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Carpenter Center opens ninja training program for kids

Carpenter Center opens ninja training program for kids

Ninjas are training at the Carpenter Center.

The center began its five-day-a-week Ninjazone program last week with high enrollment, gymnastics coach Bobby Youel said.

“It’s kind of like American Ninja Warrior for little kids,” Youel said.

The program is meant to integrate into existing gyms, according to the Ninjazone website. It’s a fusion of martial arts, gymnastics and other freestyle movements with a tiered system of advancement.

There is a $20 registration fee for the program. The fees increase as students advance in the program.

Youel said the program is designed for kids to learn at their own pace and each month has a theme. October’s theme is zombies.

The 4- to 7-year-old class on Tuesdays and Thursdays has a waiting list, Youel said.

So far, the program has been a hit. Youel said they have about 42 kids enrolled, surpassing her expectations.

While the program officially got started in October, Youel said it has been in the works since January.

“Then we had COVID,” Youel said.

Directed health measures had closed gyms in March, Youel said. They were able to get the necessary equipment during the shutdown for the ninja training, including the versions of the famous warped wall and floating steps, after receiving money from the City of Terrytown.

They also had an anonymous donor give some gymnastic equipment in the same period.

Otherwise, Youel said the interim period before the center could reopen was tough. Youel said she filled her time with TK and fell off a 6-foot ladder in April.

“It was really stressful,” Youel said. “We were at like 248 kids before COVID.”

Youel’s programs are making their way toward a rebound, with an enrollment of 146, according to Youel.

“Their main thing is ‘We need something for our kids in this community.’ there’s not really a lot,” Youel said. “We have this big facility, why not utilize it more?”

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Justin Garcia is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9044 or

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