By: Chris Strange
Parkour/freerunning (PK/FR) is a growing sport worldwide. Brands like Urban Freeflow in Europe and American Parkour here in the States present opportunities for aspiring traceurs (parkour practitioners) to learn more about the sport with instructional videos, articles, and classes. The closest class to Fort Smith is one offered in Austin, TX by Texas Parkour, Inc. The reason for this distance is that Austin has the closest facility with the equipment necessary to practice parkour in a controlled environment.
PK/FR is typically practiced outside; the premise of the sport being to go from one point to another in the most efficient manner possible. In a typical Arkansan winter, however, opportunities to run outside are rare. Athletes who are serious about PK/FR want to continue training in the winter months and, rather than being forced to face freezing temperatures and icy surfaces where the chance of injury goes from likely to definite, traceurs want a place to train indoors.
A typical parkour training facility has objects that can be arranged into obstacle courses as well as a full gym. Short walls and long, low boxes are vital to a PK/FR gym but these things can be used by more than just traceurs. For example, the low boxes can also be used for box jumps, an exercise intended to increase vertical jump height and explosive strength in the legs and a crucial exercise in many total body fitness plans. A gym like this can benefit not only the portion of the community interested in parkour and freerunning, but also the entire fitness community. Parkour training facilities are a great place for kids to go to run and play in a safe, controlled environment. They provide an outlet for those interested in this growing sport, and are also a great place for athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all interests to train.
The gym on campus offers a range of services relevant to those wishing to train for parkour. An indoor track, a multitude of machines and free weights, plenty of open space for body weight exercises, and several fitness classes, like the Sports Conditioning class, that can help a traceur stay motivated through the winter months. At this time, however, there are no boxes or other obstacles that can be set up to practice putting together the many different movements used in PK/FR.