SCHERERVILLE — I, apparently, am a warrior.
I completed the new Warrior Course on Wednesday at Sky Zone Trampoline Park. Well, the easy section, at least.
The indoor family entertainment center in Schererville recently opened several new exhibits, such as a rock-climbing wall and jousting ring, inspired by sports competition shows like "American Ninja Warrior."
I didn't know much about the new activities before I showed up Wednesday. As the Times fitness-experimenter-in-chief, I just go wherever my editor tells me to.
First up was the aforementioned Warrior Course, an obstacle course where you have to climb, balance and swing across a cushioned moat.
The course has three levels of difficulty: easy, medium and hard. Of course, as this newspaper's exercise guinea pig, I had to try all three. Court supervisor Adam Zehner, who is much younger and in better shape than me, scared me when he said he couldn't do the "hard" course.
The exhibit started off easy enough. I skirted across a balance beam, swung on basketballs tied to ropes and climbed a wall made of netting.
I got halfway through the "medium" course when, trying to pull myself from one end of the pit to the other while tangling from a sheet of glass attached to ropes, I took a dive into the padding. I fell again while swinging on a net full of basketballs.
As for the "hard" course? Forget it. I won't bother to describe the obstacles, other than to say if you're not climbing Mount Everest you probably won't be able to do any of them. Or maybe I just need to hit the gym more.
Next up was the Warped Wall, an inclined ramp that you have to run up, grab a metal bar and pull yourself up. On the first few tries up the shorter, 10-foot wall, I had no idea how I was going to do it. Then Zehner told me to hop like Super Mario.
I ran, jumped like I was crushing a Goomba (for all you Nintendo fans), grabbed the bar and yanked myself to the top, surprising myself in the process.
Then it was time for the 12-foot ramp. For some reason, it seemed twice as high. Suffice to say, I didn't make it.
I moved on to the Free Climb wall. I began on the less difficult side and made it all the way to the top.
"Just fall backward," Zehner said, as I looked behind me into a pit of foam blocks.
It felt so high it seemed like I was atop Everest. I climbed down a few pegs and jumped into the fluffy blocks.
I tried a more difficult path up the wall and made it again. (Again, I wimped out on letting go from the very top.)
On the more difficult wall, which had an incline, I got about halfway up before I fell into the great foam beyond.
After that, I took on a teenager in a round of SkyJoust, where the goal is to knock your opponent off his pedestal with a foam jousting pole.
When Cameron Westerman, a court monitor at SkyZone half my age, got on his platform across from me, I was nervous.
But when we started to joust and he didn't immediately knock me off, I thought, I can do this. I pushed him with my pole into the foam pit.
"Did you let me win?" I asked.
"No," he said, climbing back onto his platform. "But I've got shoes on. It's harder." (I was wearing my slip-resistant Sky Socks.)
The second time, he caught me off balance, hitting me off my pedestal. On the third and deciding round? I won. Not too bad for an oldish guy.
The last new exhibit at Sky Zone was the Sky Ladder, a fidgeting rope ladder, the kind you see at every carnival.
On my first few forays, I couldn't even make it to the third rung before flipping the ladder over and slipping off.
Then I asked event manager Amanda Deckinga if she's ever seen anyone complete the challenge.
"Kids," she said.
She explained that they lay flat on their bellies and pull themselves up by their arms.
I tried that. It worked.
"Now you've seen an adult do it," I said.
I walked back across the foam blocks in triumph (though walking through foam blocks hardly appears triumphant, as you look like a drunken elderly person).
The new exhibits at Sky Zone are super challenging and a great workout. (By the end, I was winded and sweating.) They test your strength, agility and balance, letting you know where you might stand to improve physically.
They're also fun activities for parents and kids to do together. (Moms and dads, don't be surprised if your children do better than you.)
"You're going to sleep good tonight," Deckinga told me on my way out.
She was right. I passed out before 9 p.m.