Everyone wants to be a ninja warrior, especially the kids
MOVE over cotton wool kids. Make way for the rough and tumble wannabe ninjas.
Ninja-style style training gyms across the country are being swamped with inquiries in the wake of the runaway success of Channel Nine's Australian Ninja Warrior TV show.
And its kids who are most hooked, with gyms, rock-climbing and obstacle-style training operators and Parkour (urban freerunning) organisations fielding countless calls and emails from parents of kids who want to learn how to perform the athletic feats they've seen on TV.
Nobody knows that better than Australian Ninja Warrior season one contestant Dave Ravi, who was so obsessed with the Ninja Warrior phenomenon that even before the show came to Australia, ditched his career in accountancy to set up a purpose-built gym with brother Mark to train themselves, and others, in the discipline.
The automatic email reply from his Ninja Academy in Perth shows what happened when the first episode aired, and business went from busy, to "gangbusters".
"We're overwhelmed (quite literally) with the response we've received since the launch of Australian Ninja Warrior and unfortunately we're not able to get back to everyone as quickly as we'd like," it reads. "If your question isn't covered by the FAQ page, please hang tight and we'll get back to you once we get through all the emails."
Dave says the ten staff and trainers at Ninja Academy have been flat out ever since.
"The phone started ringing as soon as the first episode aired. The inbox is still full," he said.
"A lot of it is from parents whose kids just want to do it. They just want to run and jump and climb like ninjas".
They've quickly added a couple more kids classes, but this term is full, and there's no shortage of interest in the next.
Meanwhile, the Academy's freestyle sessions - where adult non-members can have a crack at the course, have exploded, trebling in numbers.
While the child would-be ninjas have just been "inspired to climb and run and play on things", Ravi says there's also an influx of adult interest from people keen to try a form of fitness that doesn't always mean the big, buff guys always finish first.
"But adults are saying it was great to see big guys fall and little guys do well - adults are more about the physiology, realising a different body type and skills can do it," he said.
While the Academy is the only purpose-built gym in Australia modelled on the Ninja Warrior TV show and its obstacle challenges, Ravi says there are plenty of ways for adults and kids to access places to teach would-be ninjas the basics - without getting hurt.
"We teach kids Parkour and for me that is a really fundamental practice to becoming a well rounded ninja," he said.
"A lot of these kids, are going to try and climb things and jump on things, and Parkour is a really great skill that teaches them to do that safely.
"It's not a case of go find the biggest wall you can and jump off it. Learn how to climb properly, how to jump, how to land. These are skills that will save the knees and joints."
"If they're going to start to explore, they need to do it with a skill base."
There's an Australian Parkour Association, and there are approved trainers all over the country.
The Ninja Academy, which offers parkour, bouldering and gymnastics coaching as well as the obstacle course, but Ravi says these disciplines can be sought out individually in most places in Australia if you want to train like a warrior.
"Disciplines like gymnastics offer heaps in terms of mobility and strength. Rock climbing, as seen on the show is brilliant for core strength".
There's no shortage of people building rope obstacles and warped walls in their backyards, but Ravi suggests skill be backed every time over confidence.
"Get the basics, then go out and play," he said.
For those who want more than fitness, and want to test themselves in competition, applications are now being taken for series two of the show.