Yesterday I went to Winterval, which is a day of parkour training and coaching with the ParkourGenerations group in London - there was six hours of exercise with only a lunch break in the middle and today almost every part of my body is aching (including the underside of my mouth, which is odd) held at an outdoor parkour training structure.
I'm back in Oxford this Wednesday so I'll start organising training sessions for the following week at some point. I've had a few people get in touch with me over the holidays saying that they do parkour but aren't interested in coming to coached sessions. I've also realised that having entirely structured sessions means that you only practice things which I tell you to practice, so you don't get to do your own thing as much.
When I started the group I wasn't intending it to be me coaching sessions all the time, I was more expecting to find a couple of people (including some experienced people) to train with (instead of people for me to train). But as it happened, there were beginners wanting to learn, so that's what I did. Maybe I've got slightly too caught up in this and was focusing too much, if not entirely, on this type of training.
I have always been running things based on what people want though - if people want something different that's fine with me, I'm only doing anything based on what other people want. So it's up to you!
Instead of structured sessions where I'm telling you what to do all the time, we could instead do more open sessions (maybe where I run a warm-up but then you're free to do whatever you want, but we stay as a group in a location) or have a 'jam' format (jams are just unstructured where everybody trains however they want). In the more structured sessions I'll also be varying it more so that there are 'open' parts to it where you do you own thing.
There is a caveat though: less structure means more individual responsibility, and for beginners it's often hard to know what to do given less experience and less understanding of the discipline. Lots of people start off thinking it's all about doing more difficult, bigger or stylistic moves and with more open sessions people may end up training in a way which will mean that is more dangerous or progresses and improves more slowly. It's much more important to get really good at the basics before trying to push yourself and equally as important to make sure your body is strong enough too. I've been reading "The Parkour and Freerunning Handbook" by Dan Edwardes (PKGen founder, he was one of the first Brits to start parkour so has loads of experience) and he stresses this, pointing out that tendons and ligaments strengthen a lot more slowly than muscles and pushing yourself too quickly too soon makes you much more likely to get injured in the following months and years. There's also a blog put up by one of the PKGen team (http://www.parkourgenerations.com/blog/ad-infinitum - give it a read!) talking about the importance of stressing the basics and he's observed a lack of understanding by a lot of the parkour community.
Anyway: next term, hopefully more variety in sessions, training with some more experienced people, and also more conditioning! See you in a week or so =)