Fans of the NBC television primetime show “American Ninja Warrior” or those simply wanting a unique workout can soon try the obstacle course at LEAP Ninja Obstacle Course.
The indoor obstacle course and fitness facility is hosting its grand opening starting at 4 p.m. Friday, located in the former Staples building near the intersection of Boulder Drive and Grand Avenue.
“The purpose of it is really to get people to learn how to do the obstacles and have fun while getting in a little bit of fitness,” said owner Derek Mitchum. “My goal is to see someone make it on ‘American Ninja Warrior,’ the junior show or even the adult show.”
The 16,000-square-foot facility will feature many of the same obstacles seen on the TV show along with some new ones. Mitchum said he plans to change up the course at least once a month to provide a varied workout and continuous challenge.
“Diversity is important in my mind; having a different thing to do every day as opposed to going and doing the same workout every day,” Mitchum said. “Doing a 30-minute run five days a week is mind-numbing to me.”
The obstacle course will be open to all ages, with the option to host birthday parties or team-building opportunities available. Mitchum said he’s been working with local physical education teachers and schools to coordinate ways to incorporate the ninja course into their curriculum.
For those not completely comfortable with the rigorous course, the gym will feature a lower-impact fitness area with treadmills and light weightlifting exercise areas.
“Fitness is a passion of mine,” Mitchum said. “Getting people moving is super important, even if it’s an hour or two a day that people are not on their computer or their phones, getting up and moving around.”
An avid CrossFit participant and triathlon competitor, Mitchum said while the more intense workouts can be ideal for some, he saw the need for a less-rigorous alternative that is still fun and keeps the sense of camaraderie among the participants, like those trying to complete a particularly difficult section of the course.
“One of the things I really like about CrossFit and things like the ninja stuff is just the community aspect of it,” he said. “Having been a triathlete, I did a lot of training on my own, by myself in the wind in Laramie. It’s a very tough, very trying and very lonely sport in my mind, where I think this one is the opposite. It’s all about the community.”
In addition to guided classes and personal trainer availability later this fall, Mitchum plans to have open gym time for people to meet, mingle and run the course. While the athletes on the show tend to be competitive, he noted the competition can easily also be “trying to compete against yourself.”
“How do you get better?” Mitchum asked. “How do you help others get through these obstacle courses?”
Beyond his passion for physical activity, Mitchum said he was inspired to start LEAP after noticing how often his stepsons were staring at their computer screens. Noting how his family would often travel to Cheyenne, Fort Collins or even Casper to visit similar establishments, he said he wanted to bring something to fill that need right here in Laramie.
“When it gets really cold in Laramie, it’s hard to get down there,” he said. “People maybe a little more affluent in Laramie can afford to travel and take their kids there, but for the regular community, it’s a little bit more challenging — especially in the wintertime — to travel and to get places.”
Once he retired from Trihydro Corporation in 2018, Mitchum said he was ready to “start something different and kind of change direction for a while.”
“I wanted a little bit of entrepreneurial-type of work, so this is kind of where I landed,” he said.