To the casual observer, parkour may seem like horseplay, as it involves jumping about, running around and swinging from bars. It's actually a training activity using movements that originated from the military obstacle course.
Using only body strength, practitioners follow a series of exercises that includes running, climbing, crawling and hopping from one point to another.
Once the circuit is complete, it is repeated several more times, with very short resting periods in between sets to keep the heart rate up.
GMA 7 talent Vince Velasco has been doing parkour for several months now. The young actor, whose father is veteran sportscaster Bill Velasco, said he heard about the regimen from a former schoolmate at the Ateneo de Manila University.
"Volleyball player Gretchen Ho mentioned it to me a few months ago, although I didn't try it out immediately," said Vince Velasco. "I was already doing TRX and playing basketball at the time. When I finally tried it, I found out which of my muscles were weak, because those were the ones that felt sore the next day."
He got interested in parkour, which is marketed as "ninja training" in the country, because it involves a lot of superhero-like stunts like jumping from one concrete hedge to another, and climbing up walls.
"Even when I was a kid, I've always loved watching superhero movies. When the new version of 'Captain America' was shown starring Chris Evans, I became an even bigger superhero fan," he told Inquirer Lifestyle.
While the circuit training at the Ninja Academy (155 Dr. Sixto Antonio Ave., Pasig City) is all done under a roof, parkour training was originally held outdoors. Doing so allows practitioners to see their environment with fresh eyes as they move around, across, through, over and under the different features or obstacles.
The practice was first developed in France in the late 1980s but gained attention only a decade later when it was featured in movies, commercials and documentaries.
"I learned that when doing parkour, you have to be fearless because if you hesitate, you can get injured. It's all about stability and momentum," Velasco said.
He narrated how his trainer sometimes tells him that his jumps fall short. During the first few sessions, he banged his knee on the concrete hedges because he hesitated before taking the leap.
"I still get scared but I can say parkour has helped in a way with my acting, because you can't be afraid; you just have to jump in," he said.
He recommends parkour for people who are naturally adventurous or who want to step out of their comfort zones. It might also appeal to former athletes who don't get to train anymore or as often.
He has noticed that since he started training regularly, his legs are stronger and he has more defined abs "because parkour works out one's core."
Last month, he joined Cosmopolitan Magazine's annual Bachelor Bash for the second consecutive year, in which he stripped off his shirt and strutted in front of hundreds of screaming women.
The TV audience might recall seeing the mestizo on the popular GMA 7 series "My Husband's Lover," where he played the boyfriend of actor Victor Basa. Velasco has said in other interviews that he isn't afraid of being typecast as gay. In fact, he has a new TV series on GMA titled "Ang Lihim ni Annasandra" which began airing earlier this month.
"When I got the role in 'My Husband's Lover,' the first thing my grandmother, who's very religious, said was, 'Sige, tell me when your show is on so I'll stop watching ABS-CBN and watch GMA 7 muna.'"
Velasco said he's looking forward to his new role in the sexy fantaserye (fantasy series). "I think it's a good break for me."