CHARLOTTE – For owners and co-founders Steve Gruendel and Wilbur Long, Kinetic Heights began with a conversation and a few scribbles on the back of a napkin.
The two friends were returning from a Y-guides weekend in the mountains with their daughters in 2013 when the idea came to them: They wanted to create an experience closer to their homes in Charlotte that offered ropes courses and so much more.
“Nobody else is doing what we’re doing,” Gruendel said. “There are other places here that have ropes courses, but it’s not like this.”
Kinetic Heights, which opened in December 2016 in the old Harris Teeter at Providence Square Shopping Center, is certainly unique.
The 22,000-square-foot air-conditioned indoor facility features a ninja warrior course, high ropes course, Parkour training area and three heights to the warped wall.
“Nobody is really doing Parkour in the area. It looks like just a bunch of blocks sitting here, but the kids find all kinds of cool ways to use them to get around,” Gruendel said.
The Parkour course is just one of the disciplines that summer campers will learn at Kinetic Heights camps, which are running for the second season after a successful debut last year.
This season’s camps will have three offerings: Adventure Challenge (June 4, 11, 18, 25 and July 9, 16, 23, 30), Parkour/Ninja (June 26-28) and Intermediate Parkour (June 26-28) that run with the Spring Break camps.
The Adventure Challenge camps are set up with campers arriving around 8:30 a.m. to arts and crafts while late-arrivers trickle in. By 9:30, they begin the first of two morning breakout sessions at one of the stations followed by lunch. After eating, campers complete their third session of the day, which allows each child to get a turn at every station each day.
Camps will be capped around 30 children per session to ensure each child has access to the equipment and to give staff a chance for one-on-one and small group training in all areas Kinetic Heights offers. At the end of each Monday through Thursday week is a challenge that lets campers compete in the various skills they have learned against each other.
Children ages 5 and older can participate in the adventure center, although children must be at least 7 to test their mettle on the high-ropes courses, which can be a little intimidating to beginners at first since they reach nearly up to the rafters.
“Some of these kids come in and at first they are a little intimidated,” Gruendel said. “But by the end of the week, they can’t wait to show their moms and dads how much they’ve grown and how easily they can do some of this. It’s about them building their confidence, and it’s so great to see.”
Parent Brad Cunningham tells of such an experience of his son, Will, on Kinetic Heights’ story wall.
“There is one word to sum up Will’s ninja training today: Boldness,” Cunningham writes. “Baby steps each week, but today was a leap. Everything he did today was with a sense of boldness and confidence I’ve never seen from him, well maybe, but not lately until today.”
That’s the same experience Gruendel and Long hope every visitor feels.
While Kinetic Heights is designed for kids to have a good time, it’s not only for the little ones. Gruendel says many of the daily and weekend visitors to the open gym sessions are teenagers and smaller children, but a lot of young adults and middle-aged people are coming for one-on-one sessions.
“We want to have it where the whole family can come and have fun at the same time, so we’ve just started our family classes,” Gruendel said. “That’s where parents can come in to get their workout, but can also drop off the kids, and they can have fun on our ropes course or at the ninja pit.”
Born from a drawing on the back of a napkin, Kinetic Heights has evolved into a fun center that has something for everyone.
Want to know more?
Kinetic Heights is located at 5664 International Drive in the Providence Square Shopping Center. Visit www.kineticheights.com or call 704-412-4068 for details.