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Getting Started with Parkour in London

Published 16 February 2013

With the growing popularity of parkour and freerunning, you might wonder how you can get involved in a community that seems to be able to travel the length of London without ever touching the ground. Mike Wilson, member of world-renowned parkour group 3RUN and Guinness World Record holder for the furthest ‘wall run’, takes you through how to get started.

Creative Commons Flickr | JB London

1. Before you start

You don’t have to jump straight into parkour – it’s a good idea to build up your strength and fitness in other ways before you get started. I started as a gymnast and then graduated to parkour – there weren’t the dedicated gyms back then that there are now, but it gave me a head start because it teaches you how to perform fundamental moves correctly and safely.

2. Where to get your first lesson

These days there are parkour gyms that have classes and teach everything from the foundations through to beginner level and all the way up to a world class standard. Start with one of these or contact your local gymnastics centre for details of ‘freestyle’ classes, if they have them. 3RUN will be opening a dedicated ‘Open Freestyle’ Academy in March, for all parkour and freerunning athletes from beginners to advanced.

3. If you hate the gym

If gyms aren’t your thing and you want to get straight out onto the street, I recommend watching some basic tutorials to get an idea of what you want to try.

4. Start slowly

As with everything, it’s best to start as easy as possible and then work your way up – never go straight into the deep end by trying moves you might not be ready for. Start with the basics and learn to develop your own style of movement – even jumping the white lines you find in a car parking bays is a progression to doing it on 6ft high walls. Vaults and jumps are among the basics and will get you hooked in no time.

5. Where to practice

There are plenty of places throughout the UK to practice parkour and freerunning, both indoors and out. London is a particular favourite of mine, having trained in Vauxhall and Elephant & Castle, but also for scouting areas that haven’t been discovered yet. It’s as simple as searching on the internet for hot spots, which gives you the opportunity to meet up with local practitioners and train in a group. Training with a group of friends is always a positive option because this allows a higher rate of development, learning new movement and creativeness, which will in turn develop your skill.

6. Staying safe

Safety is always a number one priority in what we do, starting slow and training hard to become the best you can be. You can only keep the development of your skills consistent if you use your common sense with any movements you choose. It’s not about jumping the biggest roof gap, or doing the craziest trick possible, it’s about being creative with your movement and developing your skills safely. It’s very important to be confident in your ability and never approach a particular skill which you are not 100% confident about completing – this is where injuries can occur. However, in order to develop you skill, sometimes you need to go outside your comfort zone just a little bit – as long as you do so safely. This could be by training that move in a gym first with soft matting, before attempting it outside.

7.What you can do if you get good 

Get to a high standard of parkour and you can get the chance to do some incredible things. I have been all over the world with my work, spending last year going from Mexico, to LA, the Caribbean and Asia shooting commercials – sometimes from 4am to 1am. I also travel looking for epic spots to train with my team and local free runners. I have just been filming a cool video for HTC on their new One X+, filmed right here in London – where you can see the potential some familiar sights have for a spot of parkour.

Visit 3Run online at http://www.3run.co.uk to find out more about this group of amazing parkour performers & freerunning team. 3RUN are ambassadors for the HTC ‘Tale of Your City’ campaign, where they have created a video that shows their unique take on London using the new HTC One X+ phone: