Elmhurst gym helps kids find their inner ninja
Elmhurst gym helps kids find their inner ninja just like the popular TV show
The idea of athletes tackling obstacle courses long has been ratings gold for NBC.
Three years ago, Tom Rhomberg realized the popularity of the "American Ninja Warrior" TV show could help get children excited about fitness. So he decided to start a gym where "ninjas" of all ages could test themselves with various obstacles.
"I saw it as an opportunity to open a business that was really good for this generation of kids," Rhomberg said. "They are on their devices too much. This is a perfect fit for them. They will put down their devices to do this."
Rhomberg and his wife, Emily, opened their first Windy City Ninjas gym in February 2017 in Chicago. This past summer, they debuted a second location at 684 W. Lake St. in Elmhurst.
"It's a great community," Rhomberg said. "The response has been terrific."
The 12,000-square-foot Elmhurst facility includes gym space, two party rooms and a viewing mezzanine for parents to watch their children.
Many of the more than 30 obstacles are familiar to anyone who has watched "American Ninja Warrior." There are warped walls, a bouldering wall, a rope swing and other challenges that will help kids improve their fitness level and have fun.
Windy City Ninjas offers weekly classes tailored to multiple age groups: "lil warriors parent/tot" (ages 2 to 3); "lil warriors" (ages 4 to 5); "emerging warriors" (ages 5 to 8), "ascending warriors" (ages 9 to 13) and "advanced teens" (ages 13 to 15) and a competitive team (ages 6 to 16).
Rhomberg said the classes are designed to improve strength, agility, body awareness and self-confidence. Each session includes multiple circuits and stations to keep the kids moving.
The Elmhurst site also offers an adult "ninja boot camp" class twice a week and an adult open gym twice a week for anyone 15 and older.
"For adults, it's a great change from the boredom of the usual fitness routine," Rhomberg said.
In addition to classes, the facility offers open gym time, birthday parties, family fun nights, day-off camps, competitions and other special events.
During a recent weekday, Kevin Morris and other parents were watching their children participate in classes.
Morris said his 9-year-old daughter, Addison, is an athletic child who has tried several sports, including softball, gymnastics and swimming. She was "exhausted" after her first class at Windy City Ninjas.
"She's a ball of energy," said Morris, of Elmhurst. "But when she finished here, she was done."
Elmhurst resident Marjorie Bottari says her 8-year-old son, Luke, still has a lot of energy after his classes.
But Luke gets the satisfaction of being able to climb, jump and overcome obstacles.
"I love how he learns to challenge himself," Bottari said. "There's always a new challenge."
Rhomberg said helping kids "overcome, persevere and achieve" is what Windy City Ninjas is all about.
"It's not just the physical obstacles," he said. "It's also the mental part of it. Every class you're going to try to hit a new milestone with an obstacle or some type of achievement."
For more details about Windy City Ninjas, visit windycityninjas.com.