The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Parcours - Old Fun Is New Exercise

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Parcours is pronounced par-core. It is a French word meaning "course" or trail. A parcours is a path with obstacles at varied intervals. You navigate using your body and brain, similar to steeplechase.


Some parcours are formally designed municipal parks. Some are impromptu collections of trees, walls, buildings, windows, and rocks. On a rainy day you can make your own in your house.

In ancient times, a course might involve days of travel. Today, several cities around the world have public courses used by people of all abilities and ages. Modern fitness programs use it, with names like freerunning and various brand names, but the idea is not new.

Stations may be a log to walk across, rings to swing on, various height and shape objects to stretch on and around, a place to see how far or high you can jump, something to balance on, a ladder or wall to climb over or under.


To get to the next station, you can walk, run, bike, skate, or whatever you can do. Parcours length varies from a block to miles. Some people make a day of it with picnics and rests between stations. Others go make a quick lunch run over part or all of the course.


In the early 1980s I was the first person to put exercise programs aboard cruise ships. Until then, cruises were associated only with deck chairs and food. I was told exercise would not catch on. I ran exercise, health education, and stretch classes, and led the scuba and snorkel trips. I also led a parcours, taking about an hour, all over the ship, from deck to deck, stem to stern, over and under tables, chairs, hatches, and railings, and through the cha-cha lessons. We ran, we walked, we balanced, we cha-cha'd, we tip-toed very fast to get away, we laughed.


Parcours uses the body in natural ways to build strength, spirit, and balance.

It can be healthier, better training, and more fun than doing artificial repetitions of an isolated exercise.




More to come on keeping parcours safe for joints, and preventing injuries.


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Parcours photo 1 by JamesEverett
Parcours photo 2 by JamesEverett
Parcours photo 3 by Marco Gomes Parcours photo 4 by ouverture
Parcours photo 5 by Tatiana Sapateiro
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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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