On what parkour brings to older persons

Sean: What’s fun about confronting the challenge and perception about why Parkour and grandma, how does that mix? So you can ask kind of a leading questions like, “You’re asking me that because you think Parkour is like people falling off the roof.”

Craig: Right.

Sean: My answer to that is, “Yes, Parkour is about people falling off the roof, and controlling their impact, and disbursing it correctly, and chaining that to a different type of locomotion with no fear, and no problems, and no long-lasting knee damage if you train for it correctly.” Is there anything useful about that for a population whose number one cause of death every year is falling down? Yes.

Craig: I see no connection whatsoever. Oh, sorry.

Sean: Yes, I do think the masters of falling have something to teach a population who might actually need Parkour more than anyone else.

Craig: Who might actually need it.

Sean: That’s where I turn it around.

Craig: Yeah, okay.

Sean: That’s where I turn it around, because it happens to be true so it’s easier that way.

Craig: I don’t remember what lies you tell, that’s my problem.

Sean: No, ’cause it … Let me throw some scary stats at you. One in four people over the age of 65 will fall down.

Craig: One in four.

Sean: Every year.

Craig: Over 65, yeah, every year.

Sean: 25% of people over 60, we’re talking tens and millions of people will fall.

Craig: I need to call my mom. My mom’s over 65, and I don’t know if she’s falling yet this year.

Sean: “Mom, are you sitting down? Sit down. Don’t move.”

Craig: “Let me tell you the statistics,” or better yet, “Mom, have you been fallen yet this year?” “No.” Shove.

Sean: Don’t move until I sign up you up for some Parkour classes.

Craig: Parkour classes. All right, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to derail your train of thoughts. So one in four, over 65 once a year, millions of people-

Sean: Will fall down, every 11 seconds someone is admitted to an ER for falling down.

Craig: Yikes.

Sean: Every 19 minutes someone over the age of 65 dies from a fall.

Craig: Whew.

Sean: We’re talking tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of hours in healthcare or hundreds of thousands of hours in healthcare, tragedy within … I mean this is real.

Craig: Right.

Sean: This is real, 25,000 deaths every year, and this is 2015. I can’t imagine it’s gotten a lot better. Thanks, iPhone.

Craig: I’m like it’s 2019, but you mean the stats are from 2015. I just had like a senior moment like, “Wait, what year is it?” But as you were saying, so that’s the recent stats from 2015, and I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the fear of falling is an even bigger quality of life challenge.

Sean: Absolutely.

Craig: These people, they know everybody falls.

Sean: Yeah, so falling is like the main cause of like PTSD over the age of 55. So you’re absolutely right, even if you don’t … even if the worst case scenario doesn’t happen, if you don’t die or get some massive complication from a fall just the act of falling can instill a fear with you, which massively constrains your field of action. As any athlete understands, fear cuts down on your locomotive capacity.

Craig: Right.

Sean: Any movement you’re doing can be impacted by doubt, fear, uncertainty, now-

Craig: It makes … It’s like a vicious circle, “I’m afraid so my dexterity, like physiologically my dexterity gets lower,” and then guess what that leads to? Falling.

Sean: It leads to falling because it leads to even more defensive, and immobile postures. Most people who are hunched over, I mean, yeah, that can be long-term fascial imbalances, but a lot of it is mental. You can take someone who’s afraid of movement, who’s all curled up when they’re walking around, and just force them to stick their head against the back of a wall, and stand up right, and they discover that they can do it. They thought they couldn’t, and you can explain to them, “Yeah, you thought that, but in reality your mechanic still work the same as when you were 20 years old, and not afraid of laundry monster. Let’s work on that.”

Craig: Let’s go further with the idea of curriculum. So you’ve given me some really net ideas about how you would share Parkour with this older generation, but the PK Move Group did a study with Marymount University, and can you tell me, I mean, whatever about it you want to unpack, but my idea is just what did you actually teach them, and then what results did you see? That would be my first question about it.

Sean: So the Marymount study was my first chance to do my really deep, deep dive into Parkour for seniors. Up to this point I’d help write the coaching manual, which was kind of a general overview of biomechanics, and Parkour pedagogy as it might relate to someone in their 70s. I had done most of these remotely, so I wasn’t working one-on-one [crosstalk 00:12:36] with our PK Silver classes, but now with the study I was being asked to write, like it’s a minute by minute curriculum for eight weeks of classes.

Craig: Okay.

Sean: So this is the first time I had actually written a full-on multi-month class structure, detailed down to like, “Here is what you do at minute eight. Here is what you do at minute 14.” What we hadn’t done up to that point, which was build out every skill we want a person to learn from start to finish in a way that goes from simple to complex, and gradually increases the risk for a room full of 80 year olds I’ve never seen, so that was a challenge.

Meet the team: Craig

I spent years looking for inspiration, and eventually decided to create a community where I could find it. I talk a lot about the signal-to-noise ratio on the Internet and in social media; I wanted a community where it was all signal and no noise.

~ Craig — Project creator and voice of the podcast

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