Even without his signature superhero regalia and Gatorade-hued hairdo, Jamie Rahn is a colorful guy.
A Barrington resident, 25, he's launching a career out of his success as a costumed contestant on American Ninja Warrior, NBC's extreme-sports extravaganza.
ANW competitors must conquer a daunting, if not diabolical, obstacle course seemingly concocted by Rube Goldberg and the Marquis de Sade. Rahn is doing well in the fifth-season final rounds, which continue Mondays at 8 p.m. on Philadelphia's NBC10.
But other challenges face the affable athlete, artist, children's entertainer, and physical-therapy aide. With his business partner (and fellow ANW alum) Phillip Pirollo, Rahn is building a gym that will focus on the energetic French movement discipline called parkour.
"I think the process of training, and opening a business, are the same. I'm just trying to stay focused, and positive," says Rahn, as he prepares for Monday's launch of Pinnacle Parkour Academy in Cherry Hill.
"We've built everything in here except the doors," he says, sitting in a former warehouse, where a "warp wall" vertical running ramp and what looks like a jungle gym for grown-ups beckon (or intimidate) visitors.
A 2006 Cherry Hill West graduate who earned a degree in painting and drawing at Philadelphia's University of the Arts in 2011, Rahn grew up with a neurological condition that makes him susceptible to migraines.
Nevertheless, he was a bit of a daredevil as a boy in the township's Barclay Farm neighborhood, playing in the woods and skateboarding. At 16 he began working out in earnest after he decided to spend less time playing Nintendo.
After wrist surgery left him struggling to find a way to stay active, Rahn discovered parkour at Pirollo's first Pinnacle gym, in Washington Township, in 2010.
That gym has since moved to Gloucester Township, and parkour has become better known in the United States - in part due to ANW.
"Every time the show airs we have an influx of e-mails and calls," says Ryan Ford, a pioneering parkour-ian whose Colorado firm, APEX Movement, trains and certifies instructors, including Rahn.
Although Ford notes there is "no specific way to train for American Ninja," parkour surely comes in handy as competitors vault, climb, hurdle, and bounce.
And having a sense of where the body is and what it can do - particularly when airborne - is essential, Rahn says.
"Parkour is kind of like skateboarding, without the skateboard," observes Pirollo, 29.
The discipline is less about muscle bulk than flexibility, coordination, and stamina. It's like gymnastics crossed with dancing, with a bit of boot camp thrown in, and Rahn "works harder than anyone else," says Pirollo.
"I've been training Jamie since he got started. His progress has been incredible," Chris Wilczewski, 24, owner of the Movement Lab in Hainesport, says.
Rahn likes that seemingly impossible obstacles - on the show and elsewhere - can be overcome through methodical, progressive training. Even though he's afraid of heights, "I like to go up. I like to see what I can get on top of, with my momentum and speed.
"I keep trying, and trying," Rahn says. "I get to a point where I think, 'Maybe this is possible.' And that opens the window to train harder."
Says Wilczewski: "Jamie is like a real-life superhero. Most guys give up. But he keeps going at it until he gets it."
Watch Jamie Rahn compete in