#360fit: Meet Dubai's first female Parkour coach

FitnessLink 13:02 31/05/2016
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  • A new ladies-only class is up and running in the UAE.

    Freshly arrived to the sandpit from the US, Andrea Brooks (@andrea_is_hungry) is seemingly the UAE’s only qualified female Parkour coach, and she’s here to introduce more women to this fascinating discipline and help them hone their Parkour skills.

    We spoke with her to find out more about her background, women and Parkour, and the classes she coaches at Parkour DXB.

    What’s your fitness background?

    Physically testing myself has always been a part of my life from the moment I was 3 and picked up a pair of dumb bells my Dad would use. Growing up I was a competitive gymnast until a neck injury ended my childhood hopes of Olympics (because every kid wanted to go!) when I was only 11. I played soccer, basketball and was a State Champion track athlete in high school. I also was a high school and collegiate cheerleader utilizing all my tumbling skills. I’ve always considered myself to be a student of movement with taking dance classes and coming up with creative ways to fuse my blended background. Right now I’m Level 8 Gymnastics qualified.

    What parkour qualifications do you have?

    I am ADAPT level one certified in parkour coaching, the first and only reognized parkour coaching qualifiation endorsed by 1st3sport UK and Sport England.

    This is how I like to sight see 😜😎🖐🏽#mydubai #burjkhalifa #dubai

    A photo posted by Andrea | NC -> Dubai 🇦🇪 (@andrea_is_hungry) on

    Why Parkour?

    I was always an adventurous daredevil as a kid. In fact, the only stitches I have come from when I was 4 years old doing what I imagine was a massive jump from one rock to another. Little did I know that all my playing was parkour. I was then put into gymnastics because I was trying such dangerous stunts on the playground that teachers didn’t know what to do with me. Even as a gymnast I was never satisfied with training under suck strict walls and movements. I was 10 years old at gymnastics camp when I did my most difficult height challenge to date. I walked out onto a 6 story ledge. I did it multiple times and I can’t explain why other than I knew I could do it and be okay.

    It was five years ago when I “officially” got started in parkour. Training parkour initially was like meeting a new friend again. It was movement that my body once knew as a kid and movement I craved. All that I had to do as an adult was mentally commit to the new challenges.

    What draws me to parkour is the relationship between vision and follow through. It challenges the side of me that wants to create and draw movements with my mind. Once I see a jump or move I want to do, the second step is conditioning my body to achieve what I imagine. Both my mental and physical capabilities have to be equally strong to maximize my potential. That mentality is exactly how I see my life. I explore what it is that I see or want and have to put the work in to figure out how to get there. It forces me to face my fears and to learn what I am truly made of. I want to spend my life always learning about who I am and parkour lets me test that.

    What should one expect – and not expect – from their first parkour class?

    They should not expect flipping or roof gap jumps! We work ground level skills and go from there. People should just come as open minded as possible; not only of what we’ll go over in class but of their own abilities. I’ve seen a lot of people either think they can do nothing and be really surprised at their own strength and I’ve also seen people think they are strong so they’ll be able to do it all. Parkour is about finding the holes in your training to strengthen them. So everyone can expect to try something completely new and be open to challenges.

    Tid bit: Andrea’s hair is now short because last year she shaved her head and raised US$7,000 for childhood cancer research. Badass!

    Good morning! 😎👙☀️

    A photo posted by Andrea | NC -> Dubai 🇦🇪 (@andrea_is_hungry) on

    Are women deterred from trying parkour?

    As a whole, I think there is a big misconception about parkour that can deter anyone from trying. It’s not some adrenaline-pumping sport but rather an honest assessment of your abilities in the most calm and present way possible.

    The only thing I believe that deters women is solely that it’s representation has been male dominated. Many women are working to change that. Julie Angel and her project See & Do is one of them. I am privileged to be a team member of the global project whose aim is to normalise images of women training. The more women SEE other women training, the more likely they would be to join the party. It also shows real practitioners in their true element in a world where female athletes are sexualized. The website features resources, amazing photos and blogs connecting parkour and movement communities all over the world.

    You’ve just started running ladies-only Parkour classes in Dubai. How are they going?

    Everyone’s really supportive of one another and determined but that’s no less than what I’d expect of awesome women here.

    Where and when do you run your classes?

    Our Parkour DXB Women’s Classes are currently Tuesdays 7-8pm and Saturdays 9-10am at Umm Suqeim Park. Drop us a line!

    Office view. Making these rails my best friends. #parkour #parkourdxb #seeanddo #mydubai #letsmove

    A photo posted by Andrea | NC -> Dubai 🇦🇪 (@andrea_is_hungry) on