Kurt Blaze Gowan, the owner of the Chicago Based Parkour Ways Academy, was recently featured in an article on the Chicago Sun Times website.
To read about Gowan's upcoming part in the upcoming drama "shameless" and to learn more about Gowan and Chicago Parkour click read more...
Kurt “Blaze” Gowan was a stunt stand-in for the character Ian Gallagher (played by Cameron Monaghan) in teh new show Shamless. He is shown hightailing from McCormick Place alongside actor Jeremy Allen White (Ian’s older brother “Lip”). Authorities are in hot pursuit of the boys and their ill-gotten booty. Bounding down stairs, climbing a fence and leaping from a rooftop.
It’s one of three jobs that Kurt, has gotten without actully looking for in the past several months. Other appearances were on Fox’s canceled “The Mob Doctor” and another chase for the locally made Bollywood extravaganza “Dhoom: 3.”
Gowan began practicing parkour in 2009 following years of little exercise other than some westling and BMX. That same year, shortly after losing his mom to cancer, he began teaching the sport and in 2011 founded Parkour Ways.
“It opens up different doors for you,” Gowan says of parkour.
“There are those rare jumps where you have no idea what’s going to happen when you go for it, but you go for it anyway. And it could go one way. It could go the other. And a lot of times you’re surprised by which way it went.”
He currently teaches at Vie Personal Training on North Kingsbury and two other locations in Chicago and Forest Park.
“[Parkour] is something I always wanted to do, but I couldn’t find anybody to teach it in Chicago,” says French-born Vie owner Yvon Bignet, who was first introduced to Parkour via the 2001 French film “Yamakasi: Les samourais des temps modernes.”
Then he found Gowan, who turned Vie’s small backyard into a sort of parkour practice field. And while building a devoted following has proved challenging, Bignet says there’s no hurry; these things take time.
Student Beck Anstee, a 41-year-old mother of two, was familiar with parkour from television and movies.
“It just looks cool,” she says. “It looks elite and kind of daring, and I had never known that you could actually learn how to do it. I just thought it was a gifted set of people — and certainly no women.”
Aside from the fitness component, she also likes that it’s non-competitive.
“It’s between you and yourself,” she says. “It’s fear management.”
In 2012, teaching parkour and performing it onscreen were Gowan’s only sources of income. He says he's happier than when he worked retail.
And he seems rather unfazed about getting hassled be security or the police.
“We go some places and people literally tell us, ‘No skateboarding,’ even though we don’t have skateboards anywhere near us,” Gowan says, realizing there are liability issues involved in using private property for practice. “They just don’t understand what it is. And then there are some people who see us and what we’re doing and they’re kind of excited.”
His friend Remy Olson, a fitness coach, personal chef and nutritionist, is more than kind of excited, she’s passionate. Together with her like-minded husband Darek she tracked down Gowan online, watched him teach a class at Vie and asked him to be part of something called the Urban Ninja Project. A parkour-rife public gathering, the all-ages obstacle course event is scheduled to take place again on Feb. 9 and 10 — if the organizers can raise enough funds via a campaign at Kickstarter.com.
For Olson, parkour is as much about physical fitness as it is about living more confidently, deliberately and creatively. In the process of honing one’s parkour skills, she says, “you grow a pair.”
“Like, if you can do that jump, if you can have the discipline to learn that progression and get better and better, little by little, then all the silly nonsense that we face administratively throughout life kind of seems less significant, and more manageable too,” she says.
A bit of physical pain is good as well, she says. You feel it, get over it and move on.
“Once you have parkour or your physical activity has become your own,” Olson says, “you realize that no matter what other crap happens in life, ‘I always have my body.’ ”
Check out the original article in it's entirety on the Sun Time website here.