If you’ve known me back in primary school, you would know that I was not a sports type of person. I’m more of a, stay-in-the-classroom-and-read type. I did not join any sports activity back then, but I did try to involve myself more in secondary school where I joined the cheerleading team for Sports Day three years consecutively. I realized that it simply wasn’t my thing. When I was in college, I focused solely on my studies and did not even join any club activities. But come university life, my coursemate asked for my help in forming a parkour club. She was my friend, and I agreed, and that’s how I started involving myself in physical activities.
It was back in April 2015 when the club ran its first parkour lesson. We managed to get an external coach from Team Ascend, currently the only Parkour school in Malaysia. to teach us. Till this day I remember how we were asked to do push-ups as part of the cool-down session. As part of the club committee, we had to go for extra training after the session so that we can help to guide the members as well, and that was how we ended up doing a “bonding session” by doing 100 squats together. That was the first time I ever did anything like that, so it was really tough for me. I couldn’t walk fast for the next two days or so in fear of toppling over.
What in the world is Parkour?
Parkour is the art of displacement, originating in France and basically is all about the efficacy of movement from a point to another. It is also parkour that changed my couch potato lifestyle for a much healthier one. I’ve been practicing basic parkour skills as well as conditioned myself to be stronger mentally and physically to endure and overcome my weaknesses. While I couldn’t do even a single push-up six months ago, I just did my first handstand last week!
It wasn’t easy to adapt to a new lifestyle after years of being physically inactive, but the strong bonds formed within the parkour community – we regard each other not as students and teachers but as a family – motivated me to go on. “Just one more step,”, “You’re almost there,” and “You’re so much than you think,” are among the common phrases you’d hear during the practice. There were injuries, bruises and even scars when we were careless during the sessions, but after the first few weeks, the marks became what we thought of as our battle scars or even trophies. I myself overestimated my abilities once and hit my shin against the edge of a concrete platform, earning myself two stitches and a hefty medical bill.
Maybe if I hadn’t agreed to help out at the beginning, I wouldn’t have got myself the bruises and scars. Perhaps I wouldn’t have another responsibility on my university student list or complain about the muscle aches the day after. I might not need to wash the cement dust off my repeatedly-patched sportswear. But I also wouldn’t have known that sports can be joyful or that a community can be this supportive. I won’t even have met my partner, the assistant coach who helped guide the members during our weekly sessions.
If you ask me, I wouldn’t trade this change of phase for anything.
You would need to see parkour to know what it truly is. This is a video of 28-year-old freerunner and parkour athlete Ryan Doyle. He’s British but he travelled across the globe in a quest to discover his own seven wonders of the world. In this short, he chooses Baku in Azerbaijan, the City of Contrasts where he could make his own spiritual journey and expand his parkour horizons in a completely different way.
Featured in the video are the Haydar Aliev Cultural Centre, designed by Zaha Hadid – the major new venue and landmark building for Baku, Shirvanshahs’ Palace in the Inner city of Baku, oil fields, Opera and Ballet Theatre, Public Library, towers of Philharmonic Hall, rooftops of old Baku were those remarkable buildings and places Ryan was “dancing” with during his inner and outer journey in Baku.
This article is part of the ‘My Hijrah’ series, a series of articles to mark the start of a new year in the Islamic calendar, where we pause to reflect our actions in the past year and see how we can grow to be better ourselves. Click on for more stories on pausing and refreshing.