With a red mask around his mouth and nose, Bryant Donny swings through the fitness rig and races up the 12-foot warped wall with one goal in mind — conquer the course.
It’s just a snapshot of the 1 hour, 45 minute Gymfinity Ninja Warrior class Donny participates in every Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Madison gymnastics center.
Donny, a Verona sixth-grader competes in four other sports besides the Gymfinity Ninja Warrior team — diving in swimming, freestyle snow skiing, baseball and Motorcross.
“I just like being there and seeing how well I do against a ton of other people,” he said. “It’s fun to go to new gyms and try a ton of other stuff they don’t have here.”
The Ninja Warrior courses focus on building strength, balance, agility, grip and parkour training, a discipline using movement developed from military obstacle course training.
In February, Donny finished third place at the Legendary Fitness Ninja Warrior competition that included 15 participants in his age group.
“I’m surprised I finished that high with that many ninjas there,” he said. “I was just amazed.”
Donny said his favorite training sessions are on the fitness rig, where he has to swing through monkey bars and climb across without touching the mats below his dangling feet and the trampoline.
Gymfinity Ninja Warrior courses are open for children ages 4-12. Participants can sign up on the Gymfinity website a month at a time. There are nine levels ranging from the beginning mini level to the final silver level, with children placed in groups of eight or less for the courses.
Jake Vis of McFarland has been a Gymfinity Ninja Warrior instructor for one year, and has been competing in obstacle and Ninja course races for 1. He also has several friends who own Ninja Warrior gyms where he grew up in Milwaukee.
Vis said the biggest joy is seeing the progress children make in the course.
“If they can make it halfway down the monkey bars and two weeks later they can go down and back, that’s huge,” he said. “To me, it’s a big deal to see progress.”
Vis said multi-sport athletes can see an improvement in their strength, speed and agility by taking the course.
“Whenever they play baseball, have swimming or whatever sport they do this will carry over to that, too,” he said. “In daily life, it keeps them more positive.”
Before getting the chance to try their hand at Ninja Warrior courses at Gymfinity, children are taught the proper way to complete pull-ups, squats and push-ups.
To join the Gymfinity Ninja Warrior team, Vis said children have to master tests at each level. Once children make the Ninja Warrior team, Vis said the focus is on honing their skills.
“We focus on getting them ready for new competitions and getting them better at what they are already good at,” he said.
Vis said he’s keeping his eyes open for more Ninja Warrior competitions to enter.
“We have toyed with the idea of even setting a whole (fitness) rig here and giving them their own competition here,” he said.