Friday, June 27, 2014

A 23 Degree Dragon, and a Pit of Foam - June 21 to 27, 2014

In this past week a few interesting things have happened. Varkour day happened in Calgary, the goal for number of supporters for a Bylaw change petition was met, and I went to Parkour.

Varkour Day

Varkour Day, which occurred on June 21 this year, is a day dedicated to the women and girls of Parkour, some of whom are crazy with what they can do. Three of my female friends from Parkour are May, Sylvia and Cassandra. These three ladies show just how different the walks of life that people come from can be and yet still love Parkour. May is an older than thirty Economist, Sylvia is a 20 something dancer, and Cassandra plays hockey, and all of them love Parkour.

From what I hear there were a lot of women that came to this all day event, and got to experience Parkour indoors and outdoors, and have the fun of being around other women. You can find a video of the event on the BreathePK YouTube channel or right here.

Calgary Slacklining Petition

There was a petition started on June 18, 2014 to get an amendment made to Calgary Bylaw 23M2002, which basically says “No attaching things to trees”.

Now, for the sport of slacklining, which is basically tightrope walking except you are on a 1 inch nylon band and pretty close to the ground, this law stops people from attaching their temporary lines to the trees even when they put padding in between the tree and the nylon band. One of the members of the Calgary community stared a petition online (found here) to get this Bylaw changed to allow slacklining. I personally find this situation somewhat amusing because Calgary is, as far as I know, the only city that has a law like this.

As I said at the beginning the goal for number of supporters was met and exceeded this week, but more support is always welcome, so if you want to support this petition, go to this petition on change.org and pledge your support.

June 21, 2014

In order to accommodate Varkour Day at the BreathePK gym, all of the normal classes were pushed back to the afternoon, which was fine, because it gave me a chance to get some chores done at home before class so that I wouldn't have to worry about them after class.

When I got to the gym at about 12:45 I was a little surprised to see the number of people there that I did. Don't get me wrong, is a good thing that there were so many people there, and I was glad to see that many people there, but I was still surprised. Turns out there were that many people there because there was a birthday party going on and a Piano teacher had brought all of his students to the gym.

I joined in my level 1-3 class in the gym, which was probably at the toasty temperature of 23°C (73°F), which is a little warm. The class consisted of three guys, including me, and two girls. It was a little weird because I was the oldest one there by eight years, I'm 23, but overall age doesn't matter in Parkour because we are all there to do the something that we enjoy.

We began the class with the usual warm-up and stretch and then we started the training portion of the class. For this class we began with practicing our forwards and backwards rolls, I personally need to work on my back rolls because they are not as good as they should be.

23 Degrees is Really Hot and Climbing a Dragons Tooth Can Be Hard

After we practiced rolls for about 20 minutes we began working on our vaults and did that for most of the remaining time in class. We set up two lanes for vaulting, the first one only having a single box to get over and the second having three vaults in a row. The challenge that we were given was to do three step/safety vaults in a row, switching which side we went over the next obstacle (eg. left-right-left or right-left-right) without stopping. This gave us a great opportunity to practice our flow, or the ability to string multiple moves together really well, and practice using the side of our body that we aren't used to using. After we had done about five sets of these the teacher, known as Tall Rob, added a 1.8 meter (6 foot) wall run using the tallest dragons tooth shaped box that we have. When I saw him putting it there I was just going over the last of the three boxes, but I stopped halfway through with a slight sense of frustration and exasperation, but I still went and did it! On my six set of these I approached the wall run and, suffering from exhaustion of both heat and fatigue (aka I was hot and tired), I approached the wall run, stopped, had “Screw this, I’m hot and tired, and I’m not climbing this thing this time” go through my head and went back to the lineup for the obstacles. I think that we only did this about two or three more times before we moved on to the next part of the class.

The Foam Pit of Upside Down and I am Afraid of Falling

The next part of the class was took place at the foam pit, which I would like to mention is currently Calgary’s largest foam pit, so it’s pretty awesome. I should probably mention something so that there is a bit of context for this next part. There are three things that I am afraid of in this world, the first is being a failure, the second is bugs that are bigger than my hand (if I was around them often enough, it would stop scaring me, so this one is conquerable) and the third is heights, which is full of delicious irony considering I spent three years of my life rock climbing.

So we went up to the foam pit and we began what was something very difficult for me, we needed to stand at the edge of the pit, bend over so that our head was facing our feet, and fall over backwards into the pit. I did this okay the first time, when we were only half a meter (1.64 feet) above the foam, but then Tall Rob took us up to a higher place to do the same thing! So now we were about 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) above the foam, and for me this was a big deal! So after some coaxing I fell backwards into the pit… Sort of… According to the people watching I kind of fell forward a little bit and then did a hand spring, which wasn’t what we were trying to do, but I still fell backwards into the pit, which I feel is an accomplishment.

After all this we finished the class with our customary cool down of stretching, and we ended the class. I walked away from that class having released a lot of fluid comprised of water, minerals, lactate and urea (aka sweat) from my face, so all in all it was a good day of Parkour.

Quote of the week

That is what happened this week so as always I will leave you with a great quote.

“Be strong and of a good courage”

      – Joshua 1:6

Digital version here for download and here for viewing.

There are two questions that come to my mind when I read this, one is “What is courage?” and the other is “What is strength?” If you ask Hollywood to answer either of these questions, you would probably get the wrong answer. I would like to try and answer these questions, and provide a more correct answer.

I’ll start with “What is courage?”

Nelson Mandela said:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

A picture of this quote can be found here

From this, and many other sayings like it, I learned that even the courageous are fearful, they just move beyond that fear and don’t let it rule them. You also don’t have to do anything miraculous or enormous for it to be courageous, it can be something as simple as walking across the street for the first time by yourself when you are a child. I believe that every time I put a rope on to go rock climbing, or when I fell over backwards into the foam pit, I am being courageous, because I am scared of what I am doing, but I do it anyway.

So, when have you shown courage?

The next question is “What is Strength?”

There are two different forms of strength that I would like to try and answer this question with. The first in outer strength, and the second is inner strength.

Outer strength, the strength that you find in someone’s physical stature, while important, there are a lot of things that you can’t do unless you are physically strong, is not as important as the inner strength.

Inner strength, the strength that is found in not reacting to someone when they doing nothing more than trying to get a reaction out of you, and the strength to keep fighting for something even when it is hard, is way more important because of how little of it is found in our society these days.

So, when have you been strong?

That is all I have for now, as always if you have any questions for me, you can contact me via the contact form on the right side of the page, you can leave a comment and I will respond to it when I am able, and, yea.

Good Bye,

– Nathan

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pine Grove Parkour - June 14 - 20, 2014

These past two weeks I had the chance to do some interesting and fun things with my Parkour training, the highlight of which was the chance to do Parkour for the first time in the wilderness.

So, let us begin.

Saturday June 14, 2014

June 14 or as I shall call it, "The Day of First Wild" was the first time since I began learning Parkour way back in April of 2013, that I had the chance to do Parkour in the wild, if you can call the area surrounding a developed campground the wild.

The second weekend in June is an annual camping trip that a group of work colleagues have been doing for at least the past 10 years, and this year we decided to go to the Pine Grove campground that is about an hour W.S.W. (west south west is the half-way point on a compass that occurs between SW and W, see the graphic below) of Calgary on highway 1 then highway 68. It was a nice weekend where the sun was shining when it mattered and raining when it didn't matter. I got to break out my tent and sleeping bag and enjoy sleeping in the fresh mountain air.

Obtained: http://amoskeagrowing.org/Images/compass_rose.png, June 20, 2014

On the Saturday June 14 a few of the people in the group went for a walk and I went with them. We hadn't gotten far when I saw this shallow valley that had been created by the river when it had flooded, and what was sticking out of this little valley but a solitary mound of dirt that was about 3 meters (10 feet) away from the edge of what I shall call the mainland. Upon seeing this mound of dirt the first thought that popped into my head was "I wonder if I can jump that?" I voiced this question of mine to the people I was walking with and proceeded to prepare for my first jump of the day, and by prepared I mean I took my jacket off.

After removing my jacket I lined myself up for a running jump and showed that gap whose boss. Upon landing though, I realized how slippery grass can become when you are doing a running jump after it has just rained. I had my feet slip out from underneath me and landed on my butt. I did not slide off the mound but I was close to it.

After seeing me do this one of the guys I was walking with, named Jon, said that he wanted to go get his iPad so that he could take a video of me doing the jump. (You can find the videos here and here). This time I made sure to warm up my muscles so that I would be able to do the jump while at my peak performance. When he came back he brought an audience with him, which added a little bit of stress to doing the jump correctly and awesomely, but knowing that I could clear the gap because I had already done the jump successfully took away that stress and I went for the jump two more times.

As you can see from the two videos my next two jumps were much more successful than the first jump, even though on my third jump part of the mound gave away when I landed on it causing me to land on my knees instead of my feet. Do you want to watch the videos now?

When we got back to camp Jon went about showing everyone what I had done and being generally very excited about what I had shown him, which in turn made me happy having someone be impressed by what I can do.

That is what I did over the weekend, the next thing I did that was Parkour related came on Wednesday June 18.

Wednesday June 18, 2014

On Wednesday I went to Mount Royal University to get a massage at the practicum clinic. Now there are probably many of you thinking "A massage, that isn't Parkour related!" Well, you’re not completely wrong. But it is related in a small way, at least for me there is, let me explain.

When I do Parkour I want to always do better, and always improve, and be able to do things that I have never done before. To be able to do this I need to be operating at my peak performance, in strength, flexibility, and reflexes. When your muscles don’t want to operate properly because there are knots the size of golf balls (I’m not joking there, that is how big they told me they were) in your back, neck and forearms that cause you pain when you try to do certain things, you are not operating at your peak performance.

So in order to allow my body to operate at its highest level of performance, I went to get a couple of massages at the MRU Practicum Clinic. The massages are all done by students, so none of them are pros but of the two times that I went there I got a massage that was okay the first time, and a massage that was awesome the second, and I am more than willing to pay $30 per massage for that.

The person who did this massage was a guy named Philippe, he did a very good job, he was a very professional individual, and was able to easily use his weight to apply more or less pressure. Which is something that a lot of massage therapists in training struggle with. The fact that he does MMA, which I found out during a conversation we had during the massage, probably helped in that field.

So I had a very positive experience getting my second massage, EVER! My back feels better and my muscles are more willing to respond to movements, now I just need to make sure that I take care of my back so that I don’t have to go back all the time.

I am going to leave you all with a quote again, I think that I am going to make this something that I do for every post, so if you have a favorite quote or one that you think is good send me an email using the contact form with the subject “Quote”.

Anywhere here is the quote.

“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

Now, apparently this is found in the book “The Guardian” by Nicholas Sparks, at least that is what the internet told me, but after searching through the copy of the book that I found on Google books, I can’t say that it is from that book because I couldn’t find it doing a text search.

Regardless of who said this the point it is making is still true. How many chances have you not taken, and then when you look back at them later in life you wish you could go back and take them. I know that I have had a number of opportunities in my life that I haven’t taken, and it makes me sad that I didn’t take those opportunities. This said, there is no point in letting that get me down, or letting myself fall apart because of the mistakes I have made, because at the end of the day I can honestly say that I have learned more from my failures than from my successes. I saw this happen in school when I did a question wrong, I remembered it; I see this happen in Parkour, when I do a move wrong, I remember what I did wrong and how I can correct it; and I see this in life, when I make a mistake, I remember that mistake and desire to never repeat it again. Life is a time to learn don’t waste it, remember every mistake is a chance to learn something new.

That is all for now later everyone.

– Nathan

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The First Two Weeks

Hello everyone, welcome to the first post of my blog. The beginning of the month of June 2014 marked the 14 month anniversary of me, Nathan Aris, doing Parkour. It has been an interesting 14 months and many things have happened to me in that time. I won't go listing off all of the details but I will summarize this past year for you.

The Past Year and Two Months

In the past 14 months since I started learning Parkour at a facility that has since closed down called No Limits AFC (Alternative Fitness Concepts), started training at the new Calgary Parkour gym called BreathePK, I started my internship at ABB Inc, I started this Blog, I applied and was accepted to different schools to take Chemical Engineering, I made new friends, and reacquainted myself old friends. So I had a pretty busy year.

These Past Two Weeks

These past two weeks were full of many good and I'll list off some of them for you.

On June 1st I celebrated my 14 month anniversary of doing Parkour, and by celebrated I mean I thought in my head, "Oh yea, I've been doing this for 14 months now, Hooray!". I'm not the best at celebrating things, need to get better at that.

I got my first pair of KO (Know Obstacles) shoes in the mail on June 3rd, and tested them out first indoors that day, and then outdoors at a place called Century Gardens in Calgary on June 7th. This was also my first time doing Parkour outside EVER and it was great! It was sunny out, it was warm, and I had a friend to practice with, and the shoes performed great. Never before have I had shoes with such good grip! I was standing on stuff that had a 55° incline (see picture below) and I wasn't slipping, which gives you great confidence when you are trying things that you feel nervous about because it is concrete instead of a soft padded floor. As I said I went to Century Gardens on June 7th, and I went with a friend from BreathePK named Cassandra. We had a great time trying out different precision jumps (jumping, landing in a specific spot, and sticking the landing), and strides (river rock jumping) on all the different pieces of architecture at Century Gardens , and I was able to increase my confidence in what I was doing by proving to myself that “I can do that jump!”, “I can walk on that railing!”, and “I can run up that wall, take that gravity!”



On June 10th I went to BreathePK at 6:30pm to practice some various skills before the 7:00pm class started. I worked on my Lache’s (swinging from bar to bar) a little bit, but I mainly focused on doing Kong Vaults over the four foot ‘Dragon’s Tooth’ at the gym, and trying to develop my slanted wall, wall-runs (running up a wall), so that I can get extra height from stepping on the wall twice instead of just the height gained from stepping once. I managed to successfully start doing at least a partial second step on the wall, and I was able to get some serious height. Now I don't know if the height came solely from the second step or if it also came from the fact that I was forcing that back leg up generating upwards momentum, but wherever it came from the height increase was awesome!

I will not be going to BreathePK to practice Parkour this Saturday because I will instead be going camping, YAY! I will be trying to do Parkour out in the wilderness of the developed campground that I am going to and hopefully I will have some stories about what I did out there to tell everyone.

I’m going to leave you with a quote that I like, and which I hope you will to.

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”

      – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Later everyone.

– Nathan Aris