“Parkour is not like anything else,” said instructor Barrett “Bear” Townsend. “It’s a full body workout that gets you sweating immediately,”
The 19-year-old instructor sets up an obstacle course featuring over and under drills, moving under PVC pipe, jumping over tables, plyometrics, flexibility, speed ladders and hurdles.
It may sound overwhelming, but if you can walk, you can do it; if you can jump around, you can do it, Townsend said.
“It’s different every time,” said freshman Emily Bradley, a four-time participant. “It’s a good bang for your buck as far as time goes. The first time I came I had to sit out for a little while, but you get used to it. It gets you back in shape quickly.”
The fast-paced workout class, accompanied by musical artists like Lady Gaga and Chris Brown, has only been offered for a week, but boasts participant numbers in the 20s.
“You get a really good workout, and you feel really accomplished afterwards,” said freshman Emily Lewis, also a repeat participant. “It goes by really fast. You don’t really know that you’re working out.”
A short jog begins the warm-up, and afterward the group is separated into teams. After choosing a team name, the groups compete against each other through the obstacle course.
“I think it’s cool because it’s a class that guys and girls can do,” said Mackenzie Horsefield, freshman in health promotion. “The cool part is you are in a team so everybody keeps each other going. If you know there is somebody behind you then you keep going faster. I mean, it’s exhausting, but you feel really good after.”
Townsend, who is also a certified yoga instructor, said he tries to keep the class fun and upbeat, even encouraging dancing to the music between obstacle course rotations.
“I don’t want going to the gym to have to be a hassle, because it shouldn’t be,” Townsend said. “Everyone that comes is going to get more fit. If you want to lose weight, you can. If you want to get stronger plyometrics, we do that.”
The laid-back atmosphere allows students to let loose and forget about the demands of their school schedules.
“It’s just a chance to get all your stress out from the week and just have a good time,” Horsefield said.
Townsend even jokes you can bring your backpack and practice for running to class late.
“Its applicable if you are ever trying to get to class quick and you have to go over something,” Townsend said. “It’s perfect.”
The class is not limited to the music chosen by Townsend or even the selection of obstacles.
“If you want something out of the class you can come to me,” Townsend said. “I want people in five years to not feel unhappy about what they look like and start now working toward being fit for the rest of their lives. That’s how it should be.”