By Mr. Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)September 21, 2016
Fort Leonard Wood service members, Family members and the public got a chance to test their strength, endurance and other "ninja" skills during the Alpha Warrior Battle Rig Demo, held Sept. 13 at Davidson Fitness Center.
The event was hosted by Brent Steffensen and Kacy Catanzaro, former stars of the "American Ninja Warrior" TV show and both trailblazers in the growing sport of obstacle-course racing. During the event, Steffensen and Catanzaro gave demonstrations and helped coach local competitors through the multi-obstacle rig, which they helped design.
"The actual rig itself and the obstacles we do definitely prepare us to be efficient and functionally fit," Catanzaro said. "Being able to come and do something fun is important."
"It gets people to function and use their bodies in different ways," Steffensen added. "Part of our mission here is to give these Soldiers (and Family members) a chance to experience what we love and what we've been doing for the past few years."
The rig provided plenty of challenges from start to finish, including the opening salmon ladder, in which competitors gain height by moving a metal pull-up bar up a series of parallel pegs. Other challenges included monkey bars, gymnastic rings, a ladder climb, peg climb, twin rope climb and more.
The demonstration included sessions for different age groups, starting with competitors 15 and younger, who participated with supervision from their parents.
Reuben Marchbank, 15, a homeschooled student from Richland, was the first volunteer on the Battle Rig.
"I liked it," Marchbank said after completing several challenges. "I knew it was going to be tough."
Mary Carlson, 12, from Iberia, Missouri, also did well on several obstacles, especially the inverted ladder.
"It's cool. I like the downsteps," she said.
Like many of the attendees, Carlson is a fan of "American Ninja Warrior" and hopes to be a competitor someday. Carlson's mother, Rebekah, said the Family is even building their own obstacle course at home.
"We're building one in our backyard," she said. "We live on a farm, and have plenty of room. We're all big fans of the show."
Makenna Harris, 14, from Waynesville, said the rig was inspiring, adding that she plans to work on her upper-body strength.
"It was a lot harder than I thought. I'm impressed by people who can do that, because I don't know anyone, personally, who can," she said.
Both Steffensen and Catanzaro are founding members of Alpha Warrior, a permanent obstacle-course facility in San Antonio. First conceptualized by Texas entrepreneur David Nolan and a small group of fellow fitness enthusiasts in 2011, the course has grown from its original configuration in a single warehouse into what is now a state-of-the-art facility the size of two football fields.
The course's focus on strength and stamina-building attracted the attention of U.S. Army Entertainment, which contacted Alpha Warrior designers about conducting demonstrations at Army garrisons. Catanzaro said the Battle Rig is essentially a "sampler" of the larger course.
"We had to make this easy to travel but still super difficult to complete," Catanzaro said.
The event also helped promote the Army Performance Triad, with Steffensen and Catanzaro both emphasizing the importance of good nutrition and sleep habits in addition to physical training.
Fort Leonard Wood was the fourth stop on the Alpha Warrior Battle Rig tour, which will include visits to 10 Army installations when complete. During their visit here, Steffensen and Catanzaro got to tour the post, including rappelling down Warrior Tower on the Basic Combat Training Confidence Course and shooting the M9 pistol on the Military Police One Station Unit Training qualification range.
Soldiers with the 169th Engineer Battalion helped Alpha Warrior personnel assemble the Battle Rig, and members of Better Opportunities for Single Service Members assisted with breaking down the structure after the demo.
After the military tour is completed, plans include taking the Alpha Warrior Battle Rig on a tour of major U.S. cities. However, the connection between Alpha Warrior and the Army will likely continue.
"The bigger picture is to eventually put these rigs on garrisons permanently," Steffensen told the crowd.