Austin’s first ‘American Ninja Warrior’ gym will open in January, geared toward kids

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In January, Austin Ninjas will open in North Austin, making it the first business in the city mimicked after the popular NBC TV show, “American Ninja Warrior.”

Owner Jennifer Halla said she was inspired to open the business because her two children, ages 6 and 8, both love the show.

“It’s the only family show we watch together,” said Halla, who lives in Canyon Creek off RM 620. “We had an interest in [the concept]and visited a gym in Chicago with a similar concept. There’s wasn’t one in Austin so I thought, ‘Let’s just fix that and make one.’”

Austin Ninjas will open in January at 6001 W. Parmer Lane, Ste. 430, Austin. It will have courses similar to those on the TV show, such as the jumping spider, cliffhanger, warped wall and salmon ladder.

“These are courses that people would see on the show and then come and do in person,” Halla said.

The business will be geared toward children age 5 and up. Classes in which children can learn the obstacles will be offered after-school, and open gym will be available weekend mornings. The facility will be available for parties weekend afternoons.

Halla said she is considering having separate hours for adults to try the obstacles courses.

She also hired Austin resident Damir Okanovic, who competed in Season 9 of the show earlier in 2017 at the finals in Las Vegas. Okanovic said he trained for the show in a course he created in the backyard of his Scofield Ridge home in North Austin using items from Home Depot.

“A lot people underestimate the obstacles,” he said. “It’s a lot of upper body strength and endurance.”

Okanovic will be training staffers on how to instruct children to safely navigate obstacles as well as teaching classes. Guest ninjas will also make appearances during classes, he said.

“It’s something new to Austin,” Okanovic said. “It’s not Parkour or a climbing gym.”

For more information call 512-514-0555 or visit www.austinninjas.com or the business’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/warpedwallwarriors.

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Amy Denney

Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area. As senior editor, she is the point person for the company's partnership with Fox7 Austin.

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