Now that we’ve explored the “Yoga” part of SharedSpace (read more about Katonah here), we speak to its other co-founder and professional parkour performer, Aaron Martin to learn about the “Movement” aspect. An integral part of our daily lives, Aaron teaches several classes such as Acrobatics for Beginners, Parkour and Floreio Flow to name a few; and we learn just how difficult and how dangerous this can be!
Please tell us about yourself.
Growing up, I was an active kid, always climbing up and jumping off of things. I was trained in martial arts and when I turned 16, I learnt about parkour. Right off the bat I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I had a strong desire to keep up my progression in the sport and become competitive. I remember when I first tried a backflip somersault—I didn’t believe I could do it at the time but my supporters told me I could. That made me realise that anything is possible if you want it bad enough and believe in yourself.
You teach a few different classes—can you tell us what Floreio Flow is?
Floreio means “flower” in Portuguese and is a sub-art of capoeira. It is a sophisticated form of floor work that is practised in fake fights. Floreio is what you do on your own without a partner and consists of upper body strength work, inversions, and lower body mobility. This is combined in one practice, one training, one flow. I guarantee that this is something you can’t find elsewhere.
What can you expect in a class?
A very good resting squat. This is the position where everything starts from in Floreio. From there we learn to transition out of the squat in different ways, which requires and builds lower body mobility. It’s something you can’t get from a regular stretch routine. Hand balancing is also a large aspect of the class. You start from a cartwheel like position with your hands placed on the floor. This is a more gentle “low gate” (close to the ground) approach to learning about balance.
Can anyone do these movements?
Yes, we adapt the class to suit individual needs. Floreio is great for people who have lower body mobility (i.e. do yoga) as the class allows them to become more fluid. We usually do recommend beginners to build their upper body strength first because it helps you move in and out of the positions.
What are the basic fundamentals to bear in mind with this type of movement?
It’s a full body workout. Even if you just move freely on the floor for ten minutes, it’s a quick way to work up a sweat because you’re doing a lot of work and also fine-tuning those skills at the same time.
What is the most difficult movement to master?
The squat. Understanding how to move in and out of a squat well and efficiently is very complex. Which part of the inner hip is working? What happens when I round my back? Learning to execute this movement properly in the first three sessions can make a huge difference going forward.
How about Parkour, how popular is it becoming?
It’s definitely becoming more widely accepted because so many large corporations are creating awareness about the sport. There are already over 100 Parkour gyms in the US alone. A number of traditional “lifestyle” sports have recently been accepted into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, so there is hope that Parkour may finally be part of the games one day—perhaps in Paris 2024?
What is the difference between Parkour and gymnastics?
Parkour doesn’t have any rules, whereas gymnastics is a very disciplined practice. Those who are involved in this sport hope to win Olympic medals. The training and rules are all measured andthe equipment is essentially artificial. Gymnastic techniques are developed based on their difficulty levels and are judged by the movement.
How dangerous is Parkour?
I don’t think it’s dangerous but it can be as dangerous as you want it to be.
Can you give us some beginner’s advice—should we wear any protective gear?
The more equipment you wear for protection, the more reliant you become on it. I would even suggest trying Parkour barefoot as that will make you more cautious. You will be able to understand your fear and if it’s needed. This enables you to learn to judge things more accurately.
One of my favourite quotes from a famous freerunner Daniel Ilabaca is “if you’re afraid to fall, you fall because you’re afraid”. This is true for me 99% of the time. It’s not your body’s fault if you fall. Falling is part of the game, and you have to learn to become more confident with it.