Parkour is about getting from point A to B in the most efficient and graceful way possible, navigating any obstacles in your path. Parkour athletes can be seen running, jumping and vaulting through urban environments around the world.
The Calgary parkour scene is among the biggest in Canada and is getting a boost. Breathe Parkour, a company which started by publishing a magazine, recently opened up Calgary’s only parkour gym.
Co-founder of Breathe Parkour Matthew Talbot-Turner believes the time is right to provide a space for the Calgary parkour community.
“Right now it’s listed as the fastest growing extreme sport in the world. I don’t really think of it as extreme though because everybody does it to their own ability and it doesn’t have to be extreme. I don’t think anybody expected it to be what it is,” said Talbot-Turner.
Talbot-Turner had tried a number of more-conventional sports before taking up parkour. He thinks the freedom parkour offers makes it appealing to people who may shy away from traditional sports.
“There are not a lot of rules to follow. You come up with your own lines, your own movements and there’s no referee. Everybody can learn at their own pace,” said Talbot-Turner.
The new gym, located in the Calgary Northeast Sports Facility, boasts Calgary’s largest foam pit, three levels of obstacles and a variety of classes.
Seventeen-year-old Joshua Dohy got into parkour three years ago and trains at the gym. He is a certified instructor, a sponsored athlete and one of the top parkour athletes in the city.
“It helps preserve my child-like qualities. I find myself to be a little bit childish and immature. With parkour I can still be playful and young and bounce around,” said Dohy.
Beyond having fun, Dohy mentioned other positives that have come out of his parkour career.
“It has made me a lot more responsible and made me a lot more confident in what I do,” said Dohy.
Dohy believes that parkour offers people an alternative to more structured sports and fitness activities.
“Some people do gymnastics but find it to be way too strict. Then they get into parkour and they find that all those boundaries are broken,” said Dohy. “It feels more like alternative fitness — a lot of people just aren’t motivated by weightlifting.”
While running and jumping around concrete or wooden structures presents a variety of dangers, Talbot-Turner points out that there are risks to all sports.
“I’m not going to shy away from injuries. They happen,” said Talbot-Turner, who believes that parkour has a lower injury rate than most team sports.
Talbot-Turner enjoys the freedom that parkour offers, but for him the most important element of the sport is the group of people he has met along the way.
“The community, the friends that I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had. They’re unlike any other people I’ve met.”