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Today's Family Magazine

Adrenaline Monkey offers fitness challenges for every family member

By Nina Polien Light

If your family enjoys watching American Ninja Warrior, it’s time to get them off the couch and on to an obstacle course. No thanks, you say?  Your 5-year-old couldn’t possibly do that and you haven’t done even a single squat since before he was born?

It’s time to get moving.  Adrenaline Monkey, which opened last June on the east side of Cleveland, is an indoor family adventure and training center featuring a variety of physical challenges at different levels.  Toddlers scrambling up a mini warped wall, parents or grandparents renewing a fitness commitment, and agile performance athletes, and every age in between will all feel at home here.

“It hits at different fitness levels and ages,” explains owner Denise Carkhuff.

After checking in and signing a waiver, guests are met with a soft-play obstacle course to their right. It’s meant for toddlers, but Carkhuff says older kids enjoy it, too.

“There’s a big beanbag chair they can play on and be silly,” she says.  “There’s also an obstacle course with a soft mini warped wall.  There are little walls to jump over that are made of soft materials, so young children can navigate them and not get hurt.”

Four Ninja Warrior-style obstacle courses, ranging from easy to hard, are a big draw.  Depending on the level, the course may contain a spider climb, warped walls, overhead rings, salmon ladders or unstable bridges.  There are also beginner and advanced parkour-inspired courses.

Most of the climbing walls are set up so participants can compete against each other, if they would like, except for one glow-in-the-dark wall, which Carkhuff calls “fanciful.”  Most of the climbing walls require belays, or anchored safety ropes.  Once participants are hooked in, they climb the wall as high or as quickly as they are comfortable and then are slowly lowered.  However, one non-belayed boulder climbing wall is situated above what is, essentially, a huge air mat.

“You can fall Nestea plunge style,” Carkhuff says.  “It’s a thrill and anybody can do it.”

Non-directional aerial ropes feature 26 elements all 16 feet in the air directly above the Ninja courses. There’s also a basketball court.

Additionally, Adrenaline Monkey offers an arcade and virtual reality area for the gamers in the family.

“If there’s a big party, not everybody does everything, so it’s good to have options,” Carkhuff says.  “We hope to convince some of the gamers to get more active.”

A bar with a recharging station allows parents to work on their computers and supervise children, who may be taking a class or attending a party.  A 4,200-square-foot mezzanine is home to an event space and the Monkey Bar, which offers food and beverages ranging from avocado toast to cold-pressed cocktails.  It’s an ideal spot for hosting birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, bachelor parties, corporate team building events, and other occasions.

Morning and evening boot camp classes for adults, a Warrior League for training and competing in ninja-type obstacles, and summer and school-vacation camps are also part of the mix.

Two hours of full access is $25 per participant, or $20 per participant for groups of four or more.  Additional hours cost $5.  Memberships are available.

Carkhuff, a mergers and acquisitions attorney at Jones Day, opened Adrenaline Monkey at the urging of her twin daughters, who are now 12.  It took about a year for Carkhuff to warm up to the idea and another couple of years to find the property. The building had to be newly constructed because Carkhuff couldn’t find an existing structure with tall enough walls to accommodate all of the adventures.

“I have an entrepreneurial spirit hidden in this lawyer body of mine and I decided to go for it,” she says. “I thought, what a great way to show my daughters they could do anything they want and it’s okay to take risks.”

For more information, visit or call 216-282-3100.