Several years back an article appeared about weight training and the “iron game.” Unlike the hundreds of other articles written about the same topic it was not advice for bigger guns or a smear campaign against Zumba. Instead it was a personal anecdote, a kind of love-letter to a style of training that had brought comfort and confidence to a fragile young man. More interesting still, the article was written by infamous punk rocker and activist Henry Rollins. The last paragraph was arguably the best part of the whole thing. It reads…
“The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.”
The Iron by Henry Rollins
In a sense, Parkour offers the same kind of unwavering checkpoint. A 10-foot precision is always a 10-foot precision. Cement doesn’t become softer over time; you either accept it for what it is or end up a crumbled heap on the sidewalk. But this unyielding nature can be a comfort if taken in the right perspective.
When I step out my door and head to my favorite training spot I know what’s in store for me. I understand how the asphalt will react when I land, how the slick metal of the railing will slide in the palm of my hand. When the world around me is stifling, or on a whirlwind of change I can’t control, I know that the cat leap from the bench to the windowsill won’t change. It doesn’t care if I had a crappy day or the best morning ever. Either I’m paying attention and making the leap or I’m slamming into the brick.
That kind of certainty is a rarity nowadays. It’s comforting to me to spend an hour balancing, vaulting, and rolling. Parkour is a reset button to put things in perspective, just as weight training is for Rollins. I think this may be why I often get more enjoyment from staying in one location for an entire training session rather than bounce from one thing to another. I can and have spent hours at a single rail and wall, looking for all the possibilities…searching for comfort in hard lines and cinder block hugs.
Parkour, no matter where or how its practiced, never lies. The environment embraces those willing to accept its harsh truth. How well do you accept it?