Posts Tagged ‘parkour’


What I will not talk about in today’s post is what happened here in Colorado. I am too furious, too heartbroken, too sick of it.

So on a more cheerful note…

This last weekend I had a first – I got to meet an internet friend.

Have you ever done that? Through your blog or Facebook or whatever, you build up a casual, long-distance friendship with someone. You live in different states, and maybe there’s no reason for either of you to go out of your way to get together in the real world. But then an opportunity arises.

That’s what happened to me when my Internet pal Robert emailed that he and his wife and kids were coming to the mountain town of Breckenridge in Colorado for a family reunion. Was there a chance I could swing by to meet them?

Of course I could.  I met Robert through my blog, and eventually he volunteered to read and critique The Compass Master when I was getting it ready for publication.  That’s when we talked a couple times on the phone about details in my book, and he sent me two of his manuscripts (they were entertaining and so smart).  He also guested here once when he wrote about his passion for Olympic weightlifting.

Anyway, I drove up to Breckenridge, met Rob and his lovely family, and it seems we both made the momentary adjustment to how each of us looked and sounded and acted in real life.  Then in no time we were talking about Layla action hero stuff.  This meant sharing our painful physical experiences in parkour classes (that’s how I launched my Layla plan), and we did some fencing.  He’s done just a tiny bit of foil while I’ve had years of epee, but he wanted to have some bouts so we had several goes at it with my two epee blades.  Damn, that was fun!

At his request I also brought along my lock picking tools and some padlocks, and sure enough Rob quickly learned to pick open (four times!) one of the smaller locks.  We talked about archery, some climbing (he’s more serious while I’ve been a slacker), studying foreign languages, you name it.

Granted, some of the time the two of us were like a couple little kids getting together to play.  But I really enjoyed it.  And of course we also talked about writing – I’m still at it, but Rob has set his own writing aside to concentrate on inventing, which I think is really exciting.  I’ve mentioned his blog about inventing for the public good, which can show you how serious and good he is at engineering.

(http://publicinvention.blogspot.com)

So that was my playdate on Saturday with my internet pal.  I hope all of you have had similar great experiences.

Remember how way back when I started this website (two summers ago!) I began my Layla plan by taking the toughest of all courses?  That course being, of course, a ten-class introduction to parkour.   My body still cringes in agony at the memory.

Anyway, as I wrote back then a few of my young manly-man instructors tried out that summer for the Ninja Warrior game in California auditions that were  shown on the cable channel G4.  The top qualifiers would then go on to compete in the humongous finals in Japan.  My instructors just missed getting into the top twenty, but for me it was still a hoot to see them on TV.

Then a couple days ago I heard how the latest Ninja Warrior competition was underway and I checked it out.  Who did I see on the tube?  Jake!  Young, uber muscular, freakishly energetic instructor Jake who one day in my parkour class casually mentioned, as all us students were dropping in sweaty exhausted messes to the floor, that oh, gee, he’d forgotten to eat that day.  Then he continued to run around and bounce off the walls.  For a few moments there, I really hated Jake.  Still, I felt bad for him two days ago when he just barely missed by this much (like a few seconds) getting into the top twenty.

Now it seems that Ninja Warrior has gotten so popular that the final show, which is broadcast from Japan, will hit the big-time and go to a prime time network (NBC) tonight.  If you take a look you’ll get an idea of the kind of guys I was working out with.  I could so not keep up with them.  Of course, I should add that I was the lone female and by far the oldest and only middle-aged person brave enough to take the course.

I’m still kinda proud of myself.  Working out with guys like that really forced me to raise the bar, to push my levels of endurance to the breaking point, to make me face my physical weaknesses and get better, and to realize how bad thigh pain can get.  So bad I couldn’t walk down any stairs for days afterwards.

I doubt that I’ll ever take those classes again, but I’m glad I’ve done them once and appreciate how they  had a lasting impact on me.  I’ll also be rooting for Jake and the other guys to get to Japan and the ultimate finals one of these years.

If nothing had gone wrong with my Layla plan, the first phase of it would’ve ended back around late July.

I mean, it’s embarrassingly obvious that I’m running late on this plan, isn’t it?  Just look on the right hand side of this page, and what do you see?  “This blog is the record of my one year plan to become like Layla Daltry.”

ONE YEAR, people!

And that year started in late July of 2009, when I enrolled in a crazy-ass, tough-as-nails parkour course to start getting my body into serious shape. Then I stepped up my efforts in fencing, started to teach myself lock picking, TRIED to study French and Arabic (NOT ENOUGH TIME for them, damn it!), and did paragliding and skydiving and lots of other stuff.

These are details I plan to examine and grade myself on at the literal end of this year and the start of 2011. And yes, I’ve got some spiffy, cool ideas for my second-year plan of Becoming Layla.  Stuff that entails less learning and much more DOING.  Or as my sister says, I have to seriously up my game to make my blog interesting. (This is the excuse she uses for never bothering to read my blog, but am I bitter?  Certainly not.)

Anyway, there are two reasons why I’ve been stretching out the first year of my plan. 

Reason #1: As you may recall, all my physical workouts and training had to be put on hold for two to three months because last spring I was seriously injured by a moron in an Aikido class.  Injured as in a partially collapsed lung and fractured ribs.  And reason #2:  I’m so busy with the final rewrite and copy editing of The Compass Master that I haven’t been doing enough Layla activities to give the end of my one-year plan a bang-up, exciting finish. (shame on me).

So there you have it.  Come January 1 I’ll be seriously upping my Layla game plan.  What exactly I’ll be doing in the coming year I’m not too sure, which makes me open to suggestions.  Some of you had great ideas this last year that I never followed through on.  I apologize and promise to act out all the way this next year. 

1. acting out – a (usually irritating) impulsive and uncontrollable outburst by a problem child or a neurotic adult.

2. acting out – (psychiatry) the display of previously inhibited emotions (often in actions rather than words) considered to be healthy and therapeutic.

Quickie Report Card

on January 31, 2010 in Misc Comments Off on Quickie Report Card

ReportCard

My job is really interfering with my Layla plan. Oh well. Waddya gonna do? Reality will always win out over fantasy.

Work kept me so busy and tired this week I didn’t work out for three days in a row. A couple night ago I merely warmed up for about ten minutes, but because my body had had a brief vacation it really felt good: my muscles and joints were loose, my limbs moved freely. One thing I have kept up has been — of all the useless things — handstands against a wall. I now get into them easily and can hold them wall-free for a few seconds. My former Parkour instructors might just pat me on the back.

As for stretching: my front splits still haven’t improved much so I bought some leg weights and sometimes just let my legs hang open. This seems to be helping.

Of course I’ve also been too tired in the evenings simply to look at my Arabic and French books. Still, I must be making progress because when I hear snatches of French on TV or in a movie I understand what’s being said much more than I used to.

As for the call girl Drama Queen neighbor I mentioned in my post on gut instinct…

I can’t tell you how happy I am she’s gone. In the mere two and half months she lived in this building, she woke me up several times in the middle of the night by: a) having screaming fights with a boyfriend; or b) her boyfriends knocking on the windows to be let in; or c) the stench of their cigarette smoke seeping up into my bedroom; or d) the police banging on the front security door to be let in.

The manager told me her studio was filthy and trashed. The toilet was backed up and the refrigerator needed fumigating. And God only knows how or why but she had taken the heavy bathroom door off its hinges.

So much for the glamorous image of call girls you see in the media. If my former neighbor is any example, then they’re just just neurotic crazies with cell phones and lives that sooner or later stumble out of control.

Aerial Action

on January 19, 2010 in Misc Comments Off on Aerial Action

aerial_action_layla

Who knew that aerial dance could be a great way to learn action hero stuff?

It’s true. The irony is, I was only checking it out ‘cause like I’ve said, I want to be like Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft Tomb Raider when she does that somersaulting, ballet-like dance one night in her pajamas while strapped into a bungee-supported harness. That’s a great way to relax before popping off to bed, I always thought – just gracefully bounce about in the massive entrance hall of your castle.

Well, it turns out that bungee-whirling is in the repertoire for aerial dance. Even if you don’t know the term, you’ve seen such dance performed in venues like Cirque du Soleil when sylph-like creatures twirl and climb and spiral down to earth and up again while wrapping themselves in hanging strips of fabric or in rings or other do-dads. Of course, if you ever see these sylphs up close you realize they have muscles like bowling balls.

Now personally, I’m not a performer. I’m not interested in tangling myself up in mid-air while striking artsy fartsy poses. I only want to do the much easier bungee bouncing.

And to that end I signed up for a Fitness Conditioning class with the local troupe Aerial Fabric Acrobatics. For a mere $16 I could get a one-on-one workout preparation with gymnast guy Eric.

Damn, did Eric work me over.

Yes, soft spoken, very nice Eric gave me what the website promised, “… a chance to work specifically on core strength utilizing aerial equipment, gymnastic equipment, and methods from Feldenkrais, Pilates, dance, and Yoga… If you want to start learning aerial, this class is an excellent prep to help boost your core strength.”

Oh, I’ve been strength boosted, alright. It’s been over 48 hours and my shoulders and arms and upper chest still hurt. On the bright side, my abs now merely feel bruised.

Unlike Parkour, Eric didn’t maintain a boot camp atmosphere. That would have been difficult to do anyway in the bright, colorful gym of Dardano’s School of Gymnastics. Most of the time the place appears to be populated with little girls in pretty tights. Quite a contrast to the funky, tough, uber masculine Parkour gym I suffered in last summer. Anyway, Eric had me do one exercise after another as we moved from a long trampoline strip to mats, the floor, a balance beam, and bars on the wall. I did the works, and I did them pretty well.

gymnasts
In between the routines, I stole glimpses at the teenage girls and women who were working out on the fabric strips and aerial hoop and trapeze bar that hung from the ceiling. As they climbed up, hung upside down, and generally pulled off some cool stuff, I had an epiphany…

This aerial stuff is just what Layla might do!

I mean, on occasion Layla simply has to hang like a bat while going in upside down through a window from a roof’s overhang. And old castles and mansions often have massive drapes and tapestries she’d need to negotiate to get up and down some walls. Being a second story antiquities hunter, she’s got to have all-around climbing chops.

So you know what? I’ll just plain have to do more aerial dance training than I’d originally planned. For one thing, it turns out that I can’t do the bungee stuff until spring when the weather is warm because the rig is outside. So I might as well get into better shape in the meantime.

Besides, there’s the continuing problem of my (lack of) upper body strength.

At the end of class, Eric wanted me to climb a rope that hung from the high ceiling. “Go all the way up and ring the bell at the top,” he said. “I want you to do it twice.” He even held the rope taut for me and there were knots in it every couple of feet. But by then my arms and shoulders were shot, and try as I might (and I tried three times), I only got up a few of those knots before collapsing back down to the mat.

Layla would have scampered to the top like a monkey.

So you know what this means: I’ve got to take more conditioning classes with Eric and learn the basics of climbing fabrics. And one day very soon I’m going to climb all the way up that rope and ring that damn bell.

And I’ll climb it twice.

Half Year Review

on January 6, 2010 in Misc Comments Off on Half Year Review

Becoming_Layla_Review

With the New Year now underway and my one-year plan almost at the halfway point, it’s time for a review of my progress.  I’ve already talked about the mental and emotional changes the plan has made in me.  Now here are reviews for my progress in the areas of physical prowess and knowledge.

First up:  Parkour

My nine classes last July/August/September got me into shape more quickly and painfully than any other activity I’ve ever attempted in my life, and the boot camp atmosphere taught me that I could push my endurance much farther than I thought possible.  The stunts – from jumps to cat hangs to swinging by my hands along high bars – revealed niggling fears lurking within me which I was unaware of and had to overcome.  I also discovered I’ve got almost zilch upper body strength.  Since the classes ended I’ve kept up the sit-ups, push-ups and squats we did in class.  On the downside…

I have not maintained the same high standard for strength and endurance.  Yes, I’m generally in better shape, but out of a combination of laziness and crappy weather (this is Denver’s coldest winter in years) I haven’t been running in the park two blocks away nor have I been practicing chin-ups on its kids’ Jungle Jim.  Over the Christmas holiday my brother helped me by showing what muscles I have to develop if I ever want to do chin-ups.  He also laughed when I referred to my shoulder muscles.  “You don’t have any shoulder muscles!” he crowed.

One interesting side-effect of the parkour training:  I’ve developed the odd habit of sizing up the exteriors and interiors of buildings around me to figure out how I could climb them should the need arise.  It’s almost a compulsion.  How would I climb up over those elevators?  Could I get up to that balcony?  Anyway, once my upper body is stronger, I’ll start climbing the wall at REI before making a fool of myself around buildings.

Billiards

My pool/billiards skills have languished because I haven’t practiced them outside the two classes I took.  Being gone over the holidays and again the bitter weather haven’t helped.  But I’ll be taking another class in a few weeks from The Viper, and I resolve to head to the Wynkoop for practice sessions.  I mean, how hard can that be?  Buy myself a beer and practice for an hour or two.  Maybe I’ve kind of blown off billiards because it’s entertaining and not arduous, and there’s a puritanical part of me that tends to put off pleasure when I could instead be working at something.  Yet one of the most important aspects of my Layla plan is to have FUN.  Which brings me to….

Paragliding and Skydiving

The weather is still too damned cold.  I’m hoping that maybe in March or at least April there’ll be a warm enough day to make paragliding possible.  As for skydiving – a bunch of friends have decided they want to try it with me, and since they’ll be gathering from a couple of different states, we’re all aiming for one week in June.  But I think I’ll go ahead and learn to jump on my own first, and in April or May if the weather permits.  Then I’ll really have fun when I go with them.  I am afraid, however, that I might fall in love with skydiving, and the trouble is the sport ain’t cheap.

Languages

Damn.  I mean it.  Like, double damn.  I’ve really been lazy.  I’ve been studying French or Arabic only on an irregular basis.  When I’m in any kind of class I tend to be much more disciplined, so what I’m going to have to do is create some kind of similar structure.  Hence I’ve decided to write short entries in this blog much more frequently in order to document my almost daily progress with my plan.   Sometimes I might just list what I’ve done in the last couple days much as if I’m writing in a diary, but that should do the trick.  For me, making my private behavior public can be a powerful motivator ’cause I embarrass easily.

Lock picking

See description of my language studying.  Resolve here and now to be super diligent at learning how to pick locks.

And now for some good news.

I can FINALLY get back into fencing and get to REI and take an upcoming four-part session of aerial dance (à  la Lara Croft’s bungee dancing scene in Tomb Raider) and other Layla stuff because I’m about to become the proud owner of a hot little used red Chevy Aveo.  No, it ain’t no fancy sports car, but it beats my old Nerdmobile, especially because it’s hot red and can run and doesn’t smoke like the engine is on fire when I drive it.

In summation…

Will I meet my one-year goal to become like Layla after the coming six months are up?  I believe so, although the last few weeks of my plan might be a real crunch time.  Will I be happy if I reach my goals?  You know, I’m not sure.

The truth is, I’m beginning to feel that my original goals weren’t as ambitious as they could have been, that I could have set the bar even higher.  Hell, now that I’ve started on this path I want to achieve and do much, much more than I’d first planned.  In the last couple days I’ve also seen how my becoming Layla is forcing a kind of liberation on me.  I hadn’t thought that I was in a rut, but that’s how deceptive ruts can be:   sometimes they get wide and deep when we’re not looking, until one day we wake up and realize we’ve settled into a place we just don’t want to be anymore.

Does that mean there’ll be a Becoming Layla Level II and maybe Level III?  And if so, what will such plans entail?

Stay tuned for further developments.  I’ve got some pondering to do.

The Stretching Angle

on December 14, 2009 in Misc 1 Comment »

Woman stretching

Here’s a quickie test.

Think about the fighting style of most male action heroes from James Bond to Bruce Willis to Matt Damon and so on.

Now think about the fighting style of all their modern female counterparts.  Add in the villainesses who physically fight both women and men.  Besides drop-dead gorgeous bodies, what do they have in common?

The women can all stretch like rubber bands.

Think about it.  Do you ever see James Bond kicking his leg over his head to hammer the bad guy in the kisser?  Does Will Smith whip off back handsprings to smash an attacker?  Indiana Jones certainly never fell into a splits while taking down a truck full of Nazis.

But that’s how the women fight.  They can splay their legs like their bodies are splitting in half.  Bend their backs like their spines are buttery goo.  Whirl like windmills, dive like swans, spin kick attackers into a demolition dream.

Women Fighters

Obviously there are men like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and their Western versions who  share this loose-limbed fighting style.  What they have in common with the ladies is martial arts.  They’re lethal because they’re  limber, use an opponent’s attacks and momentum against him or her, and move with devastating speed.  And all these reasons explain why women can rely on martial arts to even the playing field for them.  Years ago when I took intensive Tae Kwan Do for about six months, I learned how easy it was to break boards with my kicks and deflect an attacker’s moves.  I didn’t have bulky muscles and didn’t need them.

But back to the rubber band phenomenon.  In this category, how does my body measure up?

It depends on what direction you’re talking about.  The splits I can do – right or left leg.  Thus I can kick over my head.  I used to do a decent back bend, but years ago I got out of the habit of regularly doing a few a week and now my shoulders and back have stiffened up and I can no longer get into a decent one.  So a couple months ago I added back and shoulder stretches to my workout routines and the effort is making a difference.  I’m still only practicing halfway-down backbends against walls or the high back of an old armchair, but I’m making progress.

My chronic problem area is the side splits.  You know what I mean – when you’re facing forward and your legs are out at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions.  When I try to stretch into one, I can only start at a 90 degree angle and work out to maybe a 110 degree one.  And this isn’t a recent development.  For years I’ve stretched away, and while the rest of my body loosened up I’ve still – to my enormous frustration — always remained tight down in that part of the pelvis and upper thighs.  What I’ve long wanted to be like is Leslie Caron in An American in Paris when in one dance routine she effortlessly moves from splits to side splits to splits in the other direction as if she’s simply shifting her perspective.

This one area of tightness  may sound like no big deal, but I’ve found that it really has impeded some of my movements.  In parkour when I had to clamber around in quadrapedal movements, my side-stepping was limited and I sometimes felt uncomfortable twinges in the wrong places.  In Tae Kwan Do the tightness constricted my side kicks.  And I know that when I start climbing walls or whatever my inability to spread my legs loosely (and I mean that in the cleanest possible way) is again going to hamper me.

You’d think that the years of ballet I’d had when young with its emphasis on “turnout” would have unraveled the rock-hard knots that tie me up down there.  But nope.  Not a bit of it.  I can do pliés in second position till the cows come home but I still can’t do no 180 degrees – hell, I’d be ecstatic with 160 – side splits.

Per usual I must ask if Layla can do the side splits.  I didn’t really think about it when I was creating her, but the answer obviously has to be that she comes damn close to it.  If she can climb around buildings and get into forbidden places, she must have a body that can do what she commands of it.  From scaling walls to parkour-style escapes, she’s got the chops.

And that means I gotta go for the side splits.

So for the next few weeks I’m going to swallow my frustration and experiment like crazy with stretches.  I found a couple old articles and a book on the subject and they should help.  I’ll switch back and forth from static to dynamic stretching.  I’ll try stretching two or three times a day, and I’ll avoid injuries by going at it gently.  Then, if at the end of it all I’ve finally, genuinely loosened myself up by 20 or 30 degrees, I’ll consider my efforts a success.

Here ’s hoping for the best.

Reality Sucks

on December 9, 2009 in Misc 1 Comment »

Damned Cars!

I totally resent reality.  It’s screwing up my plan.

Just a couple weeks ago I decided that I wasn’t going at my one year transformation-into-Layla aggressively enough.  I resolved to set aside a lot more time for French and Arabic.  I should practice much more at lock picking, too.  Going to the parkour gym on some Saturday afternoons was certainly called for, since I very much need to work on jumps, pull-ups, tic-tocs, you name it.  And of course I should head to REI to learn how to scale their indoor climbing wall.  And what would really be cool would be to plot out some kind of made-up mission where I could combine several of my new skills.  Both physically and mentally, I long for the challenge.  I need to know that I’m making measurable progress.

So what happens?

I’ll tell you what happens.  My car dies.  I gotta get a new used one I can barely afford and have no time to hunt for one.  The weather has turned frigid.  And some days my job can be so tiring I go home and slap-dunk myself flat out on the sofa.

Take the last twenty-four hours.  Yesterday we had a deadline at work, which meant I was busy from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with nary a break.  (I went to the restroom twice.  That’s it.)  That doesn’t sound too bad, but the last couple hours were an adrenaline rush of top-speed production followed by a race to the local Fedex office.  I went home feeling like a zombie and did diddly-squat all evening.  This morning I woke up with a headache and eyes stinging from staring too much at a computer screen the day before.  The temperature was about 10 below zero, which made waiting at the bus stop loads of fun.  The good news is my toes and butt eventually warmed up.  (WHY my not-exactly-miniscule behind can get so cold, I’ve no idea.  I thought fat makes for natural insulation.)  Between the brutal cold and another (but easier) deadline, I’m not getting to my credit union today either to find out about getting a car loan.

Lara Croft never has these problems.  She’s a fabulously wealthy aristocrat who lives in a castle.  She has servants.  She bungee jumps before bed.

Yes, Layla is much more of a real-world woman.  Still, she could buy a new car cash down.  She goes home to a penthouse filled with expensive furniture and antiques, not stuff from Cost Plus marked down to half price.  And she doesn’t work in an office and she’s her own boss.

Oh, and I’ve decided that Layla has a cleaning woman come in once a week.  Because that’s I want.

Sadly, my track record for getting what I want ain’t so hot.

I Love My Plan

on September 7, 2009 in Misc Comments Off on I Love My Plan

Another good thing about the painfully tough parkour workout on Saturday – it made me forget about the really crappy day I had at work on Friday.  You know what I mean.  The kind of day when everything seems to be going okay and then the shit hits the fan just as you pause in front of it and you leave the office feeling miserable.

The next day when I left parkour I felt so different.  Though physically wiped out I was really quite happy.  I was smiling and humming as I drove home with my blistered hands barely able to grasp the steering wheel.  Then I remembered my crappy work day and the thought of it brought me thudding back down to earth.  That’s when I forced myself to concentrate on my Layla plan.  Within minutes my spirits were high again, and I realized that becoming like Layla is something I’ve desperately needed for a very long time.

The thing about my plan is this: I’m really, truly in charge of it.  Unlike some other aspects of my life, in my plan I call all the shots.  I created it therefore I can do what I damn well please with it.  Because of my plan, I am no longer putting off the kinds of things I’ve long wanted to do because right now I don’t have the money/ time/ whatever.  I want to take that skydiving lesson this month? I’ll do it, never mind the expense!  I want to be in the one-night billiards class with a national champion who calls herself The Viper (that is so cool!)  It’s on my calendar.  I want to sit out on the roof terrace and read my French and Arabic books to my heart’s content, and to hell with housework and errands?  Go for it. To quote Billie Holiday,  “Ain’t nobody’s business if I do”.

Within the structure of my plan, I am happy and free and in control.  Within my plan, I can be what I want and do what I want.  It is liberating.

Suffering for Art

on September 5, 2009 in Misc Comments Off on Suffering for Art

Parkour_Hands

Here’s my pain tally from today’s parkour class:

Five blood red torn blisters on the palms of my hands.   Banged-up left and right shins.  Deep bruise on left buttock where I slammed my weight down on a bar right where that annoying sharp bone protrudes in said buttock.   Arms I still can’t lift over my head lest I yelp in agony.   Bruised elbow.   Throbbing biceps.   Shoulders that ache even while I sit here and type.   Extreme exhaustion of entire body.

All for the sake of my novel.

You know, most writers are smart enough not to emulate the lead characters in their books.   Writers of thrillers are especially adverse to risking the kind of bodily harm they so willingly inflict on their heroes.  That’s because good writers grasp the difference between reality and fiction.  Fiction can be deadly.   Fiction can mean the searing pain of irreversible injuries and personal financial ruin from too much costly adventuring.   Reality, on the other hand, means that the writer can be a dumpy, frumpy, out-of-shape wuss who’s afraid of the dark and wouldn’t know how to escape from a dangerous situation if his/her publisher’s advance depended on it.

Me?  I like to think of myself as smart.  People even tell me that the stuff I write is very intelligent.  So why am I trying to slowly kill myself for the sake of my novel?

Granted, I laid out the reasons for my one-year plan in the earliest entries of this blog.  But that was before the suffering.  That was before I had to endure my ninth and final parkour class, the one in which I learned how to hang from a high bar and move along it sideways and forward with only my hands, then with my hands and legs, and then jump through two bars while catching the higher bar and arching my body between them WITHOUT hitting my butt on the lower bar (I didn’t always succeed; see pain tally), and then run an obstacle course of bars to get over /under/ through without slamming my face into any of the metal.  At least my face survived intact.  And all of this, of course, was preceded by the usual burning workout.  (Good news!  I can do a handstand/ roll out with the instructor barely spotting me and telling me I’ve now got it.)  Then after the lessons with the bar work came a final killer workout involving jumps and weight lifting.  Matt (one of our two instructors that day) also took me and another student into the bathroom and helpfully showed us how to rip off the torn tags of skin over our blisters, warned us not to get those blisters in water because they will sting like hell (TOO LATE!), and gave us instructions on how to administer first aid to the now open sores before we go to bed at night.

Anyway, this ninth class in the fundamentals is the last one for me because I’m going to a wedding next Saturday and will miss the final and tenth one.  The instructor was disappointed I wouldn’t be there.  “It’s the class where we put together everything you’ve learned.”  That would mean the high jumps, jump offs, rolls, quadripedal runs, bar work, balancing, tic-tocs (bouncing high off the wall) and more.  You know, I really am disappointed too.  I want to see what I can do.  When I asked about the intermediate course, he emphasized that it would be really intermediate — i.e., above my present level of ability, therefore I shouldn’t take it.  Ouch.  But what I can do is come back for some open gym time.  That’ll be good.  That’ll mean practicing on the equipment and walls until I’ve really mastered the fundamentals of the sport.  And I can do this at my own pace and without pushing myself until I nearly collapse.

Two of the side benefits of these extreme parkour workouts:  First, I’m starting to feel more confident in my physical abilities.  Second, not only am I already in much better shape, and not only is my upper body much stronger, but my thighs are firmer and visibly thinner — this despite the fact that I was already slim and not trying to lose weight.  In fact, I can even wear a pair of cotton capris I almost threw out last year after accidentally putting them in the dryer with other clothes where of course they shrunk.  I pulled them out a couple weeks ago, tried them on, and not only do they fit, they hang loose on me.

Now for you guys out there, this doesn’t sound like much.  But you ladies will understand why this makes me very happy.