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USA Ninja Challenge Brings a Unique, Kids-First Model to Athletes Nationwide

The Ninja gym caters exclusively to kids, using a proprietary curriculum and highly tested equipment to help young Ninjas build physical fitness, confidence and self esteem.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 2:14PM 07/01/24

USA Ninja Challenge, the 28-unit youth gym franchise, is bringing the allure of Ninja fitness and obstacle courses to the general public, catering specifically to kids looking to get into and grow within the sport. Born from the 1997 Japanese TV show “Sasuke,” the concept has gradually caught the attention of people in the U.S., leading to the launch of kids' Ninja challenges, local Ninja gyms, and now, a place in the upcoming 2028 Summer Olympics. USA Ninja Challenge creates a safe place for kids aged two-and-a-half to 17 to explore the sport while developing physical skills like jumping, balance and agility alongside problem-solving skills, self-esteem and confidence. 

“What we’re really passionate about is working with children. And it’s all about helping kids overcome obstacles, both mentally and physically, one at a time,” said Richard Knight, founder and CEO. “It’s really about that mindset. We offer instructed training, and kids come either once, twice or three times a week. They have a scheduled class time with coaches, and you see the kids’ development — it’s amazing. This is the only business where I’ve gotten people telling us how we’ve changed or impacted their son or daughter’s life in a positive manner.”

A Model Focused Exclusively on Kids Creates a Safe, Welcoming Space and Minimizes Risk

Kids love USA Ninja Challenge because the obstacles, courses and programs are built for them. Parents love it because they see the brand’s focus on both kids’ experience and their safety. Everything is built to cater to kids exclusively, and all equipment is carefully evaluated by multiple industry experts to ensure safety and mitigate risk before it hits the floor of any gym nationwide.

“When I started, one of the real issues I was worried about was liability risk. From day one, we have gone out and proactively built relationships with people who can help prevent that,” Knight said. “Everything we do gets approved by the insurance company before it goes out to our gym owners.”

While some gyms or entertainment spaces will offer courses for both kids and adults and simply work to regulate use, USA Ninja Challenge removes even the slightest possibility of a child attempting an obstacle that is inherently incompatible with their size and skill.

“Think of the warp wall. The kid’s version is shorter with less of a pitch at the end. The adult warp wall goes all the way up, and it’s got this big leap at the end,” said Joshua Faber, franchise development manager. “Some big injuries can happen on the adult warp wall, and if you put the two right next to each other and tell a teenage boy that he’s not allowed on the adult warp wall, he very well might run around you and attempt it anyways. By only offering obstacles and classes for kids, we’re preventing these types of injuries before they even have a chance to happen.”

Tiered Growth Pathways and Ongoing Coach Engagement Helps Kids Develop Their Ninja Skills

USA Ninja Challenge uses a gradual training program that helps kids progress through six skill levels as they work to master 18 skill categories. 

“We’ve developed a software product called Skill Tracker that keeps kids engaged through a zero to six level system,” Knight said. “They get different colored shirts at each level; it’s very similar to martial arts. The nice thing is that our instructors have a tablet with this curriculum in the palm of their hands, so they can show kids a quick description or video of the skill to help them better understand.”

In addition to providing this coaching resource, the leadership team compares local statistics to the larger system to ensure kids are being promoted at steady rates.

“Both promoting kids too fast and too slow can create tension,” Knight said. “If you promote a child too fast, they’ll hit a wall when they reach a level that their body isn’t ready for, and they can’t move on to the next level. If you promote a child too slow, they get frustrated. They don’t feel like they’re making enough progress.”

USA Ninja Challenge maintains an eight-to-one student-to-coach ratio, meaning leaders at the gym are consistently engaged with the children, available to offer help when needed, ensure safety throughout the process and support the kids in growing through the skill levels at an appropriate rate.

Partnered With Some of the Biggest Names in the Industry, USA Ninja Challenge Is Further Strengthening Its Reputation and Increasing Awareness

As USA Ninja Challenge continues to offer an unmatched experience in its local gyms, it is also partnering with national organizations to take young Ninjas to competitions and stepping into a global spotlight through a partnership with the U.S. Olympics.

“We’re an affiliated partner with the Ultimate Ninja Athletic Association (UNAA), and we’ve attended competitions through that association with over 10,000 kids from 23 countries,” Knight said. “There’s also the World Ninja League, which we compete in as well.”

These affiliations, along with USA Ninja Challenge’s ongoing attendance at competitions across the country, demonstrate the quality of training provided at its local gyms and speak to the increasing demand for Ninja athletics. 

More recently, when it was announced that Ninja would become an official Olympic sport, likely at the 2028 Summer Games, USA Ninja Challenge was able to partner with the U.S. Olympics. 

“Since Ninja is now becoming an Olympic sport in 2028, we partnered with the U.S. Olympics to lead a fundraiser, and our top athletes will get to go to the Olympic Training Center and work with Olympic coaches this summer,” Knight said. “They see us as the number one player in the industry, and that’s a testament to the quality of our training and skills of our athletes.”

With plans to maintain its status as the number one player in the industry, USA Ninja Challenge continues to hone its training curriculum, test and implement new equipment, forge new partnerships, and spread the word about the transformative powers of the sport of Ninja. As it goes, the brand is cultivating a future where kids nationwide can increase their fitness, confidently overcome obstacles — physical or mental, in or outside of the gym — and build focus and discipline, all through safe, enjoyable Ninja practice.

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