Ninja Warrior Class Helps Kids Gain Strength and Confidence

ALTOONA, Iowa – You've heard of American Ninja Warrior, which is the NBC television show that features athletes racing through challenging obstacles. Now, kids in the metro are trying to be the Campus Ninja Warrior.

It starts like any workout with a warm-up and stretches, but a class for kids at the Altoona Campus quickly turns into a challenging course. Colby Rinehart, 10, said, "They're challenging and stuff like that."

Addison Hackett, 8, said, "It's actually really cool."

The show American Ninja Warrior inspired Altoona Campus Youth and Sports Director Keaton Van Ryswyk to start a class called Campus Ninja Warrior.  "We do speed and agility training to kind of get stronger with the obstacles," he said.

Equipment found around the gym becomes obstacles with creative names. "The dancing stones, the hand prop, the monkey bars," said Rinehart.

And the maintenance director built new ones for the class as well. Van Ryswyk showed the teeter totter. “You get to start on this end. You've got to walk all the way up. You can rest your feet on here, and you have to push it down with your weight, all the way down," he said.

This is the second year for Campus Ninja Warrior. About 200 kids from ages 6-14 have participated so far. "It's a different kind to get exercise, in my opinion. It's a lot more fun, it's a lot more interactive, I think kids have short attention spans. This kind of keeps them entertained."

The kids say it helps them get stronger and gain confidence. At the end of the session, they'll tackle the obstacle course in front of family and friends. "We'll time them. We don't have a winner, but my goal is to have everyone finish,” said Van Ryswyk. "To see them succeed is the best part."

The young athletes take their final run at the Altoona Campus this week. The next session will start this winter.