'Parkour' national gathering for city

Dunedin will be the urban playground for dozens of ''parkour'' practitioners, who will run, climb, swing, vault, jump and roll around the city as part of a national gathering.

Alex Pearson (28) has been doing parkour for the past three years, which complemented the gymnastics he did as a child, he said.

''That was the best preparation. It gives you so much strength and physical awareness.''

Several years ago he watched YouTube clips of some people in the United Kingdom doing parkour, and ''I just gave it a go'', Pearson said.

About 30 people took part in parkour in Dunedin, and those numbers were expected to swell when a national gathering was held on April 25-27.

The gathering was about seeing the skills and tricks of other exponents, and exploring the city, Pearson said.

''There was no competition as such. You just push yourself and I make sure I am better than everyone.''

Pearson also teaches children parkour and free running at the Dunedin Gymnastics Academy.

Parkour was viewed as a method of getting from A to B in a fluid manner using jumps and climbing, whereas free running was about doing ''cool tricks outside''.

Asked if he had ever hurt himself, Pearson was unequivocal - ''all the time''.

He had suffered sprains and broken bones by pushing himself too far, but he encouraged restraint in those he taught.

''Personally, I won't do that big jump until I have worked up to it at the gym.''

He recently pulled off a double back flip followed by a double back somersault, and also a flip off a wall with a full twist - ''which is pretty cool''.

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