“A lot of people think of parkour as only for young, athletic men who train with their shirts off,” says Blake Evitt, director of Parkour Generations Americas, with a grin. “In reality, parkour is for everybody.”
In the latest episode of SCOUTV, we step into Brooklyn Boulders to check out the “functional fitness” offered by this super off-the-wall workout.
Parkour, according to Parkour Generations Boston founder Blake Evitt, is much more than the high-flying, death-defying stunts you might have seen on YouTube—it’s a discipline, an art form and a fitness program. It means different things to different people. For some, it’s about the acrobatics; for others, it’s a practical way to get around, not unlike cycling or running. And the practice is progression-based. Everything Evitt teaches is scalable for people of different ages and abilities, and he has students from age four to age 70.
“My parkour may be different than yours,” he says, “but at the same time, we’re all training together.”
Evitt describes parkour as “functional fitness,” something you can do at an indoor space like Brooklyn Boulders, where he’s readying to teach a class on this winter evening, or at a local park, where his classes take place—regardless of the weather, and even on holidays like Christmas and New Years—each Sunday. The sport is all about using your body to travel safely and effectively through any environment, and that means being able to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
To Evitt, parkour can also be an agent for positive social change. He participated in a postgraduate fellowship that let him travel the world studying its practical applications. After years abroad learning the ins and outs of parkour, he returned to Somerville to found Parkour Generations Boston in 2012.
At the time, there really wasn’t anyone teaching the sport in Greater Boston. “We kind of started from square one,” he says. Today, you’ll see parkour practitioners bounding through Somerville’s streets or scaling equipment at area gyms. The Parkour Generations kids’ program is available in all of the local public schools, and many of the coaches are from Somerville. “We’ve kind of made Somerville our home,” Evitt notes.
For its part, Somerville is happy to have them—this summer, the city will become home to the first parkour park east of the Mississippi as part of the renovations to Lincoln Park.
This story originally appeared in the January/February print edition of Scout, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots throughout Somerville (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription.
SCOUTV is a multimedia collaboration between Scout Somerville and our friends at SCATV that brings the stories in each print edition of Scout to life with video and audio. You can find more installments in the series here.