3 Rad Reactions to Finding Out Your Boyfriend Practices Parkour or Wants to Start Learning

Podi.Maiku February 23rd, 2018
The statue I am forever jealous of because it got the first kiss

Thus far, this blog has been about my journey learning about parkour from my boyfriend and my own research. I found out my boyfriend did parkour the day we met when I watched him scale a giant statue near Place du Canada but, because we are in a long-distance relationship, it is entirely possible that I could not have known he did parkour until after we started dating. This got me thinking about what my reaction would be if I found out later, or if he told me he wanted to start learning how to practice parkour. After going through various reaction simulations with my boyfriend, I have come up with my top 3 rad reactions to learning that your boyfriend practices parkour or wants to learn.

“I’d love to learn more about parkour!”

When I first heard my boyfriend did parkour, I took to the Internet to learn more about it, and was shocked at the lack of resources available for people completely unfamiliar with parkour who weren’t necessarily looking to train. Hence this blog was born. I wanted to create a space that was tailored to understanding what parkour was and navigating a relationship with someone whose passion encompasses their physical, mental, creative, and philosophical being. Plus, it’s always great to know what not to say or do when going to a parkour gym or meeting other parkour practitioners.

This is not to say that you have to go out and become a parkour pro because your boyfriend trains, but it’s nice to show an interest in something your partner is passionate about, and this interest can take many forms. For me, it was reading books about parkour, like Breaking the Jump by Julie Angel (which became my boyfriend’s Easter present last year) and Max Henry’s The Parkour Roadmap, both of which gave me a solid understanding of the history and lifestyle of parkour. For more spatial learners, there are lots of great videos of people doing parkour on YouTube and Instagram showcasing parkour around the world. And for the kinaesthetic learners, there are parkour training facilities or gyms in most major cities now, and an introductory class is an excellent way to get some hands-on experience with what parkour is really like. However, if you live in an area without a parkour gym, you can usually find parkour groups or communities online, and you can learn more about when their next training session will be from there.

“I’d love to come watch you train sometime!”

This reaction falls under the broad category of being supportive. Just like how you’d want your boyfriend to support you in your decision to try something new, you should let him know that you support his quest for parkour enlightenment.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that parkour isn’t dangerous, because it is, and it’s perfectly normal to worry that your boyfriend might get hurt. That being said, he is probably well aware of what could happen to him if things go wrong, and reminding him does nothing. Plus, the danger is mitigated by his understanding of his body and its limits. Like if he just decides to flip off a roof and attempt to land on the ground, chances are good that he’ll end up breaking something. But if he’s put in the necessary time and physical and mental conditioning behind that action, then it’s not nearly as dangerous and, frankly, it’s pretty flipping cool to watch (pun completely intended).

If you decide to accompany your boyfriend to a training session, it could be either indoors at a parkour gym or anywhere outside with infrastructure conducive to creative movement. It’s important to understand that training is not just about physical conditioning. While it is definitely a full-body workout, parkour is also a very social practice and your boyfriend may train with some of his friends there as well. This is not a sign that he doesn’t want to spend time with you; rather, he’s introducing you to the community and lifestyle of parkour, not just the athletic component.

“I’d love to come and train with you!”

I feel like for most people who do parkour, there is no expectation that their significant other will become as enthralled with the practice as they are, but I think the best way to try to understand someone’s love for something is to experience it with them. Plus, it’s a great relationship strengthener because you are helping each other overcome fears and strengthen physical and mental resolve.

And you have a great teacher. I am super lucky to have a parkour boyfriend who has been an instructor for several years and, while I have no plans to start precision jumping 14 feet or anything, I am proud to say that I can now front roll like a pro. As a perfectionist, I really struggled with not being able to do everything exactly how I wanted, but parkour isn’t about perfection; it’s about overcoming physical and mental obstacles, and slowly I am learning to vault over my perfectionism and focus on having fun and spending time with my boyfriend doing what he loves.

So these are my top 3 reactions that I think you could have to your boyfriend telling you he practices parkour or wants to start learning. You could give one of these reactions, or all three, or come up with your own, but the main takeaway from this post is to keep your reaction positive, supportive, and partner-centred. While you likely have fears and concerns about your boyfriend practicing parkour, embrace who he is and what he loves. And who knows, you might just discover that you, too, have a passion for parkour.

Until next time, remember, “parkour teaches you to be sure of what you are able to do” (David Belle, n.d.).

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5 Things Not To Say to Someone Who Practices Parkour

One of the first questions I asked my boyfriend the day we met was,

“What should I not say to a parkourer?”

“That,” he said.

This began the conversation of what people unfamiliar with the discipline often assume or say that make parkour practitioners cringe. I’m sure there are plenty more, but these are my top 5, and I hope these spare you from some awkward moments and silent glares:

1. “Oh, so you’re a parkourer!”

This is slightly embarrassing since I studied linguistics during my undergrad, but it does make sense that, when a new word presents itself, you apply the regular grammatical endings and hope for the best. Based on this, I took the verb parkour and added the regular -er ending to it to change it to the noun parkourer to mean someone who does parkour. While this might make grammatical sense, parkour is an irregular verb so what I did was completely and totally wrong. Fun fact: parkour practitioners are actually called traceurs or traceuses, which come from the French word for ‘tracer’.

2. “So it’s like gymnastics, right?”

This is a main point of contention between the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) and parkour communities around the world. If my boyfriend was writing this post, I think he might answer this differently, but the mini-series is that no, parkour is not gymnastics. At the heart of the issue is that the two disciples have different histories and cultures, and to have them both regulated by the same federation is as wrong as asking a minority group to forego their own customs and traditions in favour of the dominant culture.

3. “Oh, like that episode from The Office!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here, watch it, and I’ll be here when you come back.

Okay, hopefully you had a good laugh watching that and we’re now on the same page. While Jim Halpert’s introduction of parkour is actually pretty factual and accurate, the rest of the scene is purely comical, and having people reference a popular culture spoof of a discipline you’re passionate about kind of sucks. This isn’t to say that people who do parkour have no sense of humour. If you bring this scene up in conversation with anyone who does parkour, they’ve seen it and will admit it’s funny. Just know that it’s not an accurate representation of what parkour is, and it’s a really bad idea to shout at people doing stuff that could easily result in serious injury or death if it goes wrong.

4. “Are you training for American Ninja Warrior?”

This is something I never would have thought about, but when I told my grandfather that my boyfriend does parkour, his first reaction was, “Oh! Like that ninja warrior stuff on the tv!” I was super shocked that my grandfather knew of the show before I did, but I did have to burst his bubble. American Ninja Warrior is not a sport or a training discipline. It is first and foremost a reality tv show for which contestants audition, and equal weight is placed on their backstory and physical fitness. Interestingly, many parkour athletes have been featured in this televised obstacle course competition like Levi Meeuwenberg before being bought by NBC. Now, NBC works to phase out any mention of the term ‘parkour,’ which is ironic considering parkour literally means ‘obstacle course.’

5. “Can you do a backflip?”

I have to admit, I sort of fell prey to this one at the North American Parkour Championships (NAPC) this year. I had never seen my boyfriend do a backflip before but I knew he could, so I insisted that I see one at some point during that weekend, and I did. That being said, I would never have asked any of the other athletes at NAPC this question. While a lot of parkour is practiced in public places, it is not a public performance, and thus cannot be commanded or expected by passersby. Plus, there is so much more to parkour than backflips.

So those are my five things not to say to someone who does parkour. Of course there are many, many more, but these five stood out to me as being the big no-nos, and I got my boyfriend to vet them. He’s gotten all of these before, and can attest to how annoying they are. Sometimes I still say them in jest though. If you’ve ever said any of these, it’s okay. The next time you see people doing parkour though, I hope you think of this post and resist the urge to shout “HARDCORE PARKOUR!” at them or demand a backflip.

Until next time, remember, “Parkour was never invented by anyone; it’s always been here” (Sébastien Foucan, n.d.).

How I First Heard About Parkour

This sounds weird even as I say it in my head and type it out.

The first time I heard about parkour was during a Cineplex pre-show for the movie John Wick, Chapter 2 way back in 2016.

The second time I heard about parkour was during a trip to Montréal when someone told me that my now-boyfriend practiced parkour and thus could easily scale a giant statue to kiss its cheek so we could win a city scavenger hunt (we came in second by the way, but I think I won first place when it comes to boyfriends).

Needless to say, I am the farthest thing from an expert when it comes to parkour. But after meeting my boyfriend and hearing about his passion for it, I wanted to learn more.

So I started learning the only way I know how: reading. I began with Breaking the Jump by Julie Angel that chronicles the history of parkour from Parisian ghettoes to its rise as a global evolution of movement, complete with anecdotes about training with some of the greats like Forrest (François Mahop).

I then dove into Max Henry’s The Parkour Roadmap to get a handle on basic parkour terminology and practice techniques. However, I began reading this while my boyfriend and I were driving up to Banff so the entire car ride was spent by him explaining different movement sequences to me while I tried to act them out sitting and seat-belted in the passenger seat. Free entertainment for whoever was driving past us that day.

Most recently, I was immersed in parkour culture at the North American Parkour Championships (NAPC6) in Vancouver in August, where dozens of talented athletes from all over the world came together to compete in skill, speed, and style. I learned so much in that one weekend, and gained a much greater appreciation for parkour as a discipline and a sport and a passion of so many people.

All that being said, I still feel relatively clueless in the sea of parkour, and I figured if I am then so, too, are probably many of the girlfriends of people who practice parkour. However, I do acknowledge that there are some totally rad women out there who do parkour and I’m sure their partners could also benefit from this blog. Thus, while this blog is written from my experience and my point of view, I want it to be as accessible as possible to anyone whose significant other or friend or family member does parkour or is interested in parkour, and they want to be supportive, but have no real idea what it is.

Until next time, remember, “parkour–real parkour–can’t be taught . . . it can only be discovered” (Max Henry, 2017).