John Pirlo believes children need to be more active.
With more than 25 years’ experience in the fitness industry, the founder of Ninja Parc says this responsibility lies with adults.
“Whatever we do as adults, children replicate, whether we like it or not,” John said.
“Therefore, it really is our responsibility to be more active and encourage our kids to exercise more.”
Current statistics, John said, indicate only 12% of Australians go to the gym regularly.
“That goes down to 9% in regional areas,” he said.
“Only 26 to 28% of Australians move regularly and, by that, we mean two to three times per week, and sadly 75% do not move regularly.”
John says lifestyle and technology changes mean as a nation we are employed in less labour-intensive jobs, making us more sedimentary overall.
The Newcastle father-of-three is hoping to put the fun back in exercise and encourage more Novocastrians to increase their levels of daily activity.
“A lot of people think exercise is difficult,” he said.
“That’s not the case. You just have to move.
“You only have to look at fun parks like Wet and Wild, where people will run the stairs numerous times for a slide.
“They’ll do it because it’s fun, but they’re not thinking about the exercise they’re doing.”
Opening his Cook’s Hill franchise in 2016, John has since opened a site Ninja Parc franchises in Sydney and Townsville, with Melbourne set to open later this month.
There are also plans for eight more sites to open throughout 2021.
Within his 10,000 square metre site he houses obstacles that encourage hanging, swinging, climbing, jumping, rolling and falling.
It’s success, John says, lies in its imitation of play.
“It’s about holding your body weight, balance, strength and problem solving,” he said.
“There’s a range of different obstacles all padded for safety.”
Popularity for the sport may also be attributed to the success of the Nine Network’s Australian Ninja Warrior television program, which premiered in July 2017.
Ninja Park also hosts adult classes.
“When I used to take my kids to play centres, the adults didn’t really participate,” he said.
“I always watched on, wishing I could get out there and have a go.”
Ninja Park runs regular Mini Ninja classes for three to six-year-olds, Little Ninjas for six to 12-year-olds and adult athletic classes.
There are also Parkour classes for all ages.