Michael “Frosti” Zernow likes to vault, flip and catapult his way from A to B. The Santa Monica-based professional parkour athlete and instructor has 10-plus years of experience, and it shows: The man defies gravity when in motion, as you’ll see if you check out the videos online.
Parkour (also called free-running) is a discipline developed in France that involves smoothly navigating over and around obstacles like walls, stairs and trees with jumps, climbs and acrobat-like moves. Zernow makes it look effortless, but it takes practice and discipline if you don’t want to smack a wall or graze your knees on asphalt. Here’s a move he recommends for beginners: the jump and landing. (Professional instruction for parkour is available at Tempest Freerunning Academy in Chatsworth, tempestacademy.com.)
Why you should try it: Jumping and landing properly is a basic parkour skill, “the first thing I would teach anybody,” Zernow says. You’ll work your core as well as your legs, calves and feet.
What to do: Using your arms to help if needed, jump up onto a wall or bench. Then jump off the wall, making sure to land soft, knees bent. Beginners: Pick a low height to start with and soft landing surfaces such as sand or grass. Ramp up the challenge as your skills advance by selecting higher walls and harder surfaces, such as concrete.
How much to do: Beginners, start with three sets of 10 with a 30-second break in between. Make sure that your legs don’t get too fatigued and that your joints aren’t starting to hurt. After you advance to more challenging moves, try to keep going for 10 minutes, aiming for four sets of five.