The Rise of Obstacle Course Competitions

Longtime fans of Ninja Warrior have no doubt noticed the rise of obstacle course competitions in the last few years, from our own beloved American Ninja Warrior and Wipeout on television, to local events like the Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder. Here’s a great article in the Washington Post (still my favorite newspaper from having grown up in DC), which has an insightful breakdown on this phenomena.

One new thing I did learn from this article is that Ninja Warrior superstar Levi Meeuwenberg recently relocated to Washington DC and is teaching at Primal Fitness, including specific classes for those wanting to train for Ninja Warrior. I was a little shocked to hear this as Tempest Freerunning Academy, for which Levi is one of the main people (we saw Levi as the leader of Tempest Freerunning on G4’s Jump City until he got injured), recently opened an incredible gym in LA. I figured Levi would be rocking that and continuing his stunt work in LA, but then what the hell do I know?

One thing I do know is that obstacle course competitions of all variations, on TV and in people’s backyards, are becoming more popular than ever, tapping into our inner little kids as well as providing a sick cross-training full body workout.

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  • VxJasonxV

    IMO, it’s not so much the rise of… As much as it is the Death (Anerican Gladiators) and Rebirth (Sasuke/Ninja Warrior) of Obstacle Course competitions.

    (Yes, I am aware that Sasuke has been on the air in Japan continually since American Gladiators originally ended airing after it’s international finals.)

  • Anonymous

    That’s a good point about how there’s been earlier interest in shows like American Gladiators that has a similar competitive feel to the Ninja Warrior strain.  I do think that the growth of localized events like Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder, among many others, is a new surging phenomena (there were earlier ones here too, but there are more now).

  • Jason Paul

    Awesome. I was there when they were taking those pictures at Urban Evolution (they didn’t use any of me).

    And I did the Levi Meeuwenberg training seminar at Primal fitness as well.

    It really is amazing as I’m used to the run of the mill, weights and treadmill type gyms overseas, and when I’m in DC, I find two gyms that have Salmon Ladders and Cliffhangers.

    I just don’t know how I’ll ever go back to the same old style gym after having so much fun working out at these two places.

    I really think we’re going to see a blowup of these parkour/gymnastics/obstacle hybrid gyms very soon. It’s already started but I think we’ll start seeing them in just about every major city in the coming years.

    It’s hard to ever get bored and there’s so many practical exercises to be done on all of that equipment which like obstacle courses, is just like a big playground for adults.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jason.  I’m jealous, I’d love to check out Urban Evolution and do that training seminar with Levi!

    I agree, I think we are going to see a real growth in these hybrid gyms that cater more to the gymnastics, parkour and obstacle course crowd.  I even thought about doing this a while ago, starting up something like Muscle Park but more open-theme like Urban Evolution.  But, alas, I don’t have time to do that!  LOL.  I would settle for just having one in my neighborhood!