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Parkour leaps into Appalachian

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The Appalachian Online

Students at Appalachian State University are using parkour to view their environment in an open-minded and artistic way when traveling from place to place.

The Mountain Runnerz club, which is leading the upstart of parkour on campus, had its first meeting on Feb. 11 with 11 people in attendance.

Parkour is defined by the ability to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible with regard to obstacles and can be done by a combination of jumping, running and vaulting. The sport usually takes place in urban areas, Bryan Miller, freshman music education major and public relations chair for the Mountain Runnerz said.

“Most people didn’t know about slacklining until they got [to Appalachian] or about quidditch until they saw people doing it,” Miller said. “Once we get out more publicly around campus and into the community, people will wonder what it is and we’ll start explaining and bringing people on board.”

The sport originated in France in the early 1900s by a French Naval Officer who was influenced by the agility of the locals of Martinique and implemented that into the physical training for the French Military.

Parkour, as it’s known today, is credited to David Belle who combined his training in martial arts and gymnastics with that of the French military parkour. The practice has since spread worldwide, according to www.discoverparkour.org.

“[Parkour] is a way to view things more artistically and open-minded because when you see things, it’s not just like trees and branches, but it’s a tree that I can jump from branch to branch and throw myself farther to land someplace else,” said Luke Oram, freshman computer science major and president of the Mountain Runnerz. “You turn the area around – kind of into a playing field.”

Although parkour is usually known for people jumping from building to building, due to rules and regulations, anyone involved in doing so will get in trouble legally. The club is backed up by the university with safety as a priority.

Instead, other ideal places to practice the sport are those with elevation such as hiking trails and Appalachian’s campus since it has stairs, rails and different elevations right next to each other, Oram said.

There aren’t any rules besides those involving safety and using proper technique when it comes to things such as jumping, rolling or landing.

“One of the cool things about Parkour is that a lot of it is up for interpretation and it isn’t exactly a competitive thing,” Miller said. “It is an open community to where people are willing to help each other out.”

During the early stages of the club, the Mountain Runnerz will begin with training to improve the endurance and strength of its members especially since no experience is required to join.

“We’re going to have practice, workouts and training before we do all the big stuff,” Oram said. “I know people want to go out there and do things, but you can’t do something you’ve never practiced or trained for.”

Workouts may include cardio by running or swimming and strength and endurance by holding their breath underwater and by doing a series of things such as pushups, pullups and climbing, Oram said.

“It’s a full body workout,” Miller said. “If one part of your body is sore and you’re trying to do stuff, you’ll quickly figure out how to use all of your body, so it’s one of those overall fitness types of things.”

Oram said members of the Mountain Runnerz will not be required to pay any fees and the club does not need any funding so far, but it might be needed if they decide to compete or travel in the future.

Other schools in the UNC system with parkour teams include the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and North Carolina State University.

Parkour is relatively cheap, because equipment simply involves wearing comfortable, light clothing and shoes that have grip, are durable and not too expensive because they will get torn up over time. It  serves as a fitness activity but is mostly practiced for fun.

“As kids, all of us loved to run around and do fun things, but when you get older you’re told to stop doing those things,” Oram said. “ [Parkour] brings back those things, so that you can be open with the things around you when you’re walking to class or such. There’s a lot more to it than just trying to have fun or just being out there.”

Story: Chamian Cruz, Intern News Reporter

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