Parkour is a made-up word with French roots tied to the meaning of the word “route” but it’s a new sport and lifestyle dedicated to the way of getting from one place to another. Usually, this sport takes place in an urban environment, running at full speed, and getting to a certain location by going up and over obstacles, throwing in rolls, vaults, martial arts moves, and now, skateboarding-inspired tricks, rolls, and railslides (but using one’s feet).

Parkour, which is done by what are called “tracuers,” was invented in Paris by David Belle, the son of a fireman and acrobat, and caught on like wildfire via viral videos throughout the last 7 years as more people followed the flow of parkour initially in Europe and now flooding into the United States. It was considered so cool, that in 2006, the James Bond 007 movie “Casino Royale” opened up the action with a 15-minute parkour scene with Bond chasing after a parkour bad-guy through the streets of a hardcore African city. The performer in the movie was Belle’s friend Sebastian Foucan who, along with Belle, have become stars in this growing subculture, having appeared in several other video clips, commercials and movies. Foucan is actually credited for creating the sister-version of Parkour called freerunning, which incorporates many of the same moves, but also takes normal, traditional running to new levels with almost a dance-like twist.

Now, there’s a dedicated facility in California, one of only a handful in the United States (but something to watch as brands, architects, and designers get into the scene) called the Tempest Freerunning Academy located in the Chatsworth Commerce Center in Los Angeles. The facility is solely dedicated to the art of parkour and freerunning, featuring all levels of classes in a world-class gym, which looks somewhat like a cool indoor street skatepark. The facility was actually designed by Team Tempest and X-Games course designer Nate Wessel, which is where the crossover initiates.

Actually, some of the moves that the freerunners and tracuers are using incorporate a Warped Wall (not to be confused with the Vans Warped Tour, or maybe so ) that’s a graffiti-ed kicker that the athletes use for very skateboard-like moves but using their bodies, hands, and feet.

Parkour and freerunning is clearly catching: As noted in our Youth Culture Studies over the past 7 years, it continues to increase as a sport that 13-25-year-olds (particularly 15-17-year-olds) would like to learn, now coming in 25th and tied with Martial Arts.

Tempest TV, which promotes the sports of Parkour and freerunning has stepped-up and become one of the best viral video media companies in the biz, creating major buzz and lifestyle elements as it traces the participants from the Tempest Academy, to high school tours, even backstage at the Conan O’Brien show when they were featured (Conan actually jumped off his desk in a funny imitation of the performance).

With Tempest TV and the facility attracting even more attention to this growing subculture, we can expect that it’s a phenomenon, perhaps some day on the level of skateboarding and snowboarding, as a future sport and lifestyle among the next generation.

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