Parkour vaults from asphalt to softer indoor landings

Mon Oct 7, 2013 5:57pm EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Parkour, the free-wheeling outdoor sport of vaulting, bouncing, jumping and flipping through the urban jungle, has inspired a new breed of indoor fitness centers where buildings are boxes, sidewalks are mats and caverns are foam pits.

Fitness experts say the soft landings, controlled environment and instruction in these gyms have transformed the risky pastime of urban youth into a fitness option accessible to just about everyone.

"We're not just a gym, we're an educational facility," said Ryan Ford, co-owner and instructor at Apex Movement, a Boulder, Colorado-based chain of parkour gyms in Colorado and California.

"People can learn from a fake environment with instructors."

Ford, 26, stumbled across parkour on the Internet in 2004 when he wanted to learn how to run up a wall.

At Apex, where clients range from five to 75 years in age, it is all about breaking down each movement into constituent parts, and progressing through skill levels.

"What we do is often misunderstood," Ford said. "People think it's all flipping off walls, jumping off buildings, but that's not true. If a 75-year-old has trouble ducking under rails or standing on a bench, that's where we start."

The emphasis, he added, is about regaining the natural ability people had as children.   Continued...

Rashaad Gomez practises parkour in a park in New York October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri