Here we have competitor Zak, age 27, Las Vegas, NV.
Athletic background? I played ice hockey, golf and soccer throughout high school, but stopped playing competitively once in college. I still play golf, but only recreationally. I recently competed in my first ninja competition and that has been my focus ever since.
How long obstacle course training? I joined Camp Rhino in July 2015 and that was the first time I had tried any form of obstacle training, so just about 7 months.
Why obstacle training? I was looking for a new challenge and am a fan of ANW, but I never had an opportunity to give it a try. One day I decided to attend the free ninja warrior class at Camp Rhino and I absolutely loved it. That same night, ANW happened to be filming Stage 1 a few minutes from the gym, so I went over to watch. Seeing the competitors interact and encourage one another made me realize that this is not only an activity that I want to pursue, but a community with which I would be proud to be associated.
Why compete? Motivation? I didn’t realize it at first, but obstacle training always has a way of pushing your boundaries and there is no room for complacency. There is no such thing as a “perfect run” because you can always find a way to do something quicker or more efficiently. The second I complete a new obstacle I am already thinking how to make it more challenging or complete it in a way that conserves energy so I can continue to improve.
It is also a creative avenue for everyone that trains together and each session is a giant “group think”. We are always trying to challenge one another and combine techniques to determine the optimal solution to the (sometimes crazy) obstacles we create.
Favorite obstacle? Least favorite obstacle? I love any obstacle that has to do with upper body strength. There are a ton of obstacles that I really enjoy doing, but if I had to pick one of the many, it would have to be the peg board. It took me a while to learn the different techniques, but even after becoming efficient, I still find it to be a challenge. There are so many variations (pegs, bomb pegs, jumbo bomb pegs, not to mention the floating peg board) that there is always a new way to challenge yourself.
My least favorite obstacles are those that involve balance. When I started ninja training I had very little experience on balance-related obstacles, so I tended to ignore them and work on other obstacles where I felt more comfortable. Now that I have a little experience in competitions, I realize how important balance is and have made a serious effort to ramp up that part of my training.
Personal interests (movies, hobbies, music, books, charities, etc.)? I enjoy being outdoors and I’m often playing golf or disc golf. Ninja training has turned me into a do-it-yourself person, so I find myself making more and more trip to Lowe’s and Home Depot to create something for my backyard training area.
Something interesting about you? I’ve never had a cup of coffee.
Motto or how you live your life? “Always commit” It seems simple, but it applies to almost everything, including obstacle training. The only way to continuously improve in any aspect of your life is to commit to the process and focus on a clear goal.
Piece of advice for obstacle course training? I think the best piece of advice that I have about training is variation. Ninja obstacles are always evolving and you never know what someone is going to come up with next. Specific obstacle training is obviously important, but there are so many other elements that can help you succeed: yoga, rock climbing, lifting, cardio, parkour, gymnastics, the list is endless. Adding a few different elements to your weekly routine will definitely pay dividends.
If you are interested in competing in events like the UNAA events or ANW, my best advice is get out there and try local competitions. Training is great physical preparation for any event, but there is a mental aspect about being the only person on the course with little room for error. It is the best way to learn which areas you need to work on (for me it was balance) and it is valuable experience that you can carry with you to future events.
Social media info, pics, videos, other links? I am not a huge social media person, but check out Camp Rhino’s Facebook page!