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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Geremy Davis, instructor of the Fort Wayne Parkour club, helps Kayden Stutsman, 10, move over a wall during a practice session Thursday at Lawton Park.

  • Keely Davis balances on a railing Thursday. The physical side of Parkour ­teaches agility, balance and strength.

  • Kayden uses his Parkour training to balance on a railing. The practice aims to move from one point to another using obstacles to increase efficiency.

Sunday, May 14, 2017 1:00 am

In Parkour, move with fun, focus, efficiency

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Parkour

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday / Thursday

Where: Lawton Park playground

Cost: $12 a session, $70 a month

More information: facebook.com/fortwayneparkour; fwpk.webs.com

Parkour, or free-running, offers something for everybody.

It teaches safety, focus and discipline mentally and trains agility, balance and strength physically.

For kids, it teaches them how to play safely and for adults, it teaches them how to play again.

“We train kids, adults, young, old, big, small, it doesn't really matter because everybody can move so we learn to move within the environment,” Geremy Davis said. “It's coming from a safety and emergency evacuation, which is why someone would do Parkour to understand their body better. It's actually safer overall.”

Parkour comes from the French word “parcours,” which means “the way through” or “the path” and it started in the French special forces. The practice aims to move from one point to another using obstacles to increase efficiency. It is up to the individual how many moves are utilized to overcome obstacles.

The Fort Wayne Parkour club meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Lawton Park playground, for now, but the sites change.

Davis, the club's instructor, is certified in coaching and has been a Parkour practitioner since 2008.

“It pretty much started because it looked cool,” Davis, 23, said. “Obviously, my mentality about it changed once I learned what it is.

“It started from my friends and I going out, having fun, moving, watching YouTube videos and doing what we saw and then learning that you need to develop strength and balance and agility and all these other things to do it safely without the risky aspect.”

Watching YouTube videos that are uploaded from around the world, it's difficult to see any rhyme or reason to the stunts performed but Davis assures “there's structure, there's a strategic approach to it. It's not about being reckless and crazy.”

The club is open to all ages and skill levels and when newcomers join the class, the curriculum is adjusted to meet the skill level with assistance and spotting to ensure safety.

“We start from what they're able to do now and take it one step further with basic body-weight conditioning, basic movements, learning how to navigate different obstacles in the environment,” Davis said.

Logan Smith, 22, found Parkour three years ago as an athletic outlet. He found something unlike anything he'd done before.

“I did football, basketball, baseball and karate (in high school),” Smith said. “When I first started Parkour, it was a completely different experience. Those muscles that you use during those sports are very different than what you do here. This is the first program that I've done that encompasses a full-body workout. It also improves mobility and flexibility and your strength with it. It's not like football where I'd be lifting benchpress, squats, targeting key muscle groups. … It encompasses everything. It really targets every single muscle.

“This discipline is not competitive, it's self-improvement and self-motivation. If you come here with the attitude of, 'I want to better myself, for myself,' they will succeed. If you come with the attitude of, 'I want to be better than somebody,' it will take away from it. It's not something you can learn within a day. It takes a lot of discipline, a lot of physical training to be able to do the motions.”

Margaret Stutsman and her son Kayden, 10, have been doing Parkour for a year. Stuts­man knew her son would love the activity but was surprised when she found enjoyment, too, and the other perks that came with it.

“(Online, it) said all ages, all ability levels,” she said. “I asked Geremy if he had room for a 40-year-old woman and a 9-year-old boy. I had so much fun and I told Geremy that we'd probably come once a week. We came back the following Thursday and we've been coming back twice a week ever since.

“I have been a parent for 15 years and I've been taking my kids to the park and I've just watched them play. My husband would jump on the slides and run around but I never thought, 'Oh hey, that's something I want to do.'

“I'd forgotten how to play and now we run around on the playground and I was looking at it wrong. We don't go up the stairs, we go up the slides or the railings. It's a lot more fun than going up the stairs.”

areichel@jg.net