Welcome to Rising Traceuse A global resource for parkour athletes
Welcome to Rising Traceuse A global resource for parkour athletes

Parkour Girls, Do We Limit Ourselves?

When it comes to parkour, women are just as capable as men.

We love to say it, but do we really believe it? From what I've seen over my 5 years of training, the answer is not so much.

In countless situations, I've heard women give excuses to avoid training movements that the guys were working on. I've seen them congregate around easier obstacles without even trying the harder challenges. Even when they don't say it outright, you can tell they're thinking or feeling it: Women don't train at the same level as men.

Before we take a closer look at this kind of thinking, is there any truth to that statement? As it turns out, maybe there is.

First off, women carry their center of gravity in their hips instead of their upper body, which affects how far they can jump and how they perform other parkour movements. The lack of upper body mass also makes movements like climb-ups more difficult since, on average, women have only 50 to 60 percent the upper body strength as men. On top of all that, women tend to deal with more fear, as I explained in another blog post.

So there it is. We can't deny the reality that women do have some physical limitations. In fact, it's healthy for us to realize men and women have some major differences. But if that's true, what's the big problem? I'm about to sound like I'm completely contradicting myself here. Stick with me.

Internalizing the idea that we're less capable than men as a hard and fast rule is poison for our training.

Think about it. Just because women, on average, have a shorter maximum jump than men, doesn't mean a traceuse can't make a jump her male training partners are trying. It doesn't mean she can't overcome her fear and doubt to push her limits, to go for something truly challenging. When we start entertaining self-limiting thoughts, we stagnate. We stop improving, and in some cases, stop trying.

How many traceuses have you seen spending all their time on small, basic movements or flow and never really challenging themselves to go bigger? On another note, how many times have you seen a woman trying the same challenge as the guys?

Think hard. How many traceuses have you seen who have zero confidence when it comes to pressing  their limits? Or maybe, that's you.

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When we think of ourselves as less capable, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We stop trying, stop progressing, stop toughening up our minds and bodies to become the strong, badass traceuses we could be. The excuse that we're at some lower training level than men becomes a crutch.

Obviously, this type of thinking is bad for us traceuses, but we aren't the only ones impacted by it. Our male training partners might start seeing us as less capable as well. After all, if we don't prove them wrong, they have no reason to think otherwise. The implications of self-limiting thoughts can even reach outside of the parkour community.

The good news is that we haven't all fallen into this trap. There are some great traceuses who continually challenge themselves without setting these mental limits, something you can see from both their movement and confidence when training. Lorena Abreu, Tam and Sydney Olson are just a few that pop into my head, but I've met a ton of them.

What matters in the end isn't achieving a certain level. It's trying things even if you think you can't do them, training without any pre-set limits. It's overcoming obstacles without internalized notions about what you can and can't do based on your gender. Progression is just a bonus.

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