This is the story of how I gained a new hobby, became much stronger, and generally made my life incalculably better by wasting time on the internet.
It all started with Splinter Cell, a game my teenage self was very fond of, in which you play NSA ninja Sam Fisher, and save the world with your expertise in hacking, killing, sabotaging, and most importantly, sneaking your way through dark facilities run by enemies of the United States (also, as I later learned with utter nerdy excitement, the inspiration for a Parkour game called Sentry). I dreamed of being as stealthy, strong, and agile as Sam Fisher, although looking back, there wasn’t a whole lot of actual Parkour in the game, besides unrealistic tic tacs and VERY impressive wall traversing.
I had always been a pretty agile and strong kid, and I always had loved to jump and climb on things, one of many facets of my quirkiness that I am verrrryyyy slowly managing to reign in. The signature move in the game was the split jump, in which the character jumped up, kicked off a wall and landed in a full split six or seven feet off the ground, perfect for ambushing an unsuspecting enemy walking underneath. I knew I wasn’t capable of the split yet, but I used to awkwardly stand next to walls and ineffectively jump straight up and try to kick off them, unaware that the the takeoff in the game was totally wrong.
One night I was so bored that I actually started reading the fictional character biography for Sam Fisher on Wikipedia. Then one paragraph caught my eye. It said he was an expert in Krav Maga and Parkour, an Israeli martial art and some sort of French sport that seemed to involve a lot of jumping, respectively. “I’d better look these up” I thought to myself, figuring that It would behoove me to know how to fight and move like a ninja if men in black with night vision goggles, AK-47s, and generic Eastern European accents busted down my door. Then my world changed. I started looking up videos of Parkour. What I saw seemed nothing less than superhuman, I had never even thought humans were capable of moving this way. Such strength and agility blew my mind, but it also set it to daring purpose. I decided that I too would learn how to be Spider-man.
I forget how long it was between when I discovered Parkour and actually started doing it. But I eventually found a place that taught classes: Lehigh Valley Parkour. I was oblivious to how fortunate I was to live within a reasonable distance to a qualified teacher at the time, something I am still grateful for. Parkour isn’t like Karate where there’s a school on every street corner.
I was 17 and didn’t have my licence yet, so my dad dropped me off at a class one Sunday in with my brother. I nervously approached a group of fit looking young people seemingly led my a guy with an impressive voice named Adam McClellan. And that is how, on a bright, warm, September afternoon, I started my Parkour journey, and discovered a group of people I have immense respect for. I was not used to such complete and all encompassing physical activity, so I fell flat on my back, almost threw up, and could barely stand up straight the next day, but I was hooked for good. Now, I no longer I need to pretend to move like ninja. I do it for real.