Trend Spotting: Enjoy Free Running In Mumbai With A Growing Parkour Community

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It’s been stressed enough how important it is to keep fit. But after spending a day in a stuffy office, you wouldn’t want to head to an even stuffier gym to get that heart pumping. Which is why outdoor exercise regimes; beach work outs, boot camps, cycling clubs and distance running have become so popular among city folk. So has parkour.

Parkour or free running is one of the best ways to enjoy the urban outdoors and work up a sweat while doing it. Free runners essentially just run over, under and through urban obstacles like steps, railings, benches, walls and pretty much anything that gets in their way.

To make things interesting and creative, they add flourish and style to their movements. Some even use obstacles to enable complex acrobatic movements. It’s quite beautiful to watch and requires intense training. However, the great thing about parkour is that one becomes so engaged in the movements and obstacles, that the workout is incidental. The need to perform more complex and challenging movements drives parkour athletes or traceurs to get stronger, faster and fitter.

When I first heard about parkour in 2009 it was hard to find anyone to teach me. But luckily that didn’t stop me and I began teaching myself.

Learning parkour in Mumbai
Parkour is essentially a street form, and there aren’t too many rules and limitations about how and where to train. However, having a teacher or coach does help. I spoke to Cyrus Khan, an enthusiastic young free runner about how one can go about learning parkour in Mumbai. “When I first heard about parkour in 2009 it was hard to find anyone to teach me. But luckily that didn’t stop me and I began teaching myself. Things are very different now. Beginners can now study the sport at a great gym run by Parkour Mumbai”.

Making the jump, image courtesy Parkour Mumbai
Making the jump, image courtesy Parkour Mumbai

Parkour Mumbai is Mumbai biggest and most well-known parkour school. They conduct a variety of different classes and workshops for practitioners of all skill levels. You can visit their website for a complete breakdown of their training programmes and fee structure. They’ve really worked towards creating a formal learning structure and standardizing training practices.

Once you are confident of the basics or just want to practice your moves, you can head outdoors. Parkour is one of those activities which is more fun in a group. When Cyrus first began training he may have been all by himself, but things are a little different now. He now travels to Kandivali/Orlem, where he trains with a small group headed by Giles D’sousa and Edsel Rodrigues. Cryus also devotes some time on weekends to work with underprivileged kids, introducing them to the sport.

Giles D'sousa in action
Giles D’sousa in action

Giles D’sousa like Cyrus is a self-taught traceur, but he’s a part of a movement to formalize and regularize training. This January he too will begin conducting parkour classes at Lokhandwala, Andheri West, in association with health and wellness group Bodyholics. Contact Giles on +918097397662 for details on classes or if you’re a fellow traceur in search of a training buddy.

The thing about parkour is that it is more enjoyable when the obstacles are new and uncertain.

Running free in Mumbai
Mumbai offers traceurs a myriad of opportunities; Cyrus lists Borivali National Park, Dream Gardens in Kandivali and Breach Candy gardens as his favourite places to train. I was curious about how people reacted to him training in public spaces. “Unfortunately, in most places, security personnel aren’t too receptive about what we do. That’s just their job, and we try not to rub them on the wrong side. But there’s a positive side to training outdoors, sometimes people (both kids and adults) are inspired by what they see and try to join in. Teaching them is a fun exercise.”

Pranay Seth, also a free runner, believes Carter Road and Powai Gardens are great venues to train. “The thing about parkour is that it is more enjoyable when the obstacles are new and uncertain. But practicing outdoors does require a certain level of expertise. On the whole, we in Mumbai are still in the early stages, but the number of enthusiasts and quality of training is improving.” If his predictions come true, Mumbai’s public spaces will soon become playgrounds for athletes jumping, flipping and flying over whatever comes in their way!

Post By Salonee Gadgil (86 Posts)

I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.

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Salonee Gadgil

Salonee Gadgil
I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.