Ever since Sébastien Foucan hit our screens back in 2003 with Channel 4’s “Jump London”, Parkour, or “Free Running” has been steadily increasing in popularity. We love to be amazed and entertained by clips of fearless free runners leaping and climbing across urban landscapes. Search “Parkour” or “free running” on YouTube and the hits on most results run into the millions.
But what strikes me is the inherent underground nature of participation. Even with Parkour’s use in films, such as Casino Royale, the sport doesn’t seem to have become as widely taken up as I would have expected.
Perhaps the relatively low participation has been due to a lack of space available to run and jump in safely? Or because of issues and complaints that climbing on property can bring. Free running doesn’t always seem to be so… free.
However, Parkour Generations have come up with a solution. “The Chainstore” Parkour Academy, in Trinity Buoy, London, the first and only dedicated Parkour/free running centre in the UK, opened its doors this month. Split into zones, the Chainstore offers a place for children and adults to freely train, either by themselves or under instruction by leading Parkour and fitness coaches.
The Parkour Zone
Designed to mimic the urban conditions of the outside world, the Parkour Zone is a metal, concrete and wooden jungle. A team of architects, graphic designers, construction experts and elite Parkour practitioners worked together to create the space, which is fully adjustable allowing it to be modified to suit all abilities. Complete with scaffolding structures, enormous tyres and concrete ledges you can challenge and develop your Parkour skills at any level.
Functional Fitness Gym
Squat racks, lifting platforms, kettlebells, tractor tyres, ropes, sledgehammers and more fill the expanse of the Functional Fitness Gym area of the Chainstore, one of the best equipped functional strength spaces in London. Olympic Weightlifting classes run here on a weekly basis, building on technique, power and strength.
An open space with a sprung floor, the Dance/Activity Zone is the perfect place for dance, yoga and martial arts. Fitness classes run here regularly, and there is the opportunity for the space to be hired for external classes or private training.
As well as the training zones, the Chainstore also boasts an observation deck for guests to relax, watch the training action, and have a recovery snack. Free WiFi is available, as well as access to tea, coffee, protein shakes and health foods.
Visiting The Chainstore
Membership to the Chainstore is just £35 per year, giving you 10% off their drop-in price of £8 per session. Classes run during the week, with a women’s only class also available on a Tuesday evening.
As well as the classes, there is also the opportunity to train independently, or even book an individual or group session with one of Parkour Generation’s expert coaches.
Monthly membership starts at £40 with a 12 month contract, giving you unlimited training, or £60 for training plus classes, with options for 6 month or rolling month contracts also available*.
Visit http://www.parkourgenerations.com/chainstore for more information.
* Prices correct at time of publishing.
Having visited the Chainstore on their opening event last week, and watched the action as people flung themselves to and from ledges barely a foot’s width, swung from scaffolding, and did pistol squats on narrow poles, I found myself itching to give it a go. Being the extremely clumsy person that I am, this may not be my wisest decision, and I could be playing a dangerous game, but the draw to indulge in my childish desire to climb and run and jump has won this time. Keep an eye out on Fitcetera to find out how I get on!
Photos by Ben Curwen/Parkour Generations.