Builds: Safety, Adaptability, and Inspiration

     One of the many intentions of parkour is to push one's own limits. All the limits. In just a few short years the sport has developed much faster than anyone could have anticipated. It has given kids a healthy outlet to push their own boundaries and to discover what their bodies and minds are capable of. With rapid growth and progress comes problems pertaining to parkour gyms and builds. A Build is any individual/group of obstacles designed for parkour and movement, including, but not limited to, parkour gyms, parkour parks, individually sold obstacles, or temporary build-outs. There are a few core concepts to take into account about parkour builds; safety, adaptability, and inspiration. 

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      Safety always comes first and is pretty straightforward, can you jump on the box and apply normal force without it breaking? Under normal circumstances is the obstacle going to break, shift, or lose structural integrity? Objects should be made out of high quality material, and any unsafe qualities such as excessively sharp objects (i.e. protruding screws and nails) should not be in a gym or any build. Bars should be welded together by a professional, and you should think very hard about the type of floor you want in your facility. For example, astro turf might seem like a great choice until you realize dust starts to build much more easily. Or if you wanted carpet bonded foam floor, be prepared to have your obstacles slide a fair amount. you should never use pallets or pressboard, and there are many other common sense safety guidelines that could be a mile long list but let’s not get into that unless you want to go into construction.

     Following that, adaptability is a little more subjective. Modular gyms designed with mobile obstacles in mind, are highly preferred in this genre because them being versatile makes it so that new life and possibilities can be brought to the space. In the same respect a boring plywood box is going to be less interesting then a carefully designed obstacle, like the Tetris Vault, which has multiple levels, and arrangements in which you can use it. Being able to use an obstacle in conjunction with other obstacles while being able to move through a gym fluidly without awkward obstacles blocking your way is a true blessing. It’s a long thought process to avoid adding poorly designed features which don’t add to the variations and movements in the space. Having specific spaces be adaptable for classes, workshops, and casual training is hard to keep versatile and requires a lot of foresight in the stages of planning a gym build. 

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     Inspiration is the most conceptual of these three topics, as well as the most often overlooked. Inspiration is the moment a person looks at an obstacle and is moved to try something on it. This happens while training outside all the time, you see a fascinating new architecture style, or just a weird shaped installation. You get excited, your inner child comes to life and you just need to jump on that particular object. That's inspiration. It’s hard to create new and exciting objects, that inspire people to play on them, and further their movement. People travel and take inspiration from other places in their own builds. Innovation is a hard concept to get right, because it requires lots of trial and error with designing the right “kind” of obstacle.

     Regardless of the points made, as with all large communities, there are people who disagree with the generally accepted standards. Why they disagree with these standards is what sets people apart. There are a few main reasons why someone wouldn’t follow the quality standards mentioned. Some people simply don’t understand the nuances of safely building a training facility. Some people may not do things the generally accepted way because they believe that they have a better idea of how things should be done. While others would rather just cut corners to do things cheaply. Either way the staff at PPK Philly will always strive to meet the highest quality of standards while pushing innovation forward.