Connor Boland flips through the air during a parkour class at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 23. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Parkour program prospers

The Polarettes parkour program has close to 100 participants in just its second year

Mayson Peters is a parkour veteran with years of coaching experience.

“I’ve been doing this for about five years,” said Peters during an interview at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club facility in Riverdale. “I’ve been coaching here for about three years.”

Impressively, Peters is just 16 and recently earned level two certification as a parkour coach. He has helped the Polarettes parkour program grow to close to 100 participants in just its second year.

“I used to come to drop-in — they offered that here — and I learned off of people,” said Peters. “They started doing all these crazy tricks and I wanted to do that, so I started practicing.”

Known in pop culture from video games like Mirror’s Edge and featured in an episode of The Office, parkour is in essence the art of getting from point A to point B as fast and stylishly as possible.

“Parkour is a free-running sport,” said Peters. “We learn how to get over obstacles, how to better move ourselves through jumps, rotations, spins and even flips. … It’s just basic movement, taken to the extreme.”

For Peters, his recent certification has given him a new insight into the history and origins of the sport and the movements, and a chance to reset and refine his own coaching.

“It didn’t work out as well because I wasn’t certified and I didn’t know the background steps and the history of parkour, I just taught them what I learned,” said Peters about his early experiences coaching. “That was fun and all, but now that I’m certified I try to bring them back down to the levels that they’re supposed to get.”

Back to basics can be a bit boring, but Peters said the fun is just beginning.

“With the whole bringing them back to level one, they have to learn the basics of a few new things,” said Peters. “It’s a bit challenging (to keep focused) because they don’t have a challenge yet, but once we get up to it, there will definitely be better challenges.”

Peters’ enthusiasm for parkour is clear and is proving to be infectious for his students.

“The best part of parkour for me is getting over obstacles,” said Peters. “Any obstacle that I find a challenge to step over, walk over or even climb up to, I always try to face it with a different skill and a faster method to get over it.”

That mentality translates to coaching, and Peters said watching his charges learn new skills is its own reward.

“I love seeing the kids learning, attempting new skills, getting them, and then getting even better at them,” said Peters. “I love when they get their head in the game, they’re going for it, they’re going at it, they’re trying, trying, trying, and boom, they got it.”

When he’s not coaching parkour — there are four days of parkour per week at the club — Peters attends Porter Creek Secondary School and is considering an apprenticeship to become a mechanic, but isn’t quite ready to write off sticking with parkour a bit longer.

“I see myself maybe going up the levels in my coaching,” said Peters. “I’m at level two now – maybe I can get my level four or three.”

That will likely take a couple years, but Peters is open to a bit of speculation.

“If it’s really big here in the Yukon, then I could definitely take that up,” said Peters about coaching as a career. “If we find that (the growth) is staying the same, maybe I’ll take a different path in life.”

Whatever path Peters takes, it’s sure to be one he runs, jumps and flips along.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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