It's hard to forget that hilarious episode of The Office that opens with Michael, Dwight and Andy attempting parkour, after Jim (the instigator) mentions that it was used during a chase scene in 2006's Casino Royale. It starts simply enough – with the trio jumping from desk to chair to door in their attempt to “get from point A to point B as creatively as possible” – but the ending is a bit unfortunate, when Andy jumps from the rooftop only to discover the box he lands on offers no cushion.
Expect a little less stupidity and a lot more fun when Urban Movement brings parkour to Discovery Green in a series of weekly training sessions. “[Parkour] really makes you look at the whole world in a different way,” says Wes Hamner, founding member, senior coach and director. “After you get into training, you start to think of the whole world as your playground. Suddenly, a sidewalk doesn't look like the only way; you see a small wall that you'd rather go over rather than go around.
Hamner says the Discovery Green class is more of a beginner's class but is scalable based on skill level; it's also limited to the first 25 participants. “It changes every week, and it depends on what theme we're working on that day. All of the classes begin in the same place and then we warm up: sometimes crawling through the field, sometimes the wooden deck; there's some railing behind The Grove that you use to balance or for climbing on. On other days, there's some granite walls. It really does change every week.”
The coaches use a deconstructed approach as participants run, jump, climb, crawl, balance, vault and move fluidly through Discovery Green. Meet at the deck by the Brown Promenade under the big oak trees. “Every person, whether they're fit or an untrained beginner, we're going to find a way to challenge them,” says Hamner.
6:30-8 p.m. Thursdays. March 3 through June 30. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-400-7336 or visit discoverygreen.com. Free.
Besides Discovery Green, which we think is a pretty cool place to train, we asked Hamner for his list of the five best places in Houston for parkour, as an update to Jef Rouner's 2014 list of “10 Best Places for Parkour in Houston.” Here's Wes Hamner's list:
5. Tranquility Park (lots of levels)
4. Sesquicentennial Park (by Wortham Theater Center)
3. Jones Plaza (downtown)
2. Rice University (Hamner says there are a lot of places to train on the Rice campus.)
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1. “And I would be remiss if I didn't mention our gym,” says Hamner. Urban Movement teaches classes at Studio Fitness in the Heights, with extensive equipment and a cool graffiti-grunge-industrial look.