Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

From pandemic ennui, Vermont parkour crew finds kin on ledges and rooftops

A person in the middle of a backflip in a gym.
Camila Van Order González
Community News Service
Bailey Lefebvre of the Goof Rap parkour group practices at Green Mountain Training center with fellow crew members.

Nathan Bean, Tsuki Puddicombe and Bailey Lefebvre had only briefly seen each other in their gyms before the COVID-19 lockdowns. When facilities closed, they were forced to find alternative ways to work out.

They found themselves parallel to each other practicing the aerobatic sport of hopping ledges, scaling walls and running roofs. Buds of friendship blossomed.

“We got lucky that we found each other,” said Puddicombe, a 32-year-old Stowe resident. “Because of the pandemic, everyone was bored, trying to find things to do outside.”

In the years since, their informal group has become a full-fledged crew of parkour practitioners.

The group’s name, Goof Rap, came from a mispronunciation of the words “roof gap.” It has grown to include 33 total members, although some have moved away (and remained friends). The members come from all over the country, from all different backgrounds, and tend to be around college age into their mid-30s.

Polling over the last few years suggests people that age increasingly feel directionless or unhappy with where they are in life.

“Growing up here, it felt almost like I had limited options,” Bean, 30, said of Vermont. “School could look like this, life could look like this. I’m just not going to conform.”

A group of people stand in a gym with blue mats
Camila Van Order González
Community News Service
Members of the Goof Rap parkour group, based in the Burlington area, chatting during a practice session at Green Mountain Training Center.

Parkour, group members believe, offers an out-of-the-ordinary outlet that costs nothing.

The sport builds on intuitive human movement — running, climbing, rolling, swinging — to move between two points in the most creative and efficient way possible. It can incorporate flips and other stylish tricks but can also just be a simple yet unconventional way to move from place to place.

Puddicombe, who teaches parkour classes in the area for a wide age range, defines it as “learning different ways to navigate an urban environment with a style that works for you.”

“It does not have to be anything extreme,” she added. In fact, some trainers offer lessons geared toward older folks who want to learn balancing skills and how to take a fall to prevent injuries.

Before they came together, members of Goof Rap were happy to leap from roof to roof on their own. But they emphasized the importance of the community they’ve built. Upon first meeting a Community News Service reporter, Bean taught some simple moves, and other members invited the reporter to join them in the future.

“The community has so many connections throughout the nation,” said Chloe Reynolds, a 19-year-old who joined the group this April.

A person in the middle of a backbend in a gym.
Camila Van Order González
Community News Service
Chloe Reynolds, who joined the parkour group in April 2023, practices at Green Mountain Training Center.

Longtime member Benji Gifford, a Champlain College student from Florida, seeks out people practicing parkour wherever he goes. When he first came to Burlington, he searched online for groups and found an Instagram video of Puddicombe practicing her flow near the waterfront. He showed up at her gym and she agreed to train with him. He joined Goof Rap afterward.

“You can, like, travel anywhere in the world and find people doing parkour,” he said. “Back in June, I went to Melbourne, Australia, found parkour people there and just stayed with them. I didn’t pay for any hotel.”

Injury is a common anxiety when it comes to perceptions of parkour. At the time she was interviewed this November, Puddicombe was using crutches due to a twisted knee from a failed step vault.

“It’s just like any other sport, you train really hard, you get injured,” she said.

In mid-2020, with a huge reduction in the amount of pedestrians outside in Burlington, the group in their early stages felt confident taking up space in public. In a pivotal bonding moment, the members of Goof Rap rode down Church Street on discarded office chairs.

“No one was there to stop us,” Puddicombe said.

They do not always get away with their public tomfoolery. In October 2022, four members were banned from University Mall for practicing parkour on the roof. Half have had their bans lifted.

“I can’t wait until everybody’s not banned again,” said Reynolds. “We’re not going back on the roof — we’ll go get boba.”

The Community News Service is a program in which University of Vermont students work with professional editors to provide content for local news outlets at no cost.

Latest Stories