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7 recommendations for visiting American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park in SoCal

Each of the five obstacle courses is about 20 yards long and is harder than the one before it. They all start with an unstable path to be traversed on foot. After that comes a smorgasbord of hanging-by-your-hands, followed by tests of grit, critical thinking and dynamic balance.

I breezed through the first two courses. I needed a do-over on three through five, but made it through those as well — with the exception of the rolling log thingy in the middle of course No. 4. It looked soft enough beneath its black-and-red striped vinyl, but for me it was a vicious adversary. Picture yourself crossing a creek by walking on a log — but the log starts spinning the moment you step on it.

ANWAP is supposed to be for all ages, but this 10-foot cylindrical section of it was not intended for 50-year-olds with janky lower backs. I could just see my feet flying out from under me like one of the Three Stooges and my lumbar spine snapping in two on the spinning tube beneath me. I tried, but I looked more like a kid testing the pool temperature than a grown man on an “adventure.”

Cece McKnight reaches for the next obstacle in the course.

(Wesley Lapointe / Los Angeles Times)

Speaking of all ages, our active 8-year-old, the tallest kid in her class, couldn’t reach the trapeze on course one, even when she jumped her highest. Same with the dangling rings on course two. I’ll wager that some apparatus have been lowered a bit since we were there.

Unfortunately, no adjustment and no exercise can help you with what fans of the show call “spider walls.” Picture two plexiglass walls facing each other, about four feet apart. The goal is to suspend yourself between them by pressing out with splayed arms and legs, while simultaneously inching forward. (You will have ditched your rubber-soled socks in favor of tennies before you hit the five courses.)

Our long pants proved useful on the “warped walls,” which curve up and away from the floor like a skateboard ramp to heights between 8 and 14 feet. Our reward for sprinting to the top of the tallest walls was the same as our punishment for coming up short: a rapid slide on knees or butt, back to floor level. I reached the top of all three walls — barely. Our oldest defeated the first two. Our 8- and 13-year-olds ascended the 8-footer pretty easily.

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