With roots in military obstacle course training, parkour is an urban sport that can be played indoors as well as outdoors. It requires participants to navigate through a series of obstacles by using different maneuvers like jumps, rolls, crawls, flips, etc. The freestyle nature of parkour makes it very adaptable to creative games that people can organize parkour places anywhere. Various parkour styles originate from our own childhood memories where we built makeshift obstacles using furniture and cardboard boxes –by crawling under tables and jumping over cushions to win the race. Inspired by the American Ninja Warrior competitions, kids and teenagers design home activities with DIY parkour mazes and their own improvisations, such as “the floor is lava”.
Parkour place can also be setup outside using natural landmarks like trees, stones, picnic benches, and streams. The sport is really a combination of several moves and activities that kids already love to play. From climbing trees and hopping over stones to swinging and jumping across river streams, parkour games greatly stimulate outdoor recreation. There are also specific parks and areas equipped with man-made obstacles for public parkour activities. The word tracer refers to a parkour participant, with the feminine traceuse and masculine traceur. These practitioners move through barriers in a parkour course with the main aim of reaching the end quickly and efficiently. Therefore, the focus is more on free-running rather than acrobatics.
Benefits of parkour for kids
Parkour encourages kids to work on their focus, balance, coordination, and stamina as they indulge in their favorite freestyle activities. Without any specific black-and-white rules like those in basketball and football games, kids enjoy the creative freedom of moving through mazes. In doing so, they improve their agility, endurance, and speed with a holistic sport that combines all the recreational fun needed to keep kids inspired.
Spatial skills for problem-solving
By navigating through parkour challenges, kids discover different ways of moving from point A to point B. They develop a sense of spatial awareness when they need to figure out the next move on reaching a hurdle. This helps them with problem-solving skills as they analyze the situation to determine whether climbing the tree, using the rope, or jumping over the log would be a better choice. Parkour games are very effective in helping children overcome their clumsiness by becoming more aware of their surroundings.
When kids work their way around obstacles, they observe their environment from a different point of view. For example, they may perceive a log as a balance beam to give themselves a confidence boost while moving over it. This self-paced learning motivates kids to think outside the box and rise to their challenges instead of giving up. By associating the hurdles with familiar comfort zones, the young practitioners learn to “anchor” the situation so that it does not spiral out of control.
Parkour is a very context-friendly sport that allows you to use whatever resources you have at hand. While there are specially-designed parkour places for kids, you can create DIY parkour place with various everyday objects. These include haystacks, tires, swing sets, cardboard boxes, hula hoops, slides, tunnel tubes, tables, chairs, basketball hoops, etc. Not only do such games provide healthy recreation, but they also create scope for exciting home-school activities that boost learning outcomes and memory retention.
Examples of creative parkour games
Parkour musical chairs
The standard game of musical chairs can be upgraded to parkour arrangements where obstacles are aligned in different patterns. These could be linear or in a circle, depending on the difficulty level that kids enjoy. Once the music begins, the kids need to move around until the music stops, which is when they rush to the marked reference points.
The floor is lava
By setting rules to avoid the floor –or the lava –kids will navigate the parkour place course by jumping between boulders or swinging on ropes to move from one place to another. Each competition lasts until someone touches the floor or falls down. The game can also be timed with buzzers to add some thrill as the young practitioners race towards the end.
Lose a limb
Like any energetic game of tag, players can move on both feet and use both arms until someone touches a limb, in which case, they cannot use that limb while navigating. For example, the tagged kid will hop on one leg until a certain route, perform some exercise, and then be able to use both legs for the remaining course.
The national governing body for parkour
The United States Parkour Association (USPK) governs the sports of Parkour, Freerunning, and L’Art du Deplacement–which is the French term for “the art of movement”. The non-profit organization is driven by the parkour community to serve practitioners, athletes, as well as businesses so that everyone follows safety practices and standards. The USPK was a collaborative effort of different organizations. These are known as APEX Movement, American Parkour, Parkour Generations Americas, Tempest Freerunning, and Parkour Visions.
Following its motto of United We Move, the USPK provides various guidelines and COVID protocols to ensure the safety of all participants. Parkour places and gyms are required to conform to these rules and create reliable, uplifting, and efficient environments for their parkour population.
Recognized competitions help promote community awareness through which people understand the importance of safety infrastructures within a parkour place games.
Parkour places for kids
Chalk School of Movement
Movement and mentorship
Located in Hood River, Oregon, the Chalk School of Movement provides a dynamic platform for parkour, gymnastics, and cheer sports. Its mentorship services greatly empower youth communities by thriving in a safe, energy-induced environment. The activities focus on recreation as well as socialization, allowing kids to form meaningful friendships while enjoying their obstacle games.
Parkour classes and camps
Starting at as young as Baby and Pre-K levels, the Chalk School of Movement organizes age-oriented programs. There are options for online 1-on-1 sessions as well. Parkour classes are available in the following categories:
• 2-4 YO Parkour
• 4-6 YO Parkour
• Beginner Parkour for ages 6-9
• Beginner Parkour 10+
• Intermediate Parkour for ages 6-9
• Intermediate 10+
• Advanced Parkour for all ages
• Flips for ages 6+
• Flips Academy for all ages
• Teen Open Gym
These young parkour place practitioners get to exercise basic rolling, jumping, and climbing skills as well as compete in socio-cognitive challenges. They work on efficient strategies to move from point A to point B by using landing techniques, vaults, and rolls. Armed with various gymnastics skills, the kids acquire a sense of agility and coordination to successfully overcome the hurdles in the least amount of time. The classes are optimized through the use of parkour equipment like moveable mats, foam pads, trampolines, and other obstacle elements that inspire kids to invest their maximum potential.
Opportunities for e-learning and taking part in summer camps effectively diversify the children’s learning scopes. Various after-school camps in the Chalk School of Movement make use of outdoor recreation with professional parkour coaching staff to address the needs of each kid.
Under the supervision of the World Freerunning Parkour Federation, Chalk Gymnastics aims to follow the WFPF structure and parkour format for its training programs. The sessions are organized into PK Tots, Parkidz & Ninjas, and PK Tumbling & Flips. These programs are structured to help kids move independently across parkour place mazes and develop spatial expertise, taking context clues from their environments. Different flips, cartwheels, and free-running techniques are explored, including tumbling styles to demonstrate athletic prowess. The whole learning curve is marked by colored wristbands to acknowledge the progressive parkour levels using white, orange, yellow, green, blue, red, purple, and black wristbands.
Revolution Parkour Beaverton
Certified Instructors and Legacy Parkour
Revolution Parkour Beaverton is based in Beaverton, Oregon, and provides age-specific classes for kids and adults. CPR and First-Aid certified instructors ensure safe and creative parkour place environments for a vast age group ranging from 5-year-old kids to 75-year-old adults. The school is in partnership with Legacy Parkour –an organization that promotes access to parkour sports via scholarship opportunities.
The LITTLE MOVERS PRE-K program addresses the toddler ages of 2-3 years. The classes include parent participation as well. The TINY NINJAS PRE-K accepts kids of ages 4-5 years, with optional parental contribution during lessons.
The JUNIOR PARKOURI & II program has been designed for kids between the ages of 5-7 years. They get to dive right into the fun-filled, creative spaces for reaching their parkour milestones. The classes inspire a ninja attitude for children to feel empowered and safe as they acquire fundamental moves, obstacle course training, and flexibility skills.
BEGINNER PARKOUR modules provide parkour avenues for kids above who are 8 years and above, and these classes train the participants for more serious navigation skills.
Each level at the academy is based on band color pre-requisites to support class graduations and eligibility for parkour techniques.
Revolution Parkour Beaverton offers 3 paths to help students get promoted to the next parkour class.
The Class Passport is a guided and disciplined route towards the next class through progress tracking. It is more like a skills aptitude tool that allows practitioners to accomplish a set of techniques that qualify for higher levels.
The Trials path is comprised of 5 challenges. On completion, the participants can move on to the next class. This route is designed for those who finish Beginner II lessons, and the tracers are expected to apply their knowledge in challenging contexts.
The Know Yourself path is a more advanced route; tracers who have a vast parkour skills archive to count on may choose to consider this path. Participants are self-motivated and active members of the parkour community.
Hub Parkour Training Center
A world of movement
Hub PTC is a parkour place located in Norton, Massachusetts. It is a Movement Academy that organizes parkour classes, summer camps, and other events. Through different movement avenues like parkour, freerunning, trampoline, and ninja, Hub PTC is literally a parkour hub for all pursuits. There are also Home School programs to take parkour lessons to the screen. Kids benefit from Camp Hub objectives that approach parkour skills of safety landing, vaulting, climbing walls, and swinging on monkey bars.
The academy is a parkour place based on self-learning freedoms that come from working together in an inclusive, adaptable, and ever-growing community of tracers. The Hub PTC gym encourages kids and adults to explore diverse possibilities and enjoy their time with positive recreation. Its low-ratio classes are the main reason behind improved coach-to-student communication and interaction, enabling these veteran coaches to bring out the best in every practitioner.
Youth classes at the Hub
Parkour class activities at Hub PTC employ several challenges, speed runs, drills, chase tags, “the floor is lava”, and obstacle courses. The classes are typically divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons, where students get a kick-start into technicalities, strength challenges, free-running skills, as well as acrobatics.
Free-running classes focus on the specific free-running style of obstacle racing. It is usually based on natural instincts that runners rely on while choosing the best way out. The classes teach various skills such as flips, wall spins, tumbling, tricking, and breakdancing to help practitioners showcase their movement range.
Junior parkour classes at the Hub address the ages of 4-7 years. The Lil Jumpers module highlights the developing ability of toddlers to move and navigate on their own. It helps them throughout their stumbling steps into parkour courses by introducing exciting obstacle routes and interactive games. The Pre-Beginner module breaks down the actual Youth Classes into bite-sized learning outcomes. This ensures maximum participation and productivity for kids who may struggle with the complete program.
PEAK Elite Gymnastics Academy
Recreation and competition
Located in Corvallis, Oregon, PEAK Elite Gymnastics Academy has recreational and competitive opportunities for gymnastics as well as parkour. At PEGA, kids easily warm up to the welcoming and enthusiastic parkour environments where the staff organizes birthday parties and camps as part of the parkour academics. These events are all COVID-proof to ensure maximum protection for students and families. To take a break from all the serious parkour training, camp activities are planned to add an element of innovation that helps kids recycle their interests. For example, the daily camp themes include Crazy Hair, Pajama, Water, Sports, and Super Hero Days.
With beginner ages from 6-11 years and intermediate ages from 8-14, the PEGA parkour classes prepare kids for body awareness and navigation skills. The academy makes use of gymnastics equipment, foam pits, and ninja warrior courses to give children something new to explore each time. This helps them build muscle strength and confidence as they adapt their perception to begin from scratch with every new challenge. The classes have a fast-paced efficiency, and they all focus on the vast movement spectrum to apply skills like running, swinging, climbing, vaulting, and quadrupedal movements.
In this way, kids learn to measure their surroundings and make calculated decisions to apply the most suitable movement during obstacle competitions. With frequent practices and exposure to new complexities, the young tracers understand the primary goal of a parkour course: moving from one point to another as quickly and smartly as possible.
In addition to parkour training, PEGA gyms also offer classes for recreational/competitive gymnastics and ninja warrior programs. These allow students to learn the ropes to multifaceted athletic disciplines. The Ninja Warriors program, in particular, makes a remarkable choice for parkour studentsas it integrates gymnastics, obstacle training, and freestyle movements. With ages from 3 to 11 years, the classes refine crucial life skills among children. These include listening skills, confidence for trying something new, managing frustrations, and becoming more agile.
PEGA Tots Preschool
The PEGA Tots Preschool program is a toddler-based hands-on approach to learning and exploring. Within PEGA’s gymnastic facilities and outdoor spaces, kids receive dynamic learning resources that cover sports as well as academics at the PEGA treehouse. The preschool initiative was launched to make education creative and enjoyable for kids to look forward to. Its Tots classes follow a special curriculum structure that focuses on literacy, art, math, sciences, cooking, and of course, gymnastics recess activities.
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”
Parkour games are one-stop choices for developmental stages among children. By mapping self-made routes and escape outlets, kids learn problem-solving techniques by enjoying the parkour courses and coming back for more. These quick and efficient traversals throughout the obstacle maze help kids build spatial as well as intellectual bridges. When they begin to connect the dots and make real-time decisions, they subconsciously train their minds to look for alternatives and solutions. Not only does this inspire them to overcome challenges, but it also adds the much-needed physical exercise to their daily life.
Young parkour practitioners need to work with expert coaches within purpose-built environments so that they can shine in their individual potential. By excelling at various movements and navigation skills, children develop a larger perspective of the world around them. They begin thinking outside the linear mainstream and become receptive to changes and complications. Most importantly–and despite its initial backstage presence–parkour places give kids a chance to appreciate the famous proverb when they are old enough to understand it: the best way out is always through.