Parkour Camp 2010: An Interview
The Parkour Generations Morzine training camp is becoming legendary in the short history of Parkour. Those who have attended have described the rigorous exercise programmes, the aching muscles and being pushed to new limits. However, they’ve also described the fun, the new friendships and camaraderie, the beautiful mountain scenery, good food, comfortable hotel, sunshine and relaxation.
With the 2010 camp coming up in August, it was time to quiz camp leader Forrest about why Morzine was started and what the camp offers for students of Parkour.
Why did PKG set up the Morzine camp?
Originally we set up the Morzine camp because we liked the idea of allowing people to share and enjoy parkour experiences in a non-urban environment.
Morzine gives us the opportunity to present a different format from our regular in/outdoor classes that we run in London and it gives us the opportunity to offer students a unique experience
What is special about Morzine as a place?
Morzine is special for so many reasons. As a place it is best known as a ski resort, but most people don’t realise that before it became a winter sport destination, it was actually a summer spa town. As a result it has a charm that you don’t get in many modern resorts, there are no big concrete blocks and in the summer the scenery is beautiful, the sun shines and the mountain air is fresh.
We stay in a great wooden chalet overlooking the main village and have traditional French foods such as cheeses, saussisson, fresh bread, pate etc…
One of the other great things about Morzine is that although it is very peaceful in the summer, it is not dead, there is loads of other stuff to do.
What sort of things can you do when not training?
You can either relax or stay active. If you want to relax you can sit by the hotel pool, take a sauna, stroll into town and sit in one of the bars or wander round the craft and food shops.
If you want activity there’s so much to choose from. We have half a day’s white water rafting as part of the course. Everyone really enjoys that and it’s a great bonding exercise and it helps to refresh your muscles in the middle of the week.
But we give everyone a day off in the middle of the week when you can go mountain biking, hiking, climbing, horse riding, play tennis whatever you want. Last year quite a few of the guys went paragliding.
Why is a ski resort good for parkour training?
It provides different surfaces and new and different architecture that you do not find necessarily in urban settings. The fact that we are in mountains also helps to improve the physiological aspect of the training. The gradients make the muscles work harder, but they also bring more muscle groups into play and the high altitude is, of course, very good for helping the body to assimilate oxygen. Finally, the peaceful setting means that everyone is both focussed and relaxed.
What does a typical day comprise?
I would say people will experience an enjoyable but intense week’s training. It’s mainly parkour but we also do a lot of conditioning work.
We wake early and enjoy a nice gentle jog in the fresh air and amazing scenery. We do some exercises to make sure the muscles are completely warm.
This is followed by a very nice breakfast with fresh fruits, juice, yoghurt, fresh bread etc. We then have a rest before morning training, lunch, more rest and then afternoon training. The training themes change throughout the week to concentrate on different areas of parkour skill and fitness work.
After dinner you are free to do what you want, however, I suggest to students that they rest and enjoy it.
What do you think the students enjoy most?
It’s difficult to say what is the best part for the students but certainly the balance between the friendly and the hard working atmosphere seems to work. They are sharing all these experiences together and really strong bonds are created between everyone during the week.
Another great benefit is that people achieve things physically and mentally beyond their expectations. Also, the scenery gives a real feeling of escaping from the tension and pressure of the city – that’s a nice feeling, it is really like being on holiday.
Of course they also learn a great deal about parkour and enjoy the fact that they’re improving.
Does having a group mean that learning is quicker as everyone bonds and works for each other?
I cannot say that having a group automatically means that learning is quicker. It depends on the individuals. However, I do believe that the way everyone interacts with each other during the camp really helps to push everybody to improve. It’s a real motivation, and yes the bonds between everyone become bigger and bigger throughout the week. I personally love this interaction.
How does intensive training compare to weekly training in London?
As I said previously, people have to expect an intense and serious week’s training. It’s harder than the regular sessions that we run in London because we want the Morzine camp to be perceived as a unique experience. It’s only for one week and we use this time and all these resources to explore other dimensions that parkour can offer, like the mental strength etc… We cannot provide all those during our regular classes.
How important is rest and relaxation?
Personally, I believe that relaxation and rest are very important to the training. You really have to consider them otherwise I can guarantee the week will be as enjoyable as it could be because you could accumulate a lot of lactic acid which would make your muscles sore. Most of the students sit by the pool or in the chalet in the evenings resting, talking and reading. On the night before the day off, some go into the village for a couple of beers and on the last night we have a special dinner or barbecue and everyone can let their hair down.
What is the highlight of the week for you?
I always love seeing people increase their own potential, regardless of their original level. Even though I know that what we do is not necessarily easy, when people come back to me saying: “It was hard, challenging, I didn’t expect that I could do this but I did and I really enjoyed it, I had a great time, I learned new things and I know more about myself, I have a better understanding of parkour. It was a very good experience, I liked the atmosphere”.
That is the typical response of the students and hearing that, for me, is my highlight of the week.
How should students prepare?
In the resource pack for the Morzine camp there is a general fitness programme. I would suggest that before you come, you try to complete this programme; it should help to make you feel more comfortable when you start the camp. You should enjoy your stay better.
Who should come and why?
I believe that everyone who would like to experience a unique parkour adventure is welcome. I think if you are more than 15 years old (under this age, it might be too hard to really enjoy it), it doesn’t matter about your gender or your parkour level etc. Last year we had several people who had never done parkour before and that was not a problem. You will definitely find the right opportunity to improve and enjoy your time in Morzine ,I’m sure!