I’m winding down from a 5-hour drive after a quick overnight trip to Vancouver, BC, and I wanted to share some thoughts about the amazing parkour gym I visited. Most of you have probably heard of it by now, but for those of you who haven’t, Vancouver is home to the Origins Parkour and Athletic Facility. Situated on the third floor of a humble building along Main Street, Origins sets the standard for what parkour gyms should aspire to be. That’s my personal opinion of course, but the assertion rests on a few key observations. Let me enumerate.
1. It has everything. From vault boxes, to a foam pit, high bars, low bars, a spring floor, a climbing wall, and plenty of super-sturdy wall features, this place has it all. It would be impossible to get bored while training here. Tired of working on your climb-ups and pre’s? Head over to spring floor or the foam pit for some acrobatics.
I’m not sure what financial deities the owners (Rene Scavington and Ma Yuet) had to pray to in order to build it all, but they obviously did it right. Nothing was spared.
2. Dedicated strength and conditioning space! Parkour athletes are like any other athletes. They need strong, powerful muscles to propel them through space. Origins Parkour sets the benchmark for other parkour facilities in this regard. Adjustable plyo boxes, olympic lifting platforms, power racks, and an entire dumbbell array, provide their athletes with all of the tools needed to prep their bodies for optimal function.
3. It’s light and spacious. As someone with a 15+ year history in the health and fitness business, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in different gyms and athletic facilities. Some are good, and others… not so much. Dark, dirty, cramped, and musky. You don’t want any of that. Light, spacious, and clean – that’s where it’s at. It may seem funny that I even bring it up, but it’s a big deal. As an athlete, your nervous system needs to be cued to be alert and focused on the task at hand. Well-lit, cleanly spaces are ideal for allowing you to step-up your performance.
4. You can get lost in the nooks and crannies. Coming from a background in climbing and bouldering, I often find myself thinking about parkour runs as different “problems”, much in the way that climber approaches a unique challenge on the rock. How could you move from here to there, incorporating a variety of different features? What sequence of tacs, precisions, cat leaps, and climb-ups would get you to the top of that wall? Origins has built a cool mini maze-like feature where you can spend plenty of time playing around with different challenges. It’s a happy place.
5. They have great art. Parkour athletes are movement artists. Origins really pays homage to this aspect of the sport, and has done a killer job of outfitting the gym with inspiring murals. When you go someplace to train you should be in an environment that uplifts your spirits and promotes the creativity that will make your movement flow. Kudos to the artwork. It’s a great touch.
Those were the main observations that I walked away with after training at Origins for about an hour. I hope to make it back soon, and I’m eager to talk more with Rene and his head coach, Tom Coppola, about their approach to the athletic development of their students. I have yet to confirm a chance to talk with them in greater depth, but my fingers are crossed that I’ll have an interview to share soon.