Parkour and Freerunning have gained popularity worldwide, including in the Netherlands. Both activities involve moving through urban environments creatively, efficiently, and often with acrobatic elements. While parkour focuses on efficient movement from point A to point B, Freerunning incorporates more expressive and acrobatic movements.
A Freerunner sees the city as a playground, a bench is not just there to sit on, a staircase is not just there to walk on, but these are all parts of the sport.
Parkour and Freerunning are not typical Dutch activities, but these cool sports are practiced by many Dutch youngsters and adults.
The first thing I think of when I see somebody practice Parkour or Freerunning is “Monkey Cage” or as we say in Dutch “Apenkooi”, a super funny primary school gym class. The game Monkey Cage is a form of playing tag where you are not allowed to touch the ground you have to move over all kinds of gym equipment and other objects. The Monkey Cage game is great fun and a tough workout where time flies by. The first time I saw a group of youngsters practicing Freerunning was by the stairs at the riverside near the Eiffel Tower and I found them more than fantastic, so these days, I am a huge fan of Parkour and Freerunning. Parkour and Freerunning are of course unprecedented exciting antics that could be seen as an extra advanced version of Monkey Cage, couldn’t they?
Parkour, also called Le Parkour or PK, originated in France. Competitors try to complete obstacles as quickly and smoothly as possible. Parkour can be practiced almost anywhere and often provides an unexpectedly spectacular moment for spectators. Parkour mainly takes place in the open air and preferably in cities, but you will also encounter Parkour practitioners in smaller towns and villages. The participants try to pass certain obstacles as smoothly as possible. These obstacles often consist of objects in the public space such as walls, benches, and fences.
Freerunning is also a cool sport, in which a rider – the free runner – graciously moves through an urban environment while seeing walls, windows, cars, and e.g. stairs not as obstacles, but rather as tools smoothing the run. The continuity of the movements is called a flow.
Parkour and Freerunning have endless possibilities
In the Netherlands, you can find communities of parkour and freerunning enthusiasts who gather to practice and share their skills. Many cities have designated areas and parks that are suitable for these activities. Additionally, some gyms and training facilities offer classes and open gym sessions for parkour and freerunning enthusiasts.
➔ Freerunning and Parkour sites and places
Individual sport activity – safety first
Parkour and freerunning are individualized activities, and practitioners often adapt their training to their own style and preferences. Respect public and private property, follow local laws and regulations, and be mindful of your surroundings while practicing these activities. Remember to prioritize safety. Use proper training gear, warm up before sessions, and progress at your own pace. If you’re unsure about a particular movement, seek guidance from experienced practitioners or instructors.
Where to find the best parkour and Freerunning gyms
Urban Climbing Water Challenge
A group of British men who practice Parkour has visited Utrecht to take a route along the yards along the main canal, on the Oudegracht. The purpose of the course was not to fall into the water. The video showing how they perform their antics has now been viewed more than 1.4 million times on YouTube. The YouTube channel STORROR, which has more than 7.5 million subscribers and was founded in the United Kingdom, shows how the makers make their jump and climb routes in different places around the world. The course that was followed ran along the quays at the Vismarkt and at the Stadhuisbrug where the men tried to climb a route via gargoyles, fences, and doorposts, among other things. The men themselves called it the ‘Urban climbing water challenge’. Not everyone managed to stay dry.
Super cool that these guys chose the Oudegracht in Utrecht to take on this challenge. And as a native of Utrecht, my heart skips a beat, like a real wannabee Free Runner.