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Freestyle fitness fads

Posted: June 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Joey Dubiel, 16, launches a wall flip off the floor and onto padded obstacles during a parkour class at Hugo's Gymfitness in Santa Clarita on Tuesday night.

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Praciticing everything from the basics to “Double Kong jumps,” the group of 12 — ranging in age from preteens to 30 year olds — bounced around the padded obstacle course Tuesday at Hugo’s Gymfitness in Canyon Country.

Maintaining balance and proper rolling to safely break falls is a big part of the new fitness trend called parkour, according to instructor Tyler Shaffer.

“Parkour, by definition, is the fastest way from point A to point B, using only the human body, by going over obstacles,” said Shaffer, who teaches the ParkourFit course.

Parkour, and its associated activity “free running” — which Shaffer described as doing parkour with tricks and creative flair — have earned a reputation for being dangerous, with some practitioners filming videos of stunts performed in public and posted on sites like YouTube.

“A lot of people think it’s a very dangerous sport, that a lot of people jump off rooftops and get hurt,” Shaffer said. “But … they have practiced really small jumps and progressively become better.”

Shaffer promoted the course as a safe way to get started in the discipline.

“We like to keep the kids out of trouble, trying to keep them off the streets, keep them out of gangs and drugs and alcohol,” Shaffer said. “And we try to keep a positive attitude,” he said, adding that he encourages all his students along the way, regardless of experience or skill level.

“We have a lot of beginners right now, so now would be a really good time for people to join,” said Shaffer, 20, who himself picked up the sport only a year ago.

For information about the class, visit


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