SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - He stands a short distance away, preparing himself to run. His next move is already calculated as he gazes at the obstacle before him. He takes a running start toward the climbing wall in front of him and runs up its side. Just as he nears the top, he twists his body and pushes away from the wall and jumps onto the bridge across a 4-foot gap. He lands deftly on his feet with a smile.
Spc. Jonathan Acevedo, a mechanic with Dakota Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, keeps physically fit by doing parkour in his spare time.
Parkour is the style of movement to get from point A to point B in the fastest and most efficient manner, traversing over obstacles, rather than going around them.
“Parkour has really helped my physical fitness,” said Acevedo. “It helps develop core strength, balance and it’s an amazing cardio workout.”
Before he discovered parkour, Acevedo wasn’t particularly physically active.
“I occasionally played recreational sports,” he said. “It wasn’t very often, though. It was the desire to get better at parkour that caused me to get out and practice every day.”
Acevedo first became interested in parkour after a friend showed him a video of someone jumping off a building on the Internet. Fascinated, he began researching other such videos and decided to try it out for himself.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “I never went into gymnastics nor had anyone teach me. I first started practicing on the beach, where the sand could break my fall if I made a mistake. I continually threw myself backwards into the sand until I grew confident that I’d be able to do a proper flip on concrete.”
After he developed his confidence on pavement, he began to work on different and more advanced moves. Eventually Acevedo was vaulting, climbing, flipping through his hometown of Perth Amboy, N.J.
While parkour looks impressive and easy to do, when done by someone with experience, it can be a dangerous activity. Various specialized gyms across the country not only provide a safe, padded environment in which to train, many also offer classes for beginners.
Years of training in parkour allowed Acevedo a smoother transition from civilian to soldier.
“Parkour really helped during Basic Combat Training,” he said. “It made the physical aspect much easier as opposed to if I’d just rolled off the couch one day and decided to join the Army.”
Today, Acevedo continues to practice parkour and incorporates his favorite workouts during physical training.
“Not everyone can do what he does,” said Spc. Renise Holmes, a chemical specialist in Acevedo’s squad. “He’s always pushing himself. The kinds of workouts he does revolve around upper body and core strength that include flexibility.”
Not only does Acevedo work to improve his and his platoon’s physical fitness with his parkour training, since he began, his training has developed his self confidence and a more optimistic outlook on life.
“Teaching yourself to climb walls and do flips off of things makes you realize you can do much more than you ever really thought,” he said. “It makes you think, if I can do this, what else can I do? It’s an attitude I can apply to anything. Even if it’s not parkour, if you find something you love to do and it helps you to be a more positive person, don’t make excuses. Get out there and do it.”