The home of Hawaii Parkour and all students of movement.
BY: Alana Reis
New York City, New York
New York is too big for me, I keep telling everyone. Immense concrete and glass windows, busy streets and busier subways seem to bounce around the GPS coordinates of my phone, leaving me helpless and hysterical as the blue dot of my location buoys curiously in the blue part of the map off Lower Manhattan. But once I find My People, all is well, and I am no longer lost. Exciting and inspiring, everyone has a story to tell and a blast of energy and passion to take back to our local Parkour communities.
The Art of Retreat is indescribable in feeling but in practice operates like a networking symposium where ideas and leadership are thrown about in the lobbies of hotels and improv theater spaces and beautiful oasis-like back porches. Itʻs a weekend of presentations and people talking about the struggles and achievements of their Parkour community, and together we offer each other guidance, support and reality checks.
Ahead of the Retreat was a hosted forum regarding the need for governance organizations, particularly since FIG (Fédération Internationale du Gymnastique) made a public intention to incorporate Parkour within their umbrella of sports. (“Update on development of Parkour…”) Based on this writer’s opinion, many at the Retreat did not Vibe with that. So the question must now be, what is the most effective and fair course for representation, both globally and nationally (or regionally)? Furthermore, how should WFPF or Parkour Earth or some other type of organization, fulfill that role?
Women and Parkour was a major focal point for many who attended, with Dr. Alice B. Popejoy’s talk filled to bursting and overflowing into a larger think-tank space at the studio afterparty the following day. Parkour has a PR problem (“Is Parkour an Exclusive Boys’ Club?”) and without the regular representation of women, especially different women and movement styles, Dr. Popejoy postulates that many women may experience signs of Imposter Syndrome, which in essence is the uncomfortableness of not seeing aspects of oneself represented in the community. Parkour lessons can be achieved regardless of ages, sizes, genders, and abilities – the importance of proper media representation AND local community support cannot be understated.
A final and very inspiring takeaway from AoR2017 was the talk by Nancy Lorentz about the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, PKSilver . Taking the positive philosophy and basic movement mechanics of Parkour, PK Silver is a program tailored to patrons over 50 years of age – programs which have already had great success in the UK (“Forever Young”). Hawaii is a prime place for a similar program to grow, alongside our growing kūpuna population. The tenets of PKSilver include fall prevention, ground to standing/sitting transitions, and adaptive balance and strengthening exercises. These sessions often distill the sense of accomplishment, increase social interaction and reduce the symptoms of depression in participants. Movement is a wonderfully liberating thing, and Parkour progressions can help bring back some mobility to those who maybe believe it’s lost.
In the afterglow of AoR, I am earnest in my desire to gather more women into the sport and to bring about a greater sense of community through Parkour training, regardless of gender or age.