Thursday, March 12, 2015

Climbing the Walls

I've had 2 more parkour classes and these were mostly about climbing walls.  Class #6 started off with a return to vaulting with a couple of vaults in a row and then a little obstacle course, sort of like how you start sequencing obstacles in agility.  Very fun but challenging since the vault boxes were higher than the one I'd been on the week before.

Then we moved on to 'wall run ups'.  Basically you run towards the wall, hit it with one foot and push yourself up as high as you can with that foot while reaching up.  This is what it looks like.

I was not reaching anywhere near the height of those guys. It's a little harder than it looks, even if you're not going very high, the challenge being that it's tricky to figure out where to hit the wall with your foot so that you can get enough traction to push yourself up the wall.  The idea is to use this move to run up a wall and grab the top.

Here's what it looks like in practice.

I never quite made it to the top of the higher walls but the angled wall from the obstacle course the first day that I needed help to get up?  Got up it easily.  Or at least I got up it enough to grip the top.  Hoisting myself on top of the wall was another not so graceful matter but the getting on top of the wall part was a week away.

Next we moved on to Tic Tacs, which are super fun.  I was actually doing fairly well at this, at least pushing off on one side.  Pushing off on the other side not so much.  A Tic Tac is kind of hard to descibe.  You run at the wall on an angle, push off with one leg, hit the wall with the other leg and push off.  It looks like this.

There is math and physics involved here so maybe that's why I could do these, at least on the one side.

We worked on precision, ie jumping onto a small square and height, ie jumping over a pool noodle.  Eventually you could go over a fence that was next to the wall.  In theory.  I could maybe do that if zombies were chasing me.  Which is funny because the other night I dreamt that vampires or zombies or some such undead creatures of the night were chasing me and I used a parkour move in my dream to get away.  Bring on the Zombie Apocalypse.

I twisted my ankle a bit on a landing after jumping on my off side but I was o.k. and 2 days later I ran with no problems at an agility trial, had completely forgotten about it.

Would be fun to eventually do Tic Tacs off of trees.  Need a lot more practice on nice smooth walls first though.

Class #7 was last night and it was Cat Leaps, Cat Hangs and Climb Ups.  I was pretty sure that I'd end up sitting out most of this class because a Cat Leap involves taking a running leap at the wall, jumping up, hitting the wall with both feet and grabbing the top of the wall.  Like this.

Does that look like something crazy middle aged dog agility ladies with bad knees and many orthopedic surgeries should/could be doing?  Well, the answer is yes!  And the wall in the video is the wall we used but we used the side with the grip tape which made it much easier.  I was very surprised but I was able to do it.  In fact I was the second person in the class to make it to the top of the wall after the Cat Leap though I did not do the Level 4 climb up in the video.  The first person to make it up was the other woman in the class who is also small like me.  Weight to strength ratio is important when you're doing these body weight type movements and being small helps.  It took the guys a try or two to get up the wall.  Now I did not do the super smooth climb up in the video but rather did a Level 1 Climb Up which is basically get your ass up the wall however you can.  There's an example in the video below except I did not put my knees down on the top of the wall but rather got a foot up on the wall and used my arms and the foot to push up.  One very cool thing about the parkour philosophy of these particular classes is that you never ever put weight on your knee.  Like ever.  On the first day the instructor told us that if he saw us touching our knees to any equipment that we'd have to drop and do 20 push ups.  So the instructor reminded up not to use our knees even in a Level 1 Climb Up and using my foot worked just fine.

I'm not sure how much I'll use or practice these techniques.  Climbing walls was not one of my goals in taking this course.  But it's kind of fun and surprisingly do-able so we'll see.  I've learned so much and I still have one more class.  I'm glad I've put it in the blog so I can go back and remember all the things I've learned and maybe it'll inspire someone out there to try it.

We also did some swinging from a high bar with 180 degree then 360 degree turns in the air and then landing on a cushy mat.  Very fun.  Definitely not something I'll do on the monkey bars in real life.  I guess it was more of a safety/bail out exercise for more advanced bar swinging.  Fun to try though I had to climb up a short wall to reach the bar it was so high for me. I watch the more advanced classes walking on top of these high bars, jumping from bar to bar and it makes me queasy so I don't think those are skills I'll aspire too.  But the swinging was fun.

And holy crap, this week I was able to easily do a cartwheel on my good side and I'd had no practice at all this past week.  Guess latent learning applies to muscle memory as well.

Next week is the last class and we're doing more sequences and short courses as well as the timed course we did on the first day.

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