Section: Features

First years make campus their parkour playground

First years make campus their parkour playground

Photo by Kristen Huffman

It’s a struggle for some to drag themselves down to the KAC to get a workout in. But for two thrill-seeking first years, exercising at the KAC doesn’t even cut it.

The two have endeavored to explore Kenyon’s campus by participating in parkour. Parkour is an activity that involves moving quickly through, on or around anything in one’s path, typically in an urban area, by running, jumping and climbing.

Alex Hill ’19, from Portland, Ore., started his parkour career at a gym a few months back and has hardly gone a day without it since. “Everything I’ve learned since I left home has been self-taught,” Hill said.

Gordon Loveland ’19, who originally hails from Cleveland but now lives in Mount Vernon, became intrigued by parkour when he met Free Bound, a Cleveland-based parkour group. “They were just this great group of guys who did parkour,” Loveland said. “My friends and I met up with them and they taught us for two years.” The two first years met when Loveland saw Hill doing parkour outside Mather and McBride Residence Halls.

Hill was dismayed when he arrived at Kenyon during orientation week because he didn’t think there would be any suitable places for parkour, and he felt shy doing it in front of his new classmates. “One day I just got angry and decided that I needed to do it, and it turns out that Kenyon is a really good space,” Hill said. “The dorms have a lot of walls and bars.”

The two said the best places on campus for parkour are in between Mather and McBride, near Caples Residence Hall and on the train near the Gap Trail.

Aside from spraining his ankle once, Hill has avoided injury practicing parkour. Hill’s friend, Noah Dversdall ’19, has not been so lucky. Dversdall suffered a concussion after jumping on the parkour bandwagon. “I was doing it very lazily,” he said. The accident occurred at Kenyon when he hit his shins on a pole and landed on his head. After missing several days of classes, Dversdall said he was back to normal but had decided to retire from his short-lived parkour career.

Parkour is more mentally than physically challenging, according to Hill and Loveland. “Physically, a lot of people can do parkour, but you have to train mentally so that you don’t freak out,” Loveland said. Hill is currently attempting to master flips. He has taught himself to jump from distance into a kong vault — a movement that involves launching oneself over an obstacle hands first, tucking one’s legs in and bringing them through the arms — and ending with a drop landing.

Parkour can also serve as an outlet for those struggling mentally. This was the case for Hill. Before doing parkour, he described himself as “very unhealthy and upset all the time.” One day, he decided to make a change. He took up parkour, and started lifting weights and eating well. “I don’t want to be restricted by anything,” Hill said. “I want to be as free as I can be and parkour seemed to be my way of doing that.”

Loveland was inspired to try parkour from playing video games. “I just thought it was insane to navigate a city in any way,” Loveland said. “Parkour really appealed to me because of the idea of mastering your environment.”

Hill and Loveland have toyed with the idea of starting a parkour club at Kenyon. When practicing parkour, they often attract small audiences, especially outside of McBride and Mather. Hill is hesitant about starting  club because he still considers himself a beginner and does not feel confident enough to instruct others. He does urge anyone interested to come practice parkour with him.


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