For the past couple of months, at least once a week, there’s been this:
Me: You know which show I’ve been addicted to lately?
Other Person: ?
Me: American Ninja Warrior.
Other Person: OH. OH. OH. I know.
Me: I know! I know!
We then proceed to exalt the competitors’ strength, stamina and willingness to freefall mercilessly into a pool of water, thus signaling defeat. No matter the outcome, the skill level is amazing. The I-Beam (grip strength, what!), the Spin Cycle (abs en fuego) and the formidable Warped Wall (good luck and godspeed).
Naturally, kids love American Ninja Warrior too. It’s basically a giant playground that, in a sense, demonstrates the merits of physical fitness, persistence and committing to a goal.
If you’re in the mood to test you and your kiddo’s warrior chops, here are five North Shore spots that will have you hitting the button.
A diamond-shaped metal dome, an unconventional set of monkey bars and a disc that rotates under your body weight make this park a course-mastering go-to. Smaller kids will enjoy a tot-sized playground and older kids can round up a game at the huge soccer field nearby. (Um, give that rotating disc thing a try and let me know how it goes, mmm-kay?)
375 Elm St., Deerfield
Rockin’ Jump is where you go to propel yourself into the air via several open-jump arenas (good for Warped Wall practice), dodgeball and basketball “courts,” and a foam pit that’s wonderfully forgiving. You might be surprised by what you can pull off with a little bravery–kind of like the day I mastered a front flip into the foam pit (July 17, 2016, thank-you-very-much).
950 Busch Pky., Buffalo Grove
OK. This just might be the ultimate place to ninja-warrior train, featuring everything from ramps to ropes and ladders to pony walls. Whether for a birthday party or Junior Boots Basics class, kids will be challenged beyond their typical daily activity (which means early bedtime, fist pump).
1938 Raymond Dr., Northbrook
So, there’s a legit Spin Cycle feature at this beautiful Northbrook playground. If that’s not enough to lure you, try a climbing wall, multiple slides and a chain “wall” to test that grip strength.
1331 Shermer Rd., Northbrook
Sometimes even ninja warriors need to cool off, and Highland Park’s outdoor splash pad comes through with colorful hoops, water features and a play structure that easily doubles as the crowning end of a ninja warrior course.
1220 Fredrickson Pl., Highland Park