Obstacle course racing for the kids... and the not so little kids
Forget fireman, policewoman, doctor or pilot - these days, if you ask children what they want to be when they grow up, chances are they’ll say a “Ninja Warrior!”. Thanks to the TV show of the same name, obstacle course racing has become one of the most popular and fastest growing sports in the country. And luckily, your kids can start their Ninja training right here on the Central Coast.
Mick Gleeson opened the Central Coast Obstacle Course School four years ago. He and his partner Gemma Rolfe, who helps run the centre, both appeared in seasons one and two of Ninja Warriors, beating out over 30 000 contenders. So, your little Ninjas can learn from the experts.
“Kids love it because it’s fun, but obstacles are also amazing for strengthening a child’s body,” says Mick, “through climbing, improving balance, fitness, motor skills and coordination." Children as young as three tackle the equipment. Gemma says working with children is very rewarding and it’s amazing what they can learn in a short amount of time.
“We had a little boy complete the monkey bars for the first time the other day and the smile on his face was incredible. It made me feel like we’re doing something worthwhile and something that makes them happy.”
Obstacle course racing isn’t just for little kids – it’s for big kids too. This impressive custom designed and built space is like one giant playground for adults, and one in which you can let out your inner child. “Anyone can do this! It’s just a matter of reawakening your body to the way it used to move when you were a kid.” Gemma says.
And if you’re worried about injuries, the couple’s expertise (they’re part of a team that’s currently ranked fifth in the world of OBR) ensures all their clients approach and achieve the obstacles in the safest possible way to avoid injury. “Kids hear the word ‘obstacle’ and they get excited, but adults find it intimidating and think it’s going to be too hard. But once they give it a go, it’s something they really enjoy and tend to stick with”.
Mick says “sticking with” exercise is the big problem most people have and in his ten years as a personal trainer he’s seen many people get bored with traditional, repetitive routines and they inevitably give up. With the obstacle course racing school, he wanted to give people an alternative way to get fit that keeps you coming back.
There are a few stations novices will recognise and will most likely be able to do. The Tarzan Swing, the Monkey Bars and Balance Beams are achievable for beginners. For those who’ve been at it for a while there’s more challenging stations like the 8ft Wall, Cargo Net, the Rock Wall and the Rings. Gemma says that’s one of the great things about obstacles – people can start at their own level, set goals and then work to achieve them.
Which brings us to the jaw dropping, heart pumping, adrenalin racing stations that fans of the show Ninja Warrior will recognise. The Devil’s Steps, the Peg Wall, the Salmon Ladder and the Spear Throw (yes, I said spear throw!) are not for the feint hearted. And neither is the 14ft Wall which looms large against all the other equipment. “Yeah, those are for serious obstacle course racers who want to compete on a national and international level,” Mick says. “We also offer our expertise to people who want to compete at an elite level”.
The Obstacle Course Racing School runs classes for people of all ages – their youngest participant is three and their oldest is 61 - and you don’t have to be super fit to start.There are kids’, teens’ and adults’ classes as well as a ladies’ class and a program for children with special needs. “We have lots of families coming along – the kids do their classes and then mum and dad have a go. It’s a great way for the whole family to stay healthy”. The school holiday program is a great way to entertain the kids and burn some of their energy.
Mick and Gemma are the perfect people to guide you on your obstacle course journey – not only are they easy going and friendly, they’re passionate and really believe in what they’re doing. “This school is our life and we think it’s the best job in the world because we get to do what we love every day,” Mick says.
“There’s nothing better than seeing that satisfaction on someone’s face when they’ve conquered a station they never thought they could,” Gemma says.
“It’s magic and it’s why we do this.We love it.”
More about Central Coast Obstacle Course Racing School.