Tonight was time for a different sort of workout. The whole family is in Berlin for a month so I can do some research. Not everyone has been equally enthusiastic about this trip all the time, and at some point, I decided I wanted some special events or destinations that I thought Aidan would be keen on. I think it was on one of those googling expeditions that I came across ParkourOne. A parkour club. With training sessions. They even have kids classes! Now, it turns out the kids classes are coming to an end with the beginning of school vacation and you can’t just drop in on them anyway. But, once a week they have something called “Hell Night,” a parkour-inspired strength training session. All right, close enough.

Aidan and I tried to go to Hell Night last Wednesday, but due to a barely missed streetcar, we arrived at the meeting point at 6:03 instead of 6:00. A woman standing there said that ParkourOne did indeed meet at that spot, but that they were generally very prompt and they had already left, probably to go into the Volkspark Friedrichshain. We searched the park and finally found a group around 6:30 working out so we joined in. At the end of the session, we discovered that that group was NOT ParkourOne but some other fitness group that also meets Wednesday nights at this very busy park.

So, this week we headed back and arrived at 5:44, which certainly qualifies as prompt. A few folks were standing around and they said yes, this was the right place and ParkourOne would be here shortly. Within minutes, a young blonde woman with quite large arms showed up, Marie, tonight’s leader. We appeared to be a smallish group until about 5:58 when another 15-20 people appeared and at 6:01, we began running out of the park – perhaps why we missed them last week. A short jog away we found the Velodrom, an indoor cycling arena:


The Velodrom has a big ramp and a set of stairs with most of the parkour people already running up them and then forming a circle while planking. Once everyone arrived, we started warming up, running up and down stairs and ramps, the familiar butt kicks and high knees and grapevines mixed with less familiar moves designed to warm up the wrists. Hmmmm, what was coming our way? We finished the warm-up with squats, push-ups and some other delights and I was happy to see that at least I wasn’t the only one already quite sweaty.

Then they divided us into groups and we proceed with the following exercise. Two people did “dog carousels” – Hundekarosellen. Easier to see than describe, it’s downward facing dog with your legs up the wall. One person makes themselves small and the other stretches out and goes over them, then the first person stretches out and goes over the second person. That’s one round. We were supposed to do 12.


Aidan and I started with the other option. One person starts at the bottom of the steps and jumps up them, box jump style, “aktiv” as someone was kind enough to inform me. Meaning, no break between jumps. You could jump up as many steps as you liked at a time. I managed two; Aidan generally got three. Meanwhile, the other person stood at the top of the steps with arms outstretched. Once the jumper reaches the top, you switch jobs. The second time around, though, the person at the top gets into tricep dip position on the steps, and then lifts his or her legs straight out in front. Um, no. Wasn’t happening. But we did ok with the jumping.


Once our assigned other pair had finished their 12 Hundekarosel, it was our turn. This is an exercise that definitely works better if the two people are the same size. I think I got over Aidan once, but no way was he going to fit over me. We just practiced trying to bend our knees with our feet on the walk or do a bit of side-to-side walking in this position.


After this routine, there was a series of exercises that have blurred together in my head. We did more cat springs up the steps and then onto the first step of the staircase after the landing. We tried “walking” on the railings for the ramp like this:


I could actually do this, but Aidan wasn’t tall enough. We tried hanging from a wall by our hands and moving along the wall [zero chance for me]. We did “cat springs” down the ramp. We found a portion of wall we could handle and got one foot up to stand up. We did a “slalom” over the wall. We practiced running at a wall and trying to jump up it. Hint: Your foot goes out in front so you don’t actually run into the wall. We did exercises to strengthen shoulder muscles I was not aware I had. We did all this stuff and more until 8:01 when we gathered back by the backpacks up top and did “Zehn gemeinsame Liegestutzen, bitte!” “Ten push-ups together, please!”

It was an incredibly tough workout, both physically and in terms of technique. I probably did about half of it and I was still wiped out. It was great fun and we’ll probably go back and Marie took my email address. If she can work it out, we might join her for training in the park some evening. How fun!


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