Organizing a Jam or a Training Session

By: Samuel Slater

With the summer jamming season fast approaching, here is Sam "Disciple" Slater with few tips on setting up a jam or training session in your area. Read more for details. 

Organizing a Jam or a Training Session

by Samuel "Disciple" Slater

With the summer jamming season fast approaching, here's a few tips on setting up a jam or training session in your area.

What’s the difference between a Jam and a Training Session?

Jams are easier to organize than training sessions, because they are much more free flowing. At a jam, people are brought together to experience a location how they see fit while other people are there experiencing it with them. Quite often the best jams are ones where people are introduced to an area they have never experienced before, because it opens up the eyes of both these individuals who are exploring a new space, as well as people who train their more regularly who can now see the area from a different point of view. As a result, it is often a good idea to have enough obstacles at the locations you choose for your event to ensure that everyone will have something to explore. Jams also tend to be very social events due to the less ridged or organized nature of a day of free training.

Training Sessions
Training sessions are not as free as jams. These events are less social and more focused on working towards a certain goal, such as a specific set of techniques, skills, or physical fitness. They require the host to have a plan of what exercises, routes, and drills the participants will be working on over the course of the event. Are you planning on having a conditioning gauntlet? If so you need to plan your route and all of the exercises on that route. Remember that a good gauntlet will contain a variety of exercises and drills to work the entire body, to work strength, power, speed, and agility. Are you planning on devoting the day to a certain theme? Figure out what you are working on and how to drill I with the locations you have at your disposal. Is your goal to improve your landings, or rolls, or cat leaps, or transitions between movements? Decide how to work on those things, then set goals for the participants, map out routes for the event, and work out any other means to work on your theme as a group.

Remember, if you are setting this session up, more than likely you are going to be the one leading it so don't be afraid to take charge.

General Tips for Organizing a Jam or Training Session

Where are you holding your event?
This might decide how many people you invite, how long you will be training, and when the event is going to take place. If you have limited locations available, you might not be able to accommodate more than 20 people, or you might only have the area for a few hours due to pedestrian traffic. You also need to see how safe the area is. When you are scouting locations, ask yourself the following:

1: Is the area free of debris or by a busy street or in a crowded area?
While you might love training above all else, we do not have the right, even in a public place, to inconvenience or endanger bystanders. The more people there are in the area who are not their to train, the more likely you are to both be asked to leave, and to encounter injury during training. Try to limit you activity to less populated areas, especially if you are inviting many people to your event. You also do not want to invite your guests to jam or train in unsafe areas. Try to limit the risk of injury that your guests might incur by choosing areas where people are less likely to slip on debris, or fall on sharp objects.

2: Will your training draw the attention of the neighborhood or law enforcement?
Do not visit an excellent training area at the risk of having the police called on you. Do your best to find spots where you can spend some time, as both jams and training session are not usually short events. The more people you plan to invite, the more “public” your spots should be. Areas like public parks are a much better choice than that awesome stair set between the bank and the judicial center.

3: Do you have multiple areas close together that groups can walk to add variety to your day of jamming?
The longer you plan to hold your event, the more spots you should plan to visit over the course of the day. Even if you don’t go to all of them, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It is also a good idea to try to pick spots that are within walking distance from each other. This help you avoid having to set up transporting people from one area to the next.

4: Are you going to be close to a place to grab a bite to eat?
If you plan on training or jamming all day, it might be a good idea to be close to a spot to grab a bite so that you don’t have to transport people far or take too long refueling for round two of your event. Grabbing a bite in the middle or after a long jam or training session is also an excellent opportunity to socialize with anyone who you might have met at the event for the first time.

When are you holding your event?
Unlike with jams and training sessions that are only for those you regularly train with, larger events require you to be more accommodating to people schedules. More often than not, it is best to hold jams and open training sessions on the weekends so that people are more likely to attend. If you can get away with holding a jam when people are more likely to be out of school or work then more people will attend. This is not as necessary with locals only jams due to the lack of distance needed to travel, however it does still help to hold jams on the weekend, as that is when most people will be free from obligations., which can often be set up when ever is convenient for those who you already train with.

The time at which you hold your jam is also a factor. Do you live somewhere where the temperature can get to 115 degrees during the day? You might want to think about holding your jam in the early morning hours, not too long after the sun has come up so as to avoid placing people in unsafe conditions for physical activity. Holding a jam earlier also give people the freedom to use the rest of the day for other activities. You might also want to scout your locations at varying times of the day, paying attention to when they are going to receive heavy pedestrian traffic. Having to constantly spot your route or landings to make sure no pedestrians or small children are going to be injured can zap the fun out of a jam.

Announce your event!
No matter what size event you are planning, nobody will show up if they don't know about it or can't plan for it. Post on in your locals only boards or in the national jams thread and make sure you give people time to plan to attend. The more people you plan to invite, the more time you need to make sure you allow getting the word out. If you are planning on holding your event on a popular weekend or if you are inviting people who need to make travel arrangements, you need to make your announcement early. You also have to keep reminding people that your event is going to happen. Don't post about a jam that you will hold in a month and let everyone forget about it.

Who are you opening the event up to?
Larger events such as the Parkour Generations Training Sessions and the national jams held in New York, Chicago, Denver, and DC require areas that are large enough to accommodate everyone attending. With these larger events you should, out of courtesy to those traveling long distances, organize housing and transportation options for out of town traceurs. These events can give participants a much greater sense of the parkour community when they are opened to more than just locals.

Hopefully you find these suggestions helpful in setting up an open jam or training session in your area.

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Written by Zachary Cohn   
Wednesday, 04 June 2008 04:21
Last Updated on Monday, 13 December 2010 21:56