Wednesday, October 31, 2012

History of Parkour Ways

Parkour Ways is an organization created and run by me, Kurt Gowan, since September, 2011. My goal with Parkour Ways was to provide professional, reliable parkour instruction to Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.

When I started to get into parkour, I didn't have access to professional instruction - it just wasn't available. I was bored with my life. Working several years in electronics retail will do that (to myself and many others, I’m sure of it). I started my “training” by watching videos on YouTube, like many tend to do. I ended up with some pretty hefty knee injuries from improper training and trying to go "too big, too fast" (those injuries have long since subsided, thankfully). I quickly realized I needed to find a new way to go about my training.

In the beginning, most of my sessions were in Chicago though I did have the occasional solo session out here in Northwest Indiana. I live in Illinois, but just on the border of Indiana. Been here all my life. Traveling to Chicago for training was getting to be too expensive. I stumbled upon a group of practitioners in my area – right over the border in fact. One of these practitioners was John Conway – now my best friend and one of the greatest practitioners I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (referring more to his mindset and the way he views parkour, not a comparison between his movement and others’).

John helped me to discover a new way to look at parkour. Whether it was his intention or not, he helped me to see it as a way to better myself, not just something to do with my boredom (though it definitely does away with boredom as well). I soon learned that John had an instructor certification for parkour, the ADAPT certification ( He had traveled all the way to the United Kingdom to obtain this certification – and that certainly caught my attention.

Soon, I was attending John’s classes at a nearby gymnastics facility in Indiana where I often assisted him in showing the “noobs” the “ropes”. Helping others discover what they could do with their movement was a fantastic feeling – a feeling that grew on me very, very quickly. Ever since I had helped teach the kindergarteners when I was in 5th grade, I had some fondness in my heart for teaching others. Little did I know; that fondness would grow to be my life and my mission.

In June of 2010, my mom died after a heartbreaking struggle with cancer. I loved my mom; she was always there for us and always took care of us (single mom, 3 kids, 2 grandkids). Witnessing her struggle with cancer and even her struggles before that diagnosis was really tough. My mom was the first important person in my life to die… the first person to die who I had really known. I hid it pretty well, but it hit me extremely hard.

Her passing made me realize a few things. One of those things was that I did not want to die doing something for a living that I did not want to be doing. Surprisingly, electronics retail sales were NOT what I wanted to do (gasp!). Another one of those things was that I needed to take some risks sometimes and be unafraid of change if I ever wanted to move forward (two things I think my mom really had trouble with, to be honest). Yet another was that home ownership is expensive and rough, and yes even one more: how hard it is to deal with my brother when his decisions will have an effect on you, too!

Combine those two life lessons and you get this: I went through 3 jobs (fired from one, quit the second), dropped out of college and quit the last job I had without having another one lined up.

I dropped out of school because I realized that sitting at the computer all day every day was exactly what my mom did for over 30 years at Chase (it was “First National Bank of Chicago” when she started there, then "First Chicago Bank", then "Bank One", etc.) – and I thought that maybe that had something to do with her seemingly never-ending stress and anxiety. Don’t worry; that was not the only reason I dropped out. The further I got into school and my program (Computer Engineering Technology), the less I enjoyed it and the more I realized that online school is really just the incredibly expensive equivalent of Googling and YouTubing everything...

I had a dream one night that I was at work at Best Buy talking with a friend/co-worker and the manager approached us and said something. I cannot remember what the manager said (and it wasn’t any real-life manager, just the manager in the dream – honest), but it somehow dissatisfied me and I got up, told the manager I was quitting, and walked out of the building. Days later, I quit my job at Best Buy just three days before Black Friday… anyone in retail can tell you that this is a huge no-no. I wanted to burn that bridge and never look back. Check! Thank you, subconscious!

By this time, I had my own ADAPT parkour instructor certification and a desire to start teaching parkour in Chicago. Originally, John and I were working together to create an entity in which we would both run. Little known fact – he actually came up with the name “Parkour Ways” when we were brainstorming for our brand (don’t worry - I have a piece of paper with his signature now saying that it’s allllll mine! Muahaha!). Months went by and I went through a WHOLE lot of planning, designing, programming, talking, emailing… you get the idea. With the help and advice of a few other people, Parkour Ways eventually came to fruition - and here I am today!

Thanks for reading, I hope this helps everyone understand a bit where I've come from and how Parkour Ways got started. Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me in this endeavor!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Overnight Movement Jam #2!

FIRST - A great big thank you to everyone who came out for the first Overnight Movement Jam at Vie! It was a great success and tons of fun!

Now we're celebrating the expansion of our classes to LivFit in Forest Park, Illinois with Overnight Movement Jam #2!

LivFit is an indoor facility with high ceilings, its own rock climbing wall, brick walls on the inside (use them as you wish!), rings, and a lot of mats and vault/plyo boxes. This overnight jam is actually 13 hours long, running from 8pm to 8am! YES, 13 hours! It's daylight savings "fall back", so we'll gain an hour during the jam!!

Like the last OMJ at Vie, there will be some healthy snacks but you are welcome to bring your own food or order food in. Of course, there will be music as well. If you wish to sleep, feel free to bring a pillow and blanket or sleeping bag. There is a small room and other space to sleep!

I'd love to see everyone who came out for the last overnight jam back for this one! Let's get more people involved and make this one even more awesome!! The more people come, the better... it will help us to build more equipment!

- $15
- Ages 14+
- Snacks (You may bring/order food if you want!)
- Music
- Doors will close at 10p (only adults can leave and return)
- Everyone must bring a signed waiver unless we already have one on file for you (minors need parent signature)

Pictures of the facility:

SIGN UP FOR THE EVENT HERE!(pay with card or choose enroll as unpaid)

Please pay in advance if you have the means to do so (it will speed things up when you come in and will also help me pay for the snacks!). If you're paying cash, try to bring exact payment as I might not have enough change for everyone!!! Thanks! :)

If you need help figuring out how to register:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chicago Ninja Warrior Games!

I'm proud to announce that I have teamed up with the folks at Dog House CrossFit and some other great new friends to help bring Chicago its first ever Ninja Warrior Weekend! We've dubbed this non-profit organization "Ninja Warrior Games" and we plan to have our first event on November 10th and 11th... just 3 weeks away! The cost is only $5 for kids and $7 for teens and adults, per day! There will be workshops throughout both days, two levels to the kids course and 3 levels to the teens and adult course. This WILL be a competition - with a grand prize of $100 to anyone who completes the level 3 course in the fastest time!

Dog House CrossFit is a great group of people and they've got a large indoor facility with plenty of room to set up an obstacle course! We've been working round the clock to figure out the course and find resources for equipment. We're looking for sponsors of any kind that are willing to help contribute in any way that they can. We're also looking for volunteers to help keep the event organized (keep time, move equipment, direct foot traffic, etc).

For more information and to register you can visit our website:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Second Location Starting Soon!

I'm excited to announce that Parkour Ways is expanding! I'll be running my classes and open gyms at a second location soon: LivFit in Forest Park, Illinois. Boasting some great features like high ceilings, an abundance of mats, interior brick walls and its own rock climbing wall, LivFit will be a great place to train! Follow the link below to see some photos of the facility, and stay tuned to find out when Parkour Ways will be starting there!!

Photos of LivFit in Forest Park, IL

First Overnight Jam: Success!

Thank you so much to everyone who came out for our first Parkour Ways overnight jam last night!! I had a blast and I hope you all did too! I really appreciate the great turnout we got with such a short notice of the event! I'm Looking forward to doing something like this again in the near future!

If you stayed at the jam through the night then you heard me talk about two important things coming up:

* * Parkour Ways classes and open gyms will be expanding to LivFit in Forest Park (Berwyn/Oak Park area) in a few weeks!

* * I am collaborating with another facility and an awesome group of new friends I've met to bring Chicago it's first ever Ninja Warrior weekends. We are hoping to do monthly events with a 3-level obstacle course including skill workshops and (of course) a competition with some prizes! Show us your support and let us know if you have any great ideas or resources for equipment... we are looking for sponsors! We're still just getting started and there is much left for us to do, but check out our page! Ninja Warrior Games

Here's a quick video put together by some of the guys that came to the jam!! Thanks for sharing this guys!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Overnight Movement Jam This Weekend!

Parkour Ways is hosting an overnight MOVEMENT jam this weekend at Vie Personal Fitness to celebrate the end of the season as we move our equipment indoors again! The jam will start outside and will likely move indoors after the sun goes down and the temperature drops!

This isn't a parkour-only jam. You're free to train any discipline you'd like! The cost is $15 - a very reasonable price for a 14 hour gym session like this!! Registration is limited! Read below!

- Plenty of indoor and outdoor space to utilize for whatever you want to work on - parkour, tricking, capoeira, breakdancing, yoga, weightlifting, etc!
- Cost is only $15/person for 14 HOURS!
- Music played inside and outside! Bring an iPod/phone/mp3 player/laptop/CD if you want to share yours!
- Healthy snacks will be provided! There are always water bottles, Gatorade, cans of Monster Absolute Zero, and snack bars for sale (cash only). Absolutely NO alcoholic beverages allowed.
- IF you want to sleep you are welcome to sleep on the floor... just make sure you're out of the way!
- Ages 12 and up!

- EVERYONE MUST BRING A SIGNED WAIVER (unless you have ever been to a Parkour Ways session before)!!! Print the waiver here:

- REGISTRATION IS LIMITED!! Sign up in advance here to make sure you get a spot:

Sign Up!!