Parkour is an urban, acrobatic sport that involves running, leaping, vaulting, jumping and climbing. It’s not just a visually stunning activity, it is also a natural, training discipline using movement that is applied to every aspect of your movement through life.
As this sport is becoming increasingly popular, more facilities are popping up around the Kingdom. We take you a little bit (or jump!) closer to the current parkour scene in Saudi and speak to Jon Dean, a parkour and free-running guru who studied physical education gymnastics. Inspired by online parkour videos, Jon would stay back in the gym after school and practice maneuvers and tricks.
Committed to bringing parkour to Saudi, he formed what is being deemed Saudi’s first and largest youth parkour academy, called Flite Freerun. Located in Rawdah district in Jeddah, the academy features an indoor parkour-specific training zone with a combination of rooms designed to mimic an outdoor urban atmosphere along with a soft indoor environment. The gym is open to children from four years old and adults.
The gym also offers one-on-one coaching sessions for Autistic children and soon, a segment for the elderly to help them develop better strength and balance. Parkour can improve mental strength as you apply more skills by running, jumping, rolling, and much more. Parkour is a safe sport mainly when coached in a safe environment and so Jon recommends people to first train with professional coaches before practicing the sport outside on the streets.
Jon has approached the Ministry of Education to adopt parkour as part of the curriculum. So far, Flite Freerun is running training programs in Jeddah at Bounce, Koora Arena, Nun Academy, and American International School. “We are ready to expand to Riyadh and help the capital city teach quality parkour,” says Jon.
This year, Jon created a new brand specifically for the parkour academy that will help put Saudi Parkour on the world map. To join them in this venture, Ed Scott, one of the world’s best parkour athletes, will work closely with the coaches to raise the standards and fine-tune the curriculum. Jon’s goal this year is to up their game and launch more competitions and take the team abroad to compete, with the corporation and help of the General Sports Authority and Ministry of Education.
Safety is huge! So before you start rollin’, here are the other places you can practice parkour in:
Parkour KSA (Jeddah)
Bounce KSA (Jeddah, Riyadh)