Family of ‘Ninja Warriors’ sees sport’s popularity growing; 2 kids to appear on TV show

WASHINGTON CITY — When the Brian and Holly Beckstrand family first started watching “American Ninja Warrior” competitions on television a few years ago, they never imagined the major role it would end up playing in their lives.

The Grip Fitness Center co-owners Holly and Brian Beckstrand, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

“About five years ago, the kids started watching the show and became huge fans of it,” said Brian Beckstrand. “I just figured I wanted to try it out. It was something new. I really got into it and started training for it.”

Brian and Holly said they started off by building some handmade obstacles in their own backyard as part of their oldest son Taye’s birthday party about five years ago.

“It just kind of grew from there,” Holly Beckstrand said. “We decided to build our own gym and start this business about a year ago.”

The Grip Fitness Center, located on Washington Dam road, is now a flurry of activity most afternoons and evenings six days a week, with kids of all ages (along with a number of adults) taking classes or coming in for a quick workout during open gym time.

The building’s interior space is filled with a wide array of obstacles, including ropes, balance beams, climbing rails, handholds and various other types of physical fitness equipment designed to pose athletic challenges. The floor is lined with foam pads and mats to cushion against falls.

Even before they opened their own fitness center, Brian and Holly both became skilled enough athletically to qualify for and appear on the television show “American Ninja Warrior.”

Kids practice “Ninja Warrior” skills at The Grip Fitness Center, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

“I competed for two seasons and made it to the semifinals both years that I competed,” Brian Beckstrand said. “And, then I got my wife and kids involved.”

Earlier this summer, “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” a new kids-only version of the show, taped its first season in Los Angeles, and two of the Beckstrand children were part of the competition: 13-year-old Kai and 9-year-old Baylee.

The Beckstrands say they aren’t able to disclose how either of their kids did on the show until after the episodes air, but they did say Baylee is scheduled to appear on the episode being broadcast Saturday evening, Nov. 17 on Universal Kids Network. Click here for schedule and guide to the network’s TV channels.  

Kai’s episode will likely air sometime in December, his mother said, adding that they have not been told which date yet.

Both kids said they had an enjoyable experience appearing on the show, which attracted young competitors from all around the United States.

“I thought I did really well,” said Baylee, who added she enjoyed making friends with her fellow athletes. She said she had to navigate spinning logs and other obstacles during her race.

“They had these things that swing different ways, about three feet apart,” she said.

Siblings Baylee and Kai Beckstrand, both of whom competed on “American Ninja Warrior Junior” television show this summer, pose at the family’s gym, The Grip Fitness Center, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Kai, a seventh-grader, said he also encountered some unique challenges during his competition, including a device called a “sonic swing,” which involved swinging on two ropes across a series of angled steps.

“I was a little nervous before it started, but as soon as it started, I knew I could do it,” added Kai.

Kai, who spends between 3-4 hours training each day, was also diagnosed with diabetes earlier this summer just before the taping of the show

“He almost wasn’t able to compete,” his dad said. “That’s actually one of the things they talk about on the program, and what we are trying to do, to raise awareness about diabetes.”

Brian Beckstrand, who also works as a volunteer firefighter for St. George, said ninja fitness training is more than improving one’s dexterity and athleticism – it also builds self-confidence and teamwork.

“It’s something that families can do together, like ours has,” he added. “There is something here for all ages and abilities. You start out with something basic and simple and just keep pushing yourself to do harder things and get better at them.”

“It’s not a team sport, but the kids do push each other and encourage each other,” Holly Beckstrand said. “They cheer each other on.”

“Sometimes you compete against others, but you’re mainly just competing against yourself and your abilities,” added Kai.

And while all five of the Brian and Holly Beckstrand’s children (Taye, 15, Kai, 13, Luke, 11, Baylee, 9, and Kaleah, 6)  are involved in ninja fitness and related activities, they also have extended family members who are accomplished athletes.

In July, their teenage cousin Alex Beckstrand won first place in his age category at the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Another cousin, Ashley Beckstrand, a former standout guard for Desert Hills High School’s basketball team, now plays college basketball for the Brigham Young University Lady Cougars.

For more information about The Grip Fitness Center and its “Ninja Warrior” training classes and activities, visit the center’s website, call 435-218-7304 or send an email to [email protected].

Update May 1, 2019 Kai Beckstrand not only won the competition in the “American Ninja Warrior Junior” episode referred to in the article, he also ended up being the season’s overall winner in the 11-12 age bracket, as seen in the season finale that aired on April 27.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Comment November 15, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Adults are never too old for an obstacle course like these. Just need to lose about 30LBS and get in shape and I’m up for trying it. LOL

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