Earlier this month, I came across a gallery of photos from a meetup in D.C. and I thought it was a shame that we didn't have enough women to do that kind of thing in the Twin Cities area. I complained to Chad at Fight or Flight Academy about it and said I wish there was a way to do something about it.
The next day, Chad and Erin asked me if I would be interested in being an event organizer for the Twin Cities Parkour Meetup page. I was pretty nervous about the idea at first; I don't want anyone to think that just because I'm organizing an event that I'm an instructor. I'm definitely not comfortable teaching new practitioners, but I hope that events like this will inspire more women to take the Free Introduction Class at Fight or Flight Academy and give parkour a try. When Chad assured me that meetups are typically understood as casual independant training sessions, I accepted the invitation and started looking for days and locations that would work.
Why a Women-only Meetup?
Since I set up the first event on Facebook and Meetup, I received a few questions from guys asking why I was limiting the event to just women. I think one of the biggest reasons why more women don't try parkour is for similar reasons why it took me so long to commit myself:
- It can be an intimidating sport to start because it is very male-dominated.
- It relies heavily on upper body strength which many women haven't spent time developing.
- The public perception of parkour is what is on Youtube, people doing huge stunts that many people can't currently dream of attempting.
- Parkour requires you to do things you just aren't used to doing and that can be pretty freaky when you start out.
- It flies in the face of everything we've been told to do since we were kids. "Sit still, be quiet, and look nice."
Getting over these concepts can be uniquely challenging for some women, and having a community of like-minded women can help develop the confidence needed to get past the preconceived notions of "not being able to". That's what I hope these events will accomplish. Simply to encourage women to give it a try and maybe learn something about themselves in the process.
Since I posted the events, I've gotten a fantastic response. I've heard from women who already train but have been wanting something like this to happen for a long time and from women who have never tried it before but are seriously considering it now. I'm very happy with the initial response and glad that I gave it a shot. I can't wait to see what it evolves into!
What parkour means to me
Parkour been a life changing hobby for me and I remember how difficult it was to overcome my initial anxieties about training. It took me more than a year to build up the courage to consistently go to the gym. I made up all kinds of excuses: Thought I'd never make any progress, that no one would like me, or I would just be laughed at.
Since I challenged myself to go to FoFA basically every day in February, I starting making friends who encouraged me to keep coming to the gym, train harder, and have fun. By the end of March, I passed 5 of the 24 beginner parkour and freerunning tests. In April I started taking the Foundations Course which helped me finally get the shoulder roll figured out and learn progressions to get the kong and dash vaults. I'm getting stronger and more confident every day I train. It feels amazing!
For the record: I do get laughed at, a lot. I do silly things, make dumb mistakes, fall, and get comically antsy about trying new or more difficult skills. The difference now is I realize the community I've found thrives on finding joy in the process of learning and part of learning is failing, getting back up, and trying again until you make it. Plus, I'm the one doing most of the laughing.
Two months ago, I couldn't get up a 5-foot wall. This month, I climbed up the 6-foot wall with the help of a step-up. In a few weeks, I won't need that step-up any more and I'll be working on the 7-foot wall. There is always a new challenge to overcome. THAT is what parkour is. Training to overcome any obstacle you find, both physical and mental.
I want more women to share in this experience.