I walk around Adelaide with a camera and a tripod.
Getty Images: https://tinyurl.com/ycg9zne3
Published January 7th 2017
Flip, vault, jump, climb, rock and roll
It was approaching 40 degrees Celsius. Roasted to well done by the heat, the acrid earthy scent of baked asphalt and rubber was tempered by the mild sweetness of eucalyptus. The air was still. The sun unshrouded. It was no surprise, then, that the Warsaw Crescent Reserve in Hackham West, home to Adelaide's largest Parkour and Free Running Park, was deserted.
Scaffolds and Monkey Bars at the Warsaw Crescent Parkour Zone in Hackham West
Originally created in France and derived from military obstacle course training, Parkour incorporates a variety of free flowing movements including vaults, climbing, flips, rolls and jumps to traverse terrain in the most efficient and expeditious way possible. Through rigorous training, practitioners of the discipline build the physical and mental fitness and flexibility to acrobatically tumble across cityscapes with the agility of a mongoose.
The price of gaining this ability, however, may be steep. On rare occasions one hears about broken bones, ligament and tendon injuries, concussion and even death in those who sacrificed life, limb or spleen on the altar of free running glory. A simple Google search of "parkour" brings up equal parts exhilarating photographs/videos of near superhuman athletic feats and sobering news of those free running enthusiasts who sustained serious injuries.
Officially launched on the 21st May 2016, the Warsaw Crescent Reserve Parkour Zone is a hybrid playground/Parkour training facility freely accessible to the public and comprises a variety of Parkour obstacles.
Monkey bars, scaffolds, culverts, large irregular boulders, tree stumps of various sizes and diameters as well as slabs of concrete are situated atop grass or pine chips. A sign nearby reads that the park is suitable for those of all competencies but continues by stating the risks and a recommendation that protective equipment be worn. This sounds prudent, for while falling on the pine chips may result in splinters, scrapes and bruises, landing on a boulder, concrete slab or tree trunk may be a less forgiving surface upon which to be spread-eagled.
A 'Moduplay' outdoor gym adjacent to the Parkour Zone with different bodyweight machines designed, according to a nearby information board, to improve Strength, Endurance/Conditioning, Balance and Flexibility.
For the briefest of moments I have the passing thought of climbing one of the scaffolds and vaulting like an Olympian over to a tree stump. The thought passes.
Bring the whole family, because next to the Parkour Zone is a basketball court and a playground, with the usual play equipment (swings, a slide, springers and a fireman's pole) but also a flying fox. In less harsh weather kids will no doubt enjoy fun activities such as swinging, sliding, kicking a ball around or honing their skills.
Like any rigorous acrobatic discipline, through sacrificing time and effort on the altar of training, Parkour practitioners grow in both mental fortitude and physical strength, qualities instrumental not only in negotiating challenging obstacles on a course but also in navigating the sometimes hostile terrain of existence.
Vertical Freedom, the southern arm of the South Australia Parkour Association, runs Parkour programs, classes and events within the City of Onkaparinga and plans to run National Youth Week activities at the Park in March-April 2017. Serious injury, while occasional, is certainly not the norm, especially when well supervised by experienced trainers/facilitators in this, the first custom built Parkour Facility in South Australia.