A Mi’kmaw entrepreneur and Parkour enthusiast wants to make his dream of opening an indoor Parkour gym in the Halifax area a reality.
Glenn Knockwood, 34, is part of a trio of Parkourists who are currently saving money to secure a rental space suitable to practice the art of jumping over obstacles in a safe environment.
“So basically, what we are all doing is taking on as many jobs as we can to save as much as we can to try to get that capital so we can open a gym,” Knockwood said during a recent interview in Halifax.
“I have been working three jobs. One of my friends who has also been helping with the gym has been working two jobs,” Knockwood explained. “We are also trying to find any way to raise the funds to open the gym,” he added.
Parkour is the act of running from point A to point B while overcoming the obstacles in your path by jumping, climbing or flipping over objects. The sport has its roots in military training for the French special forces called “Parcours du combattant.”
Knockwood practices Parkour to stay in shape
Knockwood was 21 years old when he discovered Parkour in 2003. At the time, he was looking for a suitable activity to stay in shape.
“When I was young, I was morbidly obese. I weighed 350 pounds,” Knockwood explained. “Activity was not something that was of interest to me.”
Knockwood explained that when he was 13, he got into skateboarding with his friends in his home community of Indian Brook First Nation, N.S. which helped him lose weight and sparked his interest in being more active outdoors.
It was a few years after he moved to Halifax when someone suggested he watch videos online of young people jumping and climbing over fences, steps or anything else in their way from getting from one place to another.
“As soon as I saw that, I became instantly hooked,” Knockwood said.
Soon after that, he began seeking out other local people interested in Parkour, including his older brother, Bert.
“That’s where the Halifax Parkour community kind of started, from me and my brother realizing that there is energy that gives back to you when you practice Parkour,” Knockwood said.
“Everywhere you go, it’s like, ‘Oh I can get there, I can climb there.’ You can make your everyday experience fun,” he said.
Knockwood, partners need $56,000 to open Parkour gym
Those interested in Parkour usually gather at the clock tower on Citadel Hill once a week to practice jumping over fences, guardrails or leaping over the concrete steps.
Since helping to form the Halifax Parkour community in 2003, Knockwood has noticed that interest in the sport tends to wax and wane depending on the season.
“As the summer rolls in, the numbers increase and as the fall and winter rolls in, the numbers decrease,” he said.
Knockwood believes that an indoor gym will keep people’s interest in the sport all year round.
“We want to open a Parkour gym in Halifax because of the waxing and waning. We want to have a place where we can go inside and train and practice in a safe environment and then bring those skills back out into the city,” Knockwood explained.
According to Knockwood, the Parkour gym would offer classes aimed at beginners to practice jumping, leaping, and flipping using equipment to ensure safety. The gym would also offer long term memberships and drop-in rates for more experienced members.
Right now, Knockwood and his partners need approximately $56,000 in order to open a gym in one of the business parks in Dartmouth, N.S. So far, they’ve raised just under $10,000. He explains the group also plans to apply for loans and seek out investors to help them raise the full amount.
While Knockwood and his business partners continue to raise money to open a Parkour gym, he receives several calls a week from parents wanting to know when the gym will open.
“I am getting calls regularly inquiring about when the gym is opening so there is a lot of positive feedback,” Knockwood explains.
“Everyone I talk to respond with excitement.”