Giles D’Souza is probably the closest thing to a ninja you will come across in Mumbai. But what you need to know about Giles is that he isn’t about running up walls for the heck of it - his training and practice stems from the real origin of parkour, and that is to overcome any obstacle that might come your way. Oftentimes, people seem to forget about this fact, and lose the essence of their training. Giles has incorporated parkour into a workout of his own, combining dexterity of the body and mind, strength and mobility to make for the perfect fitness regime. We got talking with him to take us right down to the basics, and help understand his fitness philosophy as it stands. If you’re looking to change the way you address fitness, this might be just the thing you’re looking for
HG: What is your workout aimed to achieve - strength, endurance, flexibility, mobility? Why is mobility crucial to parkour?
GD: So I fuse Mobility work with equal amounts of Strength and Parkour training. Strength is the mother attribute (foundation) and everything else comes below that. Mobility is so crucial to Parkour because many movements in Parkour require a greater degree of mobility than what most sedentary people possess. For example in a Kong Vault most people lack the required hip flexion to get their knees to their chest and perform the movement.
HG: How do you incorporate elements of Parkour in your workout regime?/
GD: From experience in the field of Fitness as well as Parkour, I’ve come to realise that practicing only Parkour is actually not very apt for fitness training. This is because Parkour is an extremely high impact discipline that puts tremendous strain on one’s joints, ligaments and tendons. This means that if your muscles are not strong enough to take the impact from practicing Parkour, you are damaging your body. Every good practitioner builds up their body armour i.e: Muscular and Skeletal Tissue before practicing movements and technique. It’s called Attributes over Technique training.
One’s attributes are their muscular strength, skeletal strength, mobility, endurance, flexibility and so on. These build up your foundation for an injury and pain free training regime,be it whatever you plan on doing. If one has strong attributes on the other hand but lack technique, all you have to do is practice more technique because your foundation is already strong, hence you have much to build upon. Also, if things go south and you end up falling, having a strong body to take the impact of such a fall will be way more beneficial than having good technique.
HG: What does a person who’s never heard of, or tried Parkour need to know before they start your workout?
GD: A common misconception about Parkour is that it is all flips and tricks. That is not true. What people have to understand is that Parkour is about being strong and overcoming obstacles. Parkour was designed to be used to take a person from one point to another in the safest, most efficient way to either get out of danger or to get to someone who is in danger.
Training Parkour does not mean watching a youtube video of someone jumping from one building to another and then going out and doing the same, but actually understanding the amount of hours that person has put into their training, ground work, mental preparation, body conditioning and focus to be able to do the movement efficiently and safely. We do not use “josh” or “an adrenaline rush”, but instead need to be calm and composed while training. Usually when people practice Parkour, the mentality of overcoming obstacles is carried forward and one begins to think of troubles in life, relationships etc as obstacles to overcome.
HG: What is being ‘fit’ according to you?
GD: Fitness is actually a mixture of different components, which are Strength, Cardiovascular Endurance, Stamina, Power, Speed, Co-ordination, Agility, Balance, Mobility, Flexibility and what I would personally consider the most important, Mental Endurance.
In the fitness Industry there is a HUGE misconception that fitness is Bodybuilding. It is extremely incorrect, training for fitness and training for bodybuilding are two separate entities altogether. Bodybuilding is sports specific and Fitness is for the general population who want a pain free and happy life.
HG: What guides your fitness philosophy?
GD: Being fit to overcome. That is, to be in a place where I have control over my own mind and body, regardless of what difficulty may come my way, be it lifting a weight, making a jump or even overcoming whatever may trouble me in life.
HG: Can you tell us 5 core/basic moves that you teach someone who’s just starting out?
GD: I start with a good warm up, then some mobility work like Bear walks and Ground kongs. Then slowly teach them the most essential strength disciplines which are Squats, Deadlifts, Pull and Push ups, Parallel bar dips, Bent over rows and Shoulder press. I start with mobility because a regular person who has a desk job or is just starting out lacks mobility in their body to do the movements correctly and efficiently and could hence get hurt in the process.
I don’t really worry about moves in general, but moving. The moves come on their own. I usually put an obstacle like a vault box and say something like, “If getting over this obstacle was your only way to safety, what would you do to get over fast and efficiently, but also in a way that keeps your body safe and injury free in the process?”
HG: How do you prepare yourself mentally for this sort of high intensity work out?
GD: I just ask myself how much I really want this and why do I want this. Then I focus on the task at hand and do my best to get it done. I personally do not believe that one needs a pre workout before training. You just need some time to focus on what you have to do, and then do it.
HG: What’s a fitness goal you’re still working on?
GD: Number one is a 200kg squat and number two is a 5’10” box jump.
HG: What’s the best short fitness regime someone can practice at home to train for mobility?
GD: That completely depends on the person and what background they are coming from. Also training for general fitness far oversees just training for mobility. There is no use of having good movement in a joint if the foundation is not strong enough to take that mobility safely. So my fitness programmes completely depends upon weather the given someone has lived an active life,or someone who has not done any physical activity their entire life.
HG: What’s the coolest stunt you’ve managed to pull off? How long did it take you to do it?
GD: It was more of a movement than a stunt. Wall running, then climbing a 14 foot high wall with no support. I was there all day drilling just that one move till I could do it.