The concrete jungle serves up the best backdrop for breaking a serious sweat. Cities boast elevation shifts, constant movement, and crackling energy—all of which you can channel into every workout. If the rebel in you is trying to break out of your treadmill-and-weights slump, pick up a board or a BMX bike. Cruise the city, ride the rails, and acquire a few well-earned bruises for faster metabolism, better coordination, and quicker reflexes. Then there’s parkour, which turns your city into an obstacle course. The metropolis is a virtual play- ground of athletic opportunity, so choose your escape route and get going.
TRAIN FOR IT
Before you tackle wall runs and tic-tac techniques, use these basic training tips from American Parkour (AMP) to help you prep for both parkour and skateboarding.
Glutes/Hamstrings/Lats/Delts: Do three rounds of the following circuit
• 200–400m run
• 10–15 squats
• 10-15 pullups
• 10-15 pushups
• 2 x 30-second hip flexor stretches
Agility: Mark a 10-rung ladder on the floor, each rung 12–18 inches apart. Perform the following agility drills as a circuit, and then repeat 2–3 times: High Knees (one step per block); High Knees (two steps per block); Butt Kicks (one step per block). Rest as needed between each exercise. Stretch at the end of the workout.
Fluescent Parkour Gloves: Tough, breathable, nonslip grippers for this ultimate urban sport. ($35; fluescent.com)
Vans Half Cab Pro: Sleek classics designed take a beating even from vans pro skate team. ($75; vans.com)
Blunt RTS Lite Umbrella: When you’re just commuting, the extra-taut, aerodynamic canopy on the Blunt withstands 52 mph winds and keeps you dry. ($69; bluntusa.com)
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In addition to rolling, jumping, and landing, you need to learn to leap over obstacles using your hands. Here, two essential vaults to get you started:
Speed Vault: Run toward the obstacle in long strides. Use your hand as a momentum lever, press your hand down to help direct your feet down, and launch yourself over the obstacle.
Monkey Vault: Approach the obstacle in a straight line at a moderate speed. Reach forward a little more than an arm’s length away and plant both hands wide. Pass feet through your arms, leaning forward, and then let go as your feet clear the rail. Keep your chest up and arms behind you.
MF Interviews... NY Parkour's Exo
The gravity-defying discipline of parkour is unlike any form of movement on the planet. Based on military obstacle courses, parkour’s gritty origins hail from the ’burbs of Paris. Is it sport, is it art? Whatever you call it, this organic movement across the urban landscape is a one-way ticket to new heights. MF asked Exo, editorial director of NY Parkour, about this “no-man’s land” that spans from Paris to London to New York and even downtown Denver.
Men's Fitness: Parkour sort of reminds us of the martial-arts flicks we all watched in the ’70s and ’80s. What was the sport inspired by?
Exo: it must’ve been lodged in the subconscious for inspiration—that and comic books that we read as kids, especially in America. But more than that, i also like to think parkour is born out of our innate desire to move.
MF: How do guys who want to get into parkour start out?
Exo: You have to train to train. we emphasize agility and pliability for beginners. Yes, we won’t deny that you’ll need upper-body strength and explosive power, but the beauty is that parkour adapts to the user. the videos you see of us are equivalent to watching olympic gymnastics; but if you walk into a gymnastics school, everyone’s not doing that. Just like that and martial arts, parkour is scalable.
MF: And what about for people who can’t come to NY Parkour for instruction and “jams”?
Exo: Find someone who knows what they’re doing. there are classes and gyms across the country. sorry guys, jumping over fire hydrants while drunk isn’t parkour. practice safely, for real results.