My kids spend some part of every day jumping off of and hanging from things, and generally being upside down. The plus side is they are incredibly fit and strong. The challenge is that they literally climb the walls everywhere we go, like ninja warriors, and often scare the general public with their parkour stunts.
This is how my son chose to pose for a photo when we went to see Hamilton in San Francisco.
Thankfully for parents with kids like mine, the emerging trend of parkour and American Ninja Warrior-inspired classes and activities for children allows us to find facilities where they can build these skills safely.
Here is a list of parkour classes and similar activities for East Bay Kids
APEX Movement Norcal, Concord
Founded by an actual contestant on American Ninja Warrior (who is also a practicing chiropractor), APEX is a unique facility that offers Parkour classes and Ninja Warrior classes at all levels. I even took one myself (age forty-something). Kids can earn colored wristbands in a hierarchy by demonstrating specific skills, much like a martial arts program. Access to Open Gym time is earned through taking some structured classes. APEX offers camps and birthday parties as well. Kids may be disappointed to learn that the actual Ninja Warrior training circuit that is set up at APEX is for adults only. However, there are plenty of bars, platforms, warped walls, foam pits, and springy mats onto which a person may hurl their body.
Schedule and prices on APEX website >>
Athletic Playground, Emeryville
We have had mixed experiences at Athletic Playground. When my son was younger, he was in a class that was way too large and didn't get a chance to do a lot. More recently, he got into the groove, enjoying some camp days and eventually took teen classes that were rewarding. Athletic Playground offers a variety of movement classes, including aerial silks, parkour, acrobatics, and “mini monkey” classes for kids as young as two years old.
Learn more >>
Xfit Training East Bay, El Cerrito
Lil' Ninja Warrior classes are held at the Castro Clubhouse, next to Korematsu Middle School, after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and at 9 am on Saturday mornings. They are for kids ages 5-8 and for 9-14. Obstacle courses and padding are set up for kids to race through, while developing their balance and strength.
Learn more on the XFit Training East Bay website >>
University Village, Berkeley
We love University Recreation programs (open to non-UC families!) for their affordability and convenience. Parkour was not listed at the time of this writing, but historically it is one of the classes offered, as well as aerial, circus, and tumbling. The facility is small but perfect for kids 12 and under.
Learn more about University Recreation programs >>
Kinetic Arts Center, Oakland
Known for circus, acrobatics, and aerial artistry, Kinetic Arts Center integrates parkour training into their circus classes for kids as young as 6 years old.
Learn more on the Kinetic Arts Center website >>
More East Bay Gymnastics and Dance Studios that offer Parkour + Ninja-style training
- Bay Island Gymnastics, Alameda | Parkour info >>
- Kids ‘N Dance, Oakland | Parkour info>>
- Head Over Heels, Emeryville | Ninja Stars class info >>
- Bay Aerial Gymnastics, Fremont | Ninja Zone class info >>
If your kiddo is too young for most of these options, check out the toddlers class guide and browse for martial arts, gymnastics, and dance!