‘American Ninja Warrior’ Spawns a New Class of Gym

December 25, 2016, 5:00 PM UTC
American Ninja Warrior - Season 8
AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR -- "Philadelphia Qualifier" -- Pictured: Michelle Warnky -- (Photo by: Mitchell Leff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Photograph by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank—Getty Images

Need a new resolution this New Year’s? Forget the treadmill. Hit the Salmon Ladder. Or the Warped Wall. These are obstacles featured on American Ninja Warrior, a reality-TV cult favorite recently renewed for a sixth season on NBC. And now fans are signing up to relive the contests at the gym.

The specialty gyms started popping up about two years ago, says Matt Powell, sports industry analyst for the NPD Group, driven by younger social sensibilities. “Today’s millennial is going to a workout class, a rock-climbing gym, or a ninja gym to have a social experience,” Powell says.

Sensing opportunity, several former competitors have launched their own Ninja-style studios—including Michelle Warnky, Alan Connealy, and brothers Chris and Brian Wilczewski, who founded the National Ninja League, now with 60 member gyms. Says Chris Wilczew­ski: “We want to solidify ninja warrior as a sport.”

A version of this article appears in the January 1, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline “The Rise of the Ninja Gym.”