[media-credit name=”Tyler Brown” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]During the first episode of season six on the TV show The Office, characters Michael, Dwight and Andy record themselves stepping on top of occupied desks, rolling in chairs, playing leap frog, jumping over cars and attempting similar movements while emphatically yelling “Parkour!” This short intro was a parody demonstrating the discipline of parkour and freerunning.
Andrew Plaster, a long time traceur (one who practices parkour), said that The Office episode, although funny, is kind of stupid.
“It is annoying when people are jumping off tables yelling ‘parkour’ or sitting in chairs and moving around in them yelling ‘parkour,’” Plaster said. “That’s not real. I guess in theory it is, but there is way more to it than that.”
Anthony Huffman, Alex Brown and Andrew Plaster are three Weber State University students who are in the final stages of organizing a parkour and freerunning club at WSU. They said that their goal is to bring the community of freerunners and traceurs to meet and train together.
“It’s nice to have friends in the field,” Huffman said. “We are going to try to get a room at the Swenson Gym, so we can actually practice on blocks that we will build and bring in from the outside.”
Anthony Huffman, the president of the club and long-time traceur, defined essentially what parkour and freerunning is.
“Parkour is getting from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Huffman said. “It is the efficient movement over obstacles. Freerunning is throwing flash into the movement. Flash is doing flips, spins and tricks that people like to look at.”
Parkour and freerunning are two separate disciplines. They have their own definition, and the terms cannot be interchangeable.
“Parkour is the art of moving over obstacles, running, climbing, balancing, etc,” Huffman said. “Free-running is about self expression. I can show people who I am through my movements, my flips and with the different skills that I have.”
Huffman, Plaster and Brown each have a different story on how they became acquainted with parkour and freerunning and together have over a decade of experience in the discipline.
“We know what we’re talking about and can show people exactly what needs to be done and how to do it the proper way,” Huffman said.
Huffman started to practice parkour at the age of 15 and now teaches classes with Brown at Elite Gymnastics in Ogden.
Plaster became involved with parkour as a child but never realized what it was called until junior high after watching a YouTube video with the title of parkour in it.
“I used to play the game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and liked the movement so much,” Plaster said. “During the recess of sixth grade, I would practice running on walls like in the game. Kids always thought I was crazy, but that’s what kind of drove me to continue.”
Alex Brown is the newest member to the group after joining almost two years ago. He met Huffman after finding a flyer about parkour and now considers it part of his daily routine.
“When me and Anthony have to go somewhere, we plan it out how we are going to parkour through an area,” Brown said. “It’s just natural, and we don’t think about it; it’s just our way of life now.”
Brown also said he is encouraged by the confidence that parkour and freerunning has given him.
“I guess I’m not overly confident on everything, but I have gained confidence on a lot of stuff,” Brown said. “I really like helping people learn as well. There will be nights I will not do anything except help some kid learn to do a back flip off a wall. It really makes me feel good inside to just see people gain a dream that they didn’t think was possible.”
On March 24 of this year, the club is scheduled to host a freerunning competition that will take place at Peak Gymnastics in Brigham City.
“We are going to try and get a bunch of people around northern Utah to be in the competition,” Brown said. “Since its freerunning, it will be judged by the most difficult tricks, if they can land them correctly and by using the whole gym.”
The club currently has around ten members, but Huffman and Brown said they are trying to get more college students to join from campus.
“There are a lot of people who don’t feel included in traditional sports, and those kids can come to the parkour and freerunning club,” Brown said. “We all eventually become really good friends, and we all encourage each other to become better and better. There’s never really any put downs, or we never get mad at each other, and it’s just a fun time that we all have. It ends up being less of a sport and more of a way of life.”
Any student interested in joining and would like more information regarding the club can call Huffman at 801-425-1815. For more information about parkour and freerunning, visit parkoupedia.com