Bristol in the running to be home to one of UK’s first Parkour gyms

April 13, 2018
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Bristol is set to be the venue for one of the country’s first gyms dedicated to Parkour – the training discipline often associated with urban freerunning – after being selected by an operator based in the city.

The sport is already hugely popular around the world and more than 100,000 people the UK regularly taking part in Parkour activities. 

However, only a small handful of specialist centres have been set up in this country to meet the demand for training facilities.

Now Bristol-based Parkour Jam has chosen its home city as the ideal location for a specialist gym and has appointed local property specialists Williams Gunter Hardwick to acquire a suitable 5,000 sq ft to 8,000 sq ft property to host it.

Parkour Jam was formed by entrepreneur and Parkour convert Max Lawrence. He has spent several decades in the leisure sector, establishing successful boutique hotels and organising desert marathons as well as setting up popular trampoline parks, including a large one recently near Paris.

He believes Parkour is a branch of the fitness sector that is going to grow massively over the next few years.

Originally known as ‘Art du deplacement’ (art of movement), it was first developed in France and is a training discipline developed from military obstacle course training. It combines running, climbing, jumping and vaulting. 

Max believes Parkour is growing incredibly quickly in popularity among people of all ages because it is more challenging than running and far more fun. 

“It’s seen as a non-combative martial art because it requires discipline and if you take it seriously you can become very fit indeed – as well as extremely agile, as it makes different demands on the body to a straightforward gym session,” he said. 

“It’s also a very social activity and everyone can take part at their own level. It particularly appeals to children and adults who are not into traditional team sports such as rugby, football or prefer the freedom which Parkour offers in comparison to the rigid rules of gymnastics. 

“It also builds their self-confidence – and I know that from my own children as well as what many parents tell me.”

Max first got involved with the sport after his two young sons tried it out with a local coach and got hooked. 

“I could see what a fantastic activity it was for energetic children like mine, but I soon realised that we don’t have the venues where people can acquire the skills from experienced coaches,” he said.

“Parkour is all about movement outdoors, but the safe way to learn is in a specialised and coached environment where moves can be practised with very low risk of injury.”

“The traditional gymnasium sector is doing well at the moment, but I see Parkour as the next ‘big thing’ with the scope for many more specialist venues like this all around the country.

“I chose Bristol as our first venue simply because the city has such a great vibe – it’s a place where people love trying out new things.”

Williams Gunter Hardwick how has the challenge of tracking down the right property to house the new venture.

Associate director Mike Woodliffe said: “Bristol doesn’t have a great deal of empty space of any kind! Ideally, we are looking for up to 8,000 sq ft where a course can be set out and, alongside that, a hospitality space for spectators – perhaps on a mezzanine level.

“It could be an industrial property or warehouse, or even a disused church or public building – we have a completely open mind. It will need a minimum height as well to allow for the climbing equipment.

“The search is on throughout the greater Bristol area, and if anyone has a potential property for us to look at, we’d love to hear from them.”

 

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