Northside Missoula Warehouse mixes athletics and education
Laughter echoed from the open roll-up door of a bustling warehouse on Missoula’s Northside. A clump of teens gathered just inside, enjoying the last of the mid-October sun on their backs as they watched each other maneuver through a jumble of wooden towers and chalk-covered bars.
In the far corner of the warehouse, unconcerned with the surrounding chaos of movement and sound, Micah Marino ran the vacuum over mats on the floor.
“Look at Micah, cleaning up the gym, trying to make a good impression,” someone laughed to the group.
While a small city in Western Montana seems an unlikely place to find some of the best in American parkour, Unparalleled Movement and its athletes are considered to be just that.
Marino founded Unparalleled Movement in 2011, with his friends Kent Johns and Michael Graef.
“We started the gym for selfish reasons. We wanted a place to train that was our own,” said Marino.
It became a place for those interested in the sport to gather and learn from each other on a daily basis.
“Without the gym, there would be kids seeing it on YouTube, training on their own,” said Marino. “But we wouldn’t be collectively getting better faster. It would just be on our own, and we can only learn so much on our own.”
To build the parkour community, Marino has also focused on youth education in the gym. It offers four levels of youth classes, as well as a basic flips class and all-ages open-gym hours.
“Passing the torch down and having them grow the flame is a big part of it.” said Marino. “We are trying to cultivate an environment where the younger community can be born.”
It’s also important for business. The future of the gym relies on the growth of the sport, and without an ever-growing pool of athletes interested in paying for classes and memberships, it’s hard to stay in business.
Parkour gyms are not always successful investments. Several gyms in the west have been unable to keep their doors open due to lack of rent or being pushed out of the space by higher paying clients. Gyms often can’t attract enough clients to pay for the amount of space they need.
Despite financial challenges and location changes, Unparalleled Movement recently celebrated its seventh anniversary. Marino believes cultivating interest before building a gym is the key.