It began with a dare. Jen Sexton Voigt found Ninjas United while searching for an outlet for her two high-energy boys. “It transformed our lives,” Voigt says. “I could send them to school, then bring them to Ninja and they were able to focus on their homework after.”
Benjamin and Blake, then 5 and 8 years old, dared their mom to try the obstacles. Voigt was reluctant. Battling autoimmune disorders, she hadn’t exercised in 10 years. She eventually tried and found it challenging and rewarding. “I fell in love with it,” Voigt says. It was therapeutic—her body started to heal, and her autoimmune diseases went into remission.
Hers wasn’t the only family to overcome obstacles. Voigt became the gym manager and observed members gaining strength and confidence, overcoming physical, social and emotional weaknesses, even selective mutism, in the safe, nonjudgmental environment. “After I saw everything it was doing for these kids and families, I knew I wanted a bigger role,” Voigt says. “That’s when I moved to ownership.” Voigt purchased Ninjas United, a recreational and competitive American Ninja Warrior training facility, in May 2021. The former elementary school teacher and mom of three boys is now a Ninja coach and a competitor in North Central Ninja Series.
Age-Appropriate Obstacle Proficiency
Ninjas United trains clients ages 3 and up through upper and lower body obstacles like balance, strength, endurance and agility. “We teach kids how to get through it in the most efficient way,” Voigt says. “They build their strength, and the entire time they feel like they’re playing, which is really cool.”
The gym offers classes for all ages and abilities like competitive teams, fundamentals, Wiggly Warriors, all-girls youth team, homeschool and summer camps.
Voigt describes Ninja as a humbling sport. “You will fail a lot, and it takes an encouraging environment for kids to want to get up and try again,” she says.
Along with more than 50 obstacles and five warped walls, the coaches influenced Drew Levan and his three children to become members. “The coaching and the energy they bring is what kept us coming back,” Levan says.
Levan participates in open gym with his kids and adult classes. “It’s really proprioceptive, and gets your whole body involved,” he says. “As a kid, if you liked climbing trees or swinging really high, there’s sort of that extra risk factor that is exciting. It’s a safe facility, but the ability to fly through the air is an incredible feeling. Some obstacles give an incredible sense of accomplishment and the rush of a big dynamic movement.”
“Having grown up in Maple Grove, I’m proud to run a local business that changes lives by overcoming obstacles,” Voigt says. “We want to create incredible athletes but even more importantly, we want to help grow good humans.”
Ninjas United, 8752 Monticello Lane N.; 763.575.8188; ninjasunited.com
Ninjas United Gyms