Originally posted Saturday, October 13, 2018 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
There have been “junior” versions of “Masterchef,” “Top Chef,” “Dancing With the Stars” and “Project Runway.”
The latest: “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” on Universal Kids starting at 7 p.m. Saturday (October 13, 2018).
Several of those young contestants come out of Atlanta, most who work out of the Marietta-based Ninja Quest Fitness gym owned by “Ninja Warrior” vet Glenn Davis and his wife Cristine. He had previously run a gymnastics center.
Four of them showed up at the gym earlier this month to show off some of their moves on the obstacle courses Davis created by hand, many modeled after actual “Ninja Warrior” challenges on NBC. He transformed a former 30,000-square-foot basketball gym.
For the last four years, Davis flies out to test out the actual show courses and provides him research to replicate the obstacles.
“My father and brother are in the construction field,” Davis said. “I love working with wood and working with kids. It’s a great opportunity for kids to be able to work on movement. It’s a movement facility where you can move through ninja, through parkour. These guys have adapted to it and taken off. These are some of the strongest kids around.”
He said some of the kids can beat adults on the courses. They are more flexible and less fear, he said.
“What I love about this sport is how they encourage each other,” said Will Allen, whose son Tate ended up on the show. “It’s a real community. These kids got to know each other and work each other to get better.” They practice four to, six days a week and leap from obstacle to obstacle with impressive ease.
All the ninja class coaches at Ninja Quest have been on the show. Kids start at the gym as young as age four.
The season one competition itself was held in Los Angeles in July over five days.
Davis, who flew out to watch, said he was surprised how difficult the “junior”’ course but his kids “made it look easy. They are comparable to the adult courses.”
He wants children to be more active. “My motto is, ‘Don’t play the video game. Be the video game.”
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The “American Ninja Warrior” phenomenon has only grown since the show debuted in 2009 on G4 and later moved to NBC, with at least four gyms in Atlanta devoted to ninja-like obstacle courses including Ninja Quest.
Davis helped organize a National Ninja League and held this year’s national finals in Atlanta. Next year will be in Connecticut. He hopes this could eventually be an Olympic sport.
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