If you’ve heard of parkour, or freerunning, it probably conjures images of young people jumping from building to building at vertigo-inducing heights. But in Beeston older people with chronic health conditions are using the techniques of parkour to improve their everyday mobility.
As South Leeds Life has previously reported, Beeston hosts the Level Up Academy, a converted warehouse that houses a parkour training facility. The name translates from the French for obstacle course and that’s how everyday life can seem like when you are living with a long term health condition.
“As a sport, parkour is about getting from A to B in the most efficient way” explains Level Up’s Jim Key. “The exercises this group do will help them get in and out of bed, or a car; they will help with balance and mobility.”
Jacci from Stourton suffers from ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
“This is my second week and I was so excited to about coming this morning” she says. “It’s challenging, but that’s good, you’ve got to push yourself, but also when to stop and have a rest.”
Mohammed Fazal from Beeston suffered a number of industrial injuries during his working life. Now he’s retired they are starting to cause him problems.
“This group is a godsend. I was sitting at home not getting any exercise. It’s a lovely group, the teachers are very good and patient. The exercise is definitely beneficial.”
Physiotherapist Mary Tyrrell Place commented:
“We are really pleased with how it is going. Never mind from session to session, we are seeing people’s mobility and confidence improve during each session.”
Gill Power is another member of the Live Well Leeds team at Leeds Community Health NHS Trust. The team’s role is to help people to manage their long term health conditions, live well and stay independent. Exercise groups not only help with strength and mobility, but bring people together, breaking down social isolation and boosting self esteem and confidence.
The project came about when Gill Power from the Live Well Leeds team heard that a group in East London were using parkour as an exercise regime.
“We are always looking for new and different ways of introducing activity and exercise. I thought if it’s good enough for London, why not Leeds?”
Gill contacted the Leeds Let’s Get Active team who have funded the pilot programme and Level Up Academy who were pleased to get involved. Patients with a number of long term health problems were invited to join and help to design the programme at a taster session.
“This pilot project has been more successful than we could have imagined” said Gill. “Now we need proper funding to take it forward, expand it and open it up so more people can benefit.”