8 reasons Australian Ninja Warrior is great for kids

Gender equality is real on Australian Ninja Warrior.
Gender equality is real on Australian Ninja Warrior.  Photo: Channel 9

A reality-style TV show with the words "ninja" and "warrior" in the title isn't something I'd usually rally the kids for to sit down and watch as a family. Until now.

Australian Ninja Warrior has proved a stunning exception to the rule. Nine's new instalment hits the rare mark of quality entertainment for kids and adults.

It takes the good parts of reality TV (that is, the parts where contestants are absurdly talented). And gets rid of the bad parts (the bitching, back-stabbing and indulgent self-pity and naval grazing).

Then it throws in high-voltage physical action (above water) on a dramatic set that you can't totally re-create in your backyard, as much as you and the kids would probably love to.

But there's more to it than just ridiculously fit people with superhero grip strength making running up vertical walls look easy.

There are some good messages in there. Messages that cover a lot of the themes we try to get our kids to think about as they make their way through life. And who doesn't love a good message weaved into a fun TV show? Here's my top eight.

1. The gender equality is legitimate

Australian Ninja Warrior throws away the gender rulebook. Men and women compete on equal terms.

No head start for women, no altered obstacles, no differences in prize money. One course, one category, one winner.


Competitor and mum of two Tara Evans, 33, summed it up perfectly. "It's not us against the boys. It's us against the course."

2. It shows mums in an awesome light

There's a lot of mums in the mix and they're not just there to make up numbers or tick diversity boxes. They are awesome.

Many of them outperform elite male athletes, including a former male Olympic triathlete. The boys and girls watching at home get to see mums displaying real physical mettle alongside the dads.

3. The back stories show resilience and inspiration

The back stories are truly inspiring. Many competitors have shown huge resilience to overcome challenges much harder than what they'll face on the course.

There's Larissa Miller, a two-time Olympic gymnast, who shared her courageous story of surviving sexual abuse and journey to becoming a Bravehearts ambassador.

While dual gold medal-winning Paralympian Sam Bramham showed how to make giants leaps across water – with a prosthetic leg.

From the woman who broke her back and was told she'd never walk again, to guy who nearly lost his leg in a motorbike accident. There's no shortage of resilience and positive action from this bunch.

4. It shows healthy sibling rivalry

What do you do with highly competitive and talented siblings? Let them battle it out on an obstacle course! Wall jumping and free-running identical twins Dylan and Brodie Pawson, who use the parkour training method, breezed through the course. They're both each other's biggest challengers and supporters.

It wasn't as sweet for Perth brothers David and Mark Ravi, who run a Ninja training centre. David made it up the "warped wall" but Mark splashed out partway through the course.

Yet amid the jokes, banter and healthy competition between the related competitors, an undercurrent of sincere sibling support shines through.

5. Age isn't a barrier…

Maybe this is more a lesson for the mums and dads. As hard as the course is, it's still open to those who may have once thought they'd become too old for elite competition.

This includes the 48-year old former karate champion who made it much further than contestants 20 years younger. Expect to see some re-energised thirty-plus year olds practising chin-ups and monkey bar swings at a local park near you.

6. …and neither is height

Has your child ever been told they were too tall or too short for a sport? There are no height restrictions on the obstacle course.

Competitors range from small and powerful to long and loping. Watch a four foot-something female fitness guru measure up against a nearly-seven foot baseball player.

Good luck trying to predict who'll make it to the red buzzer first!

7. It shows kids a different way to be active

Physical movement doesn't have to be constrained to ball sports, a track, a pool or a field. Australian Ninja Warrior training pushes the boundaries and encourages creativity. And it's catching on with kids.

8. People fall in the water

Okay, there's no real life lesson here. Apart from that watching people fall in the water, often in spectacular fashion (and surface unharmed, of course) usually promotes laughter. And that's something all families can do with more of.

Australian Ninja Warrior airs on Nine on Sunday at 7pm, and Monday and Tuesday at 7:30pm.