In Part 3 with Flavio Monti, we explore how the Coronavirus has affected Italy and how he has adapted his parkour training to the current situation. We also delve into his future goals once self-isolation has ended.
The external environment has changed greatly in the past month, especially in Italy. How did you adapt to the current coronavirus situation and quarantine in Italy?
Coronavirus is a challenge that first hit China and now it is something the rest of the world is facing. Beyond any health misfortune, which is obviously the primary trauma of this situation, it also certainly constitutes a huge obstacle to the development of our lives.
The first measures only entailed the limitation of activities that involved gatherings of people, but later, with the worsening of the situation, the measures became more drastic. As a result, Italy decided to enter into a preventive quarantine regime expended to every inhabitant present on the national territory. This entails being unable to leave the house except for reasons of proven necessity such as work, medical visits and fulfilling food purchases.
This obviously implied the suspension of all sports courses, thus favouring individual practice, and secondly, it led to the spread of a mainly domestic physical practice. Ceasing all group training has certainly impacted parkour since, even if from a theoretical perspective group training is not strictly necessary, the community dimension in this discipline is often a very strong one, and is able to significantly influence positively individual practice.
The advantages of Solo Training
However, training alone has its advantages, especially if alternating it with group sessions. In fact, individual practice in parkour allows, first of all, carrying out a complimentary analysis of our abilities that can hardly be done in a group.
When in a group the typical dynamic is that one of the members finds a challenge and the rest of the group attempt to accomplish it together, then maybe this is integrated by other practitioners and so on. However, we have to admit that in this context, the vision and the ability to design a training process is usually distributed among the members of the group.
Instead, when training individually, you are usually the only one responsible for the design of the movements, as well as for the work you are going to do. Therefore, this allows us to assess our own “vision skills” related to the opportunities for movement that the environment offers us, as well as on our ability to plan a workout.
Furthermore, the motivational aspect is another central point of individual practice. When training alone, there is no phenomenon of social pressure typical of group practice, which however subtle it may be, it definitely fosters shifts in our behavioral and mental attitude towards the various challenge.
Quarantine has not only forced us to practice individually, but also to practice in our homes, which are contexts that perhaps are not particularly suitable, plus we are not used to looking at them with the eyes of a training spot. As I said earlier with respect to training strategies, I believe that this restriction can still be accepted with serenity and be a point of reflection for all traceurs who are in this state of isolation. After all, adaptation is one of the conditions that parkour is most used to.
Training in these domestic contexts, especially if we do not have any type of structure designed specifically for training, pushes us to rethink the objects, structures, and environments that surround us in a completely new form, will allow us to figure out new possible interactions that we can have with them, and consequently developing even more than creative ability and lateral thinking that parkour is able to stimulate.
Seeing the back of a sofa as a plinth on which to vault, using the handle of a broom on two chairs to pull arms, transforming home stairs into precision jumps or an instrument to make reverse quadrupeds are all banal examples of how parkour does not stop even in the face of a drastic restriction like the one we are experiencing with the coronavirus.
Bringing the community online
Then, I must admit that a number of associations did not stop in the face of the difficulty and instead in many cases reacted virtuously by creating, such as in ParkourWave, meticulous and well-studied schedules of work that can be done at home, or even, in the case of Activita, taking advantage of this situation and transforming it into a beneficial context for the launch of real online coaching communities, through which not only is the training program is shared, but also all the sociability aspect typical of a collective training is maintained by means of group pages in which everyone shares written thoughts, images or videos related to the sessions. Personally, in addition to continuing my individual home workouts, especially on the physical conditioning side, I took part in this community and I must say that it is really beautiful.
I am convinced that in this context parkour with its adaptable approach, can provide an opportunity to remain physically active to all those people who find themselves displaced by the closure of gyms and the confinement to their home.
It can also be an opportunity to discover the value of the discipline and its more functional physical training approach compared to traditional gym fitness, where the movements that are performed are extremely far from our natural and life motor patterns. In my opinion, this isolationist approach makes the mistake of interpreting man as a mere mechanical system instead of a complex biological organism.
This interpretation results in a work aimed at increasing physical abilities that are very far from granting us the functional benefits of the real world as we actually live it. This, I think is one of the reasons why, in recent years, the gyms with equipment have been partially superseded by the spread of CrossFit: since the latter has a more functional and less isolationist reinterpretation of traditional fitness. And I believe parkour exists at an even further step along that path of reinterpretation of physical activity approached through a functional key. I realise that I have put a lot of wood on the fire here, and only in a simplified manner, but unfortunately this is not a suitable venue to go further in this discussion.
Final question: This quarantine will eventually end. Once we will all be able to go out again what are some of your future objectives?
Generally speaking, my main goal is to keep moving for the rest of my life, trying every day to improve myself as a practitioner and as a person. As for the technical aspect, at this stage of my practice, I would like to focus more on the climbing technique which unfortunately I have neglected for several years and on which I have started to work again on only in recent times.
On a purely physical level, I have been working in the past weeks to try to acquire the (for me now bloody arduous) single-arm traction, and I would also like to lower my travel time by 100 meters.
Finally, a final purpose that I have very much at heart is to continue sharing my practical and theoretical learning with a community of practitioners (whether through an informal horizontal relationship, or through coaching with frontal lessons, or perhaps in a still different way).
I would like to thank Flavio Monti, for this interview and look forward to seeing him completing his future goals.
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