A new installation in Pickerington's Sycamore Creek Park is not your average obstacle course.

Boasting 15 stations, a "Ninja warrior course" opened April 5.

People still are finding their way to the course, largely because of the persistant rain.

Those who have, however, have said they are excited about the opportunity to strengthen their bodies or see if they have the stuff of contestants on the popular television show, "American Ninja Warrior."

"If you have kids here, and you're trying to get a workout in towards that, I mean, this is it," said Jason Haislip, of Pickerington. "This is a nice park area.

"I see this as being the next big thing in parks because it's a cross-fit."

Haislip had not used the course as of his May 8 visit, but he said he was eager to work out on its various stations.

Designed for those 13 years old and older, course elements range from a climbing rop to "extreme" features, such as:

* Peg bridges -- similar to monkey bars, with overhead hanging bars that users hang from while maneuvering from one to the next.

* Jump-hang -- a feature from which users jump off a launch ramp to grab a cargo net and then traverse to the underside of the net to reach the other side without touching the ground.

* Spiderwalk -- users traverse the space between two walls without touching the ground or grabbing the top of the walls. The space between the walls is narrower at the bottom and wider at the top to allow the hands and feet of people of all heights and all sizes to reach.

The city purchased the course, called a "FitCore Extreme Obstacle Course," from Delano, Minnesota-based, Landscape Structures for $111,125.75.

It was funded by impact fees, which residential developers pay to the city when building new houses.

Pickerington Parks and Recreation director Becca Medinger said the course was added "to provide a fun and challenging option for teens and adults to use in the park."

Sycamore Creek Park was chosen, she said, because it is one of the most-used parks with other amenities, such as soccer fields, softball fields, a basketball court, bike paths, a skate park, tennis courts, the covered bridge, playgrounds, shelters, a fishing pond and an arboretum.

"So, with the high traffic levels, we felt it was a perfect fit near the other playgrounds to be a central location for families as they partake in other activities within the park," Medinger said.

"It is near the other two main playgrounds in the park so an entire family can play near each other."

Haislip and Alan Davis of Etna both approved of the proximity of the "Ninja warrior course," as its been dubbed by city officials and park visitors alike, to the playground and other park features at Sycamore.

"I love it," said Davis, who was visiting the park with his family May 8. "It's just different and challenging.

"It's more than normal playground equipment and it's something I can do while the kids are here.

"I can go over there and challenge myself while they're here (playground)," he said. "I can still see them and my wife can communicate with me if she needs me."

Davis also liked the fact the course is an installation in a public park, which means it is free to use.

"A lot places where you'll find the course is somewhere you've got to pay a membership to and they'll train you," he said, "but I'm not looking to do it full-time.

"I'd recommend it to anyone who (No.) 1, thinks they're in shape, because it will test your abilities for sure. And (No.) 2, if you've ever seen an episode (of 'American Ninja Warrior') on TV, you're probably curious of how hard it actually is."

The NBC television show features men and women seeking to conquer rigorous obstacle courses, with many mimicking training for ninja warriors.

Haislip said the Sycamore Park course is similar to Stage 1 or Stage 2 courses on the show. He also said that as an Army veteran who served two deployments in Afghanistan, the course offers workout options that rival the difficulty of some basic-training exercises.

Elijah Lephart, a 17-year-old junior at Pickerington High School Central, said he's been using the course to prepare for possible enlistment into military service.

"I just started using it recently when I came down here and discovered it was here -- about a week ago," Lephart said. "I'm doing it to work out, but also for physical training for the military. I'm thinking about going into the Air Force when I graduate."

Meddinger said the Parks and Rec staff hopes the course offers new recreation and fitness options for teens and adults, adding it is an uncommon feature in most central Ohio parks.

"We are anticipating a lot of teams challenging one another on the course," she said. It is very unique for (central Ohio) as there isn't one like this in the area.

"We have had several people from around Columbus already visit the course to test it out. We have head great feedback so far."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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