American Ninja Warrior Hits The Gym

By Kathy Russell, ALSC Architects

It took seven seasons of televised American Ninja Warrior competitions before any Americans finally won the popular obstacle course race and took home the grand prize. As each season went by without a winner, the ANW fever grew as the athletic competitors started looking for ways to train harder and better. At the same time, athletes from other sports started to notice the benefits of Ninja training; as well as the general public and their kids who just wanted to climb some walls and jump some water courses.

An Obstacle Course in Every Backyard

If you’ve never seen American Ninja Warrior on TV, here’s the run-down: It is a race against the clock on a giant, nearly impossible obstacle course. The course includes hurdles like the Warped Wall, the Salmon Ladder and the elusive Mt. Midoriyama.
As the competitors of ANW went from season to season, many started building their own courses in order to train full time. In 2006, most competitors were parkour athletes, and Ninja athlete David Campbell, not as much of an expert in parkour, needed to be able to stand out. According to an interview in Men’s Fitness Magazine, Campbell decided to build his own course. Not only did other ANW athletes soon follow the example, so have countless Americans including parents and kids.

Ninja Warrior Athletics Becoming an Organized Sport

Any type of sport that has one or more associations related to it can probably be considered a fully established sport. Ninja Warrior athletics is showing that it’s no different. There are newly formed associations for supporting and organizing the sport including Ninja Warrior Athletic Association and Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association. Organized local competitions and leagues have started springing up; including those dedicated to kids, such as the Kids Ninja Warrior Competition and ninja classes at preschools. People not wanting to build their own obstacle courses are looking for the closest course to them.

The Future of Ninja Warrior Athletics

Clearly there is a demand for training facilities for Ninja athletes of all ages and abilities, as the sport becomes more main stream. Not only are gyms, fitness facilities and gymnastics clubs starting to build their own courses, some facilities are being built totally dedicated to the sport, like the Chicago Ninja Academy and Ninja Park Obstacle Fitness Gym. As we now see Cross Fit gyms scattered all over, we may very well see Ninja Obstacle gyms being similarly developed. It’ll be up to recreation and fitness centers to decide if it’s worth the investment of including obstacle courses in their facilities, but Ninja athletics does seem to be a trend that isn’t going away any time soon.



Kathy Russell is a Project Architect with ALSC Architects and a registered Architect in Washington and Montana, with over 20 years in the industry. She has written articles for SF Gate, and EHow as an architectural expert.

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