The Penzer Park outdoor Parkour facility in Langley City has been drawing crowds since it opened last year. Now, there are plans to offer lessons in the sport. Times File Photo

VIDEO: Parkour course for kids offered by Langley City

Indoor training at Timms centre, outdoor at Penzer park

One year after Langley City opened the largest outdoor Parkour park in Canada, the municipal parks and recreation department has launched its first training program in the obstacle-hopping sport.

The program for kids gets underway later this month, with training provided by Journey Parkour, a group of long-time Parkour enthusiasts with more than a decade of experience.

“There was only about a dozen of us and we’d go out and train together,” said Journey owner Jessie Simpson.

“It’s been more than a hobby.”

Simpson said the movie version of Parkour, with death-defying leaps and scary near-misses, is nothing like the real thing.

“There is a very large misconception,” Simpson said.

The sport accommodates a range of abilities and ages.“If you have a body that can move (that’s all you need),” she said.

“Parkour is a very safe sport.”

All that is required is basic athletic wear and good athletic shoes, Simpson said.

The first classes, for kids aged from six to 14, will begin during spring break from March 19 to March 23.

During the week-long camp, students will learn basic jumping, safe landing and rolling, movement, basic vaults, spatial awareness and more.

There is also a six-week introductory class that will run from April to May.

The outdoor class is weather-dependant, and an indoor course will also be offered at the Timms Community Centre.

Those interested can find out information about when to book by going to the Langley City website and searching for RecConnect, then searching for Parkour on the RecConnect page.

READ MORE: Largest outdoor Parkour park in Canada opens in Langley City

The new facility in Langley City opened at 198C Street and 47A Avenue last year, following a $1.3 million re-do, with $500,000 coming from the federal government and $800,000 from the City.

The former baseball diamond and soccer pitch now features a 10,000-square foot collection of heavy-duty wooden forms designed to accommodate a sport where competitors navigate obstacles by running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, and other movements.

The Parkour park, designed by Parkour Vision and installed by Marathon Athletics, is connected to a pair of new playgrounds designed for children aged two to five, and five to 12.

All of it rests on three inches of shock-absorbing rubber made from recycled tires, with a red and black pattern that offers kids the challenge of avoiding the red “lava” as they navigate the course.

Simpson calls it “one of the best in North America” and “a huge stepping stone” for a sport that is not yet formally recognized in B.C.

The Langley Parkour course has proven to be more popular than expected, and that has forced the City to accelerate construction of its next phases.

READ MORE: Canada’s biggest outdoor Parkour park may need more parking

The City has just finished building a wood shelter that provides shade to some picnic tables next to the Parkour course, council has just given preliminary approval to a financial plan that includes expansion of the Penzer parking lot, and workers have been digging up the road in front of Penzer to prepare for the sewer and water hookups that will be required when the planned new washrooms go in.

It’s hoped construction will begin this spring.

While Penzer already has washroom facilities, they are located at the opposite end of the park, near the cycling facility that predates the new equipment.

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