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Have you heard of a ninja programme before? If not, it’s a combination of gymnastics and a discipline of martial arts, carried out in a safe environment. These programmes are very popular in the United States, and provide an additional source of income to regular gymnastics classes.

Ohio Sports Academy invested in a ninja programme back in 2015. Since then, they’ve had great success due to its popularity. In their first month of the programme, the academy had 26 ninjas. Just before COVID-19 hit, they had 371 – which proves there’s certainly a market for ninja programmes in the US.

In this article, we’ll share insight from Diane Trifiro at Ohio Sports Academy. Learn more about ninja programmes, why they’re so popular, and what should be considered when buying an additional programme for your club.

The equipment and gym space required

A ninja programme can use whatever equipment you have in your gym already – bars, beams, vaults, mats, etc are all suitable. In terms of space (unless you’re fortunate enough to have a separate ninja area), you can integrate it into the areas where you carry out the rest of your classes. About 90% of gyms who have ninja programmes go down this route.

Coaching and class considerations

Just like recruiting new gymnastics coaches, finding coaches to help out with ninja programmes can be difficult. Ohio Sports Academy relies on friends of current coaches or parents to help out one night a week, as well as posting ads on recruitment websites like Indeed.

You don’t need to look for gymnastics experts when identifying ninja programme coaches, because you can train and teach them the relevant gymnastics knowledge. But it’s important that you find coaches with personality. Ideally, someone who can have fun with children and is excited at the prospect of teaching.

Ninja programmes have the potential to grow, so it’s best to have different coaches teaching so you’re not overly dependant on one person. This way, kids also get used to different coaches, and if one coach quits, your programme doesn’t collapse.

Ninja programme training

With some ninja programmes, training is included in the fees you pay. This gives you access to resources you might need like include videos, webinars, and roundtables for gym owners, programme directors, and coaches.

You’ll find that programmes often have a Facebook group you can join with supportive communities that are always willing to help out.

Pricing

Before taking on a ninja programme, you need to have insurance. That’s why Ohio Sports Academy went with a well-established programme that insurance companies had already worked with, rather than creating their own.

Some insurance companies may only allow you to have a small number of children per class, making it premium. That means you should charge more for it than a regular class.

In addition to tuition, there are many other revenue streams generated via ninja programmes. For example, charging for a ninja ‘uniform’, which consists of a t-shirt and headband.

And, of course, you have the option for ninja birthday parties and summer schools, where kids are taught ninja skills as well as competitions that are like gymnastics meets. Rent some lights, play some techno music, have a great big obstacle course on the floor, and turn your coaches into judges!

All in all, adding a new programme like this at your club means you can generate lots of new revenue.

Leadership and mentoring

At some point, children will grow out of being ninjas. So, some ninja programmes offer leadership opportunities. This provides a way for these children to be in the gym, to help out during classes and mentor other ninjas. This can also help you build volunteers and in-house staff in the long run.

Things to consider when purchasing a programme

When looking to purchase an additional programme for your club, ensure you identify one with a progressive curriculum that helps your members grow – just like regular gymnastics. It’s also important to note things like licensing and monthly fees, as well as the age groups and genders programmes are aimed at.

The ninja programme that Ohio Sports Academy use has built out and developed really well for them. However, whichever programme you choose or whether you decide to create your own, it’s important to research thoroughly first. You need to find out what you’re interested in and understand the costs associated with each option to figure out what you can afford.

We’d like to say a big thank you to Diane Trifiro for spending her time speaking with us about ninja programmes. Find out more about her club on the Ohio Sports Academy website.

Diana spoke to us in a webinar for our LoveGymnastics Community Facebook Group. Join the community for access to exclusive content.

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