Luke Pate swings from one bar to another in a in a Tuscaloosa gym designed for gymnastics. It’s the moment in between that makes the bars his favorite.

“It’s like you are flying through the air,” Luke said.

The 9-year-old is fearless, said his mother, Heather Pate.

“He will do anything, try anything,” she said.

Her son is among the first cast of contestants on “American Ninja Warrior Jr.,” a program for children ages 9-14 modeled on a similar show on NBC that follows adult competitors through an obstacle course that requires a combination of agility, upper-body strength, balance and timing to successfully complete.

The episode featuring Luke will air at 6 p.m. Saturday on the Universal Kids channel.

Luke competes under the name the Crimson Ninja, a nod to the 9-year-old’s favorite team.

“He loves everything Alabama. He is a huge Alabama fan. He actually wants to be Big Al one day when he gets in college,” Heather Pate said.

Ninja competitions are still new for the Tuscaloosa family, which has traveled to Huntsville, Nashville, North Carolina and Los Angeles for contests and the show. The Pates have befriended other families and adult competitors in the community.

“As a family, it has been fun, now that we have figured out how to work our schedule around,” she said.

Luke, a fourth-grader at Rock Quarry Elementary School, began competing in ninja competitions earlier this year after he began taking classes at Tuscaloosa Tumbling Tides gym. But Luke’s mother said he had been a fan of the show for a few years. The Pates watched the show together.

“There are only so many shows you can watch as a family with little kids,” she said.

Her son enjoys sports and playing outdoors but had yet to find his niche. After enrolling in the introductory ninja classes at the gym, Heather Pate said it was clear her son had found his spot.

“I was like, 'Let’s try that,'” she said. “We started with that, and he did some tumbling with that. As soon as he did it, we were like, 'Yep, that is it.'”

The family’s backyard now includes a ninja practice course packed with different obstacles. Luke typically only goes to dedicated ninja gyms for competitions, his parents said. The backyard course built by his father, Shane Pate, allows him to practice at home.

“Every time I look out there, I see new things,” Heather Pate said.

A pull-up bar hangs in a doorway in the house, she said. Dismounts end with Luke raising his arms and flexing his biceps.

“It’s hard to take a family photo or anything without muscles,” Heather Pate said, laughing.

Luke said he was inspired to compete by his coach Casey Suchocki, a recent University of Alabama graduate who competes under the name Bama Ninja on the adult program “American Ninja Warrior.”

The Pates met Suchocki at Tuscaloosa Tumbling Tides, where the American Ninja competitor worked and trained. Suchocki encouraged Luke Pate and recommended leagues where he could compete.

“When he first came, I was like, 'Man, this kid is awesome,' and that’s why I approached his mom and talked to them about competing,” Suchocki said. “You could just tell Luke just had a natural talent.”

Suchocki, who works locally for the residential construction company The Builders Group as an assistant estimator, said Luke was a natural with body control.

“Some kids, they learn visually, some, they listen to you. He is very hands-on. If he can get on an obstacle, he can usually figure it out,” he said.

Suchocki, who appeared in the finals of the 10th season of “American Ninja Warrior” earlier this year, enjoys the challenge of competing, but he said coaching brings a different satisfaction.

“Coaching someone else is way more rewarding than doing it yourself. You can see the passion,” he said. “Seeing him progress and get better has been awesome.”