With only a single step, platform and the bare carpeted floor of the Community Room of the , The Warrior Lab Performance Team took to the air performing wall flips, back flips and front flips.
Audience members watched from their seats as three-time American Ninja Warrior competitor Chris Wilczewski, 23, and the rest of team from Hainesport Township, NJ performed flipping stunts gracing the low ceilings of the room in a sport called "parkour."
Most in the audience came out to the event because of interest watching videos on Youtube showing daredevils running from rooftop to rooftop and flipping like 22-year-old Brad Landou from Keansburg. They age of the fans ranged from 3 to 40.
While Matthew Ross, 11 of Middletown, saw parkour on YouTube and tried to imitate the moves he saw online at home.
“I think parkouring is really cool,” Ross said. “They flip and do cool stuff.”
When they were asked 'What is parkouring?' the audience threw out answers like “a cool way to get from place to place” to just “good exercise”.
“If you asked my mom what parkour is she would say it’s a crazy and dangerous sport where my son jumps off things,” Wilczewski said. “But I would say it would of trained discipline that teaches you endurance and focus that could be applied to all tasks.”
Wilczewski started parkour watching YouTube videos, which he describes as “not the proper way to go about learning the trade”.
“When you watch a video, you go out there and try to imitate them and then you think it’s so easy but you don’t learn the proper technique,” Wilczewski said. “When I went to train with professionals three years ago, I found out I was doing some of the moves incorrectly and could have hurt myself.”
Parkour started in France with David Belle, who adapted military training into a non-competitive outdoor sport. Belle later went on to create the Yamakasi group, the first group dedicated to parkour.
“Parkour is one of those sports where you don’t need any equipment and you could do it pretty much anywhere,” Wilczewski said. “And it’s not just for young people.”
Wilczewski said parkour is not just for the younger generation.
“The oldest person I taught was 63 years old,” Wilczewski said. “She wasn’t a gymnast. She’s didn’t have any former training in marital arts. She just wanted to get into shape.”
Wilczewski said one of the unique aspects of parkour is that is no equipment needed to perform and that the level of intensity can be adjusted to accommodate all age groups.
At the end of the team's performance, audience members had the opportunity to stretch with the group and learn some basic parkour.
For those looking for additional parkour moves and training, Wilczewski suggested finding a parkour training gym or trainer such as places like The Warrior Lab.
The Warrior Lab performance team offers free library demonstration sessions throughout the state. Along with the parkour demonstration, Wilczewski also likes to tie in an anti-drug, alcohol-free message.
“When you grow up, your friends really reflect you,” Wilczewski said. “Before I started parkour and training, I used to drink and since I’ve started training and made these new friends through parkour, I haven’t had a drink in about two years.”
For more information on The Warrior Lab parkour team visit www.thewarriorlab.com.