Parkour a free run at fitness

Rockhampton's only free runner, Alvin Oehlert performs a flip at the Riverside Park
Rockhampton's only free runner, Alvin Oehlert performs a flip at the Riverside Park Chris Ison

ALVIN Oehlert stares at the wall, takes a few steps back and runs.

In the blink of an eye he's disappeared from Quay St and reappeared on the footpath on the old Fitzroy River Bridge about eight metres above the road.

It's not a magic trick – it's called parkour, and Alvin thinks he might be its only exponent in Rockhampton.

Forget planking, this is a hardcore hobby that requires intense concentration, an athlete's stamina, a gymnast's agility and a complete lack of fear.

The 19-year-old, who works at Rockhampton Airport, says he was inspired to take up parkour, and the associated hobby known as free-running, by a sequence in the James Bond movie Casino Royale.

“I started to look at the buildings in Rocky in a different way. Parkour is really about taking the most efficient, direct route between two points, no matter what is in the way. You turn the environment into a playground.”

It takes a lot of practice to become a human fly, and Alvin bears the scars of early accidents.

But he says he carefully weighs up the risks and understands his capabilities.

“It can look spectacular when you bound vertically up the side of a building, but I think it's safer than planking.”

Alvin reckons he's always looking for new challenges and that Rockhampton is not a good location for his hobby.

“I go down to Brisbane to do it because there are a few enthusiasts there and the terrain is much better.”

Topics:  parkour

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