Jake Crandall | Harbinger Online
In the eyes of junior Nick Lybarger, he is an artist. Not an athlete, but an artist. Not with a brush and paint or a camera and lens, but with his hands, his feet and his body. His art consists of running 10 feet and jumping into the air off of a 12 foot high brick wall. His art consists of a leap of faith and landing a front flip into a somersaulting roll off of the roof of Belinder Elementary School. And it consists of anything and everything he attempts with his body and his surroundings in his art. His art is parkour.
“It’s all about movement and motion,” Lybarger said. “You have to be moving toward a final destination but with no destination in mind.”
Lybarger and junior Taylor Smith have been best friends since fifth grade. They began their friendship playing games like Modern Warfare on Xbox, but by the time Lybarger was in seventh grade he had introduced Smith to a new activity. It was called parkour and through this “art” not only have they pursued healthy lifestyles but they have also learned more about themselves than they ever thought possible.
[media-credit id=147 align="alignright" width="300"][/media-credit]“My favorite part is envisioning something that was seemingly impossible and just making it happen,” Smith said. “When you have two things that just are not related but you still have the guts to jump across them, that’s amazing and that’s parkour.”
According to Smith, he was in seventh grade when one day after school Lybarger had an idea. This was a day that he says changed his life. Lybarger began showing him videos of parkour on YouTube – immediately Smith fell in love.
“We both thought it was incredible but I was the one that actually took it seriously right then and there,” Smith said.
Three years later, Smith was finally able to convince Lybarger to give parkour a try. For Lybarger’s first time the two friends went to Belinder Elementary. As Lybarger describes it, the Belinder Elementary roof has several cool jumps and is one of the best places in the city to parkour.
“If it weren’t for this roof I may not be doing parkour today,” Lybarger said. “On this roof I learned not only how to do the basics but also how to get the most out of myself, mentally and physically.”
According to Smith, however, he knew Lybarger wouldn’t be able to stay away form parkour.
“The adrenaline rush you get is unreal,” Smith said. “No other hobby can teach you anything quite like this, not this creatively.”
[media-credit id=147 align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]The lunch bell doesn’t mean lunch for Lybarger. It doesn’t mean it’s time to sit down in the cafeteria. It’s time for him to head down to the track. As he walks down the South ramp towards the cafeteria he continues down the stairs through the junior lot and onto the field. It’s time to take his shirt off and get to work in the warm heat of a late April afternoon. As he skips lunch he knows he only has 36 minutes. That’s 36 minutes to complete one of his many work outs for the day. But that doesn’t faze him. Every day he makes his way to the track and then back up to the fifth floor and Mrs. Kramer’s class just in time to walk in as the bell rings.
“I try to make sure I’m constantly working out every day,” Lybarger said. “When you can learn to make a schedule for your day and keep that schedule that’s when you start seeing results.”
Smith does agree that exercise is important but he stresses that a healthy diet is key.
“If you really want to be healthy you have to eat what was originally given to us, what any human being would have eaten when we first existed,” Smith said. “For example I eat just straight vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat, fish, no candy, soda, or school lunches [...] it won’t help me with parkour so I don’t eat it.”
The two friends usually work out separately because, like Lybarger said, they both have different schedules to keep. But they always come together with their common love: parkour.
[media-credit id=147 align="alignright" width="199"][/media-credit]As Smith was flying through the air, he was confident. It had been just 24 hours since he had landed a front flip off of a 13 foot wall perfectly. However Smith knows better than anyone that just because you were successful once, doesn’t mean you will be successful again. As he hit the dewy grass in his worn down, soleless New Balance tennis shoes, something went wrong this time. His leg slipped out from under him and like the snap of a twig, his leg broke in half.
While Smith may have been in pain as he sat there with his bone popping out of his skin. He now can look back on it and not only be happy to have the “sick scar” but also happy to have the experience.
“You know, I really don’t think any of it is dangerous,” Smith said. “You are going to learn something either way so at the end of the day it’s going to be positive.”
This “danger-is-my-middle-name” mentality is something Smith shares with Lybarger. Even though Lybarger has never had a similar sized injury, he believes it’s all about “natural selection” and proving to yourself that you can or can’t do something on a given day.
“The thing is, in parkour you have to think outside the box because it’s all about overcoming obstacles,” Lybarger said. “And if you’re afraid of the danger then it’s going to be really hard for you.”
That being said, they do both recognize that being uncomfortable with your next move is just a part of parkour.
“Parkour is urban freeflow and because you don’t go into it with any plan, there is a sense of apprehension,” Lybarger said. “But what makes parkour so special is that it’s about pushing yourself and working through that fear.”
[media-credit id=147 align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]Although Lybarger and Smith know that the average age of a parkour athlete is 17 years of age (stated by Jump Magazine, the official magazine of Urban Freeflow), they don’t plan on quitting anytime soon.
“I would love to have parkour be my profession,” Lybarger said. “It’s not something I’m going to go out and pursue, but I love it and I plan to do it as long as I can.”
Smith agrees, because not only is it a great way to spend his time, but it has also taught him great habits for his life.
“Parkour has taught me how to live my life and be a part of my life. And because of that, it now is my life,” Smith said.
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Step by Step Directions for a Front Flip from Junior Taylor Smith
1. Gain Momentum
2. Up and Forward
3. Twist in the Air
4. Stick Your Landing