Correction: We were recently notified about a correction to the name of one of the athletes. The correct name is Lillian Jeffery not Lilly Pastor. We have made the correction in the article posted below. Unfortunately, even though every attempt was made to confirm the information at the time of print, this correction did not come in time for the print issue. We apologize for the error.
We recently had the chance to interview three Stillwater youths and their trainer about qualifying for and competing at the UNAA (Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association) Youth National Ninja Warrior competition in Albuquerque, N.M. in July. At this competition, athletes will compete in preliminary rounds with the top ten advancing to the finals.
We wanted to learn more about Wade Lopp, Lillian Jeffery, Georgia Story, and their trainer, Lauren Lewis, owner at Next Level Gym.
Q&A with the Trainer.
SLM: What is your background as a trainer?
Lauren Lewis: I started training in 2003 while attending classes at OSU for Health Promotion. Along with my degree I hold an ACSM Health Fitness Specialist Certification, a CF – L1 Certification, a few nutrition certifications, and now I’m a Ninja coach as well! I’ve trained at private gyms and box gyms before opening my own private gym [Next Level Gym] in 2012. Here we concentrate on Functional Training. Our goal is to achieve strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, and overall improvement of health. We train private or in small groups, always with a trainer, and anyone is welcome.
SLM: How long have you been working with Wade, Lilly, and Georgia?
Lauren Lewis: Wade has been with me for a little over two years now. He was a level 7 gymnast and he got very sick and spent some time in the hospital just before coming to me. We’ve since taken him from a skinny, strong gymnast to a skinny even stronger ninja. His natural ability and ideal physique make him a natural at this new sport of ours! Georgia has been doing summer camps with us for about 4 summers now. Lilly has done one summer.
This past August 2017, we started training for the Ninja Competitions. Georgia also has a natural talent for many things, but I am happy to say that this has been one of her favorites. Lilly has the drive to be better and stronger than her big brother and she may just be getting there. I am so lucky to be able to work with these three kids! I can’t wait to see where we go with even more training and experience.
SLM: How did you become aware of Ninja Warrior competitions in general and specifically for younger athletes?
Lauren Lewis: At my gym, my people are more than just clients. We truly become friends and some of us spend a lot of time together. We found out about a ninja gym in Ardmore and another two in Dallas. Thirteen of us spent a long weekend together playing and learning about this, actually, not new, only new to us, sport. . . Literally, on the way home, I had ordered a Ninja rig that was set up the next weekend. This was in March 2018.
I keep in contact with the gym owner in Ardmore and that is how we learned about the different leagues offered up to the athletes: the UNAA (The Ultimate Ninja Athletes Association) and the NNL (The National Ninja League). The rules and age groups are a little different and we have found we favor the UNAA, but we compete in both.
On July 19-21, these three athletes will be competing in the UNAA World Championship Finals. They will be among many of the athletes that you see on the TV show American Ninja Warrior! We attended last July in Dallas and we knew we were hooked afterwards.
Q&A with the Athletes.
SLM: How old are you and what grade are you going into next year?
Georgia Story: I’m 8 and going into the 3rd grade.
Lillian Jeffery: 10 years old and 5th grade.
Wade Lopp: 17 years old, senior.
SLM: How did you learn about the Ninja Warrior competition?
Georgia: Because my trainer Lauren told me about it and thought I should do it because I love to do anything challenging.
Lillian: I started the ninja classes at Lauren’s gym with my sister and then I learned about the competitions that we could compete at too. My family thought it was so cool!
Wade: Lauren and I looked into it while I was recovering, I had an anaphylactic reaction to antibiotics that turned into serum sickness which required a hospital stay.
SLM: What made you want to compete?
Georgia: Because it’s lots of fun and I like to try and do the best I can. I also like trying new and challenging obstacles and figuring out how to do them.
Lillian: Lauren pushed and pushed me so I was really active and I also want to be better than my brother in this awesome sport!
Wade: I started training in order to recover from my illness, I also built my own Salmon ladder in my backyard to train on.
SLM: What do you like about the training and/or competition?
Georgia: Lauren pushes me to be the very best and gives me challenging obstacles. I like traveling to different cities to compete. My favorite trip was to Houston.
Lillian: The people that I meet at the competitions; also Georgia and Lauren are some of my favorite people.
Wade: I like winning and trying out different obstacles at the different gyms we compete in.
SLM: What is most challenging or hardest about the training and/or competition?
Georgia: Because I am small, sometimes it’s hard for me to reach some of the obstacles and some of the obstacles are difficult because they are bigger than me! Which makes me want to do them even more.
Lillian: When Lauren makes me do hard stuff and then she tells me to do more and my muscles give out. Also when our other trainer Zayne makes me run 300s!
Wade: Cardio is the most difficult and working on my speed through obstacles has been challenging.
SLM: What else do you like to do besides this training and competition?
Georgia: Doing my other sports: gymnastics, karate, and soccer.
Lillian: Gymnastics, piano, and running club, but I love ninja warrior the most!
SLM: Is there anything else you would like for our readers to know about you, your training, or the competition?
Georgia: That my mum is from London and she doesn’t like peanut butter!
Lillian: I have the strength to win! I have to just have motivation and endurance. I have three siblings and sometimes it feels like nine! I have a loving family and amazing friends at the gym. I want to thank a lot of people for giving me these amazing chances that a lot of kids do not get.
Please join us in wishing the best of luck to Wade, Lillian, and Georgia as they pursue their goals and compete for the National title of Ninja Warrior!