No, this is not the lead in to the feel good children’s movie of the winter. Although “A Little Ninja” could be a great children’s movie. Rather, it’s a question I ask of anyone who has a child who loves American Ninja Warrior?
Does your child love Daniel Gil or name drop Jessie Graff? My six year old does that and a whole lot more. Does any piece of furniture of built-up area become some kind of obstacle? My six year old has turned just about anything into a pseudo-parkour course.
Have terms like “flying squirrel,” “wing nut,” and “floating steps” become part of your everyday vernacular? If so, you have a little ninja.
Thankfully the ninja craze has led to the creation of so-called ninja gyms throughout the country. One class a week, however, is not enough for some little ninjas. What to do?
If you live in my house that question is answered with trips to the lumber yard and a weekend spent tearing up an unfinished room in your basement. Merry Christmas little ninja:
Rather than just bolt some eye hooks to the floor joists, which I do not recommend, I chose to build a pair of beams running the width of the room. The span is just under 12’6” so the 2×10 is actually rated to carry the load. A 2×8 probably would have been sufficient but I felt the extra strength provided by the larger lumber was worth the slight extra expense. Once you are bringing home a pair of fourteen foot boards it is not really much of an additional hassle to go big.
The 2x10s span the entirety of the room without any additional support and are locked into place at either end in a load bearing wall. At either end the 2×10 is supported by a jack stud and sandwiched between two other wall studs that run the height of the wall. Four bolts through the entire thickness secure all of the boards together. It’s a fairly beefy piece of construction:
In this configuration the setup is fairly stout but there is some wobble in the boards. To alleviate this flex several 2x6s were attached between the 2x10s to increase rigidity. Here is what things look like along the length of the span:
It is difficult to tell from the pictures, but the 2×10 does not touch the floor joists above. It is a free span.
To give you an idea of how rigid I can hang and swing from the approximate middle with little or no noticeable flex between the boards. There is no noticeable flex I the vertical orientation. Oh yeah, I weigh in at over 200 pounds so my 50 pound little ninja should be able to do regrips to his heart’s content.
A ninja gym is just not a ninja gym without some sort of obstacle. To provide a multi-point training environment I installed monkey bars—eleven in total—at one foot intervals across the length of the span. At one end the monkey bars—assembled from ¾” galvanized pipe—are attached to the beam with a pipe flange and at the other end a whole is drilled for the bar to pass through. On the opposite side of the beam is a “hook” assembled from an elbow, nipple, and cap. This will allow for the use of loose gymnastics rings to be hooked up and over in a favorite ninja obstacle:
The whole kit and caboodle is waiting for my son to “discover” his new ninja gym on Christmas morning. Scratch that, a few days before Christmas morning because that day is reserved for skiing.