Eric Corrales never met an obstacle he didn't like.
Always in motion, Corrales uses them as a means of propulsion, employing a series of leaps, jumps, and flips to traverse elements in the natural landscape. An evangelist of parkour—a sport that turns urban landscapes into obstacle courses—Corrales is poised to open Bend's first indoor parkour-dedicated gym.
"When I was young, I decided to get involved with something other than traditional team sports," said Corrales, now 21 years old. "Initially, I simply wanted to learn a back flip, so for three months I practiced in my yard."
And then, during a visit to a Hullabaloo celebration in Northwest Crossing, he successfully completed his first.
"I was still failing after every attempt, but when a little kid asked me to try again, I nailed it," laughed Corrales.
Three days later, his journey to parkour perfection began, practicing for two years under the watchful eye of instructor Josh Martyn at Acrovision Sports Center.
"I became his assistant and eventually the parkour director until starting my own business in 2011," noted Corrales, referring to his company, Abstract in Motion.
The concept of parkour has its roots in WWI and II when French Army officer Georges Hebert traveled to Africa where he observed African tribesman employing rolling and climbing techniques to efficiently move through the jungle.
Hebert brought the practice back home to France where he instructed firefighters and the military on how to maneuver through their environment. The methodology became known as parcours du combattant, or, literally, assault course.
Corrales and his family came to Bend purely by chance when his mom, Jacqueline, threw a dart on a map on a wall to determine where her family would settle.
A native of Renton, Washington, Corrales and his family moved a few times between the Northwest and Florida before that dart landed in 2007, when Corrales was 13.
"We found out right away what an outdoorsy town Bend was," noted Corrales. "We would go for hikes everyday."
As a young teenager, Corrales was still trying to find his way, eventually enrolling at Central Oregon Community College, where he is currently 12 credits short of graduation.
"I was hoping at some point I would find what I wanted to do and I have," said Corrales, referring to parkour. "This has been my dream for three years and I have overcome life's obstacles, much like parkour, to get here."
As a sport known for embracing a variety of outdoor natural obstacles, some may question why Corrales is bringing the discipline indoors to his 1,500 square-foot warehouse (located at 100 SE Bridgeford Blvd.).
"Bend is very temperamental when it comes to weather and we don't like to train in icy, 20-degree weather when surfaces are slippery," he explained. "My gym offers a warm spot with the same ability to teach others as if we were outside."
Corrales also noted that Parkour athletes don't like being out after dark when others may misinterpret their activity.
"Sometimes we train until 1 am," said Corrales. "It is safer if people don't see us jumping around on things at odd hours."
For Corrales, and anyone who joins his gym, rooftops are off limits as he is sensitive to the less-than-positive reputation some bring to the sport.
"If you go on a rooftop, I will ban you from this gym," said Corrales simply. "If a kid sees someone on a rooftop they will want to imitate the activity."
It is not just kids that learn from Corrales as he admits to having students of all ages coming to him to learn what they are capable of.
"As an instructor, I can tell what needs each student has in order to prosper," he said, adding that all of his students are, at least, kids at heart.
"Parkour is made for going outside and playing on obstacles and still being a kid, but in an advanced way," he said.
Corrales plans a grand opening of his indoor facility for Saturday, June 13. For more information, visit abstract-in-motion.com.