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Rediscovering Columbus: Walls

Parkour offers new ways of achieving your fitness goals. There’s one thing I think of when I think of parkour—that episode of The Office where Michael, Dwight, and Andy get into what they think of an action sport a YouTube video calls “hardcore parkour.” Andy decides he’s going to take a huge leap from the [...]
Mitch Hooper

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Parkour offers new ways of achieving your fitness goals.

There’s one thing I think of when I think of parkour—that episode of The Office where Michael, Dwight, and Andy get into what they think of an action sport a YouTube video calls “hardcore parkour.” Andy decides he’s going to take a huge leap from the top of a moving truck onto an empty cardboard box only for him to learn the hard way that he wasn’t quite ready for the advance level stuff yet—and that empty cardboard boxes aren’t the best landing spots.

For the coaches at Parkour Horizon here in Columbus, their beginnings in the sport weren’t that much different than those in fictional Scranton. No, they weren’t in a random parking lot leaping from a moving truck while loudly exclaiming “HARDCORE PARKOUR!”, but at one point they were new faces to the game trying to learn new tricks and flips without any assistance from tutorial videos or classes. It was just some straight up trial-and-error—where your error could lead to smashing your face into the ground below.

“I didn’t really go to gymnastics facilities; I kind of learned all of my tricks in the sand on the beach,” said California-native Christian Whitworth, a coach and instructor for Parkour Horizons. “I didn’t really have a whole lot of tutorials or things like that. A lot of the times it was seeing something done and figuring out how to do it and working on it with friends.”

The same can be said for Richard Skowronski, a coach and lead instructor at Parkour Horizons. He didn’t have the avenues of YouTube to spark an interest at a young age in climbing and exploring his environment—he’s been interested in doing just that ever since he was a child.

But, eventually he found his way to YouTube in about 2004 through a friend and discovered the sport that would change how he went about his life.

“[My friend] found a parkour video and was like, ‘Hey, I think this is what you do and I think you might like this,’” Skowronski recalled. “I was going to school for photography at the time and as soon as I watched that video, it had such a profound effect on me. I just realized, ‘This is what I want my life to be about.’”

Since then, Skowronski as well as Whitworth have been working as coaches, instructors, and general parkour gurus across the country ranging from Hawaii to right here in Columbus.

While many people would think parkour is only aerial acts and eye-catching flips and tricks that make you wonder how the hell a human can float in the air for so long, Skowronski and Whitworth are trying to eliminate this stigma at Parkour Horizons. Classes are set up with a specific theme each week—vaulting, climbing, jumping—where newcomers have the chance to work with Richard for more fundamental concepts while Christian takes the higher level athletes and puts them to the test for completing more advanced tricks. No one is forced to do something they aren’t comfortable with, and once you build the confidence, they will be more than willing to help you through it all.

For them, parkour is so much more than just those popular videos you catch online—it’s learning how your body wants to interact with the environment around it then conditioning it to be more efficient.

“Our motto is to empower people through movement so we want people to be able to have exposure to these movements,” Skowronski said. “I realized, yes we are a facility, but parkour isn’t meant to be done just in a gym. It’s meant to be done outside in whatever environment you are exposed to. It’s about having that basic approach of movement in a “safe and controlled” [environment]—I say safe and controlled in quotations because at any point in life, risk and danger is there—and I think the way we have exposed people to parkour is a very safe, progressive, and mindful approach that anyone basically can do it.”

And those videos online of the highest level parkour athletes are semi-misleading, too. From a viewer’s perspective, all you see are the highlights and successful jumps. But, the behind the scenes tells a completely different story.

“Those people don’t do those tricks just once, and they don’t do those jumps just once,” Whitworth explained. “They do them over, and over, and over to make sure they get it right because that’s the only way to grow. You don’t just do a jump one time. You do it many times until you feel you’ve conquered it then you move on to the next challenge.”

With all that repetition comes a physical and mental demanding workload. Not only are you pushing your body to its physical limits, things like a fear of heights or the fear of pain can create mental stress as well. This is where training plays a pivotal role in the entire process. Instead of traditional training like lifting weights, Skowronski combined movement with lifting to create something similar to a gauntlet: one moment he’ll be muscles then suddenly, he’s hitting squats, followed by more rigorous training to prepare his body for the most extreme situations.

“[We also] incorporate things like yoga and all these other movements because in order for us to last, we need to focus on the recovery; allowing our body to be pliable and ready for those things,” he explained. “If we are super tight, we are going to get injured.”

But, don’t worry. He recognizes that not everyone getting into parkour wants to go to the same extremes as he did. For those people, he suggests focusing more on the technical features of the trick, like contouring your body the proper way when you’re doing a wall flip. It doesn’t require too much strength, he said, but it does require proper body conditioning and knowing how to use momentum efficiently.

As for the side eye glances and upset security guards who just don’t understand what these guys are doing in public when they go out for a day of parkour, Skowronski just wishes they would try to be more understanding.

“I’m not trying to scare anybody. I’m not trying to destroy the property. I’m not trying to injure myself or others—I’m just trying to create a greater awareness to what I’m physically capable of doing and mentally capable of enduring at the same time.”

millennial | writer | human

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: Does “detox water” really work?

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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Water, H20, aqua: the most basic of necessities for human life. Water is a vital part of many bodily functions, including removal of waste products, but can we make water even “better” for us as a “detox water?"

Simple answer: no.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1F2t7Vg91U/?igshid=9icqe17xmslg

H20, i.e. two hydrogen atoms connected to an oxygen atom, is the chemical identity of water. This specific formation is what separates it from other molecules, and makes it the most vital substance to human existence.

Soaking things in your water like ginger, cinnamon, or cucumbers can alter the taste but will not chemically alter the structure. Water infusions like the ones listed in the post above can taste great, but water is still H20 and will function as such.

That being said, water infusions are not bad; in fact if you’re struggling to meet your daily intake, water infusions are often an idea I suggest to patients and clients. Mixing up the flavors can bring water can elevate the flavor, making it easier to drink throughout the day!

Take-away: Don’t let social media tell you water can be changed to a magical detox; water is already an amazing life giving drink. Instead, use social media for inspiration for trying a new tasty drink that might help you get the adequate hydration you’ve been struggling to get!

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: 30 Day Challenges

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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@DietBetch, a popular Instagram account with over 213k followers, tends to post memes that subtly poking fun at our diet culture. But recently, I was disappointed to see a post about a "30 Day Challenge" that reinforces the unhealthy, fad diet-obsessed world we live in.

This "30 Day Challenge" prohibits participants from consuming foods that many people often associate with being “unhealthy” like soda, candy, and doughnuts.

As a dietitian, I’m not going to disagree that the foods listed do tend to be higher in nutrients of concerns—like added sugars and salt, and overall calories—but, I absolutely believe they can be part of a balanced diet.

By completely removing foods from the diet with a 30 Day Challenge like this, one will simply think, “No…for this month." This purge-style challenge won't teach healthy sustainable eating habits like intuitive eating or portion control.

Take-away: Instead of tagging a friend for a restrictive diet challenge that doesn’t set either of you up for long-term success, try implementing a small sustainable change. Maybe instead of going out for fast food every day of the workweek with a friend, you both could try packing once a week and share recipes and meal ideas!

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: “His” vs “Her” portions

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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It’s not uncommon to scroll through Instagram and see beautiful plates of food labeled “his” and “hers.” Typically the “his” plate is larger in all portions of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

But, this depiction of portioning is inaccurate and can be damaging to the way women satisfy their hunger.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmBjeBnB5jb/

Gender does not determine the quantity of food people “should” eat. From a science perspective, there are so many variables that affect metabolic rates that are not specific to sex, such as amount of muscle mass, fat mass, location of these deposits, physical activity, and more. 

For example, a very active, self-identified woman with high lean body mass can have significantly higher maintenance caloric needs compared to a more sedentary male identifying person. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxnh7yaFftA/

Take-away: Don’t let social media tell you that gender determines the amount you deserve to eat. Listen to your body and your hunger cues. Fuel your body for what you need!

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