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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

The Great Outdoors (Are Always Open): An easy scavenger hunt to ease you into nature

Linda Lee Baird

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Quarantine. Isolation. Social distancing. The words defining our historic (and historically difficult) moment are all about solitude—and we’re bound to be using them for some time to come. But getting through these long days doesn’t mean we need to be inside. In fact, even under the “stay at home” orders currently in effect, getting out in the fresh air is still very much allowed. Spring goes on springing, and the time away from schools and the office gives us the opportunity to soak it in, observe, and enjoy the changes. 

For those who have been disconnected from nature for a few years, or never connected in the first place, here’s a beginner’s guide to the plants and animals you may see around our Metro Parks, woods, and rivers this spring. We went with common species—because it feels good to be able to check things off your list—but think of this as a starting point for paying a little more attention to the natural world around you. 

And if you are one of the many people who is suddenly leading a homeschool, you can use this as an educational scavenger hunt. My “class” will be taking this list up to Highbanks on the first warm April afternoon. 

Birds

Robin

My mom used to point out the “first robin of spring” as March turned to April every year—a sign that the season was changing and more birds would soon be joining their song in the trees.

Hawk

Look up! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… actually a bird. Our flat lands and wide skies are an ideal combination to catch a hawk carefully circling in  the sky.  (Because this is an easy scavenger hunt, any bird of prey can check this box. We won’t tell). 

Warblers

The Ohio Division of Wildlife calls warblers, “one of the avian highlights of spring.” While there are several species that visit our state, the blue-winged, golden winged, and yellow all have bright yellow coloring that perhaps makes them easier to spot in the trees. ODW recommends Greenlawn Cemetery as a local spot to see them.

Animals

Deer

They’re everywhere in Ohio, but there’s still something magical about spotting one in the wild and looking into its tranquil eyes.

Butterflies

Yes, there are many different types of butterflies that live in Central Ohio and yes, they are most active later in the year, but the common painted lady starts fluttering around as early as April. If you find a butterfly of any species this early in the season, we’ll give you full credit. 

Frogs

Head down to the water and open your ears for that familiar croak. You’re likely to spot them chillin’ on the bank or the nearest lily pad, but it’s really fun if you get to watch them swim. 

Baby… anything

It’s spring, the season many species welcome their babies into the world. And if there’s anything cuter than an animal, it’s a baby animal. Ducklings, bunnies, birds nests; anywhere you can spot an animal family will let you tick this box. 

Plants

Fiddlehead ferns

One of the first signs that the earth is returning from winter is the emergence of fiddlehead ferns. Their distinctive spiral sticking up from the ground portends more plants to follow. (They are also supposed to be delicious when cooked, but since this is a scavenger hunt occurring in a public park, please leave them for the next visitor). 

Lilac

You’ll probably smell them before you see them. There’s a reason lilac is dried and used in aeromatics year round, but—lucky us—we’re quickly approaching the season to experience the real thing. Those small, purple buds that smell like absolute bliss? That’s lilac. 

Maple tree

Sure, it’s at its peak in the fall when the leaves turn gold and red, but can you identify a maple before it’s leaves are in full bloom and it’s not producing any syrup? Now’s your chance to find out. 

Fungus

Mushrooms count, but the best fungus in my opinion grows on old tree stumps and boasts beautiful stripes.

Feature photo by Rebecca Tien.

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Health & Fitness

COVID-19 Coverage: Expert tips for staying healthy during your stay-at home

Mitch Hooper

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It's been nine days since Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has placed the state under a shelter-in-place order. However long this will last is unknown, but Dr. Anup Kanodia has a suggestion: use this time for your own self-health.

Dr. Kanodia, an Akron-native, is the owner and head MD at KanodiaMD in Westerville. He did a fellowship of alternative, integrative medicine at Harvard University and went on to earn his Master's in Public Health. His practice focuses on integrating functional medicine with conventional medicine. In addition to owning his own private practice, he works part-time with addiction clinics and part-time with urgent care.

"What we're finding, in my practice, is that a lot of people want to know how do they help themselves in this time. What can they do beyond social distancing and hand washing?" Dr. Kanodia said.

To find ways to cope and grow through this situation, 614Now talked with Dr. Kanodia via Zoom. Here are some of his tips to finding happiness and peace during these stressful times.

1.) Get into a routine

Working, sleeping, living, and eating in the same place can make the days feel like they blur together. Dr. Kanodia says a daily routine can be exactly what you need to help create a separation of your work and personal life as they collide together at home.

"[It starts] with having a regular sleep schedule," Dr. Kanodia explained. "And then getting out of the house first thing in the morning; meaning go for a walk, or go get something. But if you're stuck inside the house all day long, that's going to ruin your mental health."

For folks working at home, he also suggests making your work space separate from your bedroom. Don't work in bed, he says, and try to work in a different room than your bedroom if possible.

2.) Sleep is crucial right now

Sleep is the time our body repairs itself making it a vital part of a healthy immune system. But with schedules out-of-order, the long hours inside can make falling asleep difficult. Things like exercise throughout your day can help at nighttime, and Dr. Kanodia suggests writing before bed if you are struggling to fall asleep as well as limiting blue light exposure.

If, on the other hand, you find yourself waking up much earlier than usual, he says to simply go about your day, but it's important not to take naps as they can throw off your sleep cycle.

3.) And so is staying physically active; better yet if you can safely get outdoors

He says that functional medicine is finding that there are even more benefits to the immune system and overall health of the body through doing outdoor activities and being in the sunlight.

"Walking out in nature is even more beneficial if you could. Sunlight, outdoor light, or daylight helps us make Vitamin D, helps us shutdown sleeping hormones, and helps with depression."

However, there is a limit to exercise. He warns that if you feel tired roughly two hours after a work-out, you might've overworked yourself. Be cautious as being overworked can lead to a lowered immune system.

4.) Continue social distancing, but use technology to stay connected and close with loved ones

Dr. Kamodia suggests folks use applications like FaceTime and Zoom to stay in-touch with their families and friends. KamodiaMD also offers video chats—both in groups or solo—for anyone with questions or struggling in this time.

He also suggests alternative ways to do this such as video games and online games. Additionally, forums and chats are great ways to stay connected, he says.

5.) Keep a positive outlook with healthy outlets

It's difficult to do so in times like these, but Dr. Kanodia says a positive outlook is vital right now. And having a positive attitude doesn't mean you are immune to the fears, rather, it's coming to terms with them, he says.

"We have to accept our fear, [being] overwhelmed, and anxiousness. [...] Stress and mindset are unmet expectations. If I have expectations of how long this will last, if I will get COVID-19, that I don't like working from home; any of these expectations make us more stressed. If I go with the flow, what's the best I can do with this one minute? And keep going down that path."

For this, he suggests finding hobbies that brought you joy when you were younger. For some it's adult coloring, for others it's sports.

"Figure out in the past what kept you calm. Whatever it is that is your stress reliever, now is a good time to do it."

For more information on Dr. Kanodia, or to download his free COVID-19, Cold, and Flu Top 3 Recommendations, visit kanodiamd.com.

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Health & Fitness

5 unique ways to improve wellness without a treadmill

Jeni Ruisch

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big percentage of the resolutions we make every year involve getting in shape and/or improving our overall wellness. But running on a treadmill is only slightly more attractive an activity than, say, waiting in line at the DMV. And unless you can sit still for more than two minutes, meditation is out of the question. If you want to really challenge yourself to step outside your normal bubble, face your fears while finding balance. You’ll conquer your phobias AND the scale.

Float

True REST Float Spa
truerest.com

You can achieve a state of buoyancy akin to floating on a cloud. The key is a pod filled with hyper-salinated water, heated to the temperature of your skin. Reduced Environmental Stimulus Therapy can help your mind find peace.

Flip

Life Energy Yoga
leyyoga.com

Did you ever dream of becoming an acrobat? This exercise consists of poses done with a partner. You can make human pyramids, or even learn to stand on each other’s shoulders, or contort yourselves into knots of fun.

Climb

Infinity Aerial
infinityaerial.com

Raise your skills to the roof with aerial silks, the skill made popular by Cirque Du Soleil and performing artist P!nk. A long swath of fabric pours down from ceiling supports, and the performer uses friction and strength to support themselves in poses among the waterfall of silk.

Dive

Columbus Scuba
columbusscuba.com

The depths of the ocean hold more mysteries than the surface of the moon. Brave men and women strap Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus to their backs every day the world over, and dive into the unknown.

Fly

The Buckeye Bounce Club
thebounceclub.com

If you thank your lucky stars for gravity, and the hard ground under your feet, maybe it’s time to shake yourself free of the terra for a few ticks. The Buckeye Bounce Club is a gym where the workouts are done on wall-to-wall trampolines, or rather, ceiling-to-ceiling, as the walls themselves are bounceable, just like the floors.

Originally appeared in (614) Magazine December 2017

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