Parkour is all about movement. It’s about getting from A to B in the most efficient way possible. It’s about routes. If you haven’t heard of parkour, you’ve probably already seen it. Remember the amazing chase scene at the beginning of Casino Royale? Well, the guy Bond was running after was none other than Sébastien Foucan, the Founder of freerunning and an early developer of parkour. As David Belle, the Founder of parkour, says, “You need to be a master of your environment, not a servant to it.” And that environment he’s talking about definitely isn’t the weather.
Located slightly northwest of St. Clair and Keele, you’ll find The Monkey Vault – Toronto’s only gym dedicated exclusively to parkour. But calling it a gym isn’t fair. Gyms make you think of weights and muscle shirts and possibly some guy on a spin bike screaming at you to push yourself harder. You won’t find that at The Monkey Vault. What you will find is a 10,000-foot playground. Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t think about movement, you simply saw an object and your body knew how to get around it – essentially, you weren’t worried about what would happen if you fell, you weren’t worried about the realities involved; you just moved and your body worked. And unlike most planned workouts, you had fun and got fit at the same time. Well, that’s exactly what owner Dan Iaboni wants you to learn. He wants you to become a kid again. He wants you to believe in the possibilities of movement that most of us have already forgotten. So he built a spectacular space for you to re-educate yourself.
Housed over two floors, The Monkey Vault’s upper level has floor-to-ceiling windows that create an airy, almost outdoor feel. Light floods into the gym and shadows stream across the floors, crisscrossing beams and polls and the multi-leveled structures that represent an urban landscape. There are stairs to climb, windows to jump through, walls to get in the way, and obstacles to hang from, leap over, and generally negotiate in any way possible. Downstairs you’ll find a huge foam pit where members leap off of a springboard, practicing their spins and dives and rolls. There’s also a rock climbing wall, some gymnastics equipment, and even a small weight room off to the side. But this isn’t about being physically strong, Iaboni says it’s about convincing your mind to overcome hurdles – literally.
And there are classes that will help: Everything from Adult Parkour/Flip to Gymnastics/Stunt Training and private tutoring as well. Like most things, the more you practice, the easier it will become. Just showing up, however, and buying a day pass, will get you access to every aspect of the gym and Dan and his employees will happily provide tips and instruction whenever you need it.
As we’re leaving we watch an adult practicing some flips alone on a mat on the upper floor. He’s doing well, but there’s also some obvious hesitation – right before he jumps you can tell his mind is still saying, “what are you doing?!” He still has to force himself into the flip. Suddenly, two kids run into the gym, around 10 to 12 years old and just out of school. Within minutes they’re jumping and swinging and running around smiling. Their movements are all effortless. They haven’t yet learned to believe they can’t do something. They are free. That’s exactly what we should all strive to return to, and that’s exactly why we’ll be back at The Monkey Vault soon.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)