My name is Kiara and I’m a 34 year old woman living in a small coastal city in South Africa. I’ve been doing Parkour for about 2 years now and I’m addicted. I love that it has given me back my mobility, and the way that it shows me I can move even better. I never thought I could ever be as fit as I am now, and I have always been super active so that’s saying something! It’s also given me back my life in a sense.
My Parkour journey started when I was in a bad place in my life. I’d had a breakdown and my self esteem and self confidence were low. But I was determined that I wasn’t going to let my body age prematurely and lose that too. So, after a little research online, I started looking around for local Parkour classes. There weren’t any, but I did find a handful of guys that had been training intermittently for a year or less. Luckily I grew up with brothers so I wasn’t too intimidated by the fact that I was entering a realm of young testosterone riddled jocks. I knew that when I was younger, I could compete at the same level as most boys. Besides, I told myself, I don’t have to perform to their standard – I’m older and more damaged. I told them to get lost if they got too pushy. Age has its benefits like that. Ha ha! This was my journey, not theirs. Thankfully though, they were mostly very supportive and sweet, and ultimately helped me a lot. I also got involved with the national Parkour community, and even made some Parkour friends in other countries – and in every case, got nothing but support, help and kindness. I think that is very much a discerning mark of a true Parkour community – which makes me even more proud to be part of it.
I didn’t expect to get very far or to do half the stuff I can do now. I certainly never expected to gain the psychological benefits from it that I have. I came from a culture that told you not to listen to your fear or treat it with respect, though deep down inside I never agreed with that. Entering a realm where you let your inner voice guide you – and learning when to listen and when to tell it to shut up – has given me so much more perspective. Understanding that preparation is key, and that challenges can be broken down to help you reach a goal were so immensely helpful to me at that point in my life. It was like I’d forgotten all the lessons life had taught me, and I had to learn them over again. Lastly, Parkour helped me to cope with my depression. The intensity that I could pile into training left me feeling satisfied and relaxed and confident. I found myself laughing more easily, planning for the future and growing session by session.
I don’t know where this journey will still take me, but I know that I’d like to see Parkour everywhere (old age homes, schools, rehabilitation centers, etc), because it has value for everyone. Humans were made to move, and when we ignore that, we lose a piece of ourselves. It’s exciting for me to see more girls joining our local group, and it’s a secret desire of mine to see my hometown grow the first large all girls parkour crew in the country. Time will tell how it all works out, but in the meantime, there’s Parkour!
Title image courtesy of Werner Hills:Die Burger/Media 24