Parkour paradise: Ryan Ford and Matt Marshall to open world's largest parkour gym -- again

Last year, Colorado parkour pioneers Ryan Ford and Mat Marshall opened APEX Movement, the world's largest parkour gym, in downtown Denver. Now that the record's been overtaken by other locations, they've moved to a new spot in Englewood that, after the grand opening celebration this past weekend, is once against the largest parkour playground anywhere.

"The old gym was a really good start for us, but obviously it wasn't the best location," says Ford of the original APEX Movement, which, at 2250 Lawrence Street, was next to a homeless shelter. "We found a bigger, better place, so we moved."

That bigger, better place is an industrial warehouse at 2622 South Zuni Street in Englewood that, at about 11,000 square feet, is twice as big as their old gym and blows out of the water the handful of other parkour gyms that have opened in places like Miami, Seattle and Portland.

The new APEX Movement already features a 26- by 22-foot jungle gym, several spring floors and a variety of three-dimensional obstacles designed to hone people's skills in parkour, the art of moving from one place to the next as fluidly and efficiently as possible. But the main attraction of this gym and its predecessor is the caliber of its founders and teachers. Ford, 23, has been featured on ESPN and in the New Yorker, and both he and APEX co-founder Marshall have performed at parkour events the world over. Other APEX instructors have been culled from the thriving local organization the two founded years ago called Colorado Parkour, or COPK.

To be wowed by the group's skills, check out the video below.

But Ford and Marshall won't rest after opening the world's largest parkour gym -- again. They're already planning on turning the new APEX Movement into a multi-use space that will also appeal to devotees of aerial dance, break dancing, tricking, martial arts, rock climbing and bouldering. They will be offering summer-camp youth parkour programs in the space this summer, while at the same time continuing training exercises with the military (the specifics of which are top secret, but are surely pretty cool).

Finally, the two young over-achievers are considering opening another APEX Movement location in Boulder in the coming months, plus they're planning a parkour competition this August at APEX in Englewood, where 200 to 300 of the country's top traceurs, aka parkour practitioners, will face off against each other.

"It's the first grassroots competition, but it's going to grow really big in next few years," says Ford. Considering the skills of Ford and his colleagues, it should be huge.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner