Parkour has just come to Budapest! A rigorous and imaginative form of exercise undertaken by negotiating obstacles, this mainly urban sport has been brought to Hungary by two local enthusiasts who have just set up their own local centre. We took a look at the Hall of Parkour Hungary (HOP Hungary).
Parkour comes to Budapest!
After years of planning and experience, the Hall of Parkour Hungary (HOP Hungary), the country’s first indoor space dedicated to this extreme sport, has opened its doors in the east Pest district of Kőbánya. The facility is the brainchild of two young parkour coaches, Vajk Szentváry-Lukács and Áron Máté, who decided to bring together the practitioners of this exciting street activity, strengthening the still-forming Hungarian parkour community.
Parkour originated in France, in a suburb of Paris. From there, it spread – first to the UK then beyond. The parkour movement started in Hungary around 15 years ago but even today, only a narrow but ever-growing circle is familiar with it.
Parkour is basically a form of movement based on strength and athleticism in which acrobatics are also important. There are two versions. Freestyle is more graceful, somersaults, spins, screws and spectacular movements. Classic parkour, on the other hand, is an urban obstacle course, where speed is the most important thing, the shortest time to get from point A to point B.
In many people’s minds, parkour means rooftops, but that doesn’t cover everything. Not every city has suitable roofs – Budapest being one of them. The first generation of Hungarian parkourists trained on the ruins and walls of the Buda Castle, until all extreme sports there were banned by decree. So, for lack of anywhere better, they began to explore the city. It turned out that there are quite good areas in Budapest as well, not just in one place, but scattered everywhere. The spaces around the Puskás Aréna, for example, is one, but always one location is suitable for certain things and not for others, so full-on parkour couldn't be maximised. That's why HOP Hungary was created, to allow everything to be done in one place.
A place to parkour
The space in Kőbánya was developed by two young men, Vajk Szentváry-Lukács from Budapest and Áron Máté, born in Pécs, who met at the University of Physical Education. In fact, it was parkour that brought them together, first by coaching, then with the idea of opening a hall.
Both are pillars of the domestic parkour community, belonging to the second generation. They are also members of the Spenc Team affiliated with the Hungarian Parkour Sports Association. This has thousands of members, though the number of active parkourists is as low as 200-300.
This is where Vajk and Aaron come in. They used to do gym workouts, forever unpacking and repacking obstacles and apparatus. Over time, they became more and more determined that it would be ideal if everything were always in the same place.
Meanwhile, professional halls were being established all over the world. The guys took a look at a couple and gathered information: which elements and materials, what type of room, would they need to put everything together?
After a long discussion, the perfect location was finally found in District X, not only wide enough but of the right ceiling height. The place was originally a gym, then rented by a film crew, followed by Vajk, Áron and parkour. They came across the hall last November, planned what it would look like in December, then built the course and its fixed elements in January, and then opened in February… then came shutdown.
Now they are open, and intend to run camps in July-August, before reopening in September, when several training programmes will be available.
Practice, practice, practice
Group workouts will be for those still learning the sport. Those who can move faster and more intensely can take private lessons. For professionals, there is so-called ‘free practice’, but this can really only be used by those with sufficient background knowledge and experience. All is assessed by the guys in a guided workout, to make certain.
The real pros can go even further – they can train at height, because they have already reached a level of confidence that they see only challenge in risk. The moveable and stable structures around the hall are artificial – some can be found elsewhere in town but never all in one place.
At HOP Hungary, there’s swinging, running onto walls, jumping, climbing, the equipment here is suitable for many things. The large hall and the communal area with a ping-pong table and the changing rooms are already in place, with a dance hall under construction, where aerial acrobatic training will take place.
Hall of Parkour Hungary – HOP Hungary
District X. Korponai utca 1A
Tram 37/37A to Őrház