Whether you're powering through some turns, sucking up some moguls, or trying your luck on ski jumps, you need to have a strong core and legs to ski or snowboard. Yet sometimes this level of fitness is hard to maintain throughout the summer months.

Spending long sweaty hours in the city gym never seems appealing, so the Ski Club team have been out road testing some new summer activities that’ll keep you fit, without it feeling like a chore.

Most recently, we visited Parkour Generations at The Chainstore Parkour Academy to find out how the freestyle movement discipline can help us keep fit and improve our time on the mountain. While many in the office debated how accessible the sport is for the average person, believe it or not parkour can be for everyone.  

For those who’ve never done parkour (or any other ‘dangerous’ physical activity), it’s most likely that your only encounter with the sport has been through  viewing sensational end-result videos that get published on YouTube. The ones where seemingly crazy extreme sports fanatics swap blood, sweat, and tears to excel in the discipline. Yet we pay little thought to the obsessive levels of training and meticulous practice that underpin the final product.

But the truth is, this is not where it starts. And certainly isn’t what you’ll sign up for when enrolling in an introductory class.  It all begins by developing your balance, accuracy, and self-confidence. You’ll face some obstacles you thought you could never master, and push your body and mind above and beyond the confines of ‘normal’. Most of all, when you overcome these challenges you’ll gain a sense of pride and self-confidence which you can carry into other parts of your life.

So what exactly is ‘Parkour’?

Parkour involves running, crawling, jumping, and climbing through a natural urban environment while overcoming physical (and mental) obstacles. The goal is to get from point A to point B in the most effective way possible, using only your body and a nifty pair of running shoes.

While it might appear to be the brain-child of Jackie Chan or the karate kid, parkour actually has its roots in military escape and evasion tactics. In fact, the word “parkour” originates from the French phrase “parcours du combattant:” the obstacle course-based method of training used by the French military. So while we think of parkour today as simply another crazy extreme sport, it was actually developed as a tactical skill and way to build the fitness of soldiers.

What key skills will you work on?

Balance: A vital skill in both parkour and snowsports. Parkour will have you spending your afternoons walking and jumping onto narrow ledges and rails, which requires developing your muscle strength and coordination. Could you stand on one leg on a round metal bar for over 30 seconds? Try it. It’s harder than it looks and works every single muscle in your legs.

Jumping and Dropping: Jumping plays a big role in parkour. You’ll be doing it to overcome height differences and to get across gaps and over obstacles. Before you know it your quads will be burning, and getting stronger for the winter to come.

Accuracy: As your jumping skills become more precise, so too will your level of accuracy. You’ll learn to land on smaller obstacles from greater distances, and improve your balance and spatial awareness in the process.

Remember to take things slow and know your limits. Just because you might see people leaping around, doing flips, and looking like they’re straight out of a video, it’s going to take a while for your body to adapt to similar physical demands. IE: don’t try the complicated moves until you’ve mastered the basics.

How can you get involved?

The best way to get started is to find a parkour centre close to you. We went down to Parkour Generations at London’s famous Trinity Buoy Wharf. They run Beginner Indoor Classes – a perfect place to start your parkour journey and learn the fundamentals.

Parkour Generations are offering Ski Club members 50% off their first two classes when they book online.Enter the discount code 'SKICLUB' when booking online here.  

Summer Fitness - Parkour