This fearless freerunner debunks parkour myths
Social media has undoubtedly reduced our attention spans, creating an atmosphere where trending topics last minutes and popular culture is constantly adapting. Within such a turbulent period, it is not purely captivating an audience that's impressive, but maintaining their fascination, something David Nelmes does with ease.
Leeds native and parkour star David Nelmes has mastered the art of keeping an audience on their toes, and has an impressive Instagram following of 16k to prove it. Just last year he was featured on the Daily Mail, following daring stunts in Dubai which involved standing on the edge of a rooftop, 242 feet in the air.
Despite his own popularity and established success, the parkour community as a whole often suffer under the spotlight, falling under controversy as shocking stories hit the mainstream, failing to represent the entire sport.
With an undeniable passion for parkour and a respected voice within the community, David is the perfect person to shed some light on the sport which is frequently shrouded in misconception and mystery.
David's top ten facts about parkour:
1) Parkour is human instinct: "Every human plays in this way when they're younger, and many stop doing it because they think they have to grow up, when secretly a lot of people still want to have fun and play with their surroundings."
2) It wasn't always a social media trend: “Originally, Parkour was created to be useful movement for the army and other services, it’s essentially the art of efficient movement, so from A to B as fast as possible. It is now used in most movies across the world. Free-running is similar but it’s more about freestyle movement and playing with your surroundings.”
3) Those crazy, death defying rooftop stunts aren't actually parkour: "The most dangerous thing I’ve done, isn’t even Parkour, it's probably when I was Rooftopping in Dubai recently. Rooftopping is a popular activity of climbing or going on top of large structures and buildings."
4) “There have been no rooftop related deaths amongst the Parkour community despite so many practitioners taking to rooftops occasionally, as we have years of training and experience at ground level to be able to climb up any wall from any position with ease, balance and perform stunts comfortably.”
5) Despite how carefree the parkour lifestyle may seem, safety alway comes first (something David is constantly preaching) and means that seemingly difficult stunts can be accomplished with ease: "I personally know it’s not as dangerous as it seems, providing you are well trained and have a lot of experience with it like myself.
6) Although many now strive for a large social media following, David suggests that it's not as desirable as it seems, as it in fact opens the gates to ridicule from those who don't understand: “The bad side is how the media portrays Parkour and twists things for their own gain and for the biggest reactions. For example, a young lad recently drowned whilst rock climbing and fell in, which has nothing to do with Parkour. Yet the Daily Mail, posted this article titled, ‘Parkour enthusiast dies whilst attempting to jump over rocks’.”
7) On the flip side, a large following provides opportunity that would otherwise be unimaginable: “I’ve been to Dubai a few times for work. I’ve been all over Europe and in the summer time I visit around 3 countries a month."
8) The popularity of parkour has become an issue: "The problem is, a lot of people of all ages are seeing the videos of professionals on rooftops or cranes and think they can copy it without experience, just for fame.”
9) You won't find a football style rivalry between parkour fans, but in fact the opposite, as David explains how the community is extremely supportive of one another: "You can meet any other Freerunner anywhere in the world and you’ll likely get on straight away, and they’re all friendly and want to train together and help you. Unlike competitive sports where practitioners and fans rival against each other and even fight and riot over it."
10) David and his peers within the parkour scene shatter preconceptions that, in order to achieve success as a young creative, or a young person in an alternative career, you must be London based: “Leeds is one of the best locations in the UK for spots for training. The architecture is perfect for it, and not to mention when I started there was such a big community who already had a very high rep in the scene and they pushed me to train hard and be as good as them.”