Archives for posts with tag: exercise

This past week, Jesse and I gave an interactive talk at The Feast. This was followed by a short demonstration and workshop lead by members of our community.  Here is the rough transcript from that talk with photos and videos that were taken during and after.  You can see more of the photos in this album here. Enjoy!

“Can we have a heart to heart for a second? Exercise can suck!  I’m sure many of you agree that getting fit and staying there can be a pretty tedious task. Running on the treadmill for hours can be mind-numbing, as can strapping into exercise machines, and lifting weights…over and over, day in and day out, all in the name of meeting some unrealistic standard of beauty…

When approached like that, yes, fitness is absurd.   When we are forced to do such repetitive and simple movements, that sometimes are so physically enjoyable, of course we just  zone out, stop paying attention, and try to just get through it.  We find ourselves counting down the minutes, the seconds, until we can leave the gym and just go home!


We miss out on all the joy movement has to offer. and to me–that’s whats absurd.

The human body was designed to move, and designed to enjoy movement. Our ancestors ran through trees, climbed over rocks, and play games. Movement was a defining part of life. And somehow over the last century we’ve redefined it as a chore–no more important than doing the dishes or taking out the trash or mowing the lawn, if you’re lucky enough to have one!

So I’m here today to change the way you think about exercise–to give you an alternative to the fancy gym memberships, expensive equipment, and ultra competitive team sports. I’m here to give you a tool that can turn the hard work of exercise in to play… and that tool is Parkour.

Parkour is a discipline focused on natural human movements.  Movements such as crawling [action] balancing [action] jumping [action] swinging [action] and vaulting [action] Beyond the movement, Parkour is a discipline of overcoming obstacles, both mental and physical.   You can be both creative and critical. You learn the difference between good risk and bad, and how to cope with the uncertainties in your life. You can begin to understand your capabilities and where your limits lie.

I’m sure at least a few of you are wondering–How can the practice of Parkour teach you these things? Well–lets take a closer look:

1. You can first practice Parkour in its safest form–by staying low to the ground and focusing on control, patience, and building an understanding of your body in space.

Jonny teaches Parkour

2.  With time, you can advance and begin setting yourself isolated challenges that are either more physically demanding, which requires a deeper understanding of your abilities, or more mentally demanding, forcing you to face fear and trust in yourself

Parkour can be mentally demanding

3. Alternatively you can utilize dynamic movements and focus either on: (a) building greater efficiency, which forces you to problem solve and quickly resolve a path over under through or (b) fluidity, which gives you space to be creative and innovative with your body.

The movement creative shows off its Parkour Skill

4. You can even just opt to practice Parkour through games, which lets you to think less on the technique and focus more on just enjoying movement.

The list goes on.  There is no right or wrong in Parkour, for utlimately you set the rules.  We have no standards of success or gold medals to win. You need only to come out and try your hardest.  Because in Parkour we celebrate effort over achievement.  It doesnt matter if you cant balance your first day or jump.  Maybe you wont be able to get up and over your second try or third.  Inevitably you will fall but you will also learn to get back up and to try again.  This is because you are not working to be better than everyone else but better than yourself.

And therein lies the first, and most important thing you need to know about Parkour, and movement in general, and that is–that there is no barrier of entry.  There is no such thing as being too old, or too weak, being too busy or not good enough!

But I dont expect you to completely believe me when I say fitness can be fun, especially after 5 short minutes. As Buckminster Fuller once said that “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them.  Instead, give them a tool the use of which will lead them to new ways of thinking.”

So, after a short demonstration by members of our community, I’d like to invite you all over to play, and, perhaps, pick up that tool that will change the way you think about fitness and yourself.

Parkour demonstration making the case for movement at #Feast2013

A post shared by crystalruthbell (@crystalruthbell) on


By Caitlin Pontrella
I. Out of Time

More and more often people complain about the lack of time they have in a week to exercise and stay healthy.

How many times have you heard this one:
“I just don’t have any time!”

It is easy to be sympathetic to this sentiment but the reality is that there are 168 hours in a week.  If you work a 40-hour week (9-5) and sleep a full eight hours each night, you are still left with 72 hours.  72 hours.  Lets even subtract another 7 hours so that you can pass up ‘fast’-foods in order to cook yourself healthy dinners.  And subtract another 10 for commuting (A nod to you new york, with almost an hour long commute!)(1).  You’re still left with over 50+hours and Public health guidelines only recommend about 4 hours a week of exercise in order to stay healthy.

Do the math.

You don’t have time, you say?  You’re right, what you don’t have time for is excuses.


II. Epidemic of American Life
Americans, especially New Yorkers, are always on the go, 24/7. We are racing around every day to make more money, to improve our status, to catch up on our work, trying desperately to get ahead.  For this, we have the highest GDP in the world, are leaders in innovation and design, and have a very high standard of living.

However, we are also suffering from an epidemic of obesity.  We overindulge in fast foods and liquor.  We sleep too much or we sleep too little.  We are indoors more than 90% of the day (2), behind computers and televisions. We never have time enough to exercise because we are too overwhelmed by social media, financial burden, demands of our jobs, etc.

.i spent all day sleeping and now im tired

Thus this average life results in aging that results in weaker bones, softer muscles, and a body that fails you… all because we just didn’t have time.

III. The Real Problem
We need to stop viewing exercise as work.  If you hate running, then don’t go spending hours on the treadmill.  If you hate team sports, then don’t go join the local baseball league.  Movement comes in many forms–it is just a matter of identifying the one that speaks to you.

Besides, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you will make sure there is never any time.

We need to learn to take delight in movement, to seek out fulfilling forms of play, and to indulge ourselves.  It is not about getting healthy and fit, but being healthy and fit–enjoying movement for life, as an integral part of that life.  We need to find forms of play that are given the same weight of importance as our work.

Parkour workshop The Movement Creative Parkour Class

For play is work of the most serious and important kind.  Play is where we explore who we are, where we encounter our insecurities and face our limitations, where we learn to cope with insecurity and begin to define and exceed our capacities. Play allows us to be healthy and fit without having to feel like we are working on being healthy and fit.

Playing, and living healthy, demonstrates respect for ourselves.

So stop making excuses. You do have enough time!  Go find your form of play and start respecting your body and your self.

(1) Partnership for New York City.  NYC Jobs Blueprint. 2013.
(2) US EPA. Buildings and their Impact on the Environment: A Statistical Summary.  2009.
(3) The Movement Creative.