Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, scaling tall buildings, and dodging obstacles while running through cramped alleys, the freerunners who practice the art of parkour move fearlessly through concrete jungles. But the art of parkour isn’t only for daredevils and stunt doubles. Specialized training centres in Montreal offer parkour training for children as young as 6.
The first dedicated parkour training centre opened in 2014, called The Spot, at 5140 St. Patrick St. in Montreal According to coach Pascal Lecurieux, the sport is especially good for children with ADHD, because it encourages athletes to build willpower and concentration skills.
“It is an art where people learn how to be careful – it’s not an art for daredevil people,” Lecurieux said. “The kids (who I train in parkour) are more careful than most people crossing the street. They think before they act, all the time.”
According to the World Freerunning Parkour Federation, this activity originated in France, and comes from “parcours,” which literally means “the way through” or “the path.”
With origins in a military training program developed for French Special Forces, parkour emphasizes running, jumping and climbing to move quickly through urban environments. Although the original goal was to move through obstacles in the most efficient way possible, recreational parkour often involves tricks and stunts such as flipping, vaulting and acrobatics.
While parkour requires no more equipment than a pair of good running shoes, beginners (and parents) often prefer to learn the ropes with the help of a trainer in a gym, in order to build strength in a safe environment.
“Ten per cent of the art is the actual movements while 90 per cent is the education,” Lecurieux said. “Children learn to avoid obstacles, how to be aware of what they can do and what they can’t do, assess danger and fall properly so they can’t get hurt.”
At The Spot, pricing starts at $15 for one day of unlimited access to the open gym. A one-hour introductory private lesson with a coach costs $40, with discounts for group lessons. Classes are also available.
For more information, visit thespotmontreal.com.
Parkour lessons are also available at:
5465 de Bordeaux St., Montreal
Classes offered for ages 7 -18 focus on technical movements such as precision jumps, obstacle vaults and ground moves, introduced slowly to ensure safety. Drop-in children’s courses start at $16 per class, with discounts for frequent users. Unlimited monthly passes also available.
3093 de la Gare Blvd., Vaudreuil-Dorion
This off-island gymnastics club offers parkour classes for children aged 8-12 and 13 and up. Courses for younger children are aimed at beginner to intermediate levels, while agile teens can learn advanced-level moves.
212 Poirier St., suite 53, St. Eustache
This north shore gym offers cheerleading, trampoline and acrobatics classes along with parkour for kids aged 7-16. Both drop-in, free-form practices and organized classes are available.
2090 Trans-Canada Dorval
On or two hours (boys and girls 8 year and up). A program with different parkour obstacle courses each week. The class will explore a combination of different heights and apparatus while using creative skill building ideas.