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    There are two kinds of people inside Xtremenasium Trampoline and Ninja Challenge Park in Clarksville, Indiana: ninjas and wannabe ninjas. The ninjas, all 10 or older, don socks with rubber grips on the soles and red logos of a leaping ninja. Then they bound across 6,000 square feet worth of trampolines and obstacles. The wannabe ninjas watch. But watching’s not so bad — you can hang out in the 3,000-square-foot area above, which sports a massage chair, video games and a DJ during Friday and Saturday “glow nights.”

    Owner Kenny Schell estimates that it took 500 days to finish Xtremenasium, mentioning how Homeland Security safety checks delayed the expected opening date by six months.

    Schell was inspired to open after seeing a similar place in Louisville. He figured southern Indiana deserved to bounce, too. “Trampolines was the first thought,” he says. “The ninja (course) and the climbing wall were all what I call ‘wow pieces’ — like sprinkles.”

    Some of the trampolines are meant for vanilla bouncing. Others are angled at 45 degrees — which doesn’t turn out well for the skin on my knee. My six-foot-something husband bounces up and drops foam basketballs through hoops with ease. In the middle of the space is a trampoline dodgeball arena, cordoned off by ceiling-high netting. Lights dim, and blacklights illuminate a row of dodgeballs between the teams. The game comes down to a duel between a woman and a young boy. She launches the neon-yellow ball at him, but he flips over it. On the next throw, he catches her in the shoulder.

    Oh, and we haven’t even gotten to the American Ninja Warrior-style course in the back corner — think monkey bars that move and swinging ropes and platforms. It’s a toned-down version of what you’ve seen on TV, but Schell hopes to make it more difficult over time, once he gets into the rhythm of regular upkeep: checking springs for wear, sanitizing each of the 20,000 foam cubes each week and replacing them entirely every six months.

    I beat my husband in a race up a Plexiglas climbing wall with identical holds on either side. But I let him win the sparring challenge without attempting it — I’m not coordinated enough to stand on a small padded bar while trying to smack someone. The next day, everything is sore: my calves from leaping, my hands and forearms from hanging, my cheeks from grinning.

    This originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline "Make It Bounce." To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Photo by Mickie Winters, mickiewinters.com

    Jennifer Kiefer's picture

    About Jennifer Kiefer

    Germantown transplant. Louisville native.

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