Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in sports and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jimmy Davidson, Founder and CEO of Freedom in Motion Parkour Gym, located in California, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Freedom in Motion is a parkour gym with multiple locations across the inland Empire of California. We teach parkour, which is a type of martial art focused on movement, climbing, jumping, and safe landings. Think spider man or ninja warrior; that is the parkour movement. We teach parkour to young kids aged 4-6, kids ages 7-12, teens, and even adults learn parkour with us.

For readers near one of our parkour gym locations, you can book a parkour class with us by visiting this site. If you're not near one of our gyms but still want to learn parkour, check out our article "how to learn parkour." It's complete with helpful parkour training tutorials and is totally free. Enjoy!

Tell us about yourself

I first discovered parkour via YouTube in the early 2000s before most other folks in the US had heard of the sport. Later in my 20s, I toured the world doing parkour professionally for commercials, live shows, and competitions. Back in my hometown, Temecula, California, I taught a number of local kids and teens parkour outdoors each week as my regular source of income. Much like skateboarding, oftentimes, landowners would show up and ask us to get off their property since we were using their hand railings, walls, and building walls to practice our parkour movements. I decided to approach our city council.

The idea came from the then-mayor of Temecula. I had an in-person meeting with him back in 2010 with the hopes of having the city help build a public parkour park, like a skate park which Temecula has several of. The mayor had never heard of parkour before that meeting and was generally not convinced the city would be able to support the project. He then advised me to look into “having a park in the private sector.” Undeterred, we took his advice and began writing a business plan.

From there, two years later, we had a complete business plan, worked our butts off to raise enough money and secure the right investments, and in 2014 we opened the first Freedom in Motion Parkour gym in Murrieta, California.

There are a number of things that motivate me about running Freedom in Motion. Number one, the impact we're having on our community. When parents approach our coaches and tell them how much they have seen their kids grow and learn to overcome challenges and how those lessons are beginning to appear in their school work and at-home personalities, it's pretty awesome. Check out this personal email I received just last week.

"I am hoping that this email reaches the owner. I just wanted to email about how much I absolutely love Freedom in Motion for my son, Brody. He has been going for about 3 months and just now advanced to Level 2. I’m guessing that most children level up more quickly. However, your coaches never made Brody feel bad that it was taking him longer than other children. The coaches pushed Brody mentally and physically when they knew he was capable of being pushed, and supported him the whole time. Brody was diagnosed about a year ago with autism, and parkour and your gym is the perfect place for him. He loves going, once he’s there. Thank you for having an amazing company and the best coaches.
Katie K."

That makes me feel like I'm doing something meaningful for the community.

Next would be that I'm focused on providing great jobs for my team. We recently were able to launch health benefits and 401K plans for the team. That's very tough for small gyms to pull off, but we make treating our team well a priority. When they have the space to grow just like the students, that's also very motivating for me.

Freedom in Motion has 4 North Star values. Much like a triple-bottom-line business, we measure our success based on our parkour gym achieving these goals:

  1. Being a sustainable business
  2. Providing awesome jobs for our team
  3. Providing a "3rd place" feeling for our gym members
  4. Causing 1,000,000 people to not just learn parkour but to fall in love with the sport in a life-changing way.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

In 2021 I participated in a small business incubation program which ended in a pitch contest to real investors. Our parkour gym's model was up against some really great other businesses, like a huge construction firm out of Chicago or a beauty school for a killer growth record from Florida. In the end, Freedom in Motion won 1st place at that pitch contest, and it resulted in some financing opportunities, which are allowing us to open our 3rd Freedom in Motion parkour gym in Riverside, CA.

Later in September 2022, I was invited to give a 90-minute lecture about running a successful parkour business at Art Of Retreat, a parkour entrepreneurial symposium in update Washington. After my talk, multiple other business owners approached me hoping to continue the conversation and seek some personalized advice. That was incredibly validating and connected me again with how much I value contributing to other people around me.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

When I first opened Freedom in Motion in Murrieta, our original location, I was 21 and had no business experience. While I understood the sport of parkour very well and was a great coach, I truly didn't anticipate how much I needed to learn on the business side of things. As an owner, it is that it's all up to you to learn needed skills and grow your own level of competency to higher levels. The owner must constantly be increasing their skill level while also investing in others, and mentoring team members, so they may take on their own leadership roles within the company. Resulting in the CEO's time being freed up so the CEO may refocus on high-value-generating tasks.

The thousands of steps to take on that journey can be a bit exhausting at times. It takes a fair amount of grit to get one's self from where they were on day 1 to where one needs to be to actually achieve some meaningful results.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Read books and seek mentorship. Authors like Mike Michalowicz, who focuses on new entrepreneurs, are a must-read.
  2. Get clear on what your business needs to grow. Do you have proper lead generation and sales? Are you making a profit and defending your profit? Are you documenting operations so your team will be able to follow written directions instead of being expected to read the owner's mind for how things ought to be run on the day-to-day?
  3. Get help - hire the right people. The book "Who not how" by Dan Sullivan wraps this up nicely. Don't be afraid to hire folks to take on specific roles. Yes, the payroll costs may seem intimidating, but the value should come from you, the owner, being free to focus on improving the business and ultimately generating more income because you're now free to focus on vital tasks and value creation.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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