Transform me into a Ninja Warrior
July 20, 2017 6:36 AM   Subscribe

How can this hopelessly unathletic person ever become the next Ninja Warrior - the sort that conquers obstacle courses?

For a long time I've loved obstacle course shows, such as Gladiators or that one Nickelodeon kids show that involved a mountain as the final quest. I haven't managed to watch much of the current Ninja Warrior series but it's the same idea.

I've always wanted to do those obstacle courses... The problem is that I'm not particularly talented physically. I never got any gymnastics or similar training as a kid and was always the last at sports or PE. I started doing circus and dance about 7-8 years ago as a young adult, but again I'm not very technically skilled compared to most people, and it's been a while since I've done a lot of that. I've done an obstacle course maybe once or twice in my life? As a teen? But that's it.

I don't expect to actually qualify for Ninja Warrior anytime soon, but I'd love to be able to build up physical skills and strength to be able to accomplish something similar. My dream would be a real-world version of Themyscria, but alas. What sort of places or training should I be looking at?

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I know there's at least one obstacle course related gym somewhere in this state but it's been a while since I looked. I don't tend to enjoy gyms because I can't deal with the weight loss talk and because it's not creative; I love dance and circus because you're still physical but you're also working on a creative thing so the exercise isn't the sole point. I'd imagine that obstacle courses would be the same - you're doing a task, the exercise is a bonus. Parkour might be an option too but I don't know who teaches stuff here.

Recommendations, tips, strategies, any suggestions are good and welcome!
posted by divabat to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The guy I know who actually has competed on Ninja Warrior's main sporting gig is bouldering and climbing. The thing that strikes me watching Ninja Warrior is how so much of the strength involved is in the hands and forearms. (And my acquaintance does have forearms like watermelons) and climbing will do that for you. So I'd try to find a climbing gym near you and start there.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:47 AM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

It looks like Melbourne has Tough Mudder events.

I've done a Superhero Scramble which is similar and you could develop the required physique solely through running (for cardio endurance) and rock climbing.
posted by justkevin at 7:29 AM on July 20, 2017

Well, my kid does parkour and I spend a ridiculous amount of time sitting at parkour gyms and meetups. Parkour is exactly what you want. I'd google around and see if there's a gym, or see if there's a coach who'll train you (or who leads group classes) at a local park. My kid started with coach + park, and then moved to the gym, where the padding lets you try harder stuff.

He's at one of the top locations in the world for this, and I have to say I'm very, very impressed with how they teach adult beginners. It's gentle, slow and very, very supportive. It's not what I expected when I first got to this place -- given that it's so masculine (maybe 95% male customers, 100% male coaches) -- but there's an enormous lack of bro-y nonsense. I hope you can find the same.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:29 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

The one time I went to a climbing gym, they also had a back room with some American Ninja Warrior type equipment (that was explicitly what it was for), so 3rding the suggestion of taking up climbing (or at looking up climbing/bouldering places to see if they have facilities for it).
posted by dismas at 7:33 AM on July 20, 2017

You might find Matt Laessig's blog interesting, particularly the section on training.
posted by Nelson at 7:42 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think what you're looking for is a parkour gym. Looks like there are some in Melbourne! They do exactly what you want, which is help condition your body using fun Ninja Warrior type equipment. I can't speak to the gym I linked to, but the ones in my city are great and offer all kinds of classes for both kids and adults. Good luck, sounds fun!
posted by LKWorking at 8:22 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Climbing is the first exercise type thing I've found that engages me physically and mentally. I could never get into running or other cardio workouts because it just wasn't interesting, however, I've been going to our bouldering gym three times a week for the last year and a half, and it's always a treat to go. I love the puzzle-solving aspect of it, and I've definitely gotten a lot stronger over time.
posted by monologish at 9:14 AM on July 20, 2017

Get thee to a parkour gym!

(Also, immediately leave any gym where the talk turns to weight loss.)
posted by Brittanie at 12:59 PM on July 20, 2017

Bounce (Essendon/ Richmond/ Glen Iris) might be good (and there's Jump in Oakleigh, maybe other places too) and a bit softer than parkour. It's mostly trampoline-based, but there are high ropes and obstacles too. There's indoor rock climbing places too that have a variety of stuff to scale and proper safety gear.
posted by hawthorne at 5:52 AM on July 21, 2017

Climbing, parkour, and Crossfit are the three things that will give you the skills you need. If you're a complete beginner, it might be helpful to do some general cardio (running is the classic, but rowing is probably most effective, and cycling is the most fun) and stretching/yoga as well, just to build up the physical capability to do those three things. If you take a parkour class without jogging a bit first, you'll spend half the class catching your breath rather than actually learning parkour.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:50 PM on July 22, 2017

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