The newest take on the American Ninja Warrior phenomenon swings into a Dublin gym.

Viktor Prozapas is like a kid in a candy store—one that he’s personally stocked with all his favorite goodies. The mastermind behind the Ninja Citi adventure park leads me from one obstacle to the next, demonstrating those that are working and explaining the ones not yet installed, just a few weeks before the gym is set to open in November. At one point, he ditches his blazer and climbs up some metal scaffolding—still clad in khakis and suede loafers—to adjust an obstacle before swinging down to the inflatable crash pad like a gymnast dismounting from the uneven bars.

Then I’m the one swinging, hand over hand across a cruel hybrid of monkey bars and a seesaw, fighting to get enough momentum to reach the next set of bars while the ones I’m hanging from rock wildly. The obstacles range from silly (swinging “cheese” doors full of holes to grab or hook with a leg) to punishing (the rotating peg wheel) to addictive—I tackle the spider wall again and again, mugging for the camera as I suspend myself between parallel acrylic panels.

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Prozapas cheers me on at each turn, urging me to go faster. He’s no stranger to adventure parks; he owns five trampoline parks already, though this Dublin facility (2620 Sawmill Place Blvd., is his first foray into obstacle racing.

The idea came from his sons, 13-year-old William and 12-year-old Viktor Jr., while the family was watching Netflix’s take on the ninja phenomenon, Ultimate Beastmaster. That was five months ago, Prozapas says. The 100-odd obstacles around me have sprung up since then, the result of his frenzied sketches and a factory that’s almost been able to keep pace. Ninja Citi will also feature a parkour area, a large bouldering cave, an area for toddlers, weekend competitions, memberships with special perks and five party rooms. The bouldering area wasn’t framed out during my October visit, and the parkour area hadn’t been assembled either, so the November opening date seems ambitious. Birthday parties and corporate events will be a major focus.

“I’ve tried the escape room. I’ve tried the grand prix racing thing. … All those entertainment ideas and venues, you go there, but you really do not exercise,” Prozapas says. “And this is what you experienced today. You had fun … but you also got to exercise.” I catch myself grinning; his enthusiasm is contagious, and I’m full of post-workout endorphins.

Prozapas tells me he built Ninja Citi in such a way that people will want to keep trying it over and over. “When you fail big, you can win big. That’s the only way to do it, and that’s my idea from the very beginning.”

The next day, my sternum is sore, like someone punched me in the chest. This is no doubt from the spider wall, where I had to press my palms and the balls of my feet into the clear walls, spread-eagle-style, and shimmy across using the opposing forces to stay aloft. But I’m eager to return, especially because Prozapas says the obstacles will rotate regularly to keep things interesting for everyone. I want to take another stab at the ones that bested me.


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