Apart from petanque and possibly real tennis, the French haven't been much cop at inventing sports, but since the 1980s they have been able to add parkour to their shortlist.
Devised in the banlieux of Paris, it's a way of moving through an urban landscape by stringing together a series of jumps, runs, rolls and climbs to negotiate the various obstacles encountered on city streets. The discipline comes with a certain amount of Gallic philosophical baggage about finding oneself through movement, but devotees claim it exercises far more muscle groups than mere jogging, and is also more mentally stimulating in the varied challenges it throws up.
This handbook offers sound advice on how to master the various moves and, once you've become proficient at cat leaps and kong vaults, how to string them together seamlessly. Devotees claim all you need for freerunning, to give parkour its English name, is a pair of trainers and an open mind; whatever it does for your mental horizons, it sounds far more fun than catching the bus.
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