By: Ted Simpson
These guys take getting around the college to another level, leaping off the staircase into the C building rotunda or swinging under railings in the Student Commons.
The Algonquin parkour club is a new addition to the roster of student clubs currently on campus. They promote physical activity and fitness in a unique, new way.
The club was founded by police foundations student Assan Omar.
“Since I came to Algonquin College for my education, I wanted to bring parkour to the students here so it could help them mentally and physically overcome their challenges,” said Omar. “Academically it really helps people get rid of stress. It’s almost like therapy, like doing yoga.”
The group meets on Friday afternoons to discuss their goals in parkour and to practice their moves. These moves can range from sliding under railings and doing rolls, to backflips and leaps from extreme heights.
“Parkour is abstractly using your environment, so instead of just looking at a set of stairs you look at it like an obstacle,” said Emmet Hill, a radio broadcasting student and member of the group who has been doing parkour himself for a few years. “You’re free to do what you want in your environment, like an animal in the concrete jungle, free to do as you will.”
The club is approved by the Algonquin Students’ Association, but there is still a grey area as to what kind of parkour activities the group are allowed to engage in while on campus, given the risk and danger to their own safety.
“We try to adapt our own techniques to what is safe and acceptable to Algonquin,” said Omar.
While jumping railings in the Student Commons building, the group was approached by security and asked to call it a night. The guard was particularly concerned about the possibility of someone being badly hurt.
“If they want to jump around and train off campus, or if they can do it on campus safely without breaking the college rules, that’s great,” said Faris Lehn, SA clubs and communities coordinator.
“If we get injured the school is held liable because we’re on their property,” said Hill.
The group is not only for experienced free-runners like Omar and Hill. They are always accepting new members who are interested in parkour but are in need of some guidance on how to get into the sport without getting injured.
“We have to keep it simple for them and not have them out-do themselves and hurt themselves,” said Hill.
While parkour is certainly not an activity for everyone, it can be a great outlet for the athletically inclined who are looking for something challenging that grants them more freedom than a team sport can offer.
“It’s a very active sport but it’s not as draining as football or basketball or as repetitive, it’s very abstract,” said Hill. “You can start anywhere you want, you can stop anywhere you want.”