It’s week three of our #HappyNewFear challenge and we’ve taken our fear-facing to the next level by learning how to defeat crazy obstacles – taught by a real Ninja Warrior Germany finalist…
What is Ninja Warrior?
Good question. Ninja Warrior is a TV concept that started in Japan almost 30 years ago and was picked up by American media in 2009. Around 100 contestants battle it out on a giant obstacle course. There are various rules – i.e. don’t fall into the water or fall off an obstacle – and all the obstacles have intimidating names such as Sonic Swing, Warped Wall and Ring of Fire.
To be a successful Ninja Warrior you need an insane – insane – amount of upper body strength. And a good sense of fun.
What can you expect?
Today we’re training at Ninja Hall in east Berlin. Our trainer Alex opened Ninja Hall in October 2017, inspired by his experience as a finalist on Ninja Warrior Germany (catch him in action here.) Alex wants to open up the sport to the rest of Germany and has built replicas of the obstacles you see on TV.
You’ll hear Ninja Hall before you see it; shrieks of joy echo up the stairwell. The space is full of various obstacles – there’s a bouldering wall, a rotating cylinder, monkey bars, nets, tightropes, climbing ropes, trampolines, giant car wash sponges and loads more fun and colourful props. Children and adults are swinging, jumping, bouncing and running all over the place. It looks like a really fun human jungle.
How was the workout?
Alex the Ninja Warrior led us through a quick warm-up. We walked over a rotating cylinder, bouldered across a wall, hopped over some wobbly toadstools and then shuffled along a tunnel. “If you fall on the floor in the Ninja Warrior TV show then you’re out,” Alex explained.
Time to start the obstacle course. We leapt across six diagonal blocks, all sloped inwards. My colleagues, each over 6 foot tall, sailed over. I hopped on one, then another, then completely missed the third. I realised fairly quickly that I am way too short to be a successful Ninja Warrior.
“Now you have to swing from these monkey bars and jump on to that punch bag!” Alex instructed. I could just about reach the monkey bars by jumping as high as I could and found that it’s much easier to go quickly across these obstacles rather than slowly – momentum gives you power and speed. My colleagues were able to leap from one obstacle to another with seemingly no problem. I was struggling so Alex the Ninja Warrior laid out 6 red blocks and told me to try and get across. “This looks too easy,” I said to Alex.
“Just try it,” he responded.
I hopped on a cube, it slid from underneath me and I collapsed in a pile on the floor.
“See! Not as easy as it looks!” Alex said, delighted.
We each took it in turns to try and get across and each attempt ended in hilarious disaster.
Next: The wall. This looks similar to a skate ramp. Ninja Warriors must sprint up it and grab the top and pull themselves up. It seemed almost impossible, but not as hard as the nextobstacle – a pull up – but with each one you jump a level higher. Then once you’re at the top you swing onto a tyre and then on to a carwash sponge which rotates around. By this point you are relatively high up but luckily, there’s a giant air bag to fall on to.
How did I feel after?
By the end of the session my arms were so tired I could barely tie my own shoelaces.
Benefits of Ninja Warrior
It’s not all fun and games – Ninja Warrior is a very serious workout. To be a successful Ninja Warrior you need very strong arms, speed and excellent balance.
But the best thing about Ninja Warrior is how much fun it is. There’s no better way to build relationships with friends and colleagues than by swinging from a suspended tyre and falling into a giant air bag.
Don’t forget to bring…
You can train in sneakers or in bare foot. Just make sure you stretch your arms before and after and bring a lot of water – you will get sweaty!
And for more fear-facing activities read our Happy New Fear backflip trampoline adventure.