My name is John Hall. Although everyone calls me Hedge. I’m from Edinburgh in Scotland. I’ve been training Parkour since late 2004 and coaching since 2009.
I studied Chemistry at university, then went on to do a PhD in Material Science. During my PhD, I began getting more and more serious with my coaching. I taught Chemistry, Maths, Climbing and Parkour and I began to realise that my interest lay outside Scientific Research. I eventually left the PhD and moved back to Edinburgh to found Access Parkour in late 2013.
3 years later I seem to spend more time organising coaching than I do actually coaching – I spend more time thinking about training than actually training and I’m busy trying to open Scotland’s first permanent parkour facility.
Edinburgh has had a regular Saturday open Jam at 12pm running regularly since 2005. Which in itself is an amazing achievement for the city and its parkour scene. idunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat.Edinburgh PARKOUR
Scotland parkour scene. (Explain)
The Scottish Parkour scene has always been associated with the more old school Yamakasi style of training.
Our values tend to align with ADD. Classically the scene has been full of crazy endurance challenges, mad jumps and tricky technical jumps. The constant rain means a lot of our training happens in the wet and the cold and the high latitude means throughout winter we are regularly training in the dark. Water and rain affectionately being referred to as ‘Scottish glue’ as many of our practitioners are so comfortable in the wet that we’ll stick a jump in the wet as easily as the dry.
Edinburgh has had a regular Saturday open Jam at 12pm running regularly since 2005. Which in itself is an amazing achievement for the city and its parkour scene. The city has a thriving local Parkour community who meet up and train together as well as a strong infrastructure of Parkour classes for all ages run through Access Parkour.
So you run your own business called Access parkour, can you explain it? why alone and why Access?
Yes! I started coaching with Fife Parkour, but in 2013 I decided to go my own way. I moved back to Edinburgh and started coaching. ‘Access’ comes from two places. Firstly, I was keen to improve and increase the accessibility of Parkour.
I recently got a pair of the new motion pants. I literally haven’t taken them off for 5 days. Best pair of joggers yet!
I wanted anyone from any background to be able to come along to one of our classes and to be provided with a progressive pathway of skills and movements they could use to help rehabilitate their bodies no matter what state they were in and help them achieve the required physicality to begin moving through their environment confidently.
It’s easy to say ‘Parkour is for everyone!’ But when you actually take a look at the adult population, you begin to discover a broken generation of adults, disconnected from healthy biomechanics, in constant back pain from decades of sitting and unable to coordinate complicated movement.
There was a clear gap in the development from physiotherapeutic rehabilitation into starting a very physical sport for the first time.
Access is also built on the idea of providing accessible pathways into exercise for everyone. One of my pet peeves about all sports is the focus on competition and the recurring belief that if someone isn’t physically talented then somehow ‘exercise’ isn’t for them. From a young age, we are taught that physicality is a competition and is only useful if we are ‘winning’. We hold highly competitive sports up as the great example and forget about the joy that simply moving can bring. We as a global society have unwittingly linked exercise and physicality with competition. We declare the point of physicality to ‘win’ to be the ‘best’ and we tell ourselves that being strong has no other purpose than to beat others.
I believe that physicality has another purpose. A much more important purpose. I believe that physicality is for play. Play is such a fundamental concept of our upbringing. It is so natural. It is how animals develop, how we learn to risk assess, and build critical thinking skills, analyse, we learn about social interaction playing together. Play makes us human, and the loss of play in modern society is a glaring problem, corrupting our psyches and pushing us deep down into our padded chairs and computer screens.
Faux comfortable; depressed; chronically injured; tired; office workers with no dreams, no joy and no way out.
What is your personal goal in parkour?
Personally, I’m interested in aging gracefully and finding as much control of my body as I can. I have always naturally tended towards powerful movement, teenage years spent competing in athletics gave me incredible power and not a lot else to work with. As a younger man, I found playing to my strengths enjoyable and it pleased my ego. But the sheer range of motions and odd movements you can see viewing youtube these days is inspiring me to move very differently.
I’m interested in gaining confidence in difficult movements, focusing on mobility will allow me to unlock new skills and new body control and, as the decades roll out in front of me, I’m beginning to appreciate the length of time many of these skills will take to master and how fascinating they are. My development in stable positions such as handstand, front level, flag and tuck planche really stand out from the last year. My hate-hate relationship with mobility continues.
I have made amazing strides with developing my mobility over the last 4-5 years, but it feels like the tallest mountain I could ever climb and it just seems to get taller and taller the further I go. Within Parkour, I’ve made great strides personally with flow and control of the speed of my movements. I like to think that I make difficult movements look as easy as possible, I try to relax into the runs, performing physically impressive feats as comfortably as possible and moving into and out of the difficult movements comfortably.
Tell us about your “Back in the game class”
For many people, as I mentioned above, the starting point for their Parkour practice is probably not the stereotypical Parkour class you would see in most cities. Even our beginner classes assume a base level of competence and fitness that many adults don’t necessarily have.
So that’s where our ‘Back in the Game’ classes come in. These classes focus on teaching healthy movement. They are a mixture of stretching, mobility, basic movement patterns and strengthening exercises. They are designed to be accessible to anyone who wishes to lead an active or healthy lifestyle. They are not easy. The stretches are intense. The movements are difficult. The experience exposes your weaknesses and forces you to work on them. But the great joy is that anyone is able to attend the class. We’ve had clients on the transplant list for hip replacements. Men who can’t bend their knees without pain. Highly overweight clients who cant touch their knees, never mind their toes, and pensioner golfers who just want to be able to play for a few years more without retiring with back pain.
We’ve also had soldiers and sprinters operating at a reasonably high physical level come to the class to work on reducing their injury rate or to help them rehabilitate injuries. We’ve had a surgeon desperately trying to avoid long term pain from his physically demanding job involving 12-14 hour surgeries. Our oldest client is 74 and an ex-classical opera singer. She has been recovering and rehabilitating a frozen shoulder that has been bugging her for 30 years.
Talented young practitioners
who jump far, push hard and are the next generation of athletes. This generation grew up in a very different world from the one I experienced. By 15 I had only just heard of Parkour. Many of them are in their 3 rd or 4 th year oftraining by that age.
The Young gunz don’t need Parkour classes and tend to avoid them like the plague. But, they do need Parkour Coaching. My relationship with such driven young practitioners is an odd mix of a concerned mother and an annoying older brother who keeps forcing them to stop and do things ‘properly’. Fixating on their tech, not letting them get away with sloppy movements and providing infrastructure facilitating their training.ACCESS PARKOUR
It’s telling that Skochy’s Founder is one of the most well-travelled parkour practitioners in the world and knows so many people so well. Rumour has it that the famous Yann Hnautra even calls him ‘Mom’.