How Does Parkour Athlete and Performer George Mayfield Manage Lockdown?
ON EDGE outdoor performance project since itfirst started in 2018. It was the idea of Justice in Motion’s Artistic Director, Anja Meinhardt, to create a performance using that unique style of movement. ON EDGE would be an all-male production about modern slavery in the building industry. Parkour is a great way of adding lively movement to the show.
Although there will be no rehearsals or performances in the near future, the ON EDGE team is still working together. They are keeping the production in motion by regular virtual meetings and sharing ideas through video and online chat.
We managed to slow George down enough to ask him a few questions about parkour, life during lockdown and how he was managing to keep fit.
Tell us what freerunning and parkour are and what, if any, are the differences?
Parkour is the art of moving from A to B as efficiently as possible, overcoming any obstacles in your path. Freerunning stemmed from this and is about moving creatively among obstacles. It has drawn influences from many different movement styles like capoeira and breakdance. It’s the classic left-brain right-brain split. Parkour is the logical and efficient left brain, freerunning is the creative and chaotic right!
How long have you been involved in the sport and why did you take it up?
I’ve been practicing since 2004. Skateboarding was my first love, I was hooked on the wildness of it – the speed, the battle to overcome fear, and the satisfaction of learning tricks. I also loved the perspective skateboarding gave you on the world – stairsets, walls and rails became exciting challenges. Then parkour emerged on the internet and I saw videos of people in London leaping and spinning between walls. It was like skateboarding but less restricted – all you need is your body, and almost anything can be utilised. So it opened a whole new world to explore in my town. I would go out skateboarding and end up doing parkour, and gradually shifted to solely parkour. I love the unlimited potential of it. You can create joy and physical health in even the bleakest of urban landscapes. To me parkour is physical optimism.
While we’re all being asked to stay at home, how do you stay fit and practice parkour?
I’ve been flipping my bed on its side to create more space in my room and doing movement sessions playing with handstands, crawling, lunging etc. There’s a guy called @NickOnHands on Instagram who does amazing movement sessions every day at 9am combining yoga, pilates and calisthenics.
I also have some kit like a chin up bar, resistance bands and dumbells which I’ve been creating workouts with. There’s a challenge going around on Instagram called ‘The Covid 100’ – 100 chin ups, press ups, squats and crunches in 10 minutes. It’s brutal!
For my one form of exercise a day, I’ve been going to a park with my flatmate with a set of portable gymnastics rings and setting them up on tree branches. We started out just doing calisthenics then began exploring the potential of swinging and transferring between multiple rings. Imagine aerial circus movements and Spiderman! It’s a new world of challenges, and a great antidote to being cooped up indoors!
What tips would you give to others to keep fit at home?
It’s about working with what you have around the home and being creative! Just having a floor space large enough to lie down in allows you to do a full body workout. There are lots of workouts on Youtube and Instagram you can follow, which can help with motivation. Have a look at what furniture you have and how it can be used – sofas are good for bodyweight exercises, jumping on to, vaulting etc. Make sure you stay safe though!
I would recommend getting a chin up bar if you have a door frame and a set of gymnastics rings if you have access to a tree. These open up so many possibilities.
Mental health is also hugely important. The stress and anxiety of these times, and being stuck indoors, can creep up on you and affect your mood, motivation and energy levels. It can help to be aware of your thoughts and emotional state throughout the day. I find setting aside time for silent reflection and meditation helps me notice and hold my feelings, and just that act can help to manage them. Another useful exercise – that can be done in as little as 5 minutes – is to take pen and paper and write out how you’re feeling, what thoughts you’re having and what physical sensations you’re feeling in your body. This is scientifically proven to improve mental AND physical health!
What are you looking forward to most when restrictions are lifted?
Hugging friends and family! And the inevitable massive parkour gathering that will take place in London.