Parkour is a form of exercise that requires you to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible while moving past obstacles in the path, using movements such as jumping, vaulting, climbing, crawling and balancing. “When you practise parkour, you walk, run, sprint in bursts, mixed with periods of slow movement, vault over things, roll, climb, crawl, jump and balance,” says Mumbai-based Ritesh Shaiwal, a parkour trainer at health club Fitness First. “It also helps develop better body coordination,” he adds. But like any other exercise, parkour is much more effective when you warm up before training to loosen up the muscles; post workout, one should do stretching exercises. “One of the common mistakes people make is that they give in to the excitement of joining a parkour programme without proper preparation, like wearing elbow guards, or jumping on concrete and not on crash pads, which can lead to injuries,” says Chennai-based Prabu Mani, a parkour trainer with the Tamil Nadu Parkour Association.
Obstacles are an integral part of parkour, but if they (walls, benches and nets) are not set as per your fitness level, the entire workout can go waste. “Obstacles need to be customized keeping in mind the fitness level of a person,” says Shaiwal.
More often than not, parkour is associated with the adrenalin rush to jump over walls and vault over obstacles. Giles D’Souza, a Mumbai-based trainer with parkour group Free Souls, says it is important to follow the “progression principle”. “If you have to climb 8m, it is advisable for you to first climb 4m and then try 6m, as it will accustom your body to absorb the workout more efficiently,” says D’Souza.
Progression in parkour is not limited to reaching the next level; it has also to do with what new obstacles you introduce in your training and how sustained you are in your workout. “If you continue with the same obstacles, then the workout won’t be effective after a period of time,” says Shaiwal.
One of the common misconceptions in parkour is that one has to maintain fast speed while crossing the obstacles. “This leads to a complete washout if you are out of breath after crossing the first two obstacles. Speed in this case does not benefit your body,” says Mani. The trick is to focus on efficiency instead of pace while training for parkour.
Aerobics might seem like a fun workout that you can do anytime with peppy music playing in the background, but small mistakes like wearing the wrong kind of shoes or practising similar kinds of twists and sequences, can render your entire workout useless.
An ideal workout, according to Mumbai-based aerobics trainer Sheela Tanna, consists of 5 minutes of warm up, 35 minutes of aerobics and 5 minutes to cool down. “It is a strict routine and if you stop anytime even for a minute in between this sequence, the whole workout is wasted,” says Tanna.
New Delhi-based fitness consultant and aerobics and Pilates trainer Namita Agarwal says the body burns most fat during the last 15 minutes of the workout. “If you stop in between, then you are just hampering the process,” says Agarwal.
Heart rate is critical to an aerobics session. Tanna says you should elevate your heart rate to the level where you can talk but can’t sing. “If your heart rate is constant and if you are able to sing while doing your aerobics, then you might as well stop,” says Tanna.
While aerobics consists of cardiovascular exercises, it is not the be-all of it. “People think aerobics is just dancing in a group, but if it doesn’t help your flexibility and strength training, then it is not a very effective workout,” says Agarwal.
There is much more mechanism and theory that goes into a basic bench press than meets the eye. “That pain in the leg could actually be a sign of an injury rather than a reward of working out,” says Mumbai-based fitness trainer Vinod Channa, who has trained actors like Riteish Deshmukh and John Abraham. “The most common mistake gym goers make is that they pick the most comfortable workout. This is fine for the first few minutes, but as the session progresses, it does nothing for the body,” says Deckline Leitão, a Bengaluru-based fitness specialist and director of exercise science at Vesoma, a sports medical centre. “For example, it is fine to pick a moderate speed on the treadmill for the initial 2 minutes, but if you don’t switch to running after that, you will not get any benefit,” he adds.
The gym is not meant only for people who want to lose weight. Channa says this is the most common mistake people make when they decide to head to the gym. “Gym exercises are also meant to keep your body fit. People who go with only one objective instead of a holistic plan, often end up wasting their time,” he adds.
It is equally critical to keep changing your exercises so that your body and muscles don’t get used to the same regimen. Also, while planning your workout, include rest. “Gymming is not a military drill. People forget that our body needs time to replenish. So instead of being over-enthusiastic about going to the gym all seven days, make it four days of consistent workout and give three days for your body to recover,” says Leitão.
No matter how hard you might have trained, you also need to breathe right. By not breathing in between push-ups and pull-ups, you can negate your entire effort. “Holding your breath increases the blood pressure, thereby shooting up the heart rate. Ideally, the heart rate should be elevated gradually to a point where the fat starts burning,” says Channa.