Video and gallery: Comet country Parkour free runners show their stuff

THE average person trying to get fit and healthy would join their local gym or go swimming a few times a week. But one young man from Hitchin prefers a more unique form of exercise called ‘free running’ and is on a mission to raise awareness of its benefits.

Tom Whitaker, 19, runs his own Parkour free running team in Hitchin and Stevenage and trains with 10 others in the group.

The discipline involves using landscape and surroundings to perform movements, negotiating obstacles in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

The college student began the sport when he was 14 after watching a video on YouTube and despite being scared of heights, has stuck with his passion ever since.

“I’ve been doing this for the last six years, and have found that most people don’t know what I’m doing,” said Tom.

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“It’s a discipline. But people see us training and don’t understand what we are doing. I want people to know how beneficial it is.

“I used to be quite lazy and would play computer games and eat and drink quite unhealthily.

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“But the effects of Parkour are amazing. When I started, I was quite fat but six months later I was slim and toned.

“I don’t like heights though, and if I’m stood at the top of the building, I can’t look down.”

Some members of the group see the sport as a hobby, and others such as Tom describe it as more of a “lifestyle”.

The group mostly train in Stevenage or Hitchin, using anything from railings and walls to buildings for their acrobatic antics.

They hope to do their part for charity too, and with Comic Relief coming up, plan on doing some free running in fancy dress attire.

“We want to use the opportunity to raise some money, whilst raising awareness of the health and benefits of Parkour,” said Tom.

“We’re either going to do some running in fancy dress or paint ourselves completely red and really get into the spirit of things.”

You can find out more about the team by searching for ‘Unique Parkour’ on Facebook.

To view a gallery of some moves, click on the link on the top right hand side of the page.

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