December 26, 2023

Breathe Parkour: History

As of today, Breathe Parkour is the proud home of nearly 2 dozen staff and trainers, hundreds of regular members, and remains Calgary's only purpose built Parkour training facility.
Breathe Parkour: History

Our Founder, Matt, was on journey to get healthy! In the late 2000's Matt got out of a bad relationship and took stock of his life. At 23 years old and just over 100 pounds, he lived a fairly unhealthy lifestyle. Work, come home, play video games, go to bed, repeat. Something needed to change. He decided to get healthy and started where anyone would, by going to the gym. Unfortunately, he quickly realized that "I need to be healthier" wasn't enough motivation to keep him showing up. Step two was joining team sports as a way to motivate himself. If he needed to be better at hockey, he'd HAVE to go to the gym. Right?

Unfortunately, team sports was not his thing. After a year of bouncing from sport to sport, he was feeling pretty discouraged, and fell back into old habits with little to show for his efforts. One night, while browsing YouTube, he came across a video of people that reminded him of the opening scene from Casino Royale, but these were just ordinary looking people doing super human, or super hero, things. A few weeks later, at a family dinner, he showed the video to his father. To his surprise, Matt's dad told him that his Godfather's son actually taught the sport in the video, typically at local parks. So, he signed up.

Although Parkour was incredibly fun, it was also incredibly challenging. Matt had found his motivation to get into the gym and eat better! Over the course of the next 18 months, he trained hard, put on 45 pounds, and even became a personal fitness coach at a local gym that offered Parkour classes! While working there, he met a girl named Frankie and she also got involved in the Parkour community shortly after. It was around this time that the two of them realized that Parkour was missing a key thing that other action sports had, a magazine! Parkour needed a way to spread stories, promote heroes, and grow the culture of the sport.

Originally founded in 2010, and officially registered on January 4th, 2011, the world's first printed Parkour magazine was formed. It's first issue was very modest, being designed and distributed out of Matt and Frankie's attic apartment, but quickly grew due to popularity. At it's peak "Breathe Parkour Magazine" had readers all over the world, including France, the UK, Russia, China, South America, and across Canada. Despite it's popularity, it became clear that a print publication was going to struggle to compete in an ever more digital landscape.

Shortly before the second edition was set to release, something awesome happened. Agents and production companies from around the world began reaching out to Breathe Parkour Magazine to find Parkour athletes to be actors and stunt people in photo shoots, commercials, and live events. The company quickly pivoted to being a quasi form of talent agency. It was wonderful to see athletes head all over the world and for the sport to start getting more and more recognition. The company was proud to have a positive impact on the growth of Parkour.

That said, with most of the revenue from each of these shoots going to the athletes, deservedly, and the printed version of the magazine being so expensive, the company was still in the red. In late 2013, the team realized that we had 2 great assets. A brand people around the world trusted, and access to some of the best talent, both locally and globally. So, in March of 2014, those two things came together and the first Breathe Parkour Space was opened.

It was quickly a smash hit, blowing first year expectations out of the water, and leading to a rapid expansion, with Breathe Parkour Lethbridge opening in 2015, and Breathe Parkour South Calgary opening on January 1st, 2017, after some construction delays. Shortly after that, the team was inundated with requests from around the country for franchise opportunities. After careful consideration, the team decided that the integrity of the sport, and the quality of what Breathe Parkour was, was too important to reasonably pursue a franchise model. Plus, by then there was a bigger fish to fry.

That same year, the International Gymnastics Federation, or FIG, declared their intention to absorb the sport of Parkour under their umbrella. The team at Breathe Parkour set about organizing the first national assembly of Parkour practitioners, business owners, and stakeholders and began the arduous task of creating a National Sport Organization through the Government of Canada. The "Canadian Parkour Association" was born. Unfortunately, the road is long for an NSO, and by the time the next crisis rolled around, it was still not an official NSO yet.

The end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 brought the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and work on the NSO was shelved while clubs and gyms around Canada and the world concentrated on their day-to-day survival, rather than the future of the sport. During the pandemic, Breathe Parkour found it necessary ti shutter both it's Lethbridge and South Calgary locations. With a history of pivoting under dire circumstances, Breathe Parkour survived by creating and selling a "train from home" set of equipment, and pairing it with weekly online classes, hosted by the hilarious "Rob Mob". They also took advantage of the fact that no one was in the physical space, and completely renovated the remaining gym, launching the newest gym design for people's return.

As of today, Breathe Parkour is the proud home of nearly 2 dozen staff and trainers, hundreds of regular members, and remains Calgary's only purpose built Parkour training facility. The team is proud to offer one of the most robust and complete Parkour curriculum's in the world for our members, hands down the most fun birthday party experiences available, and the best camp programming in Calgary.

We've had an absolute blast getting to where we are today, and thank the fantastic Parkour community for all their support over the past 12 years (8 as a gym)! We couldn't have done it without you. As proud of our past as we are, we are equally excited about our future and can't wait to launch new and exciting programs and initiatives! We wish we could say more, but for now stay tuned and keep training!

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