Wednesday, November 26, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

London seniors learn sport of daredevils

Britain Elderly Parkour

George Jackson, 85, an army veteran and former boxer swings on monkey bars as he participates at a parkour class for elderly people at a park in south London. AP Photo

By
From page A12 | July 04, 2014 |

LONDON (AP) — On a recent morning in London, Lara Thomson practiced spinning on benches, swinging from metal bars and balancing off raised ledges — all elements of a daredevil discipline known as “parkour.”

What was unusual about the scene is that Thomson is 79 and all of her classmates are over 60.

They are members of a unique weekly class for seniors in a sport more commonly known for gravity-defying jumps than helping people with arthritis.

Invented in the 1980s in France, parkour is a sport usually favored by extremely nimble people who move freely through any terrain using their own strength and flexibility, often using urban environments such as benches, buildings and walls as a type of obstacle course. It’s also known as free running.

The London parkour class of about a dozen students is taught by two instructors who have adapted the sport’s main elements to a level that can be handled even by those over 60 who have replacement joints or other medical conditions.

“I wondered whether it was a government plot to get rid of old people when I heard about the class,” Thomson joked. She said she has balance problems and that the class helps her feel more confident about getting around. “Being able to get outside and do silly things like hugging trees is great,” she said, referring to a stretching exercise.

While most fitness classes aimed at seniors focus on calmer activities such as dance or yoga, experts say parkour is a reasonable, if unorthodox, option.

“When I first heard about this, I had a picture in my mind of elderly people jumping off of walls and I thought there was no way this could be appropriate,” said Bruce Paton, a physical therapist who works with the elderly at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health at University College London. He is not connected to the program. “But when you look at the things they’re doing, it’s actually quite gentle and could increase their strength and flexibility to help them with their daily activities.”

Still, Paton said parkour could potentially be dangerous for people with serious heart problems and warned anyone with a joint replacement or muscle weakness should be careful.

The parkour instructors said everyone who takes the class fills out a health form and they are particularly careful to dissuade participants from doing too much; several students have artificial joints, arthritis or a pacemaker.

“Every single technique in parkour can be changed so that anyone can do it,” said Jade Shaw, artistic director of Parkour Dance, who teaches the class. The parkour sessions initially began as a pilot project last year and Shaw is hoping to get more funding to expand it further. For now, the classes are free and held at a Tibetan Buddhist center in South London.

“I think it’s very beneficial and I’m hoping we’ll soon have a lot more older people bouncing around the parks,” she said.

David Terrace, a health and fitness expert for the charity Age U.K., said any efforts to get older people more active should be welcomed. He said adaptations have been made to other sports to help the elderly exercise more, such as turning soccer into walking soccer and building customized boats to accommodate wheelchairs for sailing.

“There’s no age limit for exercise, it’s just about the individual and what they feel comfortable doing,” he said.

At 85, George Jackson is the oldest participant in the London parkour class.

“I really enjoy it and wish I could do more,” said Jackson, an army veteran and former boxer. “I just sometimes forget how old I am and that I can’t do certain things.”

He said he struggles with a swollen ankle and knee but that the class has helped. “I was limping around before and now I can walk straight,” Jackson said. “But I still don’t plan to jump off of anything higher than a bench.”

————

By Maria Cheng, AP medical writer

Comments

comments

The Associated Press

.

News

Food fight … in a good way

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Fremont Weir parking lot remains closed

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1

Happy Thanksgiving from The Enterprise

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Free bike clinic, ride set Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Year-end films to see, or not, on KDRT

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

LCI marks 50 years with special service

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Speaker proposes changes in humanities doctorate

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Senior Center hosts holiday sing-along

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sutter sponsors qigong for holiday de-stress

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Learn to use Skype at Connections Café

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Girls who volunteer may apply for grant

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Round up at the registers for Davis schools

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis Community Gift Project brightens holidays for children

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
Boy Scouts start Christmas tree sales on Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Volunteers needed to grow plants for habitat restoration

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Rainbow City community meeting set Dec. 1

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

.

Forum

She wants more from him

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Planting love at new home

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Innovation parks comparison

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Musings in the wake of Ferguson decision

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

Let’s not lose another good DHS coach

By Chris Saur | From Page: B1

 
Blue Devils prepare for a new season on the mat

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

No excuses, but there’s hope for UCD after 2-9 season

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Joseph, Manzanares lead 10 All-Big Sky Aggie picks

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS wrestling is not just for boys

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Davis Little League offers early sign-up discounts

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
Kings get past Pelicans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Features

Salute to non-steamed broccoli

By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

It really is ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Elzyne Thompson

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Death notice: Buddy Ralph Mills

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A9

 
.

Ready, Set, Shop!

Shop locally: You can have your pie and eat it too

By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS1

Santa’s little helper: secrets to happy holiday shopping

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: RSS2

Make sure it gets there: deadlines for shopping and shipping

By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS2

Downtown lights up at holiday open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS3

Full of warm wishes and over-sharing, the holiday card lives on

By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS4

Shop smart: Protect your wallet and your identity this shopping season

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5

Woodland celebrates the holidays downtown

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5