It’s been three years since Illinois gym franchise owner Tom Rhomberg recognized an opportunity in the popularization of obstacle courses through TV shows like American Ninja Warrior.
Hoping to use the hype around the show to cultivate an interest in fitness with a younger crowd, Rhomberg and his wife Emily opened their first indoor obstacle challenge course in Chicago in February 2017.
“I saw it as an opportunity to open a business that was really good for this generation of kids,” Rhomberg told the Chicago Daily Herald. “They are on their devices too much. This is a perfect fit for them. They will put down their devices to do this.”
Running with the success of their first location, the Rhombergs celebrated the grand opening of a second Windy City Ninjas location this past summer in Elmhurst. The new facility boasts 12,000 square feet with a gym, two party rooms and a viewing mezzanine.
With more than 30 different obstacles, including warped walls, bouldering walls and rope swings, the Elmhurst gym offers a variety of challenges — both mental and physical — for athletes of various ages and skill levels.
Windy City Ninjas offers weekly classes for everyone from ages two to 15, as well as a competitive team for ages six to 16. It also offers a “ninja boot camp” for adults and open gym hours for ages 15 and up.
Rhomberg said his classes are designed to improve strength, agility and body awareness — as well as self-confidence, as the obstacles teach kids to “overcome, persevere and achieve.”
“For adults,” he said, “it’s a great change from the boredom of the usual fitness routine.”