Parkour is a style of bodyweight fitness that has captured the hearts of adrenaline junkies worldwide. For these people, conquering fear is simply a part of everyday life.
Nicholas Coolridge and Travis Brewer are two such devotees. They met through the acrobatic world and quickly bonded over their mutual love of climbing telephone poles and back-flipping off of palm trees. Brewer is a self-proclaimed bodyweight fitness ninja who says parkour is "more of a lifestyle than a workout."
Parkour is the activity or sport of moving rapidly through an area, typically an urban environment, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing. Parkour developed out of a classic military style of obstacle course training in France in the late 1980's. Since then, the discipline has steadily increased in popularity, spawning video games, documentaries, TV series and an upcoming movie, "Tracers," starring "Twilight" heartthrob Taylor Lautner. A modern-day practitioner of parkour looks like a ninja in a T-shirt and board shorts.
Coolridge, also known as "Modern Tarzan" says, "A lot of times the things we do normally throughout the day could be considered a workout where it's just our standard movement. It's like, 'Oh, there's stairs, why walk on my feet when I could walk on my hands?'"
But you don't have to do high-flying tricks to reap the physical, mental and spiritual benefits the discipline offers. Practicing functional movement like parkour can help you overcome fears by developing strength, confidence and trust in yourself so you can nail more than just a back flip.
"We have fears with everything that we do, not just in working out. It's in business, in relationships -- so having that confidence that, if I can do this in the way I play and how I train, I can also do this in any aspect of my life," says Brewer.
If you're inspired to take up parkour, Brewer says you can start wherever you are.
"A lot of it is building up the confidence in your own body learning your own limits, learning your own strengths and weaknesses and going with that. Not trying to go big," he says.
Don't think you have to begin climbing telephone poles right away. Start by building strength and learning some basic maneuvers. Brewer also suggests taking the time to learn how to fall properly.
"It's a personal journey. It's different for every person. Everyone starts at a different level," says Brewer. "You just have to go out and find the obstacles that you want to work with and get good at."
Most of the tricks like hand balancing, jumps and flips require extreme body awareness and muscular strength. Developing this strength requires discipline and lots of practice. But Brewer and Coolridge say it's worth it and they see the value extend throughout every aspect of their lives.
"You're overcoming obstacles not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. It's a whole mind-body-spirit workout," Brewer explains.