Parkour is a physical and demanding sport. Not just on you and your body, but the structures that you practice on. If you're thinking of building your own Parkour gym equipment, you need to be prepared to build something that will be able to handle the type of abuse it will go through. Pushing, pulling, swinging, jumping, each puts a tremendous amount of stress on a structure and you want to be sure that your Parkour equipment can handle it.
This post is meant to be a guide for those of you thinking about building your own Parkour gym equipment. As a company that has helped many Parkour enthusiasts as well as full-fledged Parkour gyms to design and build their own equipment, we know what it takes to design equipment that lives up to the abuse it will go through. Important topics such as safety, stability, building material, pipe size, adjustability, configuration, and portability, are all topics we will cover in-depth.
While we believe Kee Klamp is a superior material to build Parkour structures, we will cover what you need to know if you build your equipment with wood or even any other type of pipe and pipe connector.
So without further ado, let's jump into it with the first and most important topic you should consider before starting your build, Safety and Stability:
Keeping Your Structure Safe
The first thing you need to consider before starting to build your parkour structure, is safety. Whether you're building it for yourself to practice in your backyard, to introduce your children to the sport, or you're planning on building a full-fledged parkour gym, you need to be certain that the equipment you build, is above all, safe.
An unsafe piece of equipment can lead to a nasty injury, and if you're a gym owner, a nasty lawsuit. You need to keep yourself and your gym attendees safe by building a structure that is stable and strong enough to support the movement and weight bearing down on it.
If you're building the structure with pipe, there are a few ways that you can add stability and strength to the structure to ensure it will be safe:
Choose the Correct Pipe Size
The first will be to consider the size of the pipe. Not just the diameter of the pipe but the thickness of the interior wall as well.
A larger pipe diameter can help to create a stronger and more stable structure. However, using pipe with a larger diameter can come at cost of making the structure more difficult to use. A larger pipe diameter can be harder to grip and move freely on. A solution to this could be using varying sizes of pipe within the structure.
Pipe Diameter Sizes
Using a pipe with a larger diameter in certain areas of the structure such as the base, corners, or any other areas that are less likely to be used for movement can help to strengthen the structure while using pipe with a smaller diameter in places where you will actually grip and move on the structure will make it comfortable to use.
The Single Socket Tee would be best for this type of application as it comes in variations that allow you to join different sizes of pipe. For instance, you can join a size 7 pipe (which has an outer diameter of 1.315") in one direction while joining a size 6 pipe (which has an outer diameter of 1.660") in the opposite direction. In general, a size 6 or 7 pipe will be easier to grip while a size 8 pipe will help to make the structure more stable.
Even more important than the diameter of the pipe, may be the thickness of the pipe. The interior wall thickness of the pipe can make a big difference on the safety and stability of the structure. A pipe with a thicker interior wall such as Schedule 80 pipe, rather than Schedule 40 pipe, can make the structure more rigid and is often recommended by Parkour gyms:
"Generally most Parkour programs are using either 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" nominal pipe (1.66" or 1.9" OD respectively) and we recommend to always upgrade to Schedule 80 (greater wall thickness). Usually it's not that much more expensive and it will make your pipe last much longer without bending. We use 1 1/2" Schedule 80 pipe on 7' - 9' spans at Parkour Visions and have only permanently bent one bar in the last 4 years (an 8' span taking a large drop precision at a competition)"
"Not all pipe is made the same. We ONLY use Schedule 80 pipe. Any structure I've seen with lengths greater than 4 feet who tried to cut costs by using Schedule 40 pipe has proven to be a structural nightmare. Tons of bending."
The images directly above and directly below show a comparison of Size 7 (1" Nominal Bore, 1.315" Outer Diameter) Gator Tubing, Schedule 80, and Schedule 40 Pipe. Starting from the left is Schedule 80 pipe, then Schedule 40 pipe, and finally Gator Tubing. Notice the inner wall thickness of each. The thickness of the inner wall may seem slight but it does make a big difference. Schedule 80 is quite a bit more heavier and more rigid than Schedule 40 pipe.
Another way to make the structure safer and more stable, is to add triangles to the structure.
When in doubt, the triangle will be your best friend. The triangle is the strongest shape and when used in your structure, it will help to reduce instability and improve strength. Use triangles at the base and corners of the structure.
A triangle can be created using either the Single Swivel Socket, the 30 to 60 Degree Single Socket Tee, or the 45 Degree Single Socket Tee. In the structure below, two 30 to 60 Degree Single Socket Tee fittings were used to create each of these triangles.
Mount it to the Wall or Ground
And finally, one more way to provide stability to the structure will be to anchor it to the wall or ground. While, it's possible to build a solid structure that is completely freestanding, mounting it to a surface will only help to increase the stability and strength of the structure.
Notice in the picture above how the structure is mounted to the wall to provide for extra stability.
Using the Flange, Standard Railing Flange, or the Adjustable Angle Base Flange, you can mount the structure to the wall or ground. Below you can see each pictured respectively.