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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.”

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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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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: Late night eats at Steak ‘n’ Shake

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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Waist trainers, crash diets, colon cleanses—all things touted as the next miracle solution for weight loss. With the help of our new Registered Dietitian columnist, we’ll sort out the truth from the trash when it comes to health trends on your social media feeds, and provide healthy, sustainable alternatives for those to-good-to-be-true fixes. Welcome to Truth or Trend.

Steak ‘n’ Shake; a long-standing staple for a greasy, late night bite to eat. While "Eat This, Not That!" calls their signature items “two of the most precarious foods on the planet” on Instagram, is their fear mongering all it claims to be? Stick with me as I explore the truth behind a post by the account comparing the healthiness of two popular menu items: a Single Steakburger with Thin 'n Crispy Fries v. Portobello and a Swiss Steakburger.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw_IR1_h2Ol/?igshid=1s0nzocal4f4w

First, the nutrition information provided for the two options shown in the post is inaccurate (click here to see more). Additionally, the caption claims most shakes are more than 500 calories and most salad options are 600 calories or less which is an incorrect generalization.

And while the Single Steakburger with Thin 'n Crispy Fries is the lower-calorie option like "Eat This, Not That!" says, what the post doesn’t account for are some other important nutrient factors that set the two options apart.

The Single Steakburger with Thin 'n Crispy Fries combination has 1380 mg sodium, which is 60% of the maximum recommended daily intake (2300 mg) in one meal, compared to just 890 in the Portobello and Swiss burger. The “Not this” option also boasts a higher protein content of 29 g compared to 17 g in the combination and about half the carbohydrates at 36 g v. 62 g.

Take-away

There are pros and cons to each of the menu items here, so saying to “Eat this, not that” is painting broad strokes. If you’re a patron of fast food chains, remember to review and weigh all the nutritional facts before making a decision about which one is "healthier." Or, if you’re out for a special late night treat, choose the option that is going to satisfy you!

Becca is an Ohio native and University of Cincinnati graduate who works as a traveling consultant dietitian, currently living in Juneau, Alaska. She owns Centum Cento Fitness LLC, a company dedicated to using evidenced-based practice to help empower clients to build sustainable and healthy lifestyles through nutrition and fitness.Follow Becca on Instagram!

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Health & Fitness

Twerk it! Studio Rouge combines dance and exercise for booty-lifting benefits

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Studio Rouge in Grandview isn’t your average fitness studio. Here you’ll find classes in pole dancing, aerial fitness, and exotic dancing—including the aptly-named “Twerkout” class. And it’s not just for those who want to be on stage.

The butt-lifting Twerkout class doubles as both sensuality and body positivity lessons for all. Taught by Tracy Ruby, she prides herself on being aptly coined “twerk technician,” having taken lap dance and pole dance classes at Studio Rouge before becoming a regular instructor.

“It’s so much fun to see other people who come in, not sure what’s going to happen, and find that they can do it,” Ruby says. “The idea behind Twerkout is to take ‘twerk’ and make it a workout—to give people a new dance environment where they can come and they can learn new skills. [They can] take those home or to the club or wherever they want to do their new booty-poppin’ moves.”

Photos: Stef Streb

Ruby first assesses the physical needs and limitations of the class, combining twerk moves with traditional exercises as a mash-up with the ideal butt lift.

“If you go through Instagram, you can plug in ‘twerk’ and see all these different people coming up with different moves that work really well for their bodies, but during Twerkout, there are certain moves that’ll work for one person that won’t work for another,” she says. “Our booties are all shaped differently; our bodies all work differently. When you see people on Instagram, they’ve found all these moves, put them together, and they got their booties to twerk in these magnetical, amazing ways.”

While visitors may scroll through Instagram before class to get a gauge of what they can expect from Twerkout, Ruby insists upon using repetition in areas where guests may feel they’re lacking. “You build natural muscles with, for instance, twerk, where you’re working specific calisthenics to enhance your sense of your motions,” she says. “It’s healthier. I mean you’re building your muscles. You’re not just implanting new material. We do a lot of squats in class, because that’s where you’re going to help get your leg joints, back joints and muscles in these areas to be more responsive and stronger.”

As Ruby encourages doing squats outside of Twerkout, she also stresses the importance of proper form with an extensive warm-up to match. “We do quite a bit of warming up of the spine so that your back is ready for all that we’re going to ask of it. Then we’ll go into some twerk drills, which is where the workout kind of kicks up and we’ll have some traditional exercises along with learning new twerk skills,” she says. “We will go through some core moves for twerk, that are specifically for a twerk and then we’ll start putting together some choreography […] based on those core moves, maybe adding in some new ones. Once we have our choreography built, we will run through it a few times so that you’ve got something to take with you, and then there’s a cool-down period.”

Twerkout guests may struggle during a session, but Ruby firmly assures that she won’t let her class fail. “Say one move is not working for you in class. If it’s not working for you there, keep working on it. It may just never be your move, you may not care for it. That’s fine. That happens in all kinds of classes,” she says. “Burpees, for example, [are] not everybody’s favorite. Some people are good at them and love them. Other people do not, but you can keep working at it, get better and eventually master these skills.”

Ruby indulges in plain yogurt and granola as a protein-oriented go-to snack following a session of Twerkout, and she encourages her class to enjoy any food that nourishes and energizes their bodies, er, booties. Following this downtime, she looks forward to amping her class back into gear.

“There is never a moment where I’m not encouraging you. Everybody has a moment every day when they wanna give up. My job as the instructor is to help motivate that person and everyone else to keep moving, just keep going. The studio itself is built around self-love and finding ways that you appreciate your own body and can share that with yourself and others,” she says. “Come in and see what it’s about! It’s an hour, okay? So you’re not going to spend five hours with me doing something you don’t like, and I promise you’ll have fun.”

Find out more about classes at Studio Rouge in Grandview at studiorougecolumbus.com.

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