For urban families who love to watch “American Ninja Warrior,” it can be very challenging (and unsafe) to recreate the wildly popular TV show at home. Thankfully, Chelsea Piers recently debuted the perfect activity, the Ninja & Parkour camp, to satisfy your kids’ inner ninja. That means instead of rearranging the living room furniture, you can now take your weekend warriors to Chelsea Piers to live out their American Ninja dreams in a kid-safe environment.
The Ninja & Parkour camp, ideal for youngsters ages 7-13, fuses together elements from the hit show with the fundamentals of parkour. (Think kid-friendly obstacle course where children use only their body: running, jumping, climbing, and quadrupedal movement.) The mega sports complex started the camp to provide children with an alternative outlet to gymnastics and to feed the frenzy surrounding its “ninja,” parkour, and fitness-based classes.
So what can mini ninjas expect? Besides learning about safety precautions and basic body positions, mini ninjas will conquer obstacles and stations that challenge their upper body strength such as the rope swing where they swing from one block to another or into a pit. They will then test their core strength and body control on the balance beams where they have to jump from one beam to another, or weave over and under the beams. On the trampoline, they will have to bounce with control as they reach new heights to achieve their goals. As a bonus, on certain days children can cool off by sliding down a 17-foot high water slide.
Not only will adventure-seeking ninjas build their physical muscles, they will also strengthen their mental muscles. “It teaches students how to challenge [themselves] and overcome the obstacle in front of [them],” noted Erica Bates, vice president of public relations at Chelsea Piers. “It’s [also] great for building confidence while having fun!”
And guess what: kids don’t have to be athletes to participate. “We always start everyone with the basics and progress with each individual as needed,” Bates explained.
The only requirements are an open mind, enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn.
And for young ninjas who want to take their performance to the next level, Bates offered up some great advice:
- Be Patient. “It takes time to master a skill. Even though a basic progression might seem ‘easy’ or ‘boring,’ it needs to be perfect before moving on.”
- Be Confident. “Believe in yourself and your coaches. Ask questions. It’s important to understand what your body and mind are supposed to be doing. If you’re unsure or need an extra spot, ask your coach!”
- Challenge yourself. “Strength and conditioning can be tough, but the hard work pays off. Never compare yourself to [someone] else. Everyone has a different body type and learns at a different pace. Focus on your personal goals.”
- Stay active! “If you only take class once a week, and do no other physical activity, it’s going to be hard to progress. Staying fit keeps your muscles strong and flexible. But be careful: Doing too many activities can cause fatigue which can lead to injury.”
For parents concerned about the adventurous nature of this activity, Bates stated “every class [starts] with a proper warm-up to make sure [the kids’] bodies are ready.” Next, children are taught the basics, including how to land and fall properly. “We also utilize mats and foam pits when learning new skills or obstacles [and] all of our instructors are safety-certified through USA Gymnastics.”
This sought-after camp will have your kids living out their wildest dreams and feeling like the ultimate ninja warrior when they achieve total victory. For more information about the Ninja & Parkour camp and the drop-in teen parkour class, check out chelseapiers.com.