Flip out

Gila Safra, Reporter

As junior Sam Miller gets ready to learn a new trick, he is inevitably nervous. After repeated failures, he can’t help but be frustrated. However, through continuous practice, Miller lands and then masters the trick. After his hard work and commitment pay off, his pride is evident.

Parkour is a very physically demanding sport as it is a mixture of cardio and physical strength. Practicing can involve obstacle courses or mastering certain tricks, which can either be gymnastics oriented, such as doing flips or tumbling, or can be done on the street, such as jumping across roofs or over boxes.

Miller’s parkour journey began with gymnastics. When he was five, Miller’s parents insisted that he participate in a sport, and given his natural ability to jump and flip, gymnastics was a reasonable solution.

Gymnastics proved to be the perfect transition into Miller’s true passion: parkour. Miller took parkour classes for three and a half years. However, he never competed, and instead, he focused on personal growth and mastering different skills.

“I really enjoy it. It’s a lot of good exercise,” Miller said. “You meet a lot of really nice people… [and] it’s fun to take skills you learn [from parkour] outside and show your friends.”

Because of his gymnastics background, Miller’s greatest strength in parkour is the trampoline. He especially excels in complex flips indoors.

While Miller has faced several small injuries including breaking a finger and twisting his ankle, most of his challenges have been mental. To Miller, this is to be expected; parkour is dangerous.

“I’m terrified to do some of the tricks. It involves a lot of precision, and involves a lot of physical strength… but I still try because I want to get them,” Miller said. “But the element of fear, it’s human, it’s always there.”

Miller hopes to overcome these challenges through practice and repetition. His friend, junior Jonathan Gould, also has a background in parkour and has been supportive of Miller.

Not only does Miller enjoy practicing parkour, he also loves teaching parkour classes at Bolt Parkour & Freerunning Academy. Miller became an instructor at Bolt two and a half years ago and he enjoys his job because it allows him to both practice the sport he loves and share his passion with others. Gould, who also works at Bolt, enjoys working with Miller.

“With Sam, it’s definitely his mental toughness because he’ll have days where he’s really in a rush or he’s really tired, and he’ll [still] come in and have an incredible amount of energy for his classes,” Gould said. “…A lot of [the] time, I’ll struggle with being loud with my class, being able to actually assert myself, but his ability to just control his class and teach with energy is crazy.”

Susan Schalkowsky, Miller’s mom, is very impressed with the skills Miller has learned while teaching. While Miller had already been relatively comfortable with parkour, he said that teaching was a big step out of his comfort zone. Teaching has helped him develop responsibility, accountability, communication and social skills.

“He works hard at each new trick that he learns, and is very excited and proud when he shows me the video of him completing it properly,” Schalkowsky said. “And he trains at it, you know, because it’s something that he loves and it’s something that he has had a goal with, and it’s something that makes him happy. I think that’s what makes it successful for him.”