Student tests inner strength with Parkour community

Student Spotlight
Tom Jacobson, fifth-year computer engineering

Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

Tom Jacobson, a fifth-year computer engineering student and member of the Rochester Parkour community, does a speed vault over a table. Parkour is a physical discipline with a focus on moving around obstacles with speed and efficiency.

Ever wish you could tap into your inner warrior strength? Tom Jacobson, a fifth-year computer engineering student, vaults over benches, runs across walls and balances rails—all for fun with Rochester’s Parkour community. Rochester Parkour meets every Saturday from 2–5 p.m. in Manhattan Square Park.

Question: Where are you from?
Answer: I am from Elmira, N.Y.

Q: What brought you to RIT?
A: I chose RIT because it has a good engineering program. It’s also the perfect distance from home to me­­—not too close, but not too far away, either.

Q: What is Parkour?
A: Parkour is a physical discipline that trains you to overcome an obstacle by adapting your movements to the environment around you. It is a combination of physical strength, balance, creativity, precision and an awareness of your surroundings.

Q: How did you get involved with Rochester Parkour?
A: Friends of mine from the gymnastics club invited me to Parkour. I enjoyed it a lot so I continued to go. It helped me get in better shape and I got to hang out with my friends.

Q: What kind of activities does the Parkour community participate in?
A: We hold a “Leave No Trace” event, where we clean up Manhattan Square Park. We pick up glass, clean up dirt and debris and just make the park look better. We also have movie nights and Ninja Warrior challenges.

Q: You won a Ninja Warrior-inspired event. Describe the competition.
A: The event had two obstacle courses. The first course focused on strength and precision jumps. The second course focused heavily on speed and efficiency­—we had to navigate through a course as quickly as possible. If we messed up we would get a “scratch,” which added 10 seconds onto our total time. The main purpose of the competitions is to train while under pressure.

Q: How can people become part of the Parkour community?
A: You can become a member by showing up to one of our sessions. We also offer weekly classes at the Parkour gym and Saturday “jam sessions.” There is something for everyone to try.

Q: Can students expect to see a Parkour club at RIT in the future?
A: Unfortunately we tried to create a Parkour club a few years ago. The committee denied the request because two of the founders were close to graduating. We may wait a couple of years before trying again, but we still have the Rochester Parkour community, which is much bigger in size.

Q: What is something that most people wouldn’t know about you when they first meet you?
A: I was a dancer from second grade through my senior year of high school. I did tap, jazz, ballet and tumbling.

Q: What types of things do you do around campus?
A: During fall and spring quarters, my roommates and I set up a slackline on campus. Slacklining involves tightening 1-inch nylon webbing around two trees and walking across it. It’s a great way to meet new people! I’m also a part of the gymnastics club.

Q: Any advice you would give to other RIT students?
A: Don’t allow yourself to get so bogged down with schoolwork that you forget to have fun as well.

Complied by Alexandria Strader, University News co-op student.

Scott Bureau covers student affairs for University News. Contact him at with “Student Spotlight” suggestions.