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The 10 Coolest Training Facilities in Pop Culture

You can have all the natural talent in the world, but if you’re going to be the best at anything, whether it be an Olympic athlete at Sochi or a professional StarCraft player, you will need to train. Sure you can go to a 24 Hour Fitness and get your Zumba sweat going, but imagine if you were heading for the stars or into battle with a rival ninja clan, you’re going to need to work it out in something a little more specific.

The Dojo (The Matrix)
“I know kung fu.” The iconic line uttered before one of the most memorable training scenes in movie history. Neo knew he could kick some serious ass, but his true objective of learning to believe was a bit of a climb, and it began with this epic skirmish with Morpheus. Saying “come at me bro” hasn’t been the same since.

Battle School (Ender’s Game)
While your typical high schooler is stressing about prom court and homecoming, the kids at Battle School were working on formations, learning to fire light guns, and play a real life version of StarCraft. You better hope your APM is high enough or you’ll find yourself frozen before you can say, “Shut up, launchie.”

Splinter’s Dojo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Aside from living in the sewers, the Ninja Turtles also had the bulk of their training take place there as well. Master Splinter was not only a father figure to the heroes in a half shell, but their martial arts sensei, and his sewer dojo was the home of such teachings. Because nothing teaches more discipline than living under the loud, busy streets of New York City and living off a diet of pizza.

Danger Grotto (Generation X)
The kids at Xavier’s Second School for Gifted Youngsters were known as Generation X. Left in the care of Banshee and Emma Frost, Generation X worked out their teen angst against each other. The Grotto was an arboretum that held it’s own secrets and was appropriately named by Miss Jubilation Lee.

The Obstacle Course (Starship Troopers)
“I’m from Buenos Aires and I say kill ’em all!” Let’s be honest, this was probably one of the more useless training areas of them all, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it was pretty damn cool. Imagine American Gladiators, but with all of the courses engulfed in flames. Again, I’m not sure how this prepares you to fight against an race of predatory aliens, but the course was cool enough to intrigue me into wanting to try myself.

The War Room (DC Universe Online)

This state of the art facility is connected to the main wing of DC Universe Online‘s version of the Watchtower where anyone who plays the Hero class can go here to sharpen their skills against holographic enemies. Consider it the DC version of the Danger Room, but a version you can actually explore.

Mr. Miyagi’s Garden (The Karate Kid)
A true underdog story has to have an iconic place where said underdog catches a glimpse of their full potential. In the Karate Kid’s case, that would be Mr. Miyagi’s yard, where Danny would learn the arts by doing things like painting fences and waxing cars (or was he just scamming free labor?). Daniel would eventually go on to front kick his way to a karate tournament victory, and Miyagi’s garden is 100% to blame for that.

Danger Room (X-Men)
The uncanny forces of Charles Xavier used this special room to simulate battle sequences. We often saw the X-Men using this room to simulate battles with Sentinels, one of their most formidable foes. Objects within the Danger Room are simply holograms with forcefields around them, so they don’t themselves don’t pose a true threat. However, there has been one known death in the Danger Room, and it came from a student leaping off of a holographic cliff. So as you can see, gravity and heights still operate to the same tune in the Danger Room as they do IRL.

The Room of Requirement (Harry Potter)
Dumbledore’s Army ended up being a badass force to be reckon with, and that’s due in large part to this secret room. Also known as the Come and Go room, the elusive edifice would take the form of anything the inhabiting wizard or witch needed it to be. Right now we could use a room full of buffalo wings…

The Capitol Training Center – Hunger Games
The interesting thing about the Capitol’s training center in The Hunger Games was that you basically had to train with the people who you’d eventually end up either killing or being killed by. Yes, perhaps it could be advantageous to see how skilled your opponent is before hand, but you’d have to imagine it’d be pretty harrowing for the less confident tributes, who were pretty much witnessing previews of their upcoming death every training session.

What’s your favorite pop culture training facility? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Marlon "M8trix" Elliott says:

    Sorry, I think it was called Battle Nexxus.

  2. Marlon "M8trix" Elliott says:

    The Warrior Nexus from one of the TMNT cartoon episodes (2011 I think). It’s a realm that allows you to fight ANY warrior from ANY time, regardless of whether they’re living or dead. My version included both reality and fantasy characters that make for a lot of potential dream matches, like Bleach’s Ichigo vs. DBZ’s Goku for instance.

  3. Marlon "M8trix" Elliott says:

    And of course, the HTC from DBZ, my personal favorite, along with Star Trek’s holodeck.

  4. Marlon "M8trix" Elliott says:

    How about the Ninja Warrior course? Even Military alumni have had difficulty on the course. And competing on the course changed you immensely, regardless of whether you completed it or not.

  5. Connor says:

    Uh……Top Gun School from the greatest movie ever made……Top Gun!

  6. madmonq says:

    Ngahh. The Danger Room holograms were NOT surrounded by force fields but were solid light projections with a mesure of safety precautions built in to simulate physical interaction but not injure GOD!

    Now that I’m thinking about it, the old traps & physical projectile version of the Danger Room was much more dangerous than the hi-tech version.

  7. Zyr Warg says:

    Yoda and Luke anyone? Jedi training in the swamp.

  8. April says:

    Typo in my comment: seem should be seen

  9. April says:

    This was entertaining. I just want to ask the author to do a grammar check before publishing. “To be reckon with” should be reckoned. There may be more, but I only read through about 3 fully as I don’t know all the references. As a teacher, I think it’s important that people who want to be seem as journalists, even in an opinion piece, take care and write correctly.
    I enjoy The Nerdist poscast & many of these articles

  10. HappyGrouch says:

    Dagobah. I can’t believe you didn’t go to Dagobah.

  11. TwoFisted Scientist says:


    Seriously. If you haven’t seen the awesomeness of Gordon Liu in The Master Killer (aka 36th Chamber of Shaolin), then get on it right now before the Pop Culture PoPo yank your PC License.

  12. JanArrah says:

    Her name is Katniss, not Cadmiss.
    The ultimate training center? Greed Island in Hunter x Hunter. People actually train and put their lives on the line to get more powerful.. not some dumb pod people go into and magically learn stuff.

  13. Frank the Tank says:

    Let’s not forget about Rocky’s Russian cabin (or its antithesis, Ivan Drago’s megafacility/steroid lab) in Rocky IV.

  14. Alex Davila says:

    Time Chamber! you get a whole year’s worth of training and only 24 hours will have gone by.

  15. GooseGanja says:

    @danramble — Oh shit.. your right on the money dude.. I changed my mind.

    #1 – Kami’s Hyperbolic Time Chamber or even King Kai’s planet (10x Earth’s gravity)

    #2 – X-men’s Danger Room in various forms


    #345 – Hunger Games Training Facility … thats was a joke .. only person seen doing any training was Cadmiss n her archery.

  16. GooseGanja says:

    Agreed on all those … but hopefully not ranked i that order.

    BTW … I would say “The World” or “Overworld” in the Pokemon Universe. Basically every thing is training if your not battleing in a gym or tournament i guess.

    Danger Room #1 for sure.

  17. danramble says:

    Wait, and no mention of the hyperbolic time chamber from Dragon Ball??