If you had asked me about parkour a few weeks ago, I probably would have stared back blank-faced. I didn't know a thing about the exercise art, except that it requires a bit more agility (and inhibition) than the "hot lava" game that I played as an elementary school student.
That all changed when I spoke with Mandy Trichell, a certified personal fitness trainer and a passionate parkour practitioner, who teamed up with Cameron Pratto, Dakao Do and Wes Hammer to make the French discipline mainstream in Texas.
From that came Urban Movement, Inc., a Bayou City-based nonprofit aimed at getting people active through low-cost classes that launched in 2011.
Parkour doesn't require equipment, but instead takes advantage of the cityscape and urban obstacles for guides to movement.
"It's a good vehicle for bringing movement to people, and encouraging them to get off of their asses," explained Trichell, who thinks of the sport as "urban gymnastics" that gets people in tune with themselves and their surroundings.
Parkour doesn't require equipment, but instead takes advantage of the cityscape and urban obstacles for guides to movement. Outdoor UMove classes meet at Tranquility Park, making use of the terrain in the surrounding blocks.
Now, more than a year since its founding, Urban Movement has a dedicated 2,000-square-foot space in the new Studio Fitness in the Heights, classes at the Houston Gymnastics Academy and upcoming expansions to area schools.
An event on Saturday shows off the new digs and raises funds for an upcoming two-day workshop led by French parkour co-founder Chau Belle, plus Tony Thich and Benoit Odoyer, two members of his core team.
The fundraising fête will feature DJ Suns' Soular Grooves, live graffiti by GONZO247, food from Ladybird Food Truck and drinks by St. Arnold Brewing Co. and Dripping Springs Vodka, plus fancy footwork by Trainwreck Crew B-boys and parkour by UMove.
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