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    Parkour’s not about daredevilry anymore, it’s for health nuts. We speak to top trainers about what it takes to keep fit

    Brick Mansions, Paul Walker’s last movie that released in April, is well known in parkour circles, since it also stars David Belle, the founder of parkour. What had seemed awe-inspiring once—when Daniel Craig chased parkour-trained villains in Casino Royale or Matt Damon did the moves in the Bourne series—is now quite commonplace. So much so that the monkey vaults and laches are not being done just by professionals; fitness buffs have taken it up as part of their routine, too. Some of the country’s top traceurs (as parkour practitioners are called) tell us that it also has a positive impact on the mind and personality—including better agility, self-awareness and better time managment. No wonder everyone from movie stars to schoolchildren are turning to these experts to bring a change in their lives. We talk to them about starting out, diet and places to practice:
    Narayan RNarayan R Pissurlenkar
    At 32, Pissurlenkar is the oldest member of Mumbai-based group of traceurs, Free Souls. Having seen his share of broken bones and twisted ankles, he makes it a point to bring safety into the equation first during training. “Parkour strengthens the legs and hands, as well as the upper body,” he says, adding that having a paunch shouldn’t stop you. Emphasising its difference from free-running (the flips in the latter are replaced by vaults in parkour), he breaks myths about maintaining a diet or going to the gym. “You can eat anything, as long it is healthy,” assures the traceur, who has been practicing since 2010. Suggesting daily sessions of 30 minutes for a beginner, he recommends parking lots at railway stations as ideal places to practice. He has trained clients like Bollywood actress Elena Kazan. `1,500 a month. Details: 9768847079

    Sreeram (6)Sreeramachandra Y Modukuru
    Having received his certification from American Parkour (APK) recently, Modukuru, a level-two certified instructor, trains clients whose ages go up to 45. “Beginners can start with plyometrics, which include precision jumps and strides, and then eventually move into vault sessions and flows,” he says, adding that because of the balance, endurance and agility skills, a traceur is a complete athlete, with “homeostasis” (stability) in his/her strides. “Before every training session, one should raise the body temperature by doing jumping jacks, hops, jogs, or even a short walk or cycling,” he advises. Talking about the growing culture in the country, he points to groups like Chaos Factory (a parkour group in Bangalore) as being his favourites. Rs.1,200 a month. Details: 9989085505

    prabu-mani-cpk-3Prabu Mani
    With over eight years experience, Mani is the mainstay of the Parkour Chennai group. An advocate of organic food, he looks at parkour as a way to respond to the environment in the most efficient way—strengthening not just the muscles, but also the ligaments, tendons and bones. Recommending warm-up exercises like joint rotations, lush/pull ups and short runs, Mani says, “Almost all basic movements can be attempted by beginners, but the distance over which they do will have to be small enough till the technique is perfected,” adding, “Rest is very important, so a break every three days is a must.” `800 a month. Details: 9768847079

    Giles d' Souza (3)Giles D’Souza
    He is easily one of the most recognisable faces of parkour in the country. Certified from UK-based Parkour Generations, he works with prominent fitness trainer Abbas Ali, who trains actors like Shahid Kapoor. “I always focus on precision jumps for beginners, as that trains one’s nervous system to move and balance better,” D’ Souza says, adding that conditioning is a must for any beginner; else it will end up harming the body. “One must also check the surroundings for loose or damaged surfaces,” he warns, saying that as a coach it is important to make sure that the client’s weak areas are conditioned, before moving on to bigger moves. Rs.4,000 a month. Details: 8097397662

    Zeeshan (1)Shaikh M Zeeshan
    Another member of Free Souls, Zeeshan is one of the managers of the Parkour Dubai team. Talking about the cardio benefits of parkour, he points out the spiritual side—it makes one calm and patient. “The fun thing about parkour is that it can be learned by anyone and you can train anywhere and everywhere. All you need to do is find a wall, ledge or railing, or even a children’s playground—anywhere you can jump across, jump over, climb, swing, etc,” he says. But he does warn against damaging or vandalising property. Calling the urban landscape of Mumbai as the ideal setting for any traceur, he says, “I also love the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, which makes me feel like I am in a Temple Run game.” Rs.500 for a two-hour session and for children, Rs.300. Details: +971558664806

    Choose the best
    “The best trainers are those who looks at their clients individually and recommends moves based on their strengths,” says Pissurlenkar. “Trainers certified by foreign organisations like American Parkour and ADAPT have an edge,” adds Modukuru.
    —Karan Pillai

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