Despite the bumps and bruises, Dylan Johanson continued to train himself in parkour, an artform he adored from the start.
Johanson, founder and head coach of Innate Movement Parkour in Kingston, describes parkour as “natural movement and exercise that’s fun and engaging.”
Johanson became interested in parkour in 2013 after watching videos online. He started out training and experimenting by himself; he searched for locations and obstacles to practice on, such as banks that were closed on Sundays.
“It was cool and it was very free, but I was getting banged up and didn’t have any guidance,” Johanson said. “I reached out for resources in the area to have coaches, community or people to train with.”
Johanson eventually found an organization called Parkour Generations and traveled to their location in Boston to train and learn how to coach. He went for coaching certifications in June 2014, built up a community and made it into his business.
Johanson’s goal was to provide people interested in the activity with a safe environment for education and fun.
He comes to class with a specific lesson, or “route” plan in mind, but sometimes it changes. He organizes his classes with a theme based on what the class is looking to develop. During his last class on Sept. 8, the themes were safety bailing, which is learning how to make smart decisions and prevent injury, as well as route setting, or creating a path for running and jumping from a ledge, railing or otherwise.
The outdoor class on Thursdays at 6 p.m. meets in Hasbrouck Park for warm up, stretching and intense conditioning. They jogged to the Sojourner Truth Library staircase and timed themselves while crawling backwards up the stairs. Then they used the lawn outside of Capen Hall to practice bailing by pushing each other, tumbling on the ground and getting back up. From there, they practiced overshooting by jumping from a bench, swinging on a tree branch and landing safely on the ground.
Afterwards, they timed themselves doing leg-ups on the ledge outside the Student Union and practiced more bailing by bouncing forwards and backwards off of a bench. Lastly, the class learned about route setting and each student created their own course, using trees, railings and steps outside the Atrium. If there’s enough time, Johanson will have the class do an “Escape the Pit” challenge between Smiley Art and Coykendall Science Buildings.
“People have this idea of parkour that it’s this adrenaline-seeking thing or to run from the cops, but it couldn’t be further from that at all,” Johanson said. “Risk management and making smart decisions is a huge part of it.”
Omar Aquino, a third-year business major at SUNY Empire State College, became fascinated by parkour after watching YouTube videos. He attended a class at Innate Movement Parkour when he saw an ad in Cafeteria on Main St. in New Paltz.
He and Johanson kept in touch and a few months later they hosted their first adult class.
Before immersing himself in parkour, Aquino was involved in martial arts, basketball, tennis and track and field. Since then, he hasn’t had the need or desire to do any other physical activity.
“[Parkour] is every possible type of movement in one art or sport, so there’s nothing that you can’t work on to improve your body health and mental state,” Aquino said.
Johanson is finishing up his masters in general business administration at SUNY New Paltz and enjoys being able to apply what he’s studied to his own company.
“It’s been years since I first became interested and started messing around, but [parkour] has become the most important thing in my life that I’ve completely immersed myself in,” Johanson said.