Katie McDonnell: Five Tips For Women Who Want To Start Parkour
To celebrate Internationals Women's Day on 8th March, we've dedicated an entire week to hearing from some of the most influential and inspiring female voices that we've been fortunate to work with.
Celebrating their sports, their training and their unique takes on the wellness industry, with advice and practical tips for both the current crop and future generations of women in fitness.
Katie McDonnell is a world renowned parkour athlete and professional stunt performer who has garnered some incredible accolades. Katie has made it to the semi-finals of Ninja Warrior, becoming the first female to complete the semi-final course, appeared in multiple television productions and notably performed stunts in Hollywood blockbusters for the likes of Disney and Marvel, including the Star Wars franchise.
Here Katie shares with us her insights into the world of parkour, with advice for women looking to enter the sport.
1. Start with the basics
It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many people try to jump in at the deep end without really nailing the fundamentals. Having a strong foundation will not only help your skills look nicer but it will allow you to progress more quickly too. And when you put a line of moves together it will make the whole thing look more fluid and effortless. Learn all of the basic vaults. Learn how to land a precision jump. Learn how to lache. Learn how to absorb impact on landing and how to do a parkour roll. There are plenty of tutorials online that can help you with these moves - take advantage of YouTube!
2. Supplement your parkour with strength training
There was once a time when a large proportion of the parkour community believed that the best way to gain the strength necessary for parkour was purely through doing parkour itself. Fortunately the community has now realised the benefit of doing additional strength training and weightlifting to supplement their parkour practice. Weightlifting in particular is an incredibly useful tool for increasing strength and power - two things we need a lot of for doing parkour!
3. Follow female parkour athletes on social media and take inspiration from them
While the female community is growing quickly in parkour, it’s no secret that this is still a very male dominated sport, so there’s a good chance you’ll often find yourself training in a pretty male-heavy environment. While we can certainly take inspiration from the guys we are training with (in fact we should), there’s something to be said for seeing other women absolutely smashing it in the parkour community. When I first started training, I took huge inspiration from watching videos of Luci Romberg, who was throwing down skills that no other woman was doing at the time. Nowadays we aren’t short of incredibly talented women who do parkour, so there are plenty of ladies to look up to. Check out Sydney Olson, Lilou Ruel and Hazal Nehir, to name just a few!
4. Develop your own style of movement
One of the things I love about parkour is how broad a sport it is. Some people love throwing down hard tricks, whilst others like playing with creative movements. Some people like to work on speed, whilst others prefer to focus on skill. You might love the idea of learning flips or doing big jumps at height, but don’t be put off if you aren’t interested in those things. You might find that your parkour practice focuses more on flow and creative movement at ground level. One great thing about parkour is that there are no set rules in place, so you can develop your own style of movement as you go and train the aspects of the sport that bring you the most joy.
5. Attend events and get involved with the community
Online tutorials are a great tool for parkour but the best way to learn is by being around other practitioners. I would highly recommend searching for local classes or parkour groups to join in with. However, if you can’t find any in your area I would try to attend parkour events (or “jams” as they are usually referred to), which are starting to pick up again now that lockdown restrictions have eased. While parkour events may seem pretty daunting to someone just starting out in parkour, they are open to anyone and the community is very supportive of new comers. There was once a time where they may only be one or two women at a jam but now there’s always a good bunch of us hanging around. Don’t be afraid to come over and say hi!