“Firstly, your starting age does have a bearing on your physical training. Your body undergoes a variety of changes throughout your life which change its ability to cope with physical demands. If you start at a young age then you can help prepare the body for continuing to practice in later life, but the older you are before you start the more you have to adapt your training from that done by other, younger people.

For the purposes of this article, the age range is split into young people (0-15), adult (16 – 28) and older people (29+). These age ranges are not meant as an absolute rule, but as a rough guide only. Individual rates of development often vary greatly.

With young people, the fact that their body is still growing means that they are very susceptible to injuries from repetitive movements and great forces. To eliminate the risk of these injuries young people should concentrate on fitness, general agility and control of movements and ignore techniques that require impact or great forces. These can all normally be done in a parkour training environment suited for young people but these skills can also be supplemented through other activities. Experience of different activities is always beneficial for developing a well-rounded individual and so young people interested in parkour should be encouraged to try other things as well.

Rock climbing develops many useful physical skills such as poise and balance, as well as having obvious benefits with upper body strength. The most important benefit though comes in learning how to deal with dangerous situations and how to act responsibly and developing this maturity. Other potentially useful activities include martial arts, gymnastics and outdoor sports of all kinds. These all develop fitness and muscle control to some degree, however many competitive sports are more concerned with achievement rather than sustainability so it pays to be careful when choosing to supplement your parkour training.

For older people, the same rules about being careful about impacts apply, but for different reasons. The older the body gets the less able it is to repair itself and this makes older people more susceptible to the same sorts of injuries as young people. With older people though, the emphasis is not on preparing to be able to cope with these stresses later on but on learning movement based on lower impact.

The important thing to remember is that as long as you listen to what your own body is telling you and adapt your training to suit your own needs there is no reason that people of all ages cannot train and improve.”

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