Soon, the Dixie Wax Paper building in the Elmwood neighborhood of Oak Cliff will be home to Dallas' newest co-working space, Tyler Station. But for now it's just an empty building, and a local group called Fugitive Fitness took advantage of that fact last weekend for a free workshop that taught newbies all about parkour.
Parkour is the sport of running, jumping or climbing through an urban setting. Architectural features like walls and rails become obstacles that practitioners can use to challenge their fitness levels. On YouTube are all kinds of videos of parkour experts doing their thing. Their videos look like something out of an action movie.
Last Saturday, the group that Fugitive Fitness drew out was more on the beginner end of things, but a few of the attendees who've been learning parkour in Dallas for a while now say the inclusiveness of the sport is exactly what makes it so appealing. You don't have to look like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible to have fun and get a good workout.
"Getting on something higher, jumping further, is really awesome, and that's what I love about the whole thing," Taylor Godbey said. "It's those small achievements that parkour brings to everybody, where it's not just this, 'You can either do it or you can't.' It meets you where you're at."
Another participant, Tiffany Huntley, likes the fact that parkour accommodates her schedule. "It challenges my mental and physical fitness and it doesn't require a gym," she said. "Parkour, I can do anywhere, and it's really nice not having to go lift weights somewhere or go to a rock-climbing gym. I can just go outside wherever I'm at and train."
Fugitive Fitness instructor Andrew Simmons, who was on hand Saturday to show people the ropes, is attracted to parkour because he feels it's a kind of exercise we're meant to be doing. "The human body was meant to move very dynamically," he said.
Simmons was excited by the invitation to host a parkour workshop at the new Tyler Station space because he says there aren't many opportunities to explore settings like that legally. "You don't get a lot of opportunities to do this within the rules," he said.
According to Fugitive Fitness owner Chad Deaver, parkour also serves another, even more practical purpose by teaching practitioners how to get out of dangerous situations quickly. "It's much like martial arts in the sense that you train with the hope that you'll never have to use it. There's kind of that underlying, 'If my house burns down ... am I going to be able to figure out a way down? Am I going to be able to survive?'"
In addition to workshops like the one offered last Saturday, Fugitive Fitness hosts nature workshops, which take groups to local nature preserves and creeks. If you're bold, Deaver said there's no reason to take a class. Just get out there, try things and see what works.
"But if you're a little afraid and want a little instruction, then by all means check out one of our classes or workshops," he said.
For a schedule of Fugitive Fitness' parkour classes and events, and information on pricing, visit fugitivefit.com.