More than street fitness

An innovative form of exercise is gaining popularity among Southbankers, precisely because it’s about more than just getting fit.

Parkour is usually associated with the ultra-fit and those with nerves of steel.

But Kel Glaister, a parkour coach with Melbourne in Motion, said the popularity of their classes in Southbank was largely drawn from a sense of reclamation.

“It’s a good way to get to know the city you live and work in in a new way and feel a greater sense of ownership over public space and a connection to that space,” she said.

“While it’s a great means to develop your strength, endurance and general fitness, it’s also a way to reengage with space you know well but in a completely new way.”

“You develop an ability to look at space you’ve seen a hundred times, like a footpath or a bench, but see ways to play and engage with that.”

It’s that side of parkour that also makes it particularly compatible with Southbank. The high density of the inner city, and the particular diversity of Southbank’s landscapes, means Kel’s classes only have to run for five minutes before finding themselves in a completely new environment.

Classes meet at the floral clock and explore the area within a five- or ten-minute jog radius.

There’s everything from stock standard streets, the quirks of arts precinct architecture, the riverbank and parklands in the one suburb.

Kel was introduced to parkour while studying in Glasgow nine years ago, training over and through Victorian architecture hundreds of years old.

“I adored it, it put me in good stead for training in Melbourne because it’s often rainy and wet with no notice,” she said.

“I became a coach in Glasgow partly because there were no women coaching in Scotland at all and I was trying to organise the women’s community there.”

“It was a natural step to move into a coaching role when I was trying to build space for women and gender diverse people to engage with parkour.”

“It’s something that is for everybody and all our classes are accessible for everyone to come, it’s not just something for teenage boys on YouTube.”

Melbourne in Motion has been running classes “for everybody” since it started up a year ago but has recently begun providing specific classes for kids and families and mature ages.

“We get all sort of people turning up,” Kel said.

“Often the first time people are just genuinely curious, they’ve seen something on YouTube or in movies and they want to have a go and see what it’s like.”

“And we get a lot of people that want to include fitness and exercise in their lives but find going to the gym difficult because they find it boring.”

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