Ninja programs growing in popularity

STURGIS, S.D. – Over the years, American Ninja Warrior has grown into a summer blockbuster right here on NBC.

But the show’s influence is now reaching beyond the small screen, translating into big business for gymnastics clubs.

When Mieke Bruch opened the Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy last July in Sturgis, she decided to dedicate part of her gym for a ninja program.

“When you think about gymnastics, the majority of the kids are girls across the country,” Mieke Bruch said. “Unfortunately, the boys gymnastics programs are continuing to decline. However, the American Ninja Warrior, that’s cool. All the kids love it. Boys and girls. And the Ninja program just seem like a perfect fit.”

Not only has it been a big hit, but she was able to find the perfect coach.

Former American Ninja Warrior contestant Colt Scott.

In fact, he traveled all the way from his home in Virginia to Sturgis to run the ninja program.

“Well it’s funny because I had just graduated from college recently and I was working three jobs,” Ninja coach Colt Scott said. “One in a high school, one as a ninja coach and one at a rock climbing store. I had no idea where I was going. My mom suggested that put your resume on some job website. I thought of all the things that would come up, never would I get an offer for a job like this and sure enough.”

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Colt Scott is the ninja coach at the Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy in Sturgis.

The ninja program doesn’t include any treadmills and dumbbells.

Instead, the kids swing from bars, maneuver obstacles and climb walls.

All inspired by the famous show.

“So with this contraption behind me, we get to do everything,” Scott said. “We get work on what’s called the salmon ladder. We get to work on rings, swinging. A lot of grip endurance mostly. But then we also get to learn how to accept failure gracefully.”        

Beyond exercise and having fun, Scott hopes his athletes can start participating in ninja competitions.

“We’re trying to make more competitions around the area,” Scott added. “Gyms will sometimes host competitions. And there are local leagues like the NCNS and the NNL. So once we can get more competitions under our belt, we kind of want to join one of those leagues so we can get our kids in more competitions.”

Currently, there are around 70 kids enrolled in the ninja classes at the Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy.

But Scott expects that number to continue to grow in the future.

“This is like the new CrossFit,” Scott said. “Gyms are opening up everyday. You see more and more programs and more and more people marketing on this every day. So I definitely feel like it’s going to keep growing.”

The Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy is currently closed but they hope to reopen by the middle of May or by June 1.

Categories: High School, Sports