As a veteran of parkour, Matt Talbot is an old hand at tackling new challenges, but he’s now facing a really tough obstacle: trying to run a parkour business in the middle of a pandemic.
“We’ve been closed for more than six of the last 12 months,” Talbot said.
The owner of Breathe Parkour, Talbot was at his main location in northeast Calgary Wednesday, carrying out work related to the permanent closure of his second location in the city’s southeast.
Faced with continuing Alberta government restrictions that prevent in-person indoor activities at many sports and recreation facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Talbot decided to shut down his southeast location, after five years in business, a move aimed at cutting costs and consolidating operations.
“It’s a lot like a castle under siege: we don’t know how long it’s going to last, so move everybody inside the castle walls,” Talbot said. “Gives you your best chance of survival.”
A national business organization says it’s the kind of difficult situation facing many sports and recreation facilities amid provincial restrictions.
“They are faring worse than the first wave of the pandemic, and it’s just this deep sense of uncertainty,” the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s Annie Dormuth said. “They are really looking for clear communication from the Alberta government on when they might be able to reopen.”
Talbot says he’s grateful for the support of his clients and for government aid programs, but says surviving as a business is “incredibly difficult”.
Referring to the way many restaurants and stores are adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions, Talbot said “I would love to do curbside pickup of parkour lessons — there’s just no way of doing that.”
Normally employing 20 people, Breathe Parkour is now down to six employees, bringing in some revenue by offering online parkour instruction, while selling a “Train Anywhere Kit” of basic equipment for clients to work with.
“We don’t recommend jumping over couches and you will not see the couch used as an obstacle in our online classes,” Talbot said. “But we have had a lot of parents email us and be like, ‘What do we do with our kids, my kid’s jumping all over my furniture’, so we’re trying to give them a healthy alternative to that. We’re trying to save peoples’ couches.”