ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — Parkour generally brings to mind young, fit men and women jumping across buildings and leaping around obstacles with seemingly superhuman ability.
But at one class in Virginia, the training looks a little different. Many of the students are in their 70s, and they try to avoid jumping at all.
Rich Brune, 71, calls it his “geezer class” and describes the general scene as “a bunch of old people running around the woods having fun.”
He’s one of nearly 150 students between 50 and 92 who meet every other week in parks around Alexandria to gently roll over picnic tables, carefully slide themselves under railings, and delicately shuffle across benches.
Are they really doing Parkour? Frank Mejia, 22, who helps teach the class and can easily backflip off a brick wall, says yes.
“It’s them going from one place to another controlling their bodies,” he said. “The key definition of Parkour is overcoming obstacles and challenging yourself to make yourself better.”
Mejia helps break down traditional Parkour moves into versions that are safe and manageable for the older crowd, and also challenge their balance, strength, and flexibility.
Nancy Lorentz, 56, who can effortlessly swing off a tree branch and go right into a somersault, created the program, called PK Silver, in 2016, hoping to share her love of Parkour while helping other people over 50 stay safe.
“We’re a fitness-and-falls prevention program that is Parkour-based,” she said, noting that 27,000 people die from falls every year and that using modified Parkour moves could help address that problem. Plus, she likes the Parkour philosophy.
“You just see obstacles as being opportunities,” she said. “Yes, there is an element of risk in it, but you can’t improve someone’s balance by keeping them on the couch all the time.”
Video edited by Danny Card