I Tried It: Ninja Warrior Training Workout

ninja warrior training gym

When he isn't busy trying to climb everything in sight or practicing jumping off the top of his bunk bed, my 7-year-old is happy to unwind by watching episode after episode of American Ninja Warrior. When I found out that there was a warrior training gym in my town, I knew I'd get some massive cool points with my son if I checked it out.


The show, which recently returned with a new season, has inspired people all over the country to take on the challenge of mastering crazy obstacles like the warped wall, the salmon ladder, and other challenges that require crazy amounts of skill, stamina, and upper body strength.

I haven't worked out in six months and have the upper body strength of a baby T-Rex, so clearly I was going to rock this challenge.

Look at the confidence on that face!

My first inkling at just how in over my head I was going to be was when I called the gym and was told that the woman who was teaching the female warrior class was Jennifer Tavernier, otherwise known as the first mom to make it up the warped wall and winner of the American Ninja Warrior team competition. So, yes, she has some skills. But could a woman who basically weighs the same amount as one of my legs and who lives for fitness figure out how to get my less-than-athletic self through an obstacle course?

When I arrived at the gym, I basically had "newbie" stamped on my forehead. My nerves were not exactly calmed when I checked out the other class participants, all of whom seemed impossibly fit and strong.

I mean, c'mon. Really?


warrior woman

Spoiler alert: This is NOT how I looked on any of the obstacles.

The class started with some warm-ups that I could actually do: jogging a few laps, lunges, and some drills to build ankle strength. Five minutes in and I hadn't fallen or embarrassed myself. Put one in the win column for me!

And then came the real workout, a series of circuits, each harder than the last. First up was swinging on rings, followed by walking a balance beam, and then swinging from one trapeze bar to another. This is where I learned that no matter how well I did in the course, I was for sure going to be leaving with sore hands. I haven't done things like rings and trapeze bars since elementary school and I have the pansy, wimpy skin on my hands to prove it. A piece of advice to fellow wannabe warriors: Start toughening up your hands now.

on the rings

Not exactly poetry in motion, but I'm trying!

While I shuffled more than swung from ring to ring, I was trying not to be too obvious about the fact that I was growing more and more in awe of the other women in this class who whipped through the course and made it look easy. I kind of wanted to hate them, but damn it if they weren't all friendly and encouraging even as I slowed them down and got in the way on the course.

After the first circuit of rings was a series of obstacles that included using a rope to swing to another trapeze-like bar, doing a "spider climb" up a vertical wall, and swinging from hanging bananas that were on chains and affixed to the ceiling. It was clear that the banana thing and the spider climb were WAY past my skill and fitness level, but I thought I could maybe handle the rope. Let's look at how well that went:

falling I'm sure you'll be impressed when I tell you that all three of those photos were taken in less than four seconds. Turns out ropes are really slippery when you have no upper body strength.

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At this point, I switched into a spectator mode as I watched other ninjas-in-training Addie and Leah tackle the iconic warped wall. If you've ever watched American Ninja Warrior, you know the wall is a killer, especially for shorter contestants. Now that I've seen a slightly smaller version in real life, I'm even more amazed that anyone makes it up that thing.

warped wall

After an hour, the class was over and I was drenched in sweat and starting to list all the body parts that were certainly going to be sore tomorrow. I was also, much to my surprise, already considering coming back for another session. Make no mistake: I sucked at this. I'm nowhere near ninja status. But as workouts go, this was maybe one of the most challenging and fun things I've ever done.

And, yes, my son does think I'm a little cooler now.

Images via Wendy Robinson

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