In a quiet area outside of Buffalo sits an unassuming pole barn, a regularity when it comes to rural Minnesota scenery.
“It’s really become quite the phenomenon. I think it’s a bigger hit than anyone could’ve imagined,” Hogan said of the NBC production, which will feature Midwest regional finalists – including Hogan, himself, tonight at 7 p.m. (KARE 11). “Anyone who has seen the obstacles on the show knows what we have inside that building. We have a lot of the same things, because our goal is to train and get into the competition.”
Hogan and a few of his Ninjas United cohorts headed down to Kansas City recently to take their shot. A few of them made the grade, as the Kansas City regional was featured earlier this season (the premiere, back in June). The local angle also caught the attention of Eric Perkins, local TV personality, who came and spent time with the crew. You can check out that clip here, or below (if you’re not on a mobile device).
According to Hogan, who has done everything from lifting on his own to CrossFit and other workouts, preparing for “America Ninja Warrior” is about three things – trampoline work, balance, and a strong grip.
“These aren’t really ‘ninjas’ like the movie, but it’s a cooler title than ‘crossover athletes.’ Really, anyone who is athletic can use training like ours to hone their skills and get through these challenges. It just takes a lot of practice,” Hogan said.
Which is where the special facility comes in. Challenges like moving the ring from peg to peg, or climbing your way up a chute – they’re in here. Cargo nets line one wall. The sacred button/plunger, to stop your time and indicate completion of the course, is on another wall.
Ninjas United now has about two dozen regular members, Hogan said, with hopeful contestants coming from as far away as Bloomington and St. Paul. A few just like it for the training, he added, with no thoughts about really getting on the television show.
“Our sessions can last two and a half hours, and really it’s for anyone who has caught the bug and wants to try it,” Hogan said. NU also has a “kids/teen camp” set to roll out this summer for “future ninjas.”
If you miss tonight’s broadcast, it also airs on Esquire Channel the day after it is on NBC.
“It’s hard not to talk about how you did,” he said with a smile. “I guess we’ll all have to wait and see.”
For more about Ninjas United – and if you want to work out at the facility – check out their Facebook page, or call Kevin Hogan at 763-568-1675.