Parkour is an urban sport that’s growing in popularity. Throughout Metro Vancouver, you can now find outdoor parkour spaces, indoor parkour gyms and all kinds of classes.
So what is parkour? Think of it as an urban obstacle challenge mixed with freestyle gymnastics. It involves moving quickly and fluidly through an environment using only one’s own strength: climbing a wall, swinging under a railing, leaping over a void or vaulting a fence. Parkour began as a type of military training in France and has since evolved into a mainstream fitness activity.
It’s acrobatic, athletic and graceful. Perhaps the best way to understand parkour is to see it in action. Here’s a demonstration of parkour at Penzer Park in Langley:
If you think “ordinary folks” can’t do that, consider this: children already perform basic parkour when they’re playing. They’re drawn naturally to balancing on a log, running on a ledge, swinging across monkey bars, or jumping over a tree stump. Even if they aren’t flying through a park like an experienced parkour practitioner (a “traceur”), it’s fun experimenting with different ways to get around obstacles. Plus, it’s a fun way to stay active.
Ready to give parkour a try with your family? Here’s where to go in the Vancouver area, whether you want to play on your own or learn skills from experienced instructors.
Where to Take Parkour Classes in Vancouver
Parkour is a good physical activity for children who aren’t drawn to team sports—they can work on skills at their own pace. Bonus for mom and dad: there’s no expensive equipment required.
Here are a few places to try a parkour class to learn fundamental skills and safety, including how to land jumps or put together sequences of moves.
Origins Parkour | originsparkour.com
Origins Parkour has two locations. The original Vancouver facility (2655 Main Street) is a 10,000 square foot space filled with mats, foam boxes, springboards, walls for climbing, bars for swinging, and rails for jumping and vaulting. The Port Moody studio (#3 – 2822 Spring Street) features the same kinds of obstacles but in a 2,500 square foot space.
There’s a wide selection of beginner-friendly parkour classes for kids aged five and up, and adults as well. Children aged eight and older can try tricking classes to work on acrobatic abilities such as kicks, twists and flips. Week-long camps, open-gym times, drop-in classes and birthday parties are also available.
Journey Parkour | journeyparkour.ca
Journey Parkour offers classes at local parks and community centres in partnership with the cities of Langley, Surrey, Coquitlam and North Vancouver. Classes may take place outdoors in a park or nature setting, or indoors in a gym. Programs are also offered independently in Port Moody.
Here’s a look at children developing their skills in a Journey Parkour class:
Beginner classes cover jumping, safe landing and rolling, basic vaults, spatial awareness and more. There are also week-long camps featuring lots of movement games, as well as private coaching sessions for one-on-one instruction.
West Vancouver Recreation | westvancouverrec.ca**
(**Enter “parkour” into the search box)
West Vancouver’s city-run parkour programs teach kids how to hop, skip and jump with superhero power. Kids will learn fundamental skills such as balance, take-off and landing, and vaults. Eventually, they’ll develop the confidence to commit to more challenging moves and sequences.
Where to Try Parkour Outdoors
Head to one of these public parks built specifically for parkour to enjoy some unstructured fun. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes with a good grip. Flip flops won’t work!
Remember, your parkour moves don’t need to be YouTube-worthy. Parkour is simply a unique way to get the whole family active and trying something new. Lend each other a hand as you balance, jump and climb, and enjoy working on your parkour skills together.
Slidey Slides Park (formerly Plateau Sports Park)
3311 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
Vancouver’s first outdoor parkour space is located between Playland and Empire Fields. This all-ages space offers opportunities for climbing, swinging and jumping. The park also features a playground, huge slides, sports courts, bike park and outdoor fitness equipment.
198C Street and 48 Avenue, Langley
This 10,000 square-foot park is one of the largest outdoor parkour spaces in Canada. It’s suitable for enthusiasts of all levels, with an area specifically for younger children. The wooden walls and obstacles are made of yellow cedar from Vancouver Island. A rubberized surface makes for soft landings. There is also a multi-sports plaza for basketball, ball hockey and soccer, as well as a bike and skateboard park.
7080 190 Street, Surrey
Located in the Clayton area, Surrey’s first purpose-built parkour park features lots of bars for swinging, posts for leaping and walls to climb. It’s all built on a rubberized surface. Basketball and tennis courts, a spray park, playground, walking trails and green spaces are nearby for a fun-filled day.