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Phoenix Freerunning Academy Teaches a Workout That Doesn't Feel Like One

By Pamela Sosnowski

If you've ever wished that exercise could be as fun and freewheeling as being a kid again, then you may want to give parkour a try. Phoenix Freerunning Academy of Livonia is the only gym in the entire state of Michigan that is specifically designed for parkour and freerunning training, which doesn't use weights and traditional equipment to get into shape, instead using vaults, climbing walls, and obstacles. As Eric Zimmerman, the facility's owner and manager explains, parkour is truly an out-of-the-box exercise experience.

"Parkour is a great workout that doesn't feel like a workout," he said "It just feels like playing. Parkour also teaches confidence, coordination and, above all, safety. In fact, the first thing we always start with is how to jump and land/roll safely to minimize all impact and protect your body."

The academy, which opened in 2015, offers a variety of classes, workshops, and events for people of all ages and skill levels to enjoy parkour and freerunning, a version of parkour that includes acrobatic moves that have a fluidity to them. Parkour itself was inspired by military obstacle courses, and developed by Raymond Belle in France in the 1980s. It can include jumping, running, swinging, vaulting, and more and is usually done outdoors, using natural and man-made structures as equipment. At Phoenix Freerunning Academy, however, the gym is indoors so that the sport may be enjoyed year-round and includes a climbing wall, a spring floor, vaults, and other obstacles to be conquered.

For a beginner, it can be intimidating to watch online videos of parkour and see how quickly athletes vault and somersault through an outdoor playground. But as Zimmerman explains, every newbie starts out slowly and advances at their own pace.

"Parkour is a progression-based sport," he said. "This means that there is a very simple and basic progression to every single movement, from basic to advanced. We help people learn these movements from the ground up. If you have any interest in parkour, we can help you learn these movements."

In addition to group and private classes, open gym is available for adults and kids at separate times several times a week. Several membership levels are available, and the academy offers a stage combat and stunts class as well. The staff has over 30 years of combined experience teaching parkour and running, and especially enjoy introducing kids to the sport. In fact, the facility has become a popular local destination for birthday parties. The gym is open seven days a week. No matter the student's age, Zimmerman and his staff ensure that everyone has fun and stays safe while being put through the paces.

"Health and fitness is more popular than it has ever been and we offer a unique and alternative form of staying active," he said. "Phoenix Freerunning Academy is dedicated to educating, promoting and uniting the parkour communities across Michigan! We want to help parkour grow into an officially recognized sport just as it was recognized in the UK in January 2017."

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About The Author

Pamela Sosnowski is a freelance writer, social media manager, contributor for REBEAT...

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