In some workouts you hit the wall — in this one you jump over it.
Bklyn Beast, the borough’s first parkour gym, will ramp up the athletic European subculture, which challenges practitioners to artfully use their bodies to leap over, duck under, and somersault across any obstacle in their paths.
Co-owner Shem Rajoon hopes the Bushwick training hub will serve as a gathering place and a learning center where aspiring “traceurs” can put in the hard work required to emulate the efficient movement and amazingly acrobatic feats depicted in online videos of the sport.
“Because of YouTube and people’s access to videos, they think it’s a lot of stunts,” said Rajoon, who started practicing parkour as a teen after he picked up circus tumbling and Capoeira, “You start at a fundamental level, and once you get that, you can do any of those other [stunts].”
The sport emerged in France during the 1990s and spread around the world in the following decade, building a young and adventurous following — which is not so surprising considering top athletes make the practice look like a chase scene from a martial arts flick.
Parkour and the related but even flashier practice of “freerunning” got lots of play in movies such as “Casino Royale,” sneaker deals with major shoemakers, and even a short-lived MTV show — but until now, the city’s tight-knit parkour scene has gotten by practicing outdoors in public areas.
The Bogart Street gym opened quietly for classes last week and will hold a grand opening on Jan. 26. There’s a main room with a hardwood floor and padded mats, a trampoline, obstacles for hurdling and vaulting, a curved wall that fans of the TV program “Ninja Warrior” might recognize, lots of gray paint and graffiti murals to create an urban aesthetic, and a foam pit that promises soft landings for those brave enough to leap from as high as 20 feet above.
The school also offers classes in Capoeira, breakdancing, and yoga — which share many similarities with parkour, according to Rajoon.
“They all have that same fundamental principle of using your body to navigate anything and overcome obstacles,” he said.
Capoeira instructor and parkour practicioner Aaron Anaya says the sport is perfectly safe so long as people train wisely and with the right supervision, and noted that Bklyn Beast will likely establish a wristband system to keep beginners from hurling themselves to the floor from the highest platforms like their more advanced counterparts.
Parkour aficionados such as Richie Rodriguez — who has been obsessed with the sport since picking it up in 2007 — are bouncing off the walls with excitement about the new gym.
“I can’t go a day without it,” said Rodriguez. “If I see something, I’m going to jump over it. There’s a monkey in me.”
Bklyn Beast [230 Bogart St. at Ten Eyck Street in Bushwick, bklynbeast.com, (347) 457–6290). Classes are $18; 10-class passes are $150; open training sessions are $15.Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@c
©2013 Community News Group
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