Those dreaming of emulating their favourite kung-fu movies or Assassin’s Creed moves are in luck — Origins Parkour and Athletic Centre, Vancouver’s first parkour gym, opened its doors on Main Street on Sept. 10.
For those not in the know, parkour is a non-competitive training discipline. The practitioner moves through a physical environment as quickly and efficiently as possible, using elements of gymnastics and free-form athleticism.
Features in the usually urban environment, such as buildings and walls, are used as obstacles, resulting in dramatic, visually impressive displays of physical prowess.
“The art of challenge…”
According to co-owner Rene Scavington, parkour is “the art of challenge, to find as many ways as you can to challenge yourself and your body.”
While parkour may seem intimidating to bystanders, Scavington says it is relatively easy to start training: “People of all shapes and sizes start, and it can be a way to get in shape.”
In his opinion, weightlifting is an important aspect to parkour, but no concrete training methods have been developed yet.
“Everything in parkour is pioneering right now, because it’s so new,” he said.
A sport for anybody
Scavington says some local athletes are adopting the practice to round out their training regimes.
Parkour could be perceived as being rebellious or disruptive, as it often utilizes public spaces in its practice. Scavington says groups in Vancouver have had run-ins with police in the past, but the encounters are usually positive.
“It’s like any sport that you’re doing on urban areas. Police are usually quite friendly and cooperative. If it’s private property, it’s private property. They tell you to go and we usually try to respect that,” he said. “Most of the time we’re trying to be discreet.”
Daniel Usher, 23, is a student at the gym who has been practicing parkour for a year. “I used to play basketball and soccer every week, now I just do this, because it’s so low-impact.”
The gym features large climbing structures and bars, a large floor work area, a climbing wall and a weight room.
The classes offered at Origins range from beginner to advanced, and the first class is free.
Reported by Stacy Thomas
Stacy Thomas interviews Rene Scavington, co-owner of Origins Parkour and Athletic Centre. Video by Alex Skerdzhev