Come jump in: The basics of doing parkour

If you’re looking for a different and exciting activity to add to your routine, parkour is worth a try.

Parkour is a cool way to move around obstacles. It not only requires efficiency and agility, but also a great deal of ninja-like refinement.

Parkour is also low-maintenance. Unlike other physical sport or activity, it doesn’t require pads, helmets, and other equipment. Comfortable clothing and shoes with minimal padding are the basic gear.

So how do you get started? Get in shape and build endurance by jogging, stretching, and doing basic strength-building exercises such as squats and push-ups. provided a basic training routine that’s easy to follow.

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Then, you can proceed to learning the basic moves, such as the following:

Quadrupedal movement, or moving low on the ground using all four limbs, is essential for proper weight transfer, and improving balance and coordination. It is also fundamental to other parkour movements like landing, falling, and vaulting. It seems easy, but the real challenge is having to do it under obstacles, and over steep or uneven terrain.

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Landing, meanwhile, requires proper standing and squatting to achieve precise execution. Here, it’s not enough to just jump—you must learn how to jump and land quietly and efficiently from specific takeoff points, across obstacles and gaps, and at various angles, all while keeping your balance.

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Vaulting combines running, and proper jumping and quadrupedal movement to leap through fences and other obstacles with one hand. The vault can end with a landing, a roll, or a fall, which parkour trainees have already learned by the time they move on to this skill.

I am Brent Morgan Waco, a physical therapist and a fan of parkour and other outdoor fitness activities. Subscribe to this blog for more about how parkour works.


Misremembering music: An introspective

Music is a part of day to day life for all of us. As the times pass by, though, we conclude that music has somehow decayed from the halcyon days when every song was a hit and every hit was a masterpiece. Many people, myself among them at one point, have wished to turn back time and bring back the old songs.

Of course, this is a subjective opinion, and I cannot say with any degree of confidence that my favorite decade of music really was objectively better than today’s. It’s just human nature to have selective memory under the spell of nostalgia, which means we remember only the really good songs of the time. Likewise, we hardly remember any of the faddish one-hit wonders or the really terrible stuff because radio stations stop playing them after a while.

Reinforcing this attitude is that every period movie set in the past five decades tries to give its era a degree of verisimilitude by playing only the greatest hits of that particular era (you’d be hardpressed to find period movie characters listening to older songs, too).

Even if I take autotune and executive meddling out of the picture, I still find that not every song from the 60s, 70s, and 80s aged as well as my favorites did. There’s a reason the hits are those we love: they were that good and got better with the “ravages” of time — changes in context, lyrical relevance, and technical musical styles inform the experience of a hit song.

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The music atmosphere of yesterday wasn’t as different as that of today. Who knows, maybe some of the better songs of today would be remembered by the next generation the same way we did music of yore?

I’m Brent Morgan Waco, a Minnesota-based physical therapist and all-around 80s music aficionado. Follow me on Twitter for more about good music and good health.