Mason, a training ground for parkour

Lorikeet Media recently put together this video of the parkour group Alternate Route, which considers George Mason University one of its 'hot spots.' The video was shot and edited by Lori Olson of Lorikeet Media, and used with her permission. (Credits to Lori Olson, Elijah Miernik, Steve Schwartz, Jason Henry, Julian Farrington and Tom Golian)

Strolling through campus and suddenly seeing a guy jump off a wall, climb up a building, and hop from one ledge to another—it’s not a movie scene with a daring stunt guy—it's just Parkour.

This growing group of stuntsters are infiltrating locations from parks to malls to George Mason University.

Elijah Miernik founder of Alternate Route, a local Parkour group based out of Northern Virginia calls Mason a “hot spot” for his group, and said it’s a good to place to train in Parkour for skill level.

“There’s lots of variety regardless of what you are working on, from the very beginner to the more advanced,” Miernik said.

The activity, which is non-competitive, is one that many people know little about.

“Parkour is the fluid efficient movement through your environment over any obstacle that stands in your way using only your body to propel yourself,” Miernik said.

Men who participate in Parkour are known as Traceurs, while women are known as Traceuses.

At its most basic level, Parkour is to get from point A to point B the most efficiently. Although fancy tricks can be employed to do so, these gravity-defying acts are not required in Parkour.

In fact, according to American Parkour, a community website for people who participate in Parkour in America, these stunts are discouraged.

“Parkour training focuses on... safety, longevity, personal responsibility, and self-improvement. It discourages reckless behavior, showing off, and dangerous stunts,” the website says.

The website goes on to say, “Parkour is not acrobatics, tricking, stunts, recklessness, or jumping off high objects for no reason.”

When highly skilled tricks and flips are utilized however, it is said to be Free Running.

“Free Running is more expressive and creative in nature, with moves such as acrobatics, flips, and spins added for flair, creativity, or just because someone wants to,” according to the website.

The fact that Parkour is a non-competitive activity helps members get better, Miernik said.

“We’ve got a pretty strong community and everybody helps out each other, and since it’s non-competitive, you’re not competing to get the better trick,” Miernik said.

Parkour provides participants with both physical and mental benefits.

 “It’s a great way to work out and stay in shape, and it’s a lot of fun . . . [It’s] a really good way to look at the world differently and kind of see things that other people don’t see…” Jason Henry, a member of Alternate Route Parkour said.

Tom Golian, a sophomore at Mason said, “Parkour and Free Running for me, besides the physical activity, it’s kind of like a art of motion, I feel kind of free when I do it.”

In addition, Parkour helps to give a person discipline, respect themselves, and overcome obstacles, both physical and within themselves, Miernik said.

However, with Parkour come risks for people who are inexperienced and new to the activity.

“The biggest mistake they make is they’ll see these videos online and they’ll try and duplicate all the skills and tricks that they guys are performing and they’ll end up getting seriously injured because they haven’t trained properly,” said Miernik.

For more information on Parkour and how to get involved you can visit the Alternate Route website.

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