Michael "Frosti" Zernow demonstrates the basic parkour jump-and-land… (Myung J. Chun, Los Angeles…)
Michael "Frosti" Zernow likes to vault, flip and catapult his way from A to B. The Santa Monica-based professional parkour athlete and instructor has 10-plus years of experience, and it shows: The man defies gravity when in motion, as you'll see if you check out the videos online.
Parkour (or free-running) is a discipline that involves smoothly navigating obstacles like walls, stairs and trees with jumps, climbs and acrobatics. Zernow makes it look effortless, but it takes practice and discipline if you don't want to smack a wall. Here's a move he recommends for beginners: the jump and landing. (Professional instruction is available at Tempest Freerunning Academy in Chatsworth, tempestacademy.com.)
Why you should try it
Jumping and landing properly is a basic parkour skill, "the first thing I would teach anybody," Zernow says. You'll work your core as well as legs, calves and feet.
What to do
Using your arms to help if needed, jump onto a wall or bench. Then jump off, landing soft, knees bent. Beginners: Pick a low height to start with and soft landing surfaces such as sand or grass. Ramp up the challenge as your skills advance with higher walls and harder surfaces, such as concrete.
How much to do
Beginners, start with three sets of 10 with a 30-second break. Make sure your legs don't get too fatigued and your joints aren't starting to hurt. After advancing to more challenging moves, try to keep going for 10 minutes; aim for four sets of five.