A Week of Sport Discovery: Parkour

Sport Calgary is doing a blog series on the different Sport Calgary member organizations. This blog introduces Calgarians to sports offered in the city they can try. Ryley is an intern at Sport Calgary for the four months between the third and fourth years of her degree. She is pursuing a bachelor of communication, majoring in PR and minoring in marketing and has a passion for sport. Ryley loves trying new activities and finding different ways to get moving and staying active for life. Her main activities are hiking, skiing, yoga, running and surfing, all of which either her mom, boyfriend or dog loves to join her in doing!

Everything I knew about parkour before today I got from clips online of “parkour fails”. I knew it consisted of navigating a cityscape, running, jumping and flipping to get from one place to another – and I knew it looked like it really, really hurt when it was done wrong. So naturally, I couldn’t wait to try it!

Frankie, one of the owners of Breathe Parkour, was nice enough to let me come to their brand new south gym and join me in a parkour class. When I arrived, she explained the safety protocols and rules and then snapped on my level one wristband. The wristbands are part of the safety precautions and must be always be worn in the gym. There are areas that are restricted to level four and above, and by wearing the different coloured wristbands, trainers can easily identify your skill level and the areas you are allowed to practice in. After I was briefed, we were ready to start! 

I was getting a little bit nervous at this point because my history of attempted acrobatics has not ended well, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this class. Frankie told me they recently got rid of the foam pit because it was where a lot of injuries happened, and I thought “oh my gosh are they going to try and get me to do flips and stuff on the hard ground?!?!” Luckily, that is not at all how the class went.

Our instructor, Colin, was built for parkour. He was enthusiastic, athletic, and clearly knowledgeable about the sport. He had us progressing at a reasonable pace for the skill level of the group (except Frankie who was super good at everything). We learned very basic course movement skills like cat hangs, cat splats and cat backs and learned how to land safely while being ready to jump right away again. Most of the class we spent vaulting over boxes and jumping from block to block.

Less than 20 minutes in I was dripping with sweat. I did not expect jumping from box to box to be this hard! It was challenging in a way that I didn’t expect because Colin made it look so easy. In comparison, I probably made it look way harder than it is. The basic skills we learned still took a lot of coordination and body awareness to execute, which I found I have very little of. The class was super fun and it was a unique, full body workout. I was challenged, but not pushed into a place where I was uncomfortable, and that is the sweet spot for development!

Everyone I met at Breathe was awesome. Frankie was with the company when it started as a magazine and the whole idea evolved into a performance company, and finally a gym in 2014. Breathe has gyms in Lethbridge, North Calgary and the newest one that opened in 2017 in South Calgary to provide a safe place to train in a fast-growing extreme sport.

Breathe is doing well, and continues to thrive in Calgary especially with kids 6 to 15 years old. Frankie says, “We’ve been lucky. We’ve noticed [the economic downturn], but not much. We still opened up a second location in 2017, so we’ve managed to make it work.”

Breathe would like to see less of a drop off in their athletes around the age of 15, but unfortunately, that seems to be the age where a lot of kids stop playing sports and doing activities they enjoy. The parkour community is tightly knit and as the athletes get older, they will hang out at the gym for 5 or 6 hours at a time, taking breaks on the couches and training with other athletes. “We were nervous about competing with trampoline parks and obstacle course based establishments, but it has pushed us to be better rather than discouraging us. We are really just focusing on keeping the community tight,” says Frankie.

Parkour does wonders for building confidence in yourself and in your skills. It is an individual sport, so you can develop and practice at your own pace while having that community that challenges and pushes you to be better.

Breathe offers drop in classes for about $18 and a wide variety of memberships to choose from, ranging from $65 to $170 a month. The classes are sorted into age groups and levels, so there is something for everyone. Many of the memberships include classes and open gym time to drop-in whenever you want, so you can decide how much bang you get for your buck! I would highly recommend this sport to kids becoming and staying active, or adults who are already active and have an average to above average level of fitness. Learn more about drop-ins and memberships at http://breathepk.com/.


Becoming a Sport Calgary Member:
Sport Calgary members have access to our resources at Sport Calgary such as marketing on social media, blog entries, features and placement on our calendar. Many other benefits will be available with the re-launch of our website in 2018. Becoming a member is easy and FREE! Go to www.sportcalgary.ca, and under the “Join Us” tab click on the link that corresponds with you or you group. Fill out the form and you will be added to our membership. Sport organizations and individuals can join. 

Evans Hunt