The Dixie State University Parkour and Freerun Club flip, roll and vault into an expression of freedom and movement.
The club, which sometimes includes participants of all ages, touts safety and practice, along with the idea of freedom and movement, said St. George resident and past club president Kelson Erwin.
Club president Robert Peterson, a sophomore general education major from Sacramento, California, said he became interested in parkour when he was 16 years old from watching YouTube videos.
“When I saw [Erwin] training at … Club Rush … it just drew me in, and I had to go and talk to him [to] find out how I could learn,” Peterson said. “From then on, it just started escalating until I started doing more and more intricate movements.”
Peterson, who was asked by Erwin last spring to become the president of the club, said it is an honor to hold the title. He said he had only been training about eight months at the time. Peterson said that he was chosen for the position because he attended the meetings the most and Erwin thought he was responsible.
“[Erwin] told me that I had what it took not only to train parkour with him, but lead … and he trusted me with it,” Peterson said.
Peterson said about 50 people have signed up on campus as members of the club. Club meets are held at the designated area on campus, which is the fire pit next to the fountain, he said.
“The people who actually commit to parkour are those who seek us out personally,” Peterson said.
Members are often approached by non-student St. George residents, and everyone meets up at places like Barefoot Gymnasium, Peterson said.
The club is able to practice at the fire-pit area on campus, Peterson said. He said one of his goals is to expand the designated practice area on campus, and he would like to hold more club meetings on campus in the future.
Influence for club members has come from several avenues, including Las Vegas street performers and YouTube, St. George resident and club participant Skylar Hill said.
“I saw one guy that was performing on Fremont Street in Vegas,” Hill said. “He flipped over a guy, and I [thought], ‘That’s cool, I want to learn that.’”
Peterson said that the club went to a fundraising event in July called Tranquil Initiation Tradition in Colorado. At the end of the event, there was an obstacle course where one person was timed and another person was ranked on style, he said.
“There are very few competitions in parkour, (which is) the reason why is it is more like an art than a sport, so it is extremely difficult to judge,” Erwin said.
Erwin said there have been zero injuries since the club started. One of the issues that came up when the club was being formed was the potential for injury, he said. Training starts off very basic, and new members are discouraged from working outside on the concrete until they are secure in the basics and are able to perform in a gymnastics setting, he said.
“We always have safety measures for every movement we do,” Erwin said. “That way, very few people get injured. It’s like building blocks: Before you see the guys do crazy things, they have done it a million time inside the padded environments.”
Parkour movements are practiced on a small scale until mastered, Erwin said. Then each movement is built upon.
“Basically, you have to start small,” Erwin said.
The club, Erwin said, had a rough start due to conflicts arising about the safety of the club members and concerns about damaging property.
Erwin, who was club president at the time, said the club adviser, Kathryn Ott, went to a meeting in defense of the club May 22. The result of the meeting was that the club could practice in a designated area on campus.
“She was the only faculty (member) … at the meeting [who] was on our side,” Erwin said. “The club president was not invited to the meeting on whether or not the club should be shut down.”
Erwin said parkour is gaining popularity.
“It is one of those things you can do without a ball (or) without a bat — anybody can do it … All you need is your body,” Erwin said.
For more information, contact Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.