Sandy Zimmerman – Backyard “Ninja Fortress”, “Zimm Gym” – Spokane, WA

Here we have competitor Sandy, Age? Really? Old enough to be some of the other ninja’s mom, Ha Ha, Spokane, WA

Athletic background?  Former National Judo Champion, played Division 1 basketball at Gonzaga University.


How long obstacle course training?  June 2015

Why obstacle training? At first it just looked fun so I wanted to try then I discovered I could actually do it which motivated me to really start training and get good at it. Now I can’t even begin to tell you all the awesome things that have come from it physically, mentally, emotionally… But meeting a ton of incredible people has by far been the best part.


I have absolutely loved sharing this sport with kids and adults. I’ve been running classes at my “Ninja Fortress” and it’s been such a blast seeing people’s progress. The lessons learned in obstacle course training has really made a difference and it’s such an honor and privilege to get to be a part of those special moments in a person’s life.


Why compete? Motivation? I’m extremely competitive and I’ve really missed that part of athletics and competing at a high level. However, I quickly discovered that ninjas are incredible people and I have loved going to competitions to meet, learn from and be inspired by other competitors. So many things drive me, my kids, my students, my friends, the people I’ve met along the way… When I went in to teaching 18 years ago I was passionate about health and fitness but the main reason was to inspire others and sharing my story and obstacle course training has really touched a lot of people’s lives.

Favorite obstacle? Least favorite obstacle? I love the flying bar. It’s powerful and dynamic, people love watching that one and I can do it. The flying bar also holds a special place in my heart because in the regional qualifier in Ogden I was the first woman to complete that obstacle in competition.


I’m missing a ligament in my left thumb, it hasn’t been a major problem but there are a few obstacles that I can’t jump and grip on to.

Personal interests (movies, hobbies, music, books, charities, etc.)?  Favorite movies would have to be Bad Mom’s and Magic Mike, just kidding… well about one of those anyways J  I like good music but if I had to pick one genre I would say country. Nothing quite like a song where you can lose your dog, your girl, your job and your house all while drinking good whisky.  I won’t lie I don’t read a whole lot of books, I can barely keep up reading everything on Facebook. Well actually does reading to your kids count, cause I’ve read the Big Book of Dinosaurs about a thousand times this last week?

I love giving back to the community, I think that’s really important for all of us to do that. I’ve helped organize little ninja events and fundraisers all over Spokane like at the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, little ninja classes and adult classes, Coaches vs. Cancer, Down Syndrome Walk… As well as helped other people around the country organize similar events in their own cities.

Something interesting about you? I love nothing more than a good dirty joke.

Motto or how you live your life? One of my favorite quotes is one by Jackie Robinson “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” I know I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for all the amazing teachers, coaches, sensei’s, and others that came in to my life growing up to help me through a crazy, unstable childhood. Then as a grown up I’ve just continued to be surrounded by incredible people where I teach, where I live and now all the ninja’s I’ve meet training and competing.

Piece of advice for obstacle course training?  It takes grit both mental and physical but always remember it’s a journey, enjoy the ride and the amazing people you’ll meet along the way. Obstacles can be brutal and humbling at times but if you’ve put in the hard work beforehand then the outcome is out of your hands just try to relax and enjoy the opportunity.

Social media info, pics, videos, other links, anything you care to share? I’ve got a Facebook page just for ANW stuff, Sandy Zimmerman (American Ninja Warrior). I have tons of info and pictures on there.

A local news station KHQ did a really nice story on my ANW journey. spokanes-ninja- warrior

The Wall Street journal did a story on how obstacle course training is the future of sports and there were several interview question and clips of me. ninja-warrior- the-future- of-sports-1464707294

Bonus Material:

Training: I work out hard 6 days a week, sometimes twice a day. I do body weight circuits, speed drills, and of course obstacle course training. I end each workout with a burnout.

Nutrition: I just try to eat a well-balanced diet. I’m not a health nut by any means but I do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I have to make sure I get enough protein as well, it helps keep my blood sugar from dropping. I drink lots of water throughout the day. And I have my splurge items but in moderation.

Hand care: Make sure you take good care of your hands. Keep your callouses low so they don’t rip and know when to stop. Have some great creams to prevent splits and cracking too.

Shoes: Do some research on shoes good for obstacle course training. Try different types and brands and find one that works well for you.

Ninja Fortress: I have a huge course in my backyard and basement. If anyone out there wants ideas or pictures on building an at home course and info on how I run my adult and kids programs contact me through FB, love to grow the sport!


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