CHARLOTTE (NBC News) — Conquering obstacles by jumping, climbing, and running is what parkour is all about.
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“It’s fun. It’s getting in shape without knowing you’re exercising,” says Renato Varga, the lead parkour instructor at Kinetic Heights in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Popularized by shows like “American Ninja Warrior,” parkour is meant to strengthen your body and your mind.
“It’s going to be conquering any fear and all fears that you may have. Learning how to break through each obstacle,” says Kinetic Heights’ Lauren Kellner.
Houston Campbell’s obstacle has been Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder.
His mother, Kasey, says parkour has helped Houston follow directions and set goals.
“He knows it’s okay if he doesn’t get it the first time, and eventually he is going to get it if he figures out different ways to get there,” she says.
Experts say these positive benefits are no surprise.
“Exercise is good and exercise is good for the kinds of things that we know ADHD kids struggle with like cognition, executive functioning, attention,” says Dr. Scott Kollins, a Duke University professor of psychiatry.
9-year-old Annie Lemons has early onset arthritis.
She can’t participate in typical sports that include consistent pounding on the joints, like gymnastics or cheerleading.
Her mom says parkour was the right fit because Annie can work at her own pace.
“There is some pounding, but not with the consistency you get with gymnastics,” says Allie Lemons. “I definitely see an improvement in her self-esteem and her confidence.”