The February 2015 issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal features a cover story on what they identify as a rising trend in fitness – obstacle gyms.
The article, ‘Thinking Outside the Gym Box: back-to-basics training on obstacle courses invigorates a rising fitness trend’, is written by Ryan Halvorson and profiles a new trend of gyms targeting obstacle course racing or parkour. With interest for training in these gyms driven by popular events such as Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, or American Ninja Warrior – the article describes these gyms using the concept of “event-specific gyms”.
In terms of OCR, the article includes interviews with Mylo Villanueva of MYLO Obstacle Fitness and Alex Nicholas of Epic Hybrid Training; while parkour-wise, it includes interviews with Ryan Ford of Apex Movement and Dan Edwardes of Parkour Generations.
Unfortunately it’s stuck behind a pay-wall, and so can’t be read online unless you’re willing to become a member. Check it out here.
My partner being from America and a member of ACE, I was quite surprised when the journal she receives as part of her membership appeared in our mailbox with an article on OCR and parkour on the front cover. Being able to read a hard-copy, I can tell you that the article includes no massive insights into the OCR or parkour industries or the fitness methods they use. Most people familiar with OCR or parkour would likely know everything discussed in the article already. However, what is exciting about this article is what it potentially means… read below for 5 reasons why this article is important.
5 reasons the article is important
- Recognition. The article shows the fitness industry is paying attention to OCR and parkour. IDEA, as the “world’s leading organization of fitness and wellness professionals”, has a large reach within the fitness industry and an article in their journal on a rising trend potentially has a lot of power to influence the fitness industry. OCR and parkour are reaching the point where fitness professionals are taking notice.
- Validation. Leading on from the above point, I can’t help but feel a small sense of selfish-validation that the style of fitness I personally train (OCR and parkour) is being recognised. Not only recognised, but recognised together – as, from my experience, OCR and parkour are often talked about and trained separately from each other with not too much mixing between the two communities. It’s good to see an article discussing them both on the same page.
- Spread of a fitness-based approach. Applying more to parkour, the article, in my mind, shows the spread of a fitness-based approach to parkour. This is important because it’s not an approach all of the current parkour gyms take. Many are not orientated for fitness and are not filled with fitness equipment, but rather are orientated for acrobatics and are filled with gymnastics equipment which is also used for parkour. While parkour has an acrobatic side to it, it also has a fitness side to it which I would argue can be more accessible and can benefit more people than the advanced flips and tricks many parkour gyms emphasise.
- Promotion of safe training. The article makes the point that with the incredible rise of the popularity of OCR in recent years there has also been a rise in OCR caused injuries. A way to prevent this, as the article points out, is correct training before races, and obstacle gyms are the perfect place to safely do this. Learning how to overcome a wall with instruction in a controlled environment is a lot different, and less injury prone, than throwing yourself over one with no idea of good technique when you’re fatigued during a race.
- Opportunities. Being a rising trend, it will create change. And change brings with it opportunities: opportunities for more obstacle gyms to open, opportunities for more people to get active through practicing OCR and parkour, and opportunities for more people to find jobs in the industry such as OCR or parkour coaches or event organisers, and so on. (P.S. I graduate with a degree in Sport Management at the end of this year and will be looking for a job. Any OCR or parkour gyms hiring? …doesn’t hurt to ask, right)
Where to find an obstacle gym
If you’re reading this from my home country of New Zealand, there are currently two parkour gyms in the country:
Beyond this there are also many non-facility based parkour classes operating outdoors, such as Movement Unleashed in Wellington.
While I’m not so familiar with the OCR-training scene in NZ, there is at least two gyms offering OCR training in NZ: