Winkler welcomes indoor parkour centre

Parkour specialist from Winnipeg Marc Selby tried out some of the obstacles at Obstacle Warriors' grand opening. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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A new business aimed at getting kids moving and playing in unique ways celebrated their official grand opening over the weekend.

Obstacle Warriors was packed on December 1 for the grand opening, with energetic kids running and jumping and trying out all the obstacles.

The indoor entertainment centre, owned by Donna and Frank Klassen, has obstacles for parkour and free running, and features a course with American Ninja Warrior inspired obstacles like the spider wall and the salmon ladder.

Frank, who teaches martial arts in the area, said he had tried parkour and had an interest in the activity. After meeting with a martial arts and parkour group Team Ryouko and seeing videos of Tempest Freerunning Academy (an indoor parkour gym), he went to Sport Manitoba in 2014 to see if they could get funding for something similar.

Parkour wasn’t considered a sport which meant no funding, and in the four years since Frank and Donna have worked at raising funds to open their business.

Frank and Donna have been fostering high-risk teenage boys for six years, and Donna said they have seen how many of them were not interested in organized team sports.

“We want to get them interested in something else,” she said. “Even if they’re by themselves, they start up with Frank, next thing you know they’re maybe taking some parkour classes.”

Obstacle Warriors has been open for several weeks now, and Donna said they’re still trying to structure their hours and figure out what the community wants.

“I’m going to be reaching out to the youth groups at the high schools,” she said. “Now with Christmas break, they’re going to be looking for activities for the kids.”

Donna said one of their goals is to keep things new and fresh for kids who come visit, and keeping them safe. “Some children can handle things on the floor that maybe others can’t,” she said. “You don’t know that until you see the child. They have to at least be the height of the boxes. If you have adults doing parkour… they’re coming through like a train and they’re not going to see somebody three years old on the other side of the box.”

To keep younger kids safe, Obstacle Warriors has a room for them to climb and play away from the bigger obstacles.

“[The space] was designed more for teens and adults,” Donna said. “Little sister wants to do what big brother does, they want to do that, so we had to provide something for them to be able to do that.”

Donna said the space isn’t quite big enough, but if things take off they can always move to a bigger location. “You’ve got to start somewhere,” she said. “We started here, it’s a good location right downtown. A kid can get on his bike and still come here.”

Donna said the parkour gym tried to keep prices accessible for all who come by. For 2-10 year olds a two-hour time slot is $10, 13-17-year-olds are $15 and adults get in for $20. Parents who are just supervising and not using the equipment are allowed in free of charge.

For more information find Obstacle Warriors on Facebook.

Frank and Donna Klassen (with city officials) cut the ribbon on Obstacle Warriors, Winkler’s new indoor parkour centre on South Railway Street. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)