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Charles Moreland

Rochester Parkour

Interview No. 35

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"I remember being on the 490 east on ramp from downtown right after some dark storm clouds had passed and the sun came shining through from the west. There was a huge rainbow encompassing all of Rochester and I felt so at home and at peace with all my life decisions."

What part of Rochester are you from?

North Winton Village

Where are you originally from?

I grew up just outside of Albany, NY in a town called Latham.

Why did you move to Rochester?

RIT really spoke to me when I was looking at colleges, and I was super excited when I received my acceptance letter. I’ve been in Rochester ever since 2006.

What is your favorite part about Rochester living?

Favorite?! Man, it's all good! I love the people, the history, the character of it all. I love the entrepreneurial spirit that just seems to grow bigger every day. I love that the Rochester life cannot be mimicked anywhere else because of how unique everything is.

Do you have any favorite/secret spots?

Manhattan Square Park (now MLK Jr Park) is my favorite space. It gets such a bad rep, but it is such a blessing to be home to a park designed by Lawrence Halprin. I wish more events and more people used the park for appropriate, constructive means (not drugs, graffiti, or public drinking). Lawrence believed that creative spaces would yield creative people and movement is one of mankind’s oldest forms of expression. MLK Jr. Park is a space that challenges us to feel natural in such a rigid, structural atmosphere and many of us choose to do so by way of movement and exploration. Rochester Parkour first started inside that park and grew into what it is today. I also find it interesting that every large parkour community in the United States has a Lawrence Halprin park.

What is your favorite day to hang out in the city?

Late afternoon.

What is your favorite day of the week?

Any day that involves good food, good coffee, and time shared with good people.

Describe your dream Rochester day.

Slow morning, good coffee, head to the public market and get some amazing fresh food. Backyard work in the sunshine. Water adventures at Durand-Eastman Beach. Movement fun times downtown. Watching the sunset while bbq-ing with my friends. Nerf battles with my friends at Rochester Parkour- yeah, I’m an adult! That's all probably 60+ hours of time though, but hey, it's a dream!

Do you have a favorite neighborhood?

I love living in North Winton Village. My girlfriend Nicole and I can walk to work, Wegmans, or a few other places if we wish and it feels like the perfect mix of suburban and city living all in one.

Favorite bar?

Tap and Mallet. Always something new to try!

Favorite hungover eating spot?

I haven't been hungover since college…but I can't miss an opportunity to give a shoutout to Flour City Bakery!

What is your personal coping mechanism for cold/gray weather?

Nicole and I love living in Rochester, especially because of the weather. Experiencing change is important and I can’t imagine living in a place where most of the year seems like the same day. We organize our memories through the change in seasons. If every day were the same, I’d feel lost trying to figure out a memory from February compared to a memory from July.

What is your favorite Rochester memory?

The day I picked up Nicole from the train station 6 years ago. I remember being on the 490 east on ramp from downtown right after some dark storm clouds had passed and the sun came shining through from the west. There was a huge rainbow encompassing all of Rochester and I felt so at home and at peace with all my life decisions.

What makes Rochester unique?

The people. The connections I've made here are so strong and I love how the people in my life have taken what most people would view as negative and use them to empower their efforts in the region.

What do you think could be improved?

I truly don’t believe I’m qualified to answer this question, but I’m always down for more public space downtown- especially around High Falls. There’s a lot of new potential opening up with the Inner Loop project and the changes happening to Crossroads park downtown. I’m hopeful to see more green/movement inspired spaces come to those areas that incentivize more people to go downtown and just enjoy life.

As described, I fell in love with Rochester ever since college. I never desired to move away and I saw an opportunity to do something I believed was important.

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If Rochester were an animal, what would it be?

Rochester is a pitbull. The beast itself is intimidating, but treat it well, and it makes for the sweetest, most loveable of all animals.

What made you decide to open a business in Rochester versus somewhere else?

As described, I fell in love with Rochester ever since college. I never desired to move away and I saw an opportunity to do something I believed was important. Nicole and I work hard because we believe in what we do and that Rochester deserves to have a place like Rochester Parkour.

What is the best part of owning a business in Rochester?

Rochester is a small city and it’s nice joining such a tight knit community. Things you do matter to the community at large and you can easily see that, at least in the fitness industry. We don’t feel immediately washed out in a sea of other businesses.

What are some of the challenges you face?

Our practice and training are relatively unknown and misunderstood. We’ve fought an uphill battle ever since opening our doors 5 years ago to not only provide top-notch education, but also educate the public on what parkour training is. Most everyone mistakenly associates us with daredevil sports and danger when we couldn’t be further from that! Our injury rates are less than gymnastics, soccer, football, crossfit, or weight training and we’ve put in a ton of work developing one of the best training methodologies in the nation.

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs?

Passion trumps all. People are tuned to that and can tell when a business is just there to extract money. When I think of all the businesses that make Rochester great, behind them is always a team of passionate people who believe in what they do and love serving a quality product.

Charles Moreland is a advocate for the unique Rochester spirit and the owner of Rochester Parkour. See more of Charles' perspective on our Instagram.