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Parkour exercises make use of city environment

THE URBAN JUNGLE

January 05, 2009|Jeannine Stein

This is another quadrupedal movement that mimics the way a cat walks, and gives a full-body workout. On a low ledge or the ground (try to find a seam in the sidewalk), crouch on hands and feet, making sure the hips aren't elevated too high and the knees aren't touching the ground. Move backward and forward in a line, placing weight on arms and legs, keeping the head and neck aligned and always looking just ahead of the hands, which will help maintain balance.

"This gets you used to being horizontal and low to the ground," Kravit says. "It's about developing that center of balance, and [it] gets you used to moving the arms and legs in conjunction with one another."

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Wall shimmy

Strong arm and back muscles are needed for this exercise. Find a wall from which you can hang without touching the ground. Grasp the top of the wall with both hands, and place the balls of the feet against the wall, bending the knees. Shift your body sideways along the wall, moving one hand and foot at the same time, then the other hand and foot. Mastering this move will make wall climbs easier, since it gets the body strong and stable for more advanced work.

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Cat jump or Kong vault up stairs

This variation on the basic Kong vault uses stairs and is another quadrupedal movement. Starting in a crouch, push off with the legs, land the jump on the hands a few stairs up and then bring the feet up, landing on a stair lower than the hands. Use the upper body to absorb some of the impact of the jump so that the knees don't feel all of it. Continue up the stairs, but walk down -- do not do this exercise down the stairs.

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Precision jump

Pick two points with some distance between them; beginners can practice on flat ground; those who are more advanced can choose a more elevated spot, such as a low curb or wall. Choose a spot on which to land, and starting in a squat position, jump and try to land on that exact spot, never taking your eyes off the mark. Use the arms to propel the body upward and strive for a full-body extension if making a long jump. Land on the balls of the feet with knees bent to absorb impact. Take a moment to find your center of balance before jumping again. This exercise works the legs and trains core muscles.

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jeannine.stein@latimes.com

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