14-year-old ninja warrior champ reaches TV finals again; family’s new gym reflects sport’s growing popularity

ST. GEORGE — Television audiences will soon learn whether Kai Beckstrand, the young ninja warrior champion from St. George, was able to win his second straight season of “American Ninja Warrior Junior.”

Kai Beckstrand, 14, speaks about his appearances on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior Junior” at The Grip Fitness gym’s second location in Green Valley, St. George, Utah, June 6, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Beckstrand, 14, who previously won his quarterfinal and semifinal rounds in episodes that aired on May 15 and June 5, will compete against three other finalists in the 13-14 age bracket in the Season 2 finale of the popular series. The championship episode is scheduled to air Friday at 4 p.m. on Universal Kids (DirectTV channel 295; St. George TDS 234; Cedar City TDS 103).

As previously reported in St. George News, Beckstrand was one of the youngest competitors in his category when the Season 2 shows were filmed in July 2019 in Los Angeles. The year before that, he won the Season 1 competition as a 12-year-old, taking home the $15,000 grand prize for his efforts.

Each of the age group winners of Season 2 also earned a top prize of $15,000, with the second- through fourth-place finishers being awarded $7,500, $5,000 and $2,500 respectively.

St. George News briefly caught up with Beckstrand on Saturday’s grand opening of The Grip Fitness center’s second location, where dozens of would-be ninja warriors of all ages came in throughout the day to try out the new training equipment and navigate their way through various physical challenges and obstacles.

“I’m super excited to have our new gym,” Beckstrand said, adding that it is about three times larger than The Grip’s original location at 1502 E. Washington Dam Road in Washington City. Kai’s parents, Brian and Holly Beckstrand, own and operate the business, which they started three years ago.

The Grip’s new 13,000 square foot facility in Green Valley is housed in the basement of same building as the Nets on Fire basketball gymnasiums at 1871 W. Canyon View Drive.

Kids try out the ninja obstacles and equipment at The Grip Fitness gym’s second location in Green Valley, St. George, Utah, June 6, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Holly Beckstrand said things have been extra busy since last weekend’s grand opening, with kids mostly ranging from 5-16  coming in during open gym hours or signing up for the upcoming weekly ninja summer camps sessions, which run through the end of July. The facility can also be rented out for birthday parties. For a full list of programs and schedules at both of The Grip’s locations, visit their website.

This coming weekend, The Grip’s new location will host a regional qualifying competition sanctioned by the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association, with two kids divisions – 9 and under and 11 and under – being staged on Friday and teen and adult divisions taking place Saturday. See The Grip’s website for a registration form and other details.

Holly Beckstrand explained the sport’s growing popularity.

“Kids love to be active,” she said. “It’s fun, but it also is building their confidence and self-esteem. It gives them determination to conquer obstacles in all aspects of their life.”

Update June 13, 10 a.m. As seen in the Season 2 finals episode of “American Ninja Warrior Junior” that was broadcast on June 12, Kai Beckstrand slipped on the cliffhanger obstacle and ended up finishing in fourth place.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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