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Southlake Style

Flippin’ Out

Jan 02, 2019 10:01AM ● By Maleesa Johnson
Whether you’ve watched the “Bourne” trilogy, cackled over a certain episode of “The Office” or even guiltily binged the “Twilight” saga, you have – though perhaps unknowingly –seen freerunning and parkour in action.
Deriving from the French word “parcours,” meaning route or course, parkour was originally formed out of military training. It has taken many shapes over the years, but the concept has remained the same: getting from Point A to Point B efficiently by using obstacles to your benefit. Think back to the “Bourne Ultimatum” chase scenes. As parkour grew in popularity and evolved, another concept was added called freerunning.
“Freerunning is adding the creative and stylized movements such as flips that are more along the lines of self-expression,” says Gabe Nunez, Co-Founder and CEO of Tempest Freerunning. “Parkour and freerunning go hand in hand.”
Bringing The Movement To Southlake
Now, thanks to Nunez, there is a gym for the sport in Southlake. At Tempest Freerunning Academy, people of all ages can learn how to use the environment around them athletically and creatively. He and a group of fellow athletes founded the company in Los Angeles in 2007. At the time, they were working in the film industry as stunt performers. They noticed that the parkour and freerunning demand was rising very quickly.
Films and commercials were popularizing the athletic movement, and it quickly changed the course of how chase scenes were shot. Nunez and his friends were suddenly getting a ton of stunt work, but they noticed that it was challenging to find a place to practice.
“After a couple of successful years in film, we decided, ‘Hey, let’s build a place where we can train undisturbed by weather or by security,’” he says. “There are always those boundaries between us wanting to do something productive with ourselves, but not wanting to disrespect properties. So we built this gym almost as a selfish venture just so we had somewhere to train.”
If you search the terms “parkour” or “freerunning” on any social media platform, you’ll be inundated with videos of enthusiast practicing and perfecting their craft. So it was not out of the ordinary for the Tempest team to shoot a video and post it once their gym was complete. Almost overnight, it went viral.
“That’s when we realized that there was a demand for this beyond us,” Nunez explains.
The company went on to open two more California locations, and last month, they
opened their first out-of-state location, right here in Southlake. Nunez says they looked all over, from Atlanta to Austin, but decided to try for a Dallas-area location. After hitting a few snags in Frisco, the group happened upon a location in Southlake.
“It just so happens that the owner of the building was in the Hollywood film industry which we are all a part of,” Nunez says. “When we came to check the space out, we obviously fell in love with this area. I’ve got family in Grapevine and Roanoke, so it worked out perfectly.”
When asked if the town has a culture fit for freerunning, Nunez doesn’t hesitate.
“We believe there is a culture for that everywhere. It is going back to the basics of human movement,” he emphasizes. “When people see it, they almost always say ‘Oh, I used to do that when I was a kid.’ I think that’s true. I think Texas, in general, is just a very athletic place, so it lends itself to that, and I definitely think Southlake is a great place for us.”
How It All Works
Tempest is far more than a gym. The company banded together to create a curriculum that would be challenging, fun and keep kids safe. Similar to belts in martial arts, Tempest separates levels by wristband colors. Not only does this give students something to look forward to but also it gives coaches something to look out for during open gyms. If they see someone wearing a green wristband – indicative of the beginner level – perched on the highest obstacles, they know something is not right and they will rush over to assist and correct the student.
Ranging from green bands – PK All Day, in which students learn the basics – to gold band – Goldfish Gangsta, the highest level where students learn how to give back to the freerunning community – Tempest trains all levels of athletes. Wristbands are determined by a testing session that is held every ten weeks to assess student’s mastery of their level’s skills. Tempest Academy even has special classes for the younger enthusiast, including Kinderkour for ages 4-5 and Tempest Tadpoles for ages 6-8. At the end of the day, the academy is equipping kids with skills that may very well evolve down the road.
“What I love about the sport so much is that it truly has endless possibilities,” Nunez says. “It’s one of few sports where there is no set list of moves. People are always creating new moves. Things that you didn’t even think were possible a year ago are being done by 17-year-old kids.”
Of course, the idea of your child flipping off of a building may not be the most calming thought, but Tempest has plenty of precautions in place to ensure that kids stay safe. From the pace of the curriculum to the coaches being CPR certified and going through heavy safety training, Nunez reports very few incidents over the past decade.
“Like anything else, there are absolutely dangers to what we do,” he says. “But what we find in our sport specifically is that instead of us teaching people discipline, our environment kind of does that for us. You tend to have a lot more self-respect when you’re challenging yourself to do stuff that may scare you.”
And that is a large component of parkour and freerunning: overcoming obstacles. Whether that is a literal obstacle to vault over or a mental block to work through, the sport builds more than muscle. It builds confidence.
“It’s the most liberating sport I’ve ever been a part of,” Nunez says.