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Women leaping forward in world of parkour

The French sport was featured in the James Bond movie Casino Royale.

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By Ellie Forbes via SWNS

Female parkour coaches say the extreme sport is empowering for women – and are hoping to fight the stereotype that it's just for men.

Amelia Penfold and Nina Ballantyne who have become he first women in Scotland to qualify as parkour coaches. (SWNS)

Amelia Penfold, 23, and Kirsten Altenbach, 43, have become the first female coaches to teach the French street art in Scotland.

The sport was made famous by the video ‘Speed Air Man’ by David Belle and later by daring rooftop scenes in Casino Royale.

It is all about running, crawling, jumping and hurling yourself freely over obstacles to get from one point to the next – in the fastest way possible.

Amelia, a coach with Access Parkour in Edinburgh, first saw the sport in films and tried it as a teenager in New Zealand.

She said the typical demographic for parkour is young men - but told how it can be ‘empowering’ for women and help combat low confidence and self-esteem.

Amelia, who lives in Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross, said: “I think young guys are the typical demographic.

“But we are leaning away from that stereotype and trying to broaden the accessibility for everyone.

“I had seen it in movies and I think most people think it is just for adrenaline junkies who are super fit and do stunts.

Women are challenging the stereotype that parkour is just for ultra-fit men (SWNS)

“I thought it looked really cool so jumped at the chance to try it.

“It’s super empowering for women because it’s a non-competitive individual sport so you’re not being compared to anyone else.

“As a coach, I enjoy watching women’s confidence grow.

“It’s powerful for women who have low self-esteem or maybe feel they don’t have a lot of confidence – it’s a great tool to tackle that.”

Parkour is grounded on ancient athletic principles of learning to use full range of your movements.

“It does look cool traversing across rooftops but it doesn't need to be extreme.

"Parkour is grounded on ancient athletic principles.

“People grow in creativity, develop teamwork and gain confidence.

“Despite the stereotype, it's not all fit young men doing extreme, death-defying stunts.

“For some it’s just for the fun of being outside and having a laugh, getting exercise and taking on a challenge with friends.

Former research scientist Kirsten got into parkour through her two sons and is also now a coach with Access Parkour.

She said learning how to physically overcome obstacles has helped her approach challenges in other aspects of her life.

Mom-of-two Kirsten said: “I got into parkour through my sons.

“Watching them enjoy movement, learn to assess risks, deal with fear and build confidence through parkour made me want to try it out myself too.

“A few months later I joined my first class.

“Learning how to physically overcome obstacles in a number of different ways helped
me to approach challenges in other aspects of my life in new ways.

“I wanted to share the confidence I have found through training parkour with other individuals and inspire others to find joy in movement.

“It’s pretty exciting to become one of the first female coaches in Scotland.

“Although I have ‘grown up’ in terms of parkour in a welcoming and inclusive community there is still a distinct lack of female representation within the greater parkour community, especially when looking at the coaching workforce.

“The more female voices we have who are willing to contribute to making the community a more diverse and inclusive space the better.

“I hope I will generally inspire others to try parkour.”

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