Pack your bags. Load the car. Get on a flight. Do whatever you have to do, to get yourself to Boulder, CO. The APEX Movement flagship gym there is beyond epic: It’s a mecca for parkour athletes.
As some of you may know, I got to hang out there for a few days earlier this summer, when I was working on a photo shoot with APEX founder Ryan Ford. He and I are wrapping up a parkour strength training book, due to be out this Fall. In the evenings and other downtimes between shooting, we would rest and regroup at the gym. And, man, it is awe-inspiring.
Occupying an enormous 10,000 square feet space, the gym is built with a dedicated trampoline area, foam pit, air trick floor, and the biggest, most complex obstacle set-up I’ve ever seen. From a low-to-the-ground, beginner-friendly bar structure, to elevated catwalks and freestanding wood monoliths, the place is a movement wonderland. It’s so big that a pole dance/fitness studio sublets space in the rear of the building.
Besides having a full warped wall for all you American Ninja Warrior fans, there is also an impressive weight room to keep you in top athletic shape. Two squat racks, and plenty of other strength and conditioning paraphernalia are obviously getting put to good use by the APEX pros. Not up-to-date on the competitive parkour scene? Do a search for Dylan Baker, Brandon Douglass, and Dante Grazioli—they are on fire right now.
Another impressive aspect of the gym is that it has become a must-visit destination for globe-trotting practitioners. During my visit I met a handful of athletes who had left home and transplanted themselves in Boulder just to be closer to the APEX headquarters. People want to be close to the source of any major movement, and right now Boulder is where it’s at.
In that vein, Ryan and crew recently launched a cool live-work arrangement for out-of-town athletes. Based on the uchi-deshi model from Japan, eager students get to crash at the gym and train there in exchange for helping out with work tasks. When they released the program, Ryan thought that they might only get a handful of applicants. They were quickly bombarded with thousands of requests.
APEX Movement was one of the first parkour gyms in the world—#3 if you’re keeping track—and the standard it sets is second to none. Aside from the Boulder gym, the APEX empire includes three more facilities in Colorado, and one in Northern California. More gyms are in the works, and if you have an entrepreneurial mindset you might consider opening your own: They are currently looking for additional licensees.
Bottom line: If you’re interested in seeing what a world-class parkour facility looks like, you have to visit Boulder. The legacy that is being built there is setting the tone for the future progression of our sport. Go now.