdoor movements safely and consistently, but overcoming some weather-based fears will certainly be a training target as summer begins to fade.

It’s now less than a week until Rendezvous 2018 and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can learn from the coaches who will be there.

Train safe,

Jess