“My right leg sometimes cops a bit of a beating.” Michael Coles is no stranger to pushing himself to his physical limits. An avid parkour enthusiast, Michael loves the more extreme side of sports. However, Michael is always quick to note that Physicality is only one side of the challenge, and the harder monster is deep within.
Discovering the sport through a Facebook group in the midst of his first year at university, Michael has slowly been becoming more involved in the local scene over the past twelve months. “There’s a few guys that have been doing it for a lot longer than I have. I probably would not still be doing it if it wasn’t for those guys mentoring me,” Michael says, taking a break from an early morning parkour session on the deserted university campus.
“It’s the whole being able to move freely through an urban environment compared with the bush environments I grew up around that appeals to me,” Michael says. “A lot of my early ideas about parkour were from video games, but I know now they aren’t very realistic. This right here though is like Assassin’s Creed on hard mode.” he says, kicking a generic bland colored spot on the wall. “What makes it so difficult?” I inquire, my untrained eye straining to see where the difficulty arose. Michael quickly explained that like many before him, the wall had been worn down by the soles of many a shoe running up it, leaving it to be nothing more than a smooth patch of concrete.
After successfully running up the three metre wall, Michael slips back down and the soft thud of his weight echoes into the grass. “Normally there would be a group of us doing stuff like this.” he says, limbering up for another attempt at the wall. “We generally practice around the amphitheater, but sometimes it is good to get the strength up with rock climbing too.” For Michael, rock climbing is another passion of his that overlaps with parkour in a few areas. But where many see the two as being in the same pod, Michael sees them in a totally different way.
“I think there are three barriers to making any maneuver in parkour. There is the physical barrier, which is being able to jump and roll. There is the technical barrier, which is being able to do the jumps and rolls correctly. And then finally there is the mental barrier, which is knowing you can do the jumps and rolls safely. For many people starting out breaking the mental barrier is the hardest thing to do.” Michael says, himself a willing victim to this barrier on several occasions. “This is different to rock climbing as the only barrier is the physical one, as soon as you know the harness will catch you, the mental barrier is gone.”
As the morning rolled into the afternoon, I asked Michael what his next steps were with his passion. “We created a Society at the uni and we are just waiting for affiliation.” being a founding member of the society, Michael will take on the role as Treasurer upon the society becoming official. As his hobby looks set to expand even more, Michael looks to embrace the change and build on it to his personal limit.