USAP Definitions, Rules and Guidelines
What is parkour?
There have been many disagreements over the years about what parkour is or isn’t, but simply put, parkour is a training method designed to expand an individual’s vocabulary of movement, allowing a skilled practitioner to “flow” efficiently and creatively through any environment, “over, under, around or through” the obstacles in his or her path (“KNOW OBSTACLES, KNOW FREEDOM!”). Derived originally from the French martial art, “parcours du combattant” or “the path of the warrior”, modern parkour has grown beyond the goal of simply finding the most efficient path and now embraces elements of more creative movement as well (freerunning). Though there are distinctive moves that still serve as the foundation of parkour—the kong and other vaults, tic-tac, lache, cat, precision and wall run to name a few—practitioners will also borrow elements from other disciplines such as capoeira, martial arts tricking and acrobatics to add flair to their “runs”, defining their unique personal ”lines” from point a to point b. For teaching purposes in a gym setting, WFPF certification and curriculum (the only Parkour certification and curriculum recognized by USAP) cover five categories of movement, floor skills, vaults, bar work, wall skills, and when available in a safe and supervised environment, trampoline to aid in the development of spatial awareness. As a student progresses, the height at which they can safely train and the combination of movements in a routine should be carefully assessed.
Is parkour dangerous?
Two of the guiding principles of parkour, “Etre et durer” (“To be and to endure”) and “Be strong to be useful” both discourage high-risk behaviour for its own sake. All physical activity involves some risk, but when taught and practiced properly, parkour poses no more risks for practioners than gymnastics, football or other traditional sports. For spectators, parkour is far LESS dangerous than a sport like skateboarding or BMX, since there is no flying apparatus to injure bystanders. While USAP respects the tradition of parkour as a self-taught discipline, we also hold that once someone decides to teach parkour, especially to young children, he or she takes on an added responsibility. Because of the rigorous and highly respected teacher certification program developed by our sister company WFPF, USAP is the only parkour organization granted the right to extend insurance coverage to our certified gyms.
What are the benefits of parkour?
From a developmental standpoint, parkour offers many of the same benefits as gymnastics, e.g. coordination, balance, discipline, focus, body awareness, overall self-confidence and self-esteem. At an early intermediate level, however, parkour adds to those benefits the very valuable practice of problem-solving, “How do I get from point A to point B safely and efficiently using my current skills and strength?” The practice of parkour is nothing less than an ongoing physics lesson with a very practical application. Observe any parkour athlete figuring out his or her “line” before a run, and you see a mind at work! And as a parkour practitioner confronts the limitations of his or her current skill set, he or she is motivated to train harder to expand that skill set. Moreover, the culture and philosophy of parkour, both of which emphasize community and service to others, adds to a student’s sense of connectedness and social well-being. Parents of parkour athletes often report of the improvements they observe in their child’s school work and overall attitude as they confront the daily challenges of life.
Can parkour be practiced as a competitive sport?
Parkour is fundamentally an inner discipline and so is not competitive in the way that football, baseball and basketball are at their very core. Parkour can be successfully practiced for a lifetime without ever participating in a single competition. However, as in martial arts, properly structured competitions can be beneficial to those students eager to compete to help measure and share their progress with friends and family. At USAP, we prefer the original Latin definition of the word compete, “To strive together”. Therefore, it is very important that parkour competitions always remain collegial, with a friendly supportive atmosphere in keeping with the culture and spirit of the sport. One of the reasons so many young people are drawn to parkour is because it has brought a sense of play back to physical exercise. A high pressure, over-competitive atmosphere runs the risk of taking the fun out of it. All USAP/WFPF sanctioned competitions have as their focus participation; it’s athlete vs. the course, rather than athlete vs. athlete. Who wins on any given day is unimportant; it’s going for your personal best with a supportive community behind you that counts. If you would like help holding a WFPF sanctioned competition at your gym, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
WFPF Teaching Certifications
All USAP Member Gyms are required to have at least two (2) WFPF Level 2 or higher Certified trainers on staff no later than 90 days after the start of membership and insurance coverage. Level 3 Certification is available for advanced training, as well as a Certification designed specifically for training on natural obstacles commonly found in parks and other public and private environments. To find out more about WFPF Parkour Teacher Certifications or to register for an upcoming training, click this link: https://wfpf.com/in-person-parkour-certifications/
WFPF Assistant (Online) Certifications
Within 2 weeks of the start of USAP member insurance coverage, all trainers involved in any way in the teaching of Parkour at your club (unless they are already Level 2 Certified) must take the online Ambassador Certification, a twenty-one question multiple choice test. The cost for this test is $50 per individual, it may be taken up to 3 times for that price, and the individual will then have a $50 credit towards a Level 2 Certification workshop. In addition, even after your Level Two Certified trainers are in place, all assistant trainers must take the Ambassador Certification before they are permitted to assist. To take the Ambassador Certification, click this link: http://wfpf-courses.com/product/parkour-coaching-ambassador-certification/
All USA Parkour Certified Member Gyms must display the USA Parkour logo in a prominent place on their website, at their check-in desk (poster provided by USAP) and on all promotional materials to indicate that they are a part of the USAP Family.
Is it possible for my gym to begin or continue to hold parkour classes and be covered by USAP member insurance if I have no WFPF Certified trainers on staff?
As long as you have made sure that all current trainers have taken and passed the online Ambassador Certification, you have agreed to abide by all USAP guidelines and codes of conduct, you have downloaded and read the WFPF training module, then your 90-day grace period will be in effect during which time you may hold classes. Following the grace period, there must always be at least 1 WFPF Certified trainer on the floor at all times. A Certified trainer may be assisted by other Ambasssdor-Certified personnel to insure that there is never less than one trainer for every ten students present at any time.
Does USAP recognize other parkour teacher certfications?
Although we respect all those whose goal it is to increase awareness of the safe practice of parkour, our insurance underwriter recognizes only WFPF Teacher Training Certification as valid for coverage.
What if I fail to get two of my trainers certified by the end of the grace period?
USAP makes a commitment to all member gyms to insure that a WFPF Certification is held somewhere convenient to every gym at least once before their grace period is up. In return, we expect the same level of commitment from our member gyms to make all reasonable efforts to take advantage of these opportunities.
Instructor Certifications Renewals
It is YOUR responsibility as a gym owner to make sure that Level 2 or higher Certified Instructors in your employ are current with their yearly dues and that all Assistant Trainers have taken and passed the online Ambassador Certification (http://wfpf-courses.com/product/parkour-coaching-ambassador-certification/). All USAP gyms are required to have at least two Level 2 (or higher) WFPF Certified Instructors on staff. At least one must be present at all times during Parkour classes or open gyms. He or she may be assisted by one or more Ambassador Instructors so that there is always one Instructor on hand for every ten students.
If your instructors are not up-to-date with their Certifications, your gym will not be in compliance with the terms of USA Parkour Member Insurance. To find out if your instructors are paid up, simply log in to your account, click "assign trainers" or "assign ambassadors". If you're entering a new instructor's name, type his or her last name and unique ID number in the space provided to see if they are current with their dues. If you already have "assigned trainers" or "assigned ambassadors" you will see their names listed, and will be alerted as to whether or not they are paid up.
If they are not current, then they (or you) may pay the yearly $50 renewal by going to the Certification Renewal page (https://usaparkour.org/certification-renewal-login/) and logging in using the Instructor's last name and ID number.
Note: It is wise to always have a copy of all your Instructors' Certification documents on file for your records (to more easily locate their ID number), and/or displayed for the public to see.
What do I need to start my program? Do I have to buy a lot of parkour-specific equipment?
Not at all, you can start with a trapezoid and some well-placed mats, although as your program grows, you will likely want to add additional training options. Please refer to our resource page to see the basics you will need and some ideas and suppliers to explore as time goes on. In addition, USAP staff stands ready to assist you with virtual or in-person help sessions specific to your space and budget.
What is the definition of a Parkour-Only gym as opposed to a Multi-Use facility:
For the purposes of USAP member insurance, a parkour-only gym is defined as one that DOES NOT offer traditional gymnastics or cheer. Insurance underwriters industry-wide have determined that the risk of liability is greater when the disciplines of parkour and traditional gymnastics or cheer are taught side by side. Parkour-only gyms may still hold classes in other disciplines, such as yoga, capoeira or other forms of martial arts or dance, though those activities will not be covered by USAP member insurance. So called "Ninja" or "Obstacle Course" training, if conducted according to USAP code of conduct, would be considered a practical application of Parkour training, and therefore would be covered. Under no circumstances does USAP member insurance cover "Cross Fit" training.
Does USAP member insurance cover “open gym”?
Yes, provided that it is a structured and well-supervised parkour-specific open skills session with competent trainers, rather than a free-for-all. (IMPORTANT: Please not trampoline guideline section below.) It is essential that any and all drop-in students not formally enrolled in your regular classes be required to attend at least one basic safety class prior to their first open gym with serious consequences for those who do not observe safe practices, including permanent expulsion from your facility. These people are not only endangering themselves, but also their fellow students AND YOUR BUSINESS. Another serious potential liability arises in a multi-use (gymnastics) facility where multiple disciplines are being practiced in the space at the same time with participants going back and forth between them at will as this could result in multiple claims in case of an accident.
Does USAP insurance cover Trampoline?
USAP considers structered Trampoline training under the guidance of a Certified Instuctor to be a useful tool for developing a Parkour athlete's aerial awareness, and is covered as such. UNDER no circumstances will USAP cover Trampoline activities that could be construed as more suited to a Trampoline Park or Bounce House. For that reason, USAP strictly forbids the use of Trampolines in an "Open Gym" setting.
Does USAP insurance cover outdoor training?
USAP member insurance does cover outdoor training under certain circumstances, approved on a case-by-case basis. Outdoor training must be consistent with USAP guidelines regarding safety, progression and supervision by WFPF certified instructors with a 1:10 instructor to student ration. On every occasion outdoor classes must be conducted on a closed, controlled, and clearly marked "course" with access strictly limited to instructors and registered students with a liability waiver on file. No additional Instructor certifications are required for classes conducted on professionally built equipment. For training on natural obstacles often found in parks or other public or private spaces, instructors are required to complete the Parkour Pro Trainer certification available at www.onlineparkourcertifications.com. If conducted under the sponsorhip of a USAP member gym, no additional insurance is required. Please contact a member of our USAP staff to ask about outdoor training approval for your club.
Does USAP member insurance cover parkour competitions?
USAP insurance will cover most on-premises structured and well-supervised Parkour and Ninja competitions at no extra cost. For off-site competitions, the sponsoring gym would be required to purchase additional one-time event insurance (provided by our underwriter) with fee in the area of $500 depending on the number of participants.
Why does my USAP member insurance always expire on August 31st, no matter when I initiate coverage?
USA Parkour is NOT an insurance underwriter or licensed insurance broker and is NOT permitted to sell individual insurance policies. What we are is a member organization recognized by a top-rated underwriter as an authority in the safe teaching of parkour and granted the right to extend coverage UNDER OUR OWN INSURANCE POLICY to other gyms and participants that share our vision, values and philosophy of parkour. It is for that reason that your coverage runs concurrently with our own, from September 1st to August 31st of the following year, no matter when you initiate coverage, with per student fees pro-rated depending on when in the year you were first admitted as a member. Simply put, you share in our coverage and we share in your risk; that’s why we charge a yearly per-student administrative fee, and that’s why USAP reserves the right to revoke membership and drop from coverage any club that violates the USAP Code of Conduct/Registration Agreement. Membership and coverage do not begin until we receive an e-signed copy of the member agreement acknowledging the aforementioned guidelines.
What is the definition of “peak enrollment”?
Peak enrollment is defined as follows:
“Premium is determined by applying the appropriate rate for your club/program to the greatest number of registered members that your club/program COULD have ANNUALLY.”
USAP expects all member gyms to use best good faith efforts to correctly estimate what their enrollment COULD be during the coming policy term. Once you have come up with that number, we suggest you add another 10% to allow for unforeseen growth. Should your numbers spike beyond your expectations, we expect our member gyms to report those new numbers promptly so that we can adjust their coverage accordingly.
Is there an age limit for participant coverage?
There is no age limit for participant coverage under the USAP policy, however we do require that you estimate what percentage of your students will be over 19. The reason for this is that our underwriter charges USAP a higher rate for those 20 and over, for which USAP charges a slightly higher fee ($5 per student annually) to cover a portion of the underwriter surcharge.
Can I reach out to USAP for advice or questions as my program grows and develops?
Absolutely! We are a member organization and we are committed to your growth and success, so please come to us with any questions you may have on all things parkour-related and someone on our extremely knowledgeable team of advisors and athletes will be happy to help.
Student Abuse Protocols/Safe Sport Training Requirement
USA Parkour treats the issue of student abuse with the utmost seriousness, be it physical or sexual abuse, or bullying or intimidation of any kind whether from a fellow student or staff member, and we require the same zero tolerance policy from all of our member gyms. It is imperative that all gyms create a safe environment where a student or staff member feels comfortable reporting the act or suspicion of possible abuse towards themselves or others to the gym owner or on-site manager immediately. We understand that this is not always an easy task, since these can be difficult things to talk about for students and staff members alike. To assist in this process, the Safe Sport Training Program has been developed to help guard against and alert individuals to the warning signs of possible abuse occurring in their midst.
Accordingly, all USAP Gyms are required to visit the Safe Sport site (https://athletesafety.org/training/index), and complete the "Safe Sport Trained" section at the bottom of the homepage ($20.00) If you have already completed the Safe Sport Training, please be ready to provide USAP with proof of completion.
In addition, as an added precaution, all prospective employees must be interviewed in person, must submit at least two letters of reference, and must undergo recognized criminal background and abuse registry checks.
Let's work together to keep our students safe!