Secret’s out on Richmond’s new ninja gym

From left to right, Troy Helming, Caroline Lee and Sean Bryan welcomed the community at an Open House for the new Traverse Fitness in Richmond. (All photos by Kathy Chouteau)

By Kathy Chouteau

Traverse Fitness may have had a stealthy soft opening last month, but the secret is officially out about Richmond’s newest gym, thanks to its wildly successful Ninja Warrior Open House this past weekend.

Hundreds of people of all ages poured into the fitness facility for a free-of-charge chance to check out its ninja-style equipment which was designed by Sean Bryan, a.k.a. “Papal Ninja,” a four-time competitor on the American Ninja Warrior TV show.

“We have a passion for the TV show, American Ninja Warrior,” said Traverse Fitness CEO Caroline Lee of the gym’s unique design, which includes zip lines and walls up to 20 feet high. “We do this because movement is important; it’s important to get off the couch, get off the screen and go to the gym,” Lee added, noting that the ninja-style challenges offer both kids and adults an incredible feeling of accomplishment when they’re able to work up to mastering them.

Joining Bryan as cofounder of Traverse Fitness is Troy Helming, an impressive, 50-something, two-time competitor on the TV show who is also known by the name Solar Ninja. Both Bryan and Helming were actively involved in the recent Open House, interacting with visitors, helping to explain the equipment challenges and happily mugging for photos with many a mini ninja.

Upon signing in at the gym, Open House visitors were asked to sign a waiver and to complete a warm-up that included a quick overview of the facilities. Kids were given a “Ninja Bingo” card with a listing of various ninja challenges throughout the gym that they could try out. Staff members were stationed throughout the gym to stamp off the Ninja Bingo boxes as various tasks were attempted and completed; those who received five stamps in a row could turn in their cards for a chance to win a free gym membership.

A sampling of some of the ninja challenges visitors tested out that day included a rope swing; 6, 8 and 10 ft. warped walls (to run up and try touch the top of); a side-to-side ring toss; spinning log (easy/hard modes); trampoline; zip lines and more.

The gym’s ninja-style activities were clearly a hit with both young and old as witnessed by the happy faces that abounded. This proved true even when it sometimes took a few tries to ace a challenge—or when it wasn’t fully completed at all.

In the words of this reporter’s seven-year-old son, Logan, who tagged along on our visit, “I did things today that I never thought possible.”

Locals wanting to try out Traverse Fitness’ equipment for themselves have a variety of options to choose from while the gym temporarily continues its soft opening status, including: Ninja Open Gym (all ages); and classes such as Youth Ninja Fundamentals (ages 6-13); Adult Ninja Fundamentals (ages 14-plus); and Aerial Acrobatics.

According to Lee, within the next few months, Traverse Fitness will host a Grand Opening event, with plans to introduce yoga, parkour and a climbing wall.

Memberships are available and the gym is open for parties and events. Traverse Fitness will also be hosting a Kids Ninja Camp during the holidays from Mon., Dec. 23, 2019 through Fri., Jan. 3, 2020. Click for all pricing info or to register online. Richmond residents receive 20 percent off.

For more info, visit the gym’s website here or call 818-900-9663. Traverse Fitness is located at 1 West Barrett Ave. in Richmond.