And now for something completely different.
Lately, Media Geeks has focused on exciting new forms of entertainment like Immersive Theater, Virtual Reality, and Escape Rooms. Before these existed, though, there was perhaps the original form of immersive entertainment–exercise. The 3 activities mentioned, all of which I love, share an inherent artificiality. No matter how good or fun they are, they are simulations. Exercise has no such veneer. You are THERE, doing it, and while exercise has come to be dreaded for many people, it doesn’t have to be this way. Allow me to present Example A: Dojo Boom.
Dojo Boom is a huge, indoor facility in Thousand Oaks, California that has been open just over six months. Calling it a gym would be accurate, but incomplete. It’s closer to a playground. There is so much different equipment to use and activities to try that you could be there for hours and not try it all. Which is exactly what happened to me! The bulk of the fun is trampoline-based. There are trampolines covering a large section of the floor for free play, along with some pads to practice parkour moves. There is a trampoline dodgeball arena and more in front of basketball hoops to practice slam dunks. Three “SuperTramps” will bounce you even higher and require a bit of extra attention to learn. There are trampolines adjacent to foam pits for the sheer joy of launching yourself into the air as high and far as you can go, knowing your landing will be cushioned and letting you concentrate fully on the jump itself. As someone who grew up with a backyard trampoline, those skills and body movements came back and I was flipping and twisting to my heart’s content, albeit not as gracefully as 16-year old Ryan.
But Wait, There’s More!
If this was all they had, Dojo Boom would be exhilarating and exhausting, fully worth attending. Luckily, it’s not even close to all they offer. There are slack lines and an American Gladiator-style challenge above a pit of foam cubes. There is a zip line, and a rock wall for bouldering. There’s a tiered platform over an airbag to practice your freefalls and release your inner stuntman or stuntwoman. There is a customizable parkour section. Lastly, and the single biggest reason I was looking forward to Dojo Boom, are two Ninja Obstacle Courses.
They are called Ninja Courses because they are inspired by the obstacle course trend exemplified by TV shows like “American Ninja Warrior,” and races like Spartan and Tough Mudder. There are 2 courses, one focused on lower body and one on upper. I was able to get through the lower body course fairly easily, since it’s mostly a variety of running and jumping. The upper body course, though…whoa. That was humbling. I started at the beginning and got to the 3rd obstacle (of approximately 14). Bypassing that section, I started again at the 5th obstacle, got to the 6th…and fell again. Skipping ahead once more, I did #8 and 9 before failing on #10. That was it for me. I left the obstacle course promising to come back and try again later, but I got so caught up in the other fun that I never returned. It does give me a great reason to go back though!
A Real-Life Ninja
Adding to the coolness factor, as well as the authenticity, Dojo Boom is run by Kevin Bull. He is one of the top competitors on American Ninja Warrior for the last several years and a regular Spartan competitor. He trains here and designs many of the obstacles himself, so these are no joke. That makes me feel better about my massive struggles on the upper body course.
Kevin graciously chatted with my group for quite a while. He mentioned the Ninja course will change a few obstacles every couple of months to keep things fresh. He even gave us a personal lesson on getting up the Warped Wall, one of American Ninja Warrior’s signature obstacles. Dojo Boom has two of them, at varying heights. He also gave me tips on the 5th obstacle in the course, after seeing me fail at it the first time. And in what was undoubtedly the highlight of my week, he raced me through the parkour course, easily winning by ten seconds while wearing jeans. His knowledge, technique, and results in this particular fitness setting are a perfect fit for Dojo Boom–a unique bonus you won’t find anywhere else.
Nuts and Bolts
On the business side of things, time is sold in blocks of 60, 90, or 120 minutes, with a colored wristband indicating your session. 120 minutes is a better deal, but you will be exhausted at the end. There are free lockers for your belongings, although a couple of them seemed broken. Lockers are plentiful enough to avoid this issue unless it is completely at capacity. Our session was not crowded, but it was also atypical. Weekends are usually busier, so you may have to dodge more children if you go then. Grip socks are required and you can buy a pair for $3 which are yours to keep for future visits. Dojo Boom is accessible for all ages and abilities, although kids under 13 need to be accompanied by an adult. The part about all ability levels is true. Everything scales to your preference. If you want huge jumps or none at all, you can do it. You do not need to be a Ninja to come play. Although the activities may be ideal for fearless teenagers with boundless energy, there were also kids having a blast, not to mention my group of adults who loved pretending we were young again. (Some of us woke up the next morning with a new awareness of muscles we’d forgotten we had…). I took a few spills and ran into a few walls but never felt unsafe. Crashes are going to come with the territory if you throw yourself upside down as often as I did.
What Are You Waiting For?
Dojo Boom is open every day of the week and includes designated times for All Ages, Kids 6 and Under, and one session of Ages 15 and Over. A 60-minute pass is the same price, but 90 and 120 minutes are cheaper on weekdays. Unfortunately, they do not currently have a membership program, although if you book a birthday party, the birthday person gets a free 60-minute pass every day for a year. They will soon be introducing an Aerial Silks class, with hopefully more to come in the future. More information–including tons of pictures and videos, as well as descriptions of all the activities–is available at their website here.
I believe this is the only 10/10 rating I’ve ever given. Dojo Boom was everything I wanted it to be: fun, challenging, a good workout, spacious, and clean. Kevin is one of my favorites from American Ninja Warrior, and he couldn’t have been nicer in person. He’ll be competing in the upcoming season Mondays on NBC, and I think his first episode will air June 4th. Tune in to see if he advances! I guarantee I’ll be back as a customer, and several members of my group have said the same.