par·kour [pahr-koor]

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When senior Joseph Kluz sees people eating at a picnic table, it seems weird to him. He’s used to seeing it as an object to parkour over, under, around or through.

Photo compilation by Dan Sheldon

“When my friend Travis [Tetting] and I first started out, we trained at a park on picnic tables for so long, it was weird to see people sitting and eating at them,” Kluz said. “I forgot that’s what they were for.”

Kluz is a senior at UW-Whitewater is one of six certified parkour coaches in Wisconsin. On campus, Kluz can be found climbing up walls, leaping over railings, jumping from great heights and kicking off walls as he runs.

Kluz said doing parkour is like being a kid again.

“When kids play, they are doing parkour naturally when they are climbing and jumping and everything,” Kluz said. “They also live in the moment, just like we do when we are training.”

Mentally, Kluz said parkour teaches you how to remove obstacles.

“In parkour you always look at obstacles and think about how to get over and through them,” Kluz said. “Then you start to think that way about things in everyday life.”

Kluz said he is currently teaching a parkour class at Milton High School, and he recently started classes in Janesville every Friday.

He does not teach parkour on campus, but students are welcome to join in on his practices no matter what their experience level.

Kluz’s friends and fellow trainers, including Tetting, Peter Larson and Katerina Kartshova, share a similar passion for parkouring.

Larsen said parkour is always exactly what he needs.

“It can be a stress reliever, a way to empower yourself, a way to just work out, blow off steam, or express yourself,” Larsen said. “It’s physical, emotional and mental.”

Tetting said living in the moment seems to go away after childhood, but parkour helps bring it back.

“When we become adults we are constantly thinking forward and looking towards what is happening next,” Tetting said. “You forget what’s happening right now.”

Kartshova started practicing parkour after going through a rough patch in her life and found it to be therapeutic for her.

“You have to learn to let go of your problems and worries so you can perform well, and be safe,” Kartshova said. “For me it’s the marriage of effort and result.”

Kluz said no one he trains with has ever had any major injuries, because they don’t push themselves to that extent.

“You should know your physical abilities and never attempt a move unless you are 100 percent certain you can do it,” Kluz said.

Kluz said he encourages students just starting out to not go out and attempt risky moves seen online.

If you would like to join in on parkour training sessions or classes in Janesville, email Kluz at [email protected], or visit the company website at www.wisconsinparkour.com.