Urban Playground | Eclectic Cake: Urban Playground

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Urban Playground

I was introduced to high-jump one PE lesson at school. We were told we'd all be able to jump our belly button height, then we'd work up from there. I actually worked down. In fact, they finally just removed the bar and I jumped straight onto the crash mat. Obviously, I'm not a natural at leaping over things. But I seemed to have forgotten this at the point of booking my first class at Parkour Generations' The Chainsaw (the largest purpose-built indoor free running facility) doing a sport that seems to be mainly about jumping over, on to or between things.

I was pretty relieved that our women only class began on the floor. The warm-up focused on agility whilst moving across the space with some strength moves thrown in for fun. Unbeknownst to us, we were building up to some vaulting - same move, just higher and with a run up. And actually, because my body was now programmed to move in the right way, it came much more naturally than I thought. Granted, my arms were heavily involved in this jump but it was a running jump nonetheless. Take that, year nine high-jump!

Whichever way we chose to move over the vault, the key was commitment. Not hesitating meant we made it over the obstacle in one piece! And that was definitely my main aim when we were invited to walk across some scaffolding in the indoor urban playground. 

We were paired up, one person walking on the shoulder-high metal bars, the other spotting and offering a hand for balance. Our instructor, Shirley, told us that our bodies would know what to do if we wobbled, that they were our armour and we would be protected by them if we fell. Not wanting to test the theory, my full concentration went into walking the scaffold course whilst trying not to break my partner's fingers by squeezing them too hard! With a few wobbles, we both made it across - legs, arms and fingers all intact.

Our next task was to cross from one side of the room to the other without touching the floor. We were encouraged to explore the scaffolding, ladders, platforms and ropes to discover different ways of achieving our goal. This meant that I didn't have to jump at all, I just had to find a way of climbing, pulling or swinging myself around instead.

Shirley's enthusiasm and playfulness on the course automatically made me want to try new parts of the giant climbing frame and different ways of getting across it - a sign of a brilliant instructor. Her relaxed approach made me feel safe within what could've been a fairly dangerous environment. Most of all, she seemed to believe we could do anything! She demonstrated this by teaching us an advanced move - she didn't see any reason why we shouldn't start learning it just because we were beginners. 

A palm spring involves placing your hand on a higher surface and using it as an anchor as you jump over and around the obstacle. Once again, commitment played a massive part in mastering this move. Wimp out half way through and you're fairly likely to fall on your face or trip over your own feet. We only practiced on a short wooden box but it was so satisfying to land back down on the ground, a little dizzy, after flying over its corner.

Way too soon, our two hour class was nearly over. It turns out there would normally be a section of conditioning in the class but we got a little too carried away with climbing and jumping and spinning. Instead we settled on a long, satisfying stretch to protect the bodies that had protected us...followed by one last climb of the rope!

Parkour Generations runs classes all over London, inside and out for different types of group. To find a class that suits you, have a look at their website here.


  1. This sounds like so much fun! I really want to give it a go, if I pretend it will help with my aerial stuff I can justify the expense right? ;)

    1. It will definitely be beneficial to your aerial skills! Plus it's not really that expensive. Win, win!

  2. I was at this class! It was awesome.