Gauntlet Fitness in Ardmore, OK was the first ninja gym I had ever been to, and the first one we hit on the trip. Shawn and Ashley Mason own it, and I had a private training session with Shawn. I basically told him that I wanted to be a ninja warrior (and he didn’t laugh at me!), and that I had zero experience, but that I wanted an ‘intro to obstacles’ type session. It.was.awesome.
Coming in to this trip I had zero expectations about what I could actually do, but my goal for visiting these gyms was to just get exposure to as many obstacles as possible. And since they weren’t local, if I totally made a fool of myself, I wouldn’t ever have to see them again. Win/win.
One of the first things he asked me was how many pull-ups I could do. I had been dreading this question and kind of cringed when I said ‘zero’. But he didn’t even bat an eye! After a warm-up, he had me do a few things so he could see where my starting point was. He had a row of hanging rings and told me to see how far I could get. I don’t know how many rings it was. In reality, probably a dozen, but it felt like about 100. It was really hard, but I was NOT going to fall off those rings. I was going to get all the way across if it killed me. I did not want to start off this session with him thinking we were both wasting our time. And I did it! I willed myself across! I was so proud of myself, and he seemed impressed. Whether or not he was just being nice, I don’t know, but it was effective. It gave me a big boost for the rest of the session.
Then we went to the trapeze, and he taught me how to swing. I couldn’t make my legs get as high as they’re supposed to, but I learned what to aim for.
I was also able to try jumping into a spider wall, climbing a rope, and swinging from cannonballs, among other things.
Yes, I am holding on for dear life. as a matter of fact. If you look in the back of this picture, you can see the row of rings I mentioned. They were different heights and everything! Although it doesn’t look like a dozen from this angle…
And my very first warped wall!
His gym has a really cool vibe. Gritty. And I always felt very safe. He had lots of mats to put underneath me, and was always right there coaching me about correct technique and a safe way to ‘fail’ when I need to.
About half way through he said, ‘Let me see your hands, is it time for balance?’
It was time for balance. But I felt like a legit ninja with gnarly hands! I realize now that this endeavor of mine will not be consistent with a future in hand modeling. Sigh.
So we practiced a bunch of balance obstacles. I’m gonna load up on spare 2×4’s and PVC pipes. The pipe was pretty hard, but so much fun!
Shawn was so encouraging. Such a great coach and a great cheerleader. He trains a lot of the top obstacle athletes, and has such a great facility. If you’re ever anywhere close to Ardmore, you absolutely have to check it out.
After I was done, he let the kids try some stuff out. My daughter, who is also a ninja wannabe, (and way stronger than me) but pretty timid and cautious, did great.
My 3 year old, who doesn’t have a cautious bone in his body, also did great. The look on his face in this picture cracks me up. My brother was there next to him, but he looks a little concerned.
But I promise he had fun.
I left Gauntlet Fitness feeling like a million bucks. No, I couldn’t do all the obstacles. But I could do way more than I thought I could. I was even more hooked then before. And he gave me a training regimen to do several times a day to gain upper body strength and get my pull-ups. We made a deal that when I could do 10 pull-ups, I would drive back to OK for some more training. He realistically estimated 1.5-2 months until I get my first one, if I put in all the work. I don’t like to be mediocre, so I’m shooting for 1 month. I just typed it out loud, so there you go! Sept 1 for my first pull-up!!