Stunt safety key in parkour

Assistant coach and elite student Luke Emerson and advanced group Josh Muir, Gage Olsen, Nathan Muir, Tinus Nel, and Tyee Dixon.

One gym has proved that climbing and swinging off buildings like a monkey isn't always reckless and unsafe.

Te Puke Gymsports is getting kids off the streets by teaching them how to land safely when they try stunts in their backyard.

The urban sport, parkour, involves free running and disciplined movements that were developed from military obstacle course training. It includes running, swinging, jumping, rolling, crawling and somersaults.

Te Puke Gymsports head parkour manager Nikki Smith says they are the only gym club in the Bay of Plenty that offers parkour.

The parkour club has 40 students from the ages of five to 15, including beginners, intermediate, advanced and elite.

To measure which group fits the students best they are judged on their speed and skill level.

“They learn how to get over objects by free-flowing through, and once they get up to the more advanced classes, they do somersaults over the apparatuses,” Nikki says.

Parkour is a very spiritual sport with the mentality that if you free your mind, your body will follow.

Nikki says they get a few kids who have ADHD and Asperger's, who don't do well in traditional sports, but thrive in parkour.

“You get kids who are all arms and legs, so when they try and do sports they are uncoordinated, but they can do it and they love it.”

She says a lot of people see parkour as a dangerous sport but it teaches kids how to land correctly when they are trying out new stunts.

“In layman's terms if they jumped out of a tree they wouldn't break their leg, because they've learned how to break the fall.”

“They're learning how to land safely and roll and do all those things that they can do outside.”

Last weekend the gym had an in-house competition where students showed off their skills.

Nikki says it was their first competition and it was great to see all the kids getting involved.

“The competition was a great success and it was cool to see what they could do and how far they pushed themselves.”



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