Thursday, August 21, 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

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Here’s a guide to Fifth Street etiquette

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Marsh trial still scheduled to begin Monday

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

     
    The show must go on: DMTC celebrates 30 years

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Yolo Federal to hold photo contest

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Katehi will speak at Chamber’s community luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Village Feast offers a taste of Yolo County with a hint of Europe

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    NAMI support group meets Sunday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Free electronic waste recycling service offered

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Sign up soon for Sac City’s fall classes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Fish-friendly river water intake takes shape

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Grandmothers support group meets weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

     
    Animal Services issues warning about rabid bats

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Peregrine School is open for tours, registration

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Museum sets brick dedication date

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Meet K9 officer Dexter at Davis Senior Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Qigong class starts in September


    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Join the fun at the DMTC Gala on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Poets will read their original work on Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    .

    Forum

    Where are the Water Police?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    I really miss cal.net, too

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Many thanks to Brooks Painting

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Will you help serve Davis’ senior citizens?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    Frank Bruni: The trouble with tenure

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Aggie coaches nearer starting lineups for Stanford opener

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    A’s lose to split series with Mets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    River Cats clip Redbirds

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Giants cruise past Cubs in Chicago

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Scoring machine propels Republic to another win

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    49ers’ Dawson still learning to kick in new stadium

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Wineaux: A sparkling prescription for a new disease

    By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A7

     
    Free classical concerts set at Covell Gardens

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    ‘La Cage aux Folles’: a refreshing take on a classic

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Dora Mae Clark Anderson

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, August 21, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6