Fitness Friday

Run, Climb and Jump for Joy at Urban Movement

The Parkour pros have a permanent indoor space and an expanding lineup of classes that are all about moving your body in interesting ways.

By Brittanie Shey August 25, 2017

Remember playing during recess as a kid? You can recapture that feeling at Urban Movement, a Houston gym dedicated to what's known as "fundamental human movement patterns," i.e., all the things you could do as a kid and have maybe forgotten how to do as an adult, including running, tumbling, crawling, climbing and more.

Urban Movement got its start as a group of people meeting together for Parkour jams in downtown Houston in 2011. Though the word "Parkour" might seem intimidating, Urban Movement's approach to fitness offers so much more than that, says co-founder Cameron Pratto. (Houstonia's Hala Daher write about taking a Parkour class with UMove last year.)

"We knew from the beginning that our target demo wasn't going to be the people who already knew what we were doing," he said.

As such, Urban Movement's founders started to look for a place where they could hold their classes indoors—somewhere with air conditioning, and where the rest of the environment could be more predictable than it is outdoors.

"We were looking for consistency of environment and conditions," Pratto said. "We wanted to keep it as modular as possible so people could predict and adapt to the environment."

UMove's workouts take their inspiration from a handful of disciplines that are interrelated—Parkour, freerunning, Art du Deplacement and natural movement (also know as MovNat). These disciplines are meant to help people getting in touch with their bodies in the way they evolved to move, including squatting, crawling, hanging, and more. Not to mention a healthy dose of exploring one's environment. 

The UMove team eventually found a home at Studio Fitness, the gym on Lawrence Street in Sunset Heights. Hilariously, Studio Fitness used to be an indoor dog park called My Dog and Me. UMove set up their equipment next to a sign on the wall that read "No humans on the agility equipment." That equipment included things like monkey bars, vaults, beams and gymnastic pads.

In December of 2016, UMove finally found a home to call their own. They moved into a warehouse-style gym at 23rd and Ella, a transition that has allowed Pratto and the UMove crew to expand the gym's offerings to include classes like capoeira and summer camps for kids.

Meanwhile, Parkour's reputation has continued to rise, in part thanks to Hollywood. Many films, including the Planet of the Apes franchise and the epic opening sequence to the James Bond film Casino Royale, have showcased the skills of Parkour-trained stunt actors.

But don't let the Parkour intimidate you. UMove offers some less-intense classes, like a MovNat course that's friendly for beginners. And as the saying goes, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk.

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