Entrepreneur flips over parkour: At gym, avocation also vocation

Trevor Rittenhouse demonstrates his parkour techniques at Move to Inspire, a parkour gym he helps operate in Grand Junction. The facility offers classes as well as open sessions to practice the popular sport. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Trevor Rittenhouse demonstrates his parkour techniques at Move to Inspire, a parkour gym he helps operate in Grand Junction. The facility offers classes as well as open sessions to practice the popular sport. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Trevor Rittenhouse literally jumps at the chance to demonstrate the avocation he’s turned into a vocation.

Sprinting to a platform, Rittenhouse springs up and forward to adeptly land atop another platform. And that’s just one of the parkour moves he’s perfected. He can easily flip over the increasingly popular sport, too.

Rittenhouse has practiced and taught parkour for a decade. Part fitness routine, part gymnastics and part dance, participating in the sport is entirely rewarding, he said. “It’s one of the best feelings I’ve encountered.”

Rittenhouse now shares that passion as one of three partners operating Move to Inspire, a parkour gym in Grand Junction that’s the first and so far only facility of its kind in Western Colorado.

Rittenhouse joined with Vinnie Coryell, another parkour enthusiast, and backer John Hites in opening Inspire to Move in 2014.

While Rittenhouse is still working to broaden the customer base for the gym, he has high hopes for the operation.

Rittenhouse would like to open parkour gyms in other locations and ultimately franchise the operation.

For now, though, he’s excited about the facility in Grand Junction.

Move to Inspire is located at 715 S. Seventh St. in the same building that houses the Get Air at the Silo trampoline park and is spread out over about 5,000 square feet. The facility features a variety of large wooden structures participants can maneuver around and over as they move from point to point. “This is a really good-sized parkour gym,” Rittenhouse said.

According to one account, parkour traces its origins to France and a form of military training in which soldiers were taught to move from one point to another in the quickest and most efficient way by climbing, jumping, running and swimming. Obstacle courses used to teach the techniques were called parcours du combatant, a term from which the work parkour came.

The techniques were subsequently adapted as a sport in which participants can turn virtually any setting into an obstacle course in which to practice what are often acrobatic jumps, flips and other tricks.

While parkour was developed as a way to move efficiently, it’s since evolved into a way to move creatively, Rittenhouse said. Like dance, parkour affords participants a way to express themselves through movement.

Parkour has grown in popularity worldwide in large part because of online videos showing participants demonstrating their skills.

Rittenhouse said he and some friends first became interested in parkour in sixth grade as a result of watching videos. “It’s just fun to do,” he said. “The whole world became a playground.”

Rittenhouse taught himself parkour techniques by practicing what he watched on videos and attended parkour events with other enthusiasts. That led Rittenhouse to train and teach at a parkour gym in Denver and then open Move to Inspire, the first and so far only facility of its kind in Western Colorado.

Rittenhouse joined in the venture with Coryell, a parkour practicioner and instructor he met at a parkour event and with whom he became close friends. Coryell serves as the head instructor at Move to Inspire. Hites, the third partner in the venture, isn’t involved in parkour. But he enjoys the process of starting businesses, Rittenhouse said.

Move to Inspire offers a variety of classes as well as open sessions. With padded floors and mats and the supervision of instructors, Rittenhouse said Move to Inspire offers a safe environment in which to learn, practice and perfect parkour movements.

Elementary, middle and high school students constitute the biggest group of customers for Move to Inspire, although Rittenhouse said he’s working to build on and diversify that base. Because parkour movements can be changed and adapted to individual participants, the sport can accommodate participants of all ages and abilities, he said. Even seniors can use parkour to improve flexibility and balance.

Rittenhouse would like to expand the operation in Grand Junction and elsewhere. “That’s the ultimate goal. That would be oool.”

Move to Inspire is open from 4 to 9 p.m. weekdays and 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call (970) 319-2805 or log on to www.movetoinspire.com.