I’m a 31 year old traceuse living in NYC, and co-founder of The Movement Creative.

We teach parkour and help adults and kids re-imagine how to use public space. I was born in Ukraine and have beentraining for 9+ years. When I first started, I was a college senior – older than the typical practitioner.

My friends and family thought it was a phase, which only strengthened my determination to pursue a discipline that nurtures my creativity, gives me a feeling of freedom and makes me strong and capable.

How do you overcome your weaknesses in parkour?

My biggest weakness in my training is consistency. I work from home on the computer 5 days a week. There are days I don’t go outside because I’m so busy. I’m trying to overcome this by setting up basic equipment in my apartment, so I can train during conference calls.
For example, I have a long line of balance trainers snaking through all my rooms, a pole and pull-up bar!
If only I could fit a vault box 🙂

Tank Top

Do you find any challenges being a woman in the parkour scene?

I was a tomboy growing up. Gender was never a big part of how I defined myself. When I first started training, I was often the only girl. It was intimidating, sure, but I always thought that was because I was a newbie, not a woman.
A challenge for me is traceurs making assumptions that aspects of my training are a RESULT of my gender, when they are actually more related to my muscular imbalances.

For example, guys often encourage me to work bigger jumps. They don’t know that my herniated discs flare up on any sign of impact, and I once had to borrow my grandmother’s wheelchair because I couldn’t walk after working on jumps that were beyond my comfort level.

The movement creative

What would be your advice for girls out there who are looking to get into parkour?

Research shows women are often less prone to risk-taking behavior than men… as well as more likely to msecond-guess themselves. I often hear “Oh, I need to get more fit before I try parkour!” from girls. Don’t get stuck in that mindset. You will get better at parkour by trying parkour ;). Even if you can’t do one pull-up or one pushup, I promise, you can still start. And believe me, you are capable of more than you know. Some challenges will seem impossible and the journey will not be easy, but parkour will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. Set goals and just focus on getting a little better each day.

How can we get a greater number of older adults into parkour?

All parkour practitioners and coaches have a role to play in making sure parkour is seen as accessible and the environment is not intimidating to under-represented groups, such as older adults. I love the work Parkour Dance has done with their Forever Young program for seniors, but in most places trained, adults over 40 are a tiny minority, not to mention seniors.

Keeping active, learning how to prevent falls and working on mobility and stability are amazingly useful life skills – childhood through late adulthood. It’s encouraging to see that the founders of our discipline are healthy and training past their 40th birthday. My advice is for coaches to approach older students and make sure we understand their motivations and barriers, so we may help them feel included. Low-impact variations of moves, as well as injury prevention and longevity are some of the topics that can appeal to members of this group.

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To be honest, when I first heard of girls’ jams, I was against the idea. I thought it was self-segregation. I believed it was limiting for the diversity of the community.

HOWEVER, I changed my mind as soon as I attended my first women’s jam (and I now encourage all women to come out, even if they disagree with the notion at first). I now firmly believe such spaces are necessary for women in our discipline, as one of the options and a way to encourage one another. But above all, I believe women need to be seen training and teaching parkour in co-ed spaces, to help normalize different strengths and training styles. That’s one of my main motivations for being a coach and for teaching co-ed classes.

I notice some of the other parkour clothing companies moving toward different styles like more fitted pants. I don’t necessarily like that style, but am aware that this is a direction.

Nikkie Zanevsky

The Movement Creative

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