A few months ago, my son attended a friend’s birthday party at a gym I’d never heard of, which teaches a sport I’d only just barely heard of. He came home raving about the fantastic party and absolutely positive that he wanted to hold his own birthday party at Breathe Parkour Calgary too!
What’s parkour, you ask? Excellent question! According to Wikipedia (and they can explain it better than I can), parkour is a “training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training. Practitioners aim to get from one point to another in a complex environment, without assistive equipment and in the fastest and most efficient way possible. Parkour includes running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, quadrupedal movement, and other movements as deemed most suitable for the situation.”
In addition to being great exercise and a good confidence builder, parkour is – according to the kids I know – super cool.
Breathe Parkour Calgary (there’s a Lethbridge gym too), located within the Calgary Central Sportsplex, is a studio space devoted entirely to the sport of parkour. It consists of equipment, obstacles, a foam pit and great instructors, all for the purpose of learning and honing parkour skills.
The party started with a discipline (listening to your instructor is a must) and safety discussion, including which equipment and obstacles the kids were allowed to use (not the really high spots!) and how to safely get down from higher obstacles. The gym uses a colour-coded bracelet system, similar to martial arts belts. The colour of your bracelet indicates your skill/training level and therefore which equipment you are qualified to use. All of our guests were first or second-time visitors and so received Level 1 (white) bracelets to wear at the gym and to take home afterwards.
The instructor went on to give the kids information and some impressive demonstrations about balance, strength and the use of body weight and momentum in parkour. They played some games to warm up and then got to try out their own moves on a variety of equipment. Running up the wall (incline plane) was a favourite.
Although the birthday boy was turning 9, we had guests ranging in age from 6 to 10 years old and they all had a great time. There was no trouble with their differing ability levels; everyone was trying new things and working to achieve their own goals. They were great about cheering each other on, too!
The foam pit was a big highlight for all the kids. They learned how to safely jump and fall into the pit and then had a blast ‘swimming’ their way across to the other side. The group also did a ‘fear’ activity, which is included in the Elite and VIP party packages. While done in a very controlled environment and perfectly safe, the ‘fear’ activity encourages kids to try something new and a bit scary. Successfully completing the fear activity teaches them what a thrill and confidence boost it is when you tackle something you’re not altogether sure about; it’s a great life lesson! In our case, the kids were blindfolded and then fell backwards off a high platform, into the foam pit. All but the youngest 6-year-old took up the challenge and you could see they felt proud of themselves for braving it.
From a party-host, perspective, this one was a breeze. You get to bring in your own food and cake; large picnic tables are provided and the washrooms are very near the tables. The instructor was 100% in charge of the kids while they were in the gym and we had lots of time to set up the tables for snack time. The kids were so keen to get back into the gym for their free play time that we barely had 20 minutes to feed them some snacks and cake!
While parents were not needed to supervise in the gym space, we were also not discouraged from going in to take some photos, give some extra child encouragement or just watch the fun.
Birthday parties at Breathe Parkour start at $250 for the basic package (up to 15 guests, and you don’t pay for adults who don’t participate in the parkour; there’s lots of room for extra adults to hang out). This basic package includes 40 minutes of class with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable instructor, table space in the party room for the full length of the party (plus you can set up a few minutes early) and supervised free play time in the parkour studio after food/cake time. Elite and VIP packages cost just a little more and include a ‘fear’ activity and other special perks, like a t-shirt for the birthday kid and stickers for all the party guests.
Breathe Parkour is a pretty long drive from our house, so please don’t tell my kids that they also offer summer camps and classes for kids between 6 and 16+ years old; I know they’d be begging me to sign them up and we just don’t have time right now!
Our kids and their guests all raved about their Breathe Parkour experience and expressed a desire to return ASAP. Several said they want their next birthday party to be at Breathe Parkour; I’d definitely recommend it!
Breathe Parkour Contact Details:
Thank you to Breathe Parkour for hosting or party; all opinions expressed here are my own. ~am