I eyed the warped wall. It looked terrifyingly tall. At only 5 feet tall, I wondered if I could make it up. I’d never tried before, but I’d watched plenty of people zip right up on “American Ninja Warrior” like it was strolling up an escalator.
I was at one of the ninja warrior-style obstacle courses near Boulder: the Warrior Challenge Arena in Broomfield.
In an athletic and creative community like Boulder County, it’s no surprise that there are multiple different places to play like a monkey. There’s a highly respected parkour gym, Apex Movement, in Boulder. An authentic, “American Ninja Warrior” training course is outside in Longmont at the Warrior Playground. In Loveland (just outside of Boulder County), the Loveland Athletic Club has a brand new obstacle room with some creative challenges, like a wooden rainbow-shaped series of bars hanging from the ceiling.
The Broomfield arena is indoors in a large warehouse, featuring all kinds of ridiculous challenges, like a zipline, a foam pit, a huge, rolling tunnel and, of course, the warped wall. I eyed it again, slightly arching over me like a wooden wave.
I went for it. I squinted my eyes as I ran toward the wall and up, up, I was going up, and I blindly stretched out my hands and hoped. They caught something. I couldn’t believe it. I had captured the ledge at the top of the warped wall. Driven by a surge in adrenaline and also a great deal of shock, I swung my legs up onto the top and stood tall, like I had just conquered the world (by total luck or accident). I let out a victory cheer and my friend ran over to congratulate me.
“I want to try now,” she said. “Just hop down so I can try.”
Still beaming, I strutted to the edge. And stopped. Wait. I hadn’t thought about this part. The getting down part. I was standing in the rafters, surrounded by squishy mats. My friend saw my confusion.
“You jump down,” she explained.
Still feeling brave, I nodded, stepped right up to the drop-off and then backed up. Nope, nope, nope. It looked so far down. I tried again. Toes to the edge. Deep breath. Nah.
“I can’t,” I said. “I’m stuck.”
“No really. Just jump down.”
“Not-uh.” The anxiety was building. I had managed to conquer the warped wall but was now stuck here, probably until someone called the fire department. The life metaphors weren’t lost on me. The irony either.
After a humiliating stretch of time, my friend stacked a mountain of crash pads atop each other, Princess and the Pea style, and I wiggled down, no longer feeling like a ninja or warrior, but having a newfound respect for the competitors I’d watched on TV for years.
The Warrior Playground in Longmont is actually hosting a UNAA Ninja Competition this Saturday, which is like watching the show live in person. This Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association’s regional qualifier is all day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the course, 2415 Wedgewood Ave. Winners get $500 in cash and prizes and the chance to compete in nationals. In case you were wondering, no, I will not be competing.
Looking for some other fun things to do in Boulder County this week? Here are a few of my favorites:
Watch a hot air balloon launch: The annual Erie Town Fair and Balloon Festival is a Really Big Deal. It’s arguably the biggest event in the small, east Boulder County town of Erie and draws a ton of people. You’ll find more than 250 vendors and performers, a car show, fireworks and the highlight: a dramatic hot air balloon launch in the early morning (6:15 a.m.) Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Colorado National Golf Club.
Name a local beer: Big Choice Brewing in Broomfield is holding a beer-naming contest 2 p.m. Friday. This is the final day of the five-week event, Beer Name Goes Here. Each week, the brewery released a limited Gose beer of a different flavor (this week, it’s pomegranate). Pick your favorite flavor and submit what you think it should be named. The contest will head to social media and you may be the winner, which means your name on the label and two free six-packs of the beer you named.
Get a group psychic reading: Here’s your chance to get a reading from a famous psychic, Troy Griffin, who was recently featured on ABC’s “Nightline” and has his own reality show in the works. Gather at the Firehouse Art Center in Longmont for a group reading for $45 per person. Griffin claims he will tap into memories and a spiritual link of loved ones who have died.