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Jump around! W’burg parkour studio back in business

Jump around! W’burg parkour studio back in business
High-flyer act: Giovanni Raitieri braces for a face full of foam.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The Williamsburg freestyle walking studio that shuttered suddenly in December is back up and running with a new name and new ownership.

The parkour park, formerly Bklyn Beast, now Brooklyn Zoo, will employ some of the same instructors and hopes to win back many of its former students.

“There is a huge following of people who are waiting to come back and train,” said co-owner Masai James, who was also co-owner of Bklyn Beast.

Parkour is a sport like skateboarding without a skateboard, or gymnastics performed in the streets, with the studio serving as a kind of funhouse for practitioners to hone their moves.

This go-round, James has teamed up with Donna Barrett, who owns the Bogart Street warehouse and built the massive obstacle course for the previous business. The pair say Bklyn Beast ended in a swirl of infighting capped by a massive party that went bad and they are hoping to turn over a new leaf with the latest incarnation.

James met Barrett two years ago when James taught her kids to tumble at Chelsea Piers. Barrett then offered up the warehouse she owns for the pay-to-play park and spent $200,000 to install a spring-loaded floor and build the obstacles.

The all-ages playground opened in January 2013 and made good money in its early months, but none of the business arrangements were committed to paper and James’ business partners refused to pay Barrett back for her investment, James said. James left the business and Barrett sued to evict Bklyn Beast, he said. The death knell came on Dec. 15, when the remaining owners threw a massive party that ended with cops slapping the facility with a vacate order, according to James.

Brooklyn Zoo, which borrows its name from the inimitable rap classic by the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard, is adding obstacles and has already installed a new rope wall. Instructors from parkour advocacy group USA Parkour will soon visit New York to certify Brooklyn Zoo’s instructors as safe and responsible, Barrett said.

“We will probably have three or four certified teachers,” she said.

The studio also plans to offer classes in breakdancing and tumbling.

The pair are confident that the studio will regain most of its former clientele quickly.

“There are not any other places to do what we are doing here,” said Barrett. “We have amazing talent and amazing instructors. I think people will come back.”

Students are already starting to trickle back in.

“This place is a mecca,” said student Natasha Markwick. “It’s like a second home.”

Prices have gone up slightly at the play palace’s latest incarnation, with classes costing $20, $2 more than before, and 10-class passes up $30 to $180.Brooklyn Zoo parkour studio at [230 Bogart St. at Ten Eyck Street in Williamsburg, brooklynzoony.com, (347) 987–3228]. Classes are $20; 10-class passes are $180; open training sessions are $15–8.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Over the top: Brooklyn Zoo co-owner Geronimo Frias cleared some hurdles on his way to opening the private playground.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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