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Evolution of Design

It’s no mystery that to be successful in business, one must evolve and adapt to the ever-changing consumer demand. Sometimes it’s not necessarily a change in consumer taste, but also recognizing that the things you are currently doing could be done a little better, thus making for happier customers. Stagnant companies become obsolete and ultimately fade away.

Really listening to your customers and evaluating their feedback is critical to ensuring you are offering the right products in the right way.

Over the last 3 years, we’ve completed dozens of large projects across the country. Many of them have gone smoothly, but a few had some bumps in the road, which can be expected with a growing company. The biggest mistake for us on these handful of challenging ones would have been to fight through the challenges and then to ignore them and move on to the next project. However, we have taken away something valuable from every project to ensure that any problems which may have arisen are not repeated on future projects.

As we reflect on ways in which our obstacle designs have changed, below are some updated features we thought were worth highlighting.

  • Mounting of Various obstacles – It may sound simple, but we’ve made quite a few changes to how our obstacles are hung. Two things gym owners want to see with hanging things are flexibility and ease. Obstacles that are mounted should have the ability to be adjusted in some manner, and they should be fairly simple to install.

The Flying Rings – original hanging design versus new hanging design

The flying Rings are a great obstacle, but the original design had a few limiting features. The most significant limiting feature was the fact that we started off welding the drop down sticks to the crossbar. Functionally, they were fine, but it meant these crossbars were not usable for any other obstacle. This wasn’t good for our customers. So, we changed the hooks to a bolt-on design and gave them a cool look as seen in the above photo.

  • Aesthetics – We are big on looks! When we sell a product to a customer, not only is it going to function well and last long, but it is going to look great. We put a lot of effort into creating a “look” to our Ninja line. We want people to walk into a gym and say “Ah, that’s ag Ninja’s stuff.” The Flying Rings pictured above were part of the group of obstacles that we felt needed that extra flare. Additionally, the flying bar trainer is another great example of an obstacle that had a drastic face lift as well as some beneficial material changes.

The Flying Bar Trainer – original design versus new design

The original design of the Flying Bar Trainer consisted of wood and steel mounting pieces. In addition, it was one of those obstacles that had the mounting bracket which prevented variation in the width of the obstacle. In the new design, there is more attention to the aesthetics while also allowing for variation in width.

Below are a few other examples of some obstacles in which we added some of our own touches that are more visually appealing…

  • Functionality – A lot of work goes into the design of a product to ensure that it functions the way we intended. After we design, we manufacture, and then we test it to ensure it is safe. Even then, you really don’t get good quality feedback until it is out there being used on a regular basis. Often times, the product gets into the hands of the customer, and everything is perfect. Sometimes, however, there are minor flaws a customer will point out that they may be able to live with but want you to be aware of for future customers. This feedback is invaluable, and we absolutely welcome it. A few examples of products that have had some design tweaking along the way to allow for better functionality include a few of our obstacles hung by a swing and our slanted steps.

Obstacles hung by a sling – We have a number of obstacles which freely hang by way of a sling. Determining the best way for a sling to attach to an obstacle has changed a few times. After evaluating feedback and testing various methods, we nailed down a good looking solution.

 

 

Slanted Steps – Slanted Steps are a must in a ninja facility, so it’s pretty important that they function well. Version 1 of the steps looked great, but they had a few characteristics which may not be desirable in all training situations. So, we went back to the drawing board to develop a step that was versatile and allowed for ninjas of all ages and sizes to use them.

 

Obstacle Training, in my opinion, will continue to grow and will be around for a long, long time. Methods will change, regulations may change, and customer taste is always a moving target. It’s a mighty fun ride for us, and we know the importance of continuing to evolve so that we aren’t left watching the train leave while we are sitting at the station.

 

Brad Thornton

Chief Operations Officer/Designer/Co-Owner

Brad@InteractiveSportsZone.com

 

 

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Ninja Training Finding It’s Way In to Fitness

Gym_Design_With_Ninja_Training

More and More, we are starting to see people in the fitness industry come to us with an interest in Obstacle Training. Why? Because Obstacle training is one of the most exciting and fun ways to get a full body workout. On top of that, it’s great for all ages.

It is so important to look forward to your daily training regiment. Dreading a workout is no fun. In short, Obstacle training is fun! Recently we have worked with several fitness facilities who were opening new locations and wanted to dedicate a substantial amount of space to Ninja. Some of the facilities are even going as far as creating several different Ninja areas, each catering to different age groups and skill levels. The video below shows a design we created for a customer that was looking to do that very thing.

Do you blame them? Seriously, would you rather do 10 pull-ups or rip through a set on the salmon ladder? Same muscles being worked but I can assure you one is a lot more fun than the other. We have over 60 other obstacles each which targets a certain muscle group or multiple groups depending on how they are used. You can check out the selection HERE!

 

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AG Ninja’s Newest Obstacles

Releasing new obstacles is always an exciting thing for me. Seeing them go from a 3D mockup to hanging from someone’s Katana Frame provides such a sweet satisfaction.

Here are the latest releases from AG Ninja:

The Revolver

Price: $1175

Difficulty: Advanced Ninja

Age Range: Teen – Adult

Material: Powder Coated Steel

Body Parts Worked: Biceps, triceps, back, shoulder, grip strength

ninja-Obstacle-the revolver

You’ve seen the rumbling dice and the rotating spindle. Now comes The Revolver. This unique obstacle combines a myriad of challenges that will test the will power of the best athletes. Similar to the rumbling dice, one must do a pull/push motion with both arms on the Revolver rungs to get the heavy piece moving. However, The rungs of this obstacle provide their own challenge as they increase in thickness. Yes, thicker definitely means more difficult!

If you already have rails for a Rumbling Dice, you have the option of purchasing the Revolver as a stand alone obstacle.

 

The Wishbone

Price: $315 ea.

Difficulty: Advanced Ninja

Age Range: Teen – Adult

Material: Powder Coated Steel, polyurethane grips

Body Parts Worked: Biceps, triceps, back, shoulder, grip strength

 

It’s hard enough when an obstacle rotates on you, but when it swings and rotates, you have a problem on your hands. The athlete will get to test grip strength, upper body strength, core and the lechè skills with this obstacle. The wishbone is made of a powder coated steel and will include cannon balls on the ends to assist with the grip.

 

The Tic Toc Bag

Price: $795

Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Age Range: 5 to Adult

Material: Vinyl padding, Powder Coated Steel, plastic base

Body Parts Worked: Biceps, Calfs, Quads

 

ag_ninja-tic_toc

The Tic Toc bag provides a great deal of fun and versatility. A common use is to release from another obstacle and bear hug the bag and fight to hold on as it sways back and forth. So, you will often see a trapeze placed before this obstacle to get some high flying excitement. The soft padding is quite forgiving with it’s 2ft diameter and vinyl covering. The plastic base provides some needed support for foot placement.  The obstacle is about 7.5ft tall and 3ft wide

 

The Cobra

Price: $775

Difficulty: Intermediate

Age Range: 8 to Adult

Material: Powder Coated Steel

Body Parts Worked: Biceps, back

The_Cobra_ninja_Obstacle

Like a slithering Cobra, this obstacle rolls up and down and finishes with a climb to the raised head. Participants simply walk their hands along the back of The Cobra and try their best to avoid the venom! This obstacle works upper body and grip strength and would be considered intermediate level. Included are the rolling poles, mounting sticks and hardware.

 

The Flying Monkey

Price: $675 ea.

Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced

Age Range: 12 to Adult

Material: Powder Coated Steel, Plastic Veneer

Body Parts Worked: Biceps, back, abs

Flying_Monkey_ninja_Obstacle

One of the newest obstacles added to the AG Ninja arsenal not only brings excitement in it’s functionality, but it’s also beautifully crafted with a lot of attention put in to the design.  Outside of creating obstacles that are safe and professionally engineered, we really want to focus on designing items that look great. The Flying Monkey does not disappoint!

One of the more popular obstacles from the TV show, the Flying squirrel allows the athletes to get HUGE air while swinging from one to the next. In a structured obstacle training environment, the flying squirrel can be used for a massive age range in that it’s great for training taps/correct swing and release techniques.

When used in a course running environment, this would be considered a high level obstacle for very experienced athletes

Brad Thornton

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Sport Obstacle Highlight – The Flying Rings

Flying_Rings

No, we certainly don’t have a shortage of “Flying” obstacles. Can you blame us? Who doesn’t like to soar through the air, reaching for a bar, a pipe, rings, whatever? You miss, you land on a big soft resi or in a foam pit. Fun times. I literally spend a good 30 minutes each day just trying to think up different new flying obstacles. So, in comes the flying rings!

We’ve been offering this one for a while but we haven’t really given them their fare share of attention. The obstacle is personally one of my favorites and I often try to encourage clients to consider them. Yes, they appear to be difficult, but once again, like many of our obstacles, there are a number of ways to use them.

First off, if you watch the show, the obstacle is designed a little differently then what you might expect. Instead of tethering the rings and having the athlete essentially jungle swing from rung to rung, we kept the rings free. In addition, we went with pairs of hooks and rings instead of singles. So, this requires one to swing with both rings in hand and lechè over and loop on to a set of hooks with the rings. Not only does this require body control and precise technique, but it also really brings in the element of mental focus . Once you have launched yourself in to the air, you now have to hone in on these small hooks and stay completely focused on them so that you have a shot at latching on to them with your rings.

“Wait!” you say…”That sounds hard!”

It is! But there are many ways to make it more Ninja novice friendly

  1. With your youngsters, you can slide the rungs closer together and use the obstacle as more of a ring toss. In other words, the athlete is still hanging from one ring on a peg as they are reaching for the peg across from it.
  2. You can also start them out on swings only while holding on to both rings – working the proper tapping technique and getting accustomed to the grip strength required to hold on with the extra force from the swing. From there, the athlete can ease in to a swing and release everything all together (including the ring), landing on a resi or in a pit. Next, they can release with ring in hand, learning to get it up and over the bend in the rung. And so on.
  3. The rungs are designed in such a manner to also allow your athletes to use a bar in lieu of the rings if needed. A bar will be easier in that it requires a little less precision than the rings. So you can have them perfect this before graduating to the rings.

If your more experienced Ninjas need an extra challenge, space the rungs further apart or have them perform the obstacle with one ring only (both hands on one ring). Have them face the opposite direction when they begin so that they have to turn 180 degrees mid air to make the catch. So many ways to do it!

Remember, obstacles like the flying rings can put your athletes in extremely vulnerable positions (including upside down!). It is important to mat appropriately. With obstacles such as this, you will want to go thicker on the safety mat than you would with say a monkey bar at the same height.

Train safely and email with questions or comments. Below is a quick video showing the flying rings.

 

Brad Thornton

Brad@american-gymnast.com

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Sport Obstacle Highlight – The Flying Squirrel

Flying_Squirrel_Obstacle_2

One of the newest obstacles added to the AG Ninja arsenal not only brings excitement in it’s functionality, but it’s also beautifully crafted with a lot of attention put in to the design.  Outside of creating obstacles that are safe and professionally engineered, we really want to focus on designing items that look great. Let’s face it, when your customers walk in to your facility, you want them to take one look at your equipment and think “whoa, that is really nice!” No doubt, this was achieved with the release of the Flying Squirrel.

If you haven’t seen the show, you may not be familiar with this Ninja Obstacle. The mechanism you see in the photo above works in conjunction with a second one to create a swinging obstacle that allows you to act like…well, just like it’s name.

 

Flying_Squirrel_Obstacle_2

 

Generally, a series of these are lined up so the athlete can fly from one set of bars to the next. Obviously, this sounds like a high level obstacle, and normally I would categorize it as such when used in a conventional manner. However, sometimes you have to think differently of the products we offer. It’s important to see how each of them can be used as a training tool and not necessarily a means to getting from one side of a frame to another.

In a structured obstacle training environment, the flying squirrel can be used for a massive age range. Now, if it is being placed on a course type environment where kids are simply trying to mow through a series of obstacles then it is limited to a more skilled level.

For example, before kids can learn how to release a bar and grab another, it is imperative they learn a proper swing/tap first. The flying squirrel apparatus is a fun way for kids to practice this swing and even swing and release and drop in to a pit or large resi. We even have options with this obstacle to allow the arms to operate independently of one another (more difficult) or connected to each other (easier).

I love this obstacle and know that it provides a variety of ways to teach body control, coordination, strength, confidence etc. The sensation of one day flying is appealing for kids and adults so I promise you can’t go wrong by including these in your curriculum.

 

If you have any questions or need details, feel free to to email me at Brad@american-gymnast.com

 

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Need a New Ninja Training Curriculum?

New Ninja Curriculum by AG Ninja & NinjaZone

NinjaZone Elite

Brand New Comprehensive Obstacle Training Curriculum

Do you need a new curriculum for your Ninja program?  AG Ninja and NinjaZone have partnered up to create a brand new NinjaZone Elite training curriculum!  As sport obstacle training continues to explode across the country, programs need a more comprehensive curriculum to serve a broader range of athletes.  Now it’s here!

We have created several starter packages to take your program to the next level. However, if you need to customize the layout of your course to fit your space, just contact us and we will use our Ninja design skills to create one just for you!

NinjaZone Elite Starter Packages

Not Yet a Ninja Zone Member?

Become a member and save when you shop on our web site

If you are not yet a Ninja Zone Licensee, you can save on your very first obstacle course purchase with us by signing up.  Just fill out our contact form to let us know you’re interested >>

Already a Ninja Zone Member?

Upgrade to NZ Elite

If you are already a Ninja Zone Licensee, you automatically have an account on our web site.  Login and shop our entire web site with NinjaZone preferred discounts!  (Need Login Info?)

You will need to upgrade your Ninja Zone Licensee account with Ninja Zone to receive the NZ Elite frame-based curriculum.

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2018 Shaping Up to Be an Exciting Year For ag Ninja

When we formed Interactive Sports Group a while back, Jay and I knew we had a great opportunity to focus on our existing customer base of gymnastics business owners and help them to implement quality Ninja Courses within their facility. Many gym owners were either brand new to the idea of Ninja or had just scratched the surface with low level, matted ninja obstacles. We noticed that many of the gym owners that started their low level Ninja Program were filling class space quickly and the program was growing like crazy. However, these programs only covered a small, young age group. As the kids get older, they need to graduate to a higher level of training and experience more challenging obstacles.

We saw a big need for quality equipment that can fit in a smaller space and works with a tighter budget. Fortunately, our manufacturing team was able to do that very thing for us.

As we got further along in our new venture, we honed in on the needs of our customers and started to get creative in the obstacles and framing systems we were able to offer people. We began taking popular obstacles we saw on the show, scaling them down and making them more kid friendly. Our projects progressed from gymnastics facilities up to full Ninja gym build outs and multi sport complexes

Despite the great products we were providing people, we noticed there was a massive hole in our offerings – Curriculum. Almost every project we worked on, we were asked if we offer some sort of training for their coaches or a comprehensive curriculum for our obstacles. Unfortunately, we had to tell people we didn’t offer this but that it was on our radar.

Well, 2018 is a new year and brings some new and exciting things for us and our customers. We have officially teamed up with Ninja Zone to bring our customers exactly what they needed – quality, multi level equipment with curriculum. The ability to be able to offer this to all new and existing customers is invaluable. It’s important to us to know that kids on our equipment will be using it properly and will progress through a quality and fun program.

More info to come soon!