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MoveFree parkour classes expand to Kirkland
By K.J. Hiramoto
UW News Lab
The rising popularity of parkour, a training regimen, has grown from viral YouTube shares to classes being taught throughout the Eastside. Kyle Groussman and Rami Mackay of the MoveFree Academy opened their newest location at the Kirkland Boys and Girls Club earlier in the year to teach teens and preteens how to parkour.
“It was tough finding time to set everything up first,” Mackay said. “But here we are now with eight total locations and having this as our full-time jobs. I feel like we’re in a good spot.”
Parkour is a training discipline developed using military obstacle course training. Participants use only things in the environment to move from place to place.
Mackay, who co-founded the MoveFree Academy with Groussman said that the toughest part of launching their business initially was finding the time to set everything up efficiently.
“At that time I was a full-time student and working another job,” Mackay said. “Kyle was also working another job but we finally found time.”
The academy started off by teaching free lessons in the teen center at the Bellevue Boys and Girls Club, the classes progressed to paid classes, and eventually other Boys and Girls Club locations began asking Groussman and Mackay if they would be willing to teach classes in multiple locations.
Groussman, a parkour coach, said that there’s more to the sport than just running and jumping. He explains there are various components related to studying the art of human movement.
“A lot of people think parkour is a new sport,” said Groussman. “But we look a lot into proper biomechanics and kinematics. Everything it takes to not only maximize the kids’ performance and safety. We also look at recommendations from local physical therapists on how they should squat, strike their feet, or land.”
Groussman added that the program draws a lot of inspiration from the discipline involved in martial arts.
“We view parkour as not necessarily just a sport but also a discipline,” Groussman said. “We kind of hit the ground running in these classes. From the first day of the curriculum, we borrow milestones and teach them certain movements depending on their skill level.”
Daniel Hall has taught students how to do parkour for MoveFree Academy for six months. He said that his favorite part of teaching his students is watching the sense of progression.
“Many will come in not knowing much about parkour and they’ll have a big idea from videos on the internet and expect huge roof jumps,” Hall said. “Some of them feel discouraged initially, but those that don’t become ambitious and feel a sense of achievement as they improve.”
K.J. Hiramoto is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communications News Laboratory.