A week in Parkour Paradise: 10 Reasons to make sure that you are at next year’s European Gathering  

1)  The location: The EG is hosted by Gerlev Idrætshøjskole, one of the most well-respected Sports Academies (folk high schools) in Denmark and known internationally for the parkour park built there in 2007 (arguably the first parkour park).  Since 2006, Street Movement has been teaching parkour at the school, where students can take parkour as a “major” for 4-10 months.  The school is set 5km from the nearest city, ensuring that participants are not distracted, but are close enough to a supermarket to stock up on additional snacks (although there is no shortage of food at Gerlev).  The campus itself has a ton of amenities, including a large gym, pool, diving platforms, gymnastics gym with a large trampoline, mulitple football fields, multiple dorm/sleeping options, and one of the best dining faciltiies that I've encountered on my travels.

2) The people: The EG has perhaps one of the best mixes of “parkour people” that I’ve encountered on my travels.  While I may be a bit biased considering my relationships with the Yamakasi/ADD Academy, Parkour Generations, and Street Movement, it is hard to deny that these 3 organizations are at the forefront of the sport for a reason.  Each brings their own spirit and training methods to the event, and this results in a very wide variety of training and movement styles for participants to learn from and experiment with.

3)  The structure: Despite the fact that the park was built 5 years ago, the design and the annual “additions” to the structure have guaranteed that the park offers new challenges to traceurs of levels, whether they are there for the first time or have been training there for years. There is an nigh-guaranteed reaction of ““Wow…..” (accompanied by jaw drop and giddy noise) to any traceur that sees it for the first time (picture above).

4) The food: Gerlev is known throughout the region for the quality of the food served by the kitchens. With a full staff that has years of experience in keeping large groups of very active athletes in top nutritional form, the kitchen door is a flurry of activity throughout the day as they prepare food for the 100+ traceurs and 120+ dancers on campus for the week.  Served buffet style on large wooden tables at the center of the dining hall, the food is distinctly “danish” in the appearance but draws on an international medley of influences and tastes.  In addition to being provided in massive quantities, the food at Gerlev also stands out for its “healthiness”.  All of the bread is baked on campus, nearly 70% of everything served is “organic”, and much of the food is locally sourced.  This, combined with design of the menu, offers participants a wide variety of options for a well-balanced diet.  (Note: The school is actually a favourite location for local government and organizations to hold meetings and events because of the quality of the food provided for such events.). A picture of some of the food options is below.

5) A full week in parkour paradise: While most of the major parkour events will last for a few days or a long weekend, the Gathering is a full week in parkour paradise.  For those that want to “pregame” the event, or still have energy afterwards, Copenhagen is a great spot to train and offers an additional 4 parkour parks spread throughout the city.

6)  Street Movement: One of the parkour world’s best-kept secrets, Street Movement has been quietly changing the way we train and think of parkour since its creation in 2008.  With their unique blend of an extensive education and background in sports science and various elite-level sports combined with a strong Yamakasi philosophy, the guys at Streetmovement have created a style that is designed for the long-term practice and enjoyment of the sport.  As the next generation of Streetmovement instructors start to travel more internationally, these “Young Guns” are starting to make waves within the parkour community.

7)  The instructors: This year’s event featured a multi-national cast from England, Scotland, France, and Denmark, including Williams Belle from the Yamakasi and a number of the senior coaches from Parkour Generations...and of course the “Old Guns” from Streetmovement are always on hand to make sure that everyone is pushed to the limit.

8)  The dancers: Gerlev and the EG wouldn’t be the same without the presence of the 100+ dancers that are also on campus for the week for their own “Funk and Rhythm” course. Whilst the classes of the two courses don’t overlap much (to the chagrin of many of the traceurs), most activities in the evenings make an effort to bring the two groups together, whether on the dance floor, the basketball court, the pool, or in the common areas.  Everyone comes together for the last night’s party and epic dance battle which pits the students against the parkour and dance instructors.

9)  Logistics: Gerlev can be reached by a direct train from the Copenhagen airport, which is served by all of the major airlines and a number of the budget airlines.  Since the event is announced well in advance, there is plenty of time to buy cheap tickets for bus or air travel. While the cost may seem high at first glance, the training and experience are well worth the money and by the end of the week you will be wishing for more.

10)  The atmosphere: Something special happens when you take tracuers from all over the world, great food, awesome training spots (regardless of weather since there are indoor training areas as well), a beautiful campus with amazing amenities, and you put them together for a week.  Honestly what more could you want?  See you there next year.

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