For as long as she can remember, Lorena Abreu was always that girl with an infinite supply of energy who was given to spurts of hyperactivity.
As a kid, she ran everywhere, jumped easily over any obstacle, and climbed anything that could be scaled.
Where could she possibly get that amount of energy?
It may have come naturally for the Dominican-born athlete, actress, businesswoman, and stuntwoman who spent most of her life in the Rio Grande Valley.
Her father, Dr. Ricardo Abreu, who founded the Pulmonary and Sleep Center in McAllen, is a long-distance cyclist and her mother, Rochy Diná, is an avid tennis player and the owner of Kiskeya Athletics in Pharr.
As a child, Lorena was allowed to explore various outlets for her energy, including baseball, tennis, karate, various forms and genres of dance, and theater.
However, there wasn’t a sport or activity that tested her physical abilities until she discovered Parkour.
Lorena was a 19-year-old film student at Full Sail University in Orlando when she first learned about Parkour from one of her fellow students, who told her about the open gym nights held on Saturdays.
“Nothing compares to parkour for me,” Lorena said. “It is just as taxing mentally as it is physically. Parkour is very much an exercise in creativity, an exercise in problem-solving, and an exercise in fear management. It taxes all these different parts of your brain, all at the same time. Parkour is my Adderall.”
According to the World Freerunning Parkour Federation, Parkour originated as a training program for the French Special Forces and is known as “Parcours du combattant,” or “The Path of the Warrior.”
Fast-forward nearly 30 years, and Parkour has become an urban sport where participants fuse their mind and body to run and jump across any obstacle in the most expedient manner.
Sometimes, there are those rare moments when Parkour resembles a masterpiece as the participants defy gravity and float through the air from one obstacle to the next.
Of course, skills such as these are honed through hours of training on the Parkour course, along with other forms of intense physical activity, such as interval or weight training.
Lorena said her parents are very passionate about exercise, which they instilled in her and her brother at a very young age.
But what did her parents think about their daughter’s new love of Parkour?
“My dad was all for it. He basically grew up doing Parkour during the summer in the Dominican Republic,” she said. “He was basically down for Parkour on day one. My mom was very afraid at first, but one day I brought her to a Parkour gym in San Antonio…”
It was the first time that Rochy had seen her daughter–along with other adults– take on the Parkour course up close.
She was in awe watching her daughter and other Parkour athletes effortlessly fly through and around each obstacle. She admired how each athlete fused their mind and body to conquer the course successfully.
Lorena said that her mother realized this was much more than a gym. It was an outlet for families and people of various ages and physical abilities to improve their health through physical activity. It was an answer to her prayers.
“My mom fell in love with the Parkour community,” Lorena said.
Rochy remembered her youth in the Dominican Republic and having the freedom to experience other activities with her friends at the sports club where she practiced tennis. She’d envisioned for many years creating a similar venue in the Valley where families could gather to enjoy.
The San Antonio parkour gym visit inspired Rochy and Lorena to open Kiskeya Athletics in Pharr.
Kiskeya Athletics invited the public to its soft opening on Jan. 30 and officially opened with its ribbon cutting on May 31, 2023.
“This is her dream facility,” Lorena said.
Kiskeya Athletics, which comes from “Quisqueya,” the Taíno name for the island of Hispaniola, where the family is from, is the largest Parkour facility in North America, according to Lorena.
“I was heavily involved in the development of Kiskeya Athletics, and I basically oversaw every aspect of the development of the Parkour gym,” she said.
Lorena was also responsible for assembling the facility teams and ordering the equipment for Kiskeya Athletics.
Some programs available to Kiskeya Athletics include Parkour, dance classes, Tennis, fitness classes, weight training, CrossFit, and dodgeball.
While most who take up the Parkour challenge are in their 20s or 30s, Lorena believes anyone of any age can perform at least some parts of a Parkour workout. She adds Parkour can help improve the balance of older adults with a risk of falling.
“Parkour doesn’t have an age limit,” she said. “Parkour is for everybody. It’s a toolbox of movement that teaches you how to effectively maneuver through various environments. Parkour looks different for everyone.”