Weekend Highlights

Published September 26, 2011
Going Places

Parkour Visions Opens New Seattle Gym

by Taryn Zier
seattle child article photo
Matt Chen leaps tall "buildings" in a single bound at Parkour Visions in Seattle.

It's the stuff of superheroes: running on top of walls, balancing on precarious ledges, dive rolls, bodies in motion. It’s also the stuff of kids’ play at the Parkour Visions gym in Seattle, which offers classes for children and adults.

You may not have heard of parkour, but you've likely seen it in action flicks and TV ads. In the big stunts, the professionals hurtle themselves through windows, scale walls and jump from rooftop to rooftop in intricate chase scenes. The Parkour Visions classes don’t involve broken plate glass or dangerous roof jumps, but children do get to attempt their own physical feats, in the safety of a padded gym. Think of it as the coolest obstacle course ever.

While not yet mainstream, Seattle has a sizeable parkour scene, and local youth are playing their part in its growth. The Parkour Visions gym, which opened in the Fremont neighborhood in 2009, is one of the only of its kind in the nation. Enrollment in their kids' classes is growing.

They learn the basics – how to roll properly out of landings, jump with correct form and other fundamentals – from trained “traceurs” (those who practice parkour). Kids also work on strength and balance. They are given tips on how to train respectfully and carefully, which is important if they plan to take their newly learned skills outdoors.

At its root, parkour training is about running, jumping and climbing – quintessential activities for energetic kids.

"We allow kids to move the way they want to move; that's why they love it," said Tyson Cecka, Parkour Visions’ executive director. "Kids want to play and climb and experiment with their environment, but are often told not to. With parkour, it is acceptable and encouraged."

My 6-year-old son participated in a "Young Kids Basics" class at Parkour Visions for 5- to 8-year-olds. He was more intimidated than usual by the new activity, but parkour is different than anything either of us has seen before. After some hesitation, he joined in and was so happy he did.

At first, the class broke into small groups to work on specific tricks. Some ducked underneath a bar straight into a parkour roll – the one traceurs use to absorb the impact of a fall. Others hopped between slanted wooden boxes to hang on to a metal bar. They also worked on vaulting over a tall A-frame plank, which the instructors affectionately call the "beast."    

At the end of class, the whole shebang is put together in one awesome obstacle course. My son could barely wait for his turns. He is one of those wild, tree-climbing types and soared through; others were less sure. But the timid children seemed particularly ecstatic after accomplishing their tasks. 

"The greatest benefit for kids is the growth in their physical capacity," said Cecka. "Parkour is unique in that it is challenging, but fun, while building courage and self-confidence. It's just a rewarding thing to do."

Just ask Laura Silverstein, whose two sons take classes at Parkour Visions. "Parkour has profoundly impacted how the boys move through space,” she said. “As naturally cautious kids, they have gained confidence to let go and be more free. They are much stronger, and take pride in what they are achieving physically."

She also appreciates that parkour is noncompetitive, which gives kids of different physical abilities a low-pressure opportunity to learn and grow. “What has been really amazing is watching my younger son come up to a jump, or a balancing drill that is scary for him. I watch him face his fear and, eventually, overcome it. Now he easily does things that he would have been too frightened to try a year ago."

A kid doesn’t have to be a natural athlete to get something good out of Parkour. Cecka has worked with children who haven’t done a lot of physical activity; parkour, he said, may be hard for them at first, but he has seen their abilities – and confidence – grow. 

There’s something amazing about skilled traceurs, Cecka said. "It's like they never stopped playing since they were kids, it's so natural to them. If the kids in our program keep with this and make it a lifelong discipline, imagine what they will be like as adults."

(0) Comment(s)

Post a Comment



More About This Story...

Parkour Visions North Queen Anne Gym Grand Opening Celebration

Parkour Visions will host a grand opening event at their new 6,000 sq ft gym facility. The open house event includes a parkour demonstration, parkour games for everyone, and a potluck dinner at 1210 W. Nickerson St., Seattle, WA 98119

Parkour Visions welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to the grand opening of their parkour facility in North Queen Anne. The event will begin at 3:00pm on 10/14/11 with an open house, a demonstration by Parkour Visions’ stunt team and coaches, a brief introduction for people new to parkour, parkour games for everyone, a potluck dinner, and a free raffle for everyone who comes in the door.

The event is open to the general public - attendees are welcome to bring their friends and some food for the potluck.

Here’s the event schedule:
3:00 - 6:00 - Open house
6:00 - 6:15 - Parkour demo
6:15 - 6:30 - Introduction to parkour, New at Parkour Visions
6:30 - 7:30 - Parkour games
7:30 - 9:00 - Potluck style dinner
8:30 - Raffle drawing

If You Go…

Parkour Visions

Where: Parkour Visions offers classes at its own gym, located at 1210 W. Nickerson St. in Seattle, and also at Crossfit Tacoma, located at 411 Fawcett Ave. in Tacoma.

When: Classes run Mondays through Saturdays in Seattle, mostly in the evenings. The Seattle gym also hosts birthday parties on Saturday afternoons. In Tacoma, classes run Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings. For more details, check the Parkour Visions website.

Cost: In Seattle, monthly memberships range in price from $95 for children and $110 for adults for one class a week and unlimited open gym sessions, up to $155 for children and $185 for adults for unlimited classes and open gym sessions. Drop-in fees are $25 per class for children and $30 for adults. Six- and 12-class packages offer a discount. In Tacoma, there is a $10 drop-in fee or a $75 monthly fee for both children and adults. At both locations, the first class is free.  

Contact: 206-923-8864; www.parkourvisions.org.