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Courtesy of APEX Movement Center

Training Little Ninjas

The success of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior has kids around the nation wanting to train like the pros.

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Another season of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior obstacle course show has come to a close and no one made it to the top of Mount Midoriyama. All of the ninjas—including Ian Dory, a Fort Collins-based favorite who exited the competition in Stage 1—will head back to their home gyms to prepare for next season. But the pros won’t be the only getting back to practicing the famed obstacles like the salmon ladder and warped wall, the kid sitting next you on the couch can too. If your child is leaping from monkey bars and hanging from trees, you can get them a coach to teach them the best obstacle techniques and methods than won’t lead to a broken arm. We found three Front Range facilities ready to take his or her ninja skills up to the level of a playground legend.

APEX Movement Denver

When your kid’s coach is responsible for training three American Ninja Warriors and he is a former Ninja himself, it’s easy to know your little athlete is about to get an education in movement. Austin Lutz is one many coaches at APEX Movement Denver who trains kids six years old and up in the ways of parkour, obstacle course technique, and overall strength and speed. “It’s a sport that isn’t going away,” Lutz says. “It’s a great way to stay in shape and it doesn’t have to be competitive. It is an alternative sport to competitive sports.”

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Cost: Open gym $10, memberships start at $145

700 W. Mississippi Ave., Building A, #5, 720-295-7279, apexmovementdenver.com

Path Movement

A new day, a new challenge isn’t just about switching up a workout. The obstacles inside Path Movement actually move each day. “We are a completely modular gym,” Erick Jensen, a co-owner of Path Movement, says. “Heights and distances of the equipment change every day. If things are fixed, kids get really good at traversing courses at certain distances. For us, having everything being fluid If something is too far, we can move it or more challenging.” It also means if you have a child (five years old and up) who is new to parkour, adjustments can be made to encourage positive progress. All athletes are put into ability groups no dependent on age. This make your life way easier as siblings can show up to the same class time and still practice with kids at their specific level. “Every single day I get a phone call with a parent who is looking for something different that is different than traditional sports,” Jensen says. “I have an entire gym of athletes who started out looking for their niche. They want to be active, now they’ve found where they belong.”

Cost: Open gym $12, memberships start at $52

8000 S. Lincoln St., #2, Littleton, 1-844-898-8286, pathmovement.com

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Warrior Challenge Arena

If the competition-sized Warped Wall is too big for you little ninja’s leap, the Warrior Challenge Arena in Broomfield also has a mini one in addition to suspended ropes, a giant ball pit, and dozens of team-based challenges that mimic American Ninja Warrior obstacles. And instead of guiding kids in a solely competition-based program, owner Michael Homan says it’s more about giving young people a place to freely explore fitness. “The kids who come here are coached, but they have a lot of freedom,” Homan says. “We want each individual to progress at their own pace.” Starting at age six, kids work with other students their own age and graduate to new classes with their age group. Homan wants kids to run, jump, and climb because it’s fun, not to meet a training program. “No matter if this is the only activity a kid does or they are involved in other sports, the challenges here develop muscle tone and core strength without the feeling of a forced workout.,” Homan says. “We’re also focused on teaching the confidence kids will use on the playground and in life.”

Cost: Open gym $20, memberships start at $75

3400 Industrial Lane, Unit 12A, Broomfield, 720-370-9700, warriorchallengearena.com

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