On the night of November 11th during a Parents Night Out at VaultPK in San Diego, a platform at the top of a flight of stairs collapses injuring 21 kids and several adults.
VaultPK is a Gymnastics gym with a Parkour twist founded by gymnastics instructor Jessica Funke Ho, originally in Torrance California. This past weekend at their new San Diego location a tragic collapse occurred while 30+ gym attendees gathered at the top of the gym’s parent lounge & viewing area to snack on some free Pizza.
Event attendees say that they first saw “cracks in the floor” suddenly followed by the floor falling out from them under the weight of the 30+ participants. While most students only met with minor ailments such as scrapes and small cuts, a small number of participants sustained spinal injuries and other more serious injuries. Paramedics and police were called while a flurry of news agencies flocked to the scene to document the event. This story was covered by various agencies such as ABC News and the Washington Post. Fox News later published that VaultPK had secured zero permits for its business and its internal structures.
We at Freedom in Motion, of course, send our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the collapse. We wish them a speedy recovery and hope that this freak occurrence doesn’t forever deter those affected away from a lifestyle of fun, fitness, and parkour based play!
While tragic, this story is certainly raising some questions about the construction standards and practices employed at VaultPK’s San Diego location.
What did a Vault PK affiliate have to say about this?
Thanks to leading PK builders, like Sturdy-Made, today’s parkour obstacles have been engineered to withstand the rigors of athletes with their specific needs in mind. Parkour gyms/institutions are the safest forms of training as concrete and asphalt have been replaced with rubber, non-slip flooring, and foam pads.
The incident at Vault PK in San Diego has no connection with parkour obstacle course training. The observation deck separated from the support wall and tipped, causing those on it to slide off onto the gym floor. This was an isolated incident and is currently under investigation.
Regarding Media Coverage:
At the time of incident there were a lot of assumptions that were reported. Words like “tragic” and “collapse” are inflammatory words used to create newsworthy material by the media. As a parent, I was in disbelief when I heard these words broadcasted on the news.
What was not broadcasted was how the owners, coaches, and parents worked together to assist those in need before first responders arrived. There was no hesitation, no moments of panic, just action. Hopefully, more stories like this will surface from the parents and children from inside the gym on November 11th, 2017. The media did their best to cover the story without facts and we cannot fault them for that.
Community Leader for San Diego Parkour
Parkour can, at times, be a high impact sport. Additionally, Parkour has this unique quality that transforms practically any object into an obstacle. This holds true especially within a parkour gym, where participants may see any every-day object like a staircase or a retainer wall as an opportunity for play. Knowing this, it is of utmost importance for all structures within a parkour gym setting to not only be well built for its intended purpose, but to also be sturdy from a variety of angles and orientations so that, in any situation, said object will hold up to the onslaught of forces sustained by daily parkour training
The staircase and parent viewing platform which collapsed at VaultPK is no exception.
Parkour equipment and structures must be hand-built to ensure quality, utility, and safety. Companies have an obligation to contracts with a 3rd party structural engineer to inspect and certify large gym builds for strength and longevity. Inspection by certified professionals should be a priority for all Parkour gyms.
If you are a Parkour practitioner or someone interested in building Parkour obstacles for personal use, we strongly encourage you to join “Sturdymade – the parkour construction laboratory” which is a Facebook community composed of seasoned obstacle course designers, gym equipment engineers, parkour practitioners, and gym owner alike. In this group can be found such things like free blueprints to building a variety of Parkour structures, tips, and technique on building sturdy platforms and pathways, to even the advice of park design for utility and safety. While further education and certification are necessary in order to build a space intended for public use, free and public resources like Sturdy Made may serve as a valuable tool when it comes performing safe and informed buildouts.
We at Freedom in motion are proud of our coaches and equipment. If any community members have any questions or concerns, we invite you to come talk with us. We would be happy to set a time for you to meet with our facility manager and coaches. We would love to show you what we’re made of! (literally, well give you a tour of the inside of a vault box and the big main structure.)
If you happen to attend a different parkour gym somewhere else in the world, we challenge you to seek out whoever oversees building and safety at your local gym and ask them about their facility. Ask them for a tour and find out why they think their build will stand up to years of parkour training. If they seem unsure, send them to Sturdymade and advise them to seek help before someone gets hurt in their gym!
Our love goes out to those affected by the collapse. We wish the best to the affected families and to those who may have called VaultPk an important piece of their local community! We also want Vault PK to know that Freedom in Motion is always here as a resource and would be happy to provide a consultation or inspection of their current or future builds.
We wish you a swift re-build, VaultPK! Good luck to your staff, community, and affected families!
Have you ever build a parkour obstacle? What steps did you take to educate yourself before the build began? Let us know in the comments below!
Freedom in motion Parkour Gym