When you start Parkour, chances are you aren’t going to know exactly where to train. That’s OK for two reasons:
- That is part of the learning process that comes with taking up Parkour.
- There aren’t always a lot of “sweet obstacles” or “great places” that beckon Parkour movement. In fact, the birthplace of Parkour (Lisses, France) doesn’t actually have a ton of sweet obstacles. By today’s standards, there are just a few “better than average” locations in the whole city.
My point is, it’s OK not to know where to train, and I’m here to help you with that because you actually don’t need a ton of great spots to do Parkour and progress. If you look hard enough, you’ll probably be able to find some sweet locations in your area without having to travel far at all!
One key that will help you discover great obstacles is using natural obstacles and things you can set up in your backyard. Here are four of them that I love.
I don’t live in a big city with awesome precision jumps, and I can tell you from experience that I actually prefer this because that forces me to use rocks, and rocks are amazing precision trainers! Not every rock is the same and not every surface is squared off. That means when you train on rocks you are constantly encountering new landings which will make you more versatile and more precise. I’ve found some rocks are big enough for tricks, but I also often use rocks that are barely big enough for my foot.
(A great video starring Sebastien Foucan tracing in a well known rock outcropping closes to Lisses, France. Locations like these are rare, but if you can find one, then you’ll find more challenges there than just about any city)
#2. Trees and Wood
Trees are everywhere and they are great for training so many different things! Branches can be used for pull-ups, bar-kips, muscle ups, laches, and the list goes on and on. You can also climb them, jump from them, tac them and practice a myriad of other things. Best of all, all trees are different so you are constantly being challenged with precision and new elements. Random wood and lumber are great precision trainers as well.
(Leo Urban from France training with his pioneering Parkour-in-the-trees-style)
#3. Bricks and Cinder Blocks
Bricks and/or cinder blocks are great obstacles that you may have at your home or you can pick up at the store. If you want consistent sizes for precisions and strides, these are great options because you can also always move them into different arrangements. I also use bricks for strength training, and with them you can take your pushups and handstands to the next level.
Last but not least, ropes. I love ropes! You can easily buy one at the store and put it in your yard. Ropes can be used for balance, or, if you have them long enough, you can tie them to a branch for work on climbing up it or walking on it. If you’re training for any kind of obstacle course (like American Ninja Warrior), rope climbs are a great exercises because with them you work upper body and grip strength, and this strength also applies great to Parkour with arm jumps and laches.
#5 (Extra Credit) Farms
The ultimate rural location is a farm. Not many have this which is why I’ve called this “extra credit” but contrary to what we see from most Parkour videos which are filmed in cities, farms are literally some of the best places to train! If you live on one then be thankful because there are so many obstacles, places, and ways to move, jump, climb, and challenge yourself. Use your creativity and you will see.
My message for this article is that training comes down to your creativity and willingness to use all obstacles to your training advantage. Let’s say you only have one area that you can train in. If that’s the case, then you can still do amazing things! You just need to OWN that area, and what I mean by “own” is find every possible way to move on it. If all you have to work with is one playground, then you can still learn an amazing amount if you are creative and do everything you can on the playground! And even if you don’t have a playground, then natural and home obstacles like rocks, trees, wood, bricks, and ropes can provide the same amount of variety and challenges (if more more) than even some of the best locations.
In the end, it all comes down to creativity. You need to utilize what you have, and make the best of you situation. Use your creativity, and soon you can turn your mediocre or non-existent Parkour spots into amazing ones.
P.S. For those of you who want to find great urban spots, I recommend clicking this link to check out Paul Darnell’s article on finding spots:
P.P.S. Check out this video by Ronnie Shalvis for additional tips on training Parkour in nature.