There’s an odd theory that cats always land on their feet – but not many people know that with enough training, humans can become pretty good at this same skill.
Michael Kleyn knows full well the value of being quick on your feet. About one year ago, he collided head-on with a vehicle while on his bicycle, flew over the car, but somehow rolled out of it.
Besides some cuts, scrapes, bruises and a stiff shoulder, he was none the worse for wear. He attributes his quick reflexes to years of training in the art of parkour.
Parkour, for those not familiar with the sport, is the activity of moving rapidly through an area, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping and climbing. The goal is often to get from one point to the other in the most efficient and fastest way possible.
Since he was young, Kleyn has been moving. With over 40 years of experience, he has started teaching youth in the South Okanagan. His teachings in the art of movement have led him around the world.
Kleyn’s classes have since become a big hit in communities surrounding Penticton; so much so that Kleyn decided to set up a parkour gym in Penticton, the first in the South Okanagan.
On Tuesday night, council unanimously approved a three-year temporary use permit for Ethos Parkour and Movement Inc. to set up in Penticton’s industrial district. A large warehouse located at 647 Okanagan Avenue East is soon to be filled with structures and mats for individuals of all ages to maneuver around.
Michael and his wife Heather started Ethos Parkour together, a combined vision to promote an active lifestyle through movement.
“Parkour has been described as an alternative sports opportunity for kids who maybe don’t fit into the basketball mould or the soccer mould,” said Heather.
Although there are both individual and team events within the sport, Parkour is very much individualized activity. Some youth have a wide range of skills, and some not so much, but Heather says all are celebrated.
“You’re always going after your personal best,” she said.
“And those kind of breakthroughs — when a kid starts out a class not able to do something, and then they’re able to — we believe that carries over into their character, and they’re able to hold their head high.”
Michael that although Parkour is very much an individualized sport, youth in their classes often work with each other, and encourage each other when they conquer a problem or obstacle.
“That’s honestly the big reward in a sense, the part I really enjoy the most is watching youth, kids, teens, and even parents … overcoming obstacles in their lives, mindsets and fears,” he said.
Their goal is to create a culture of movement which will become their “ethos,” or mantra.
While in Mexico, the Kleyns became involved with an abolitionist group, a group that exists due to the high level of human trafficking in the south. This brought about their name, the idea of freedom. Freedom of movement, freedom of expression through movement, but also the freedom from human trafficking.
The end goal, they hope, is to have Ethos support anti-human trafficking groups.
The duo hopes to open the new parkour gym in mid-January and will host a variety of classes as well as birthday parties.
To learn more about the gym, visit Facebook.com/EthosParkour, ethosparkour_est2010 on Instagram or contact Michael for registration at 250-918-8616.
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