Rachael Goldstein shares with us all about her experience on ANW and how she got her mind in the right place to not only have a competitive season, but have fun and relax in the process. We also talk in depth about how to deal with gnarly ninja rips on your hands and our process for self-care and healing, and brands we love like Climb-On and Orbital Climbing’s Boulder Balm. Plus, we share our love for health food stores and our favorite brands of protein bars, like Rachael’s favorite right now, Rise Bars.
Written by Janelle Kopa
Sarah Schoback, the Ninja of the North, has blown into The Ninjababes Podcast on the Northern Breeze: her signature dance. American Ninja Warrior season 9 and 10, Team Ninja Warrior season 2, Ninja vs Ninja, NNL World Finals, and 2016 and 2017 OCR World Championships, are a few of the places that have had this powerful ninja dominate their courses. A true role model of strength, Sarah is a woman who has tremendously inspired me in the gym and in life. With an open and loving heart, she has personally welcomed me into her Obstacle Academy ninja family in Minnesota, which has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I am beyond thankful for her commitment to loving others so selflessly, and for creating a ninja community that invites you to become the best version of yourself. As a devoted mom and wife, dedicated athlete, and a determined gym owner, she is a wise woman who truly does it all. Sarah is passionately living out a limitless life and encouraging us to do the same.
Some of the most beautiful moments I have witnessed is Sarah’s intentionality to inspire her two daughters by the way she lives and positively encourages them. Sarah’s ninja career began with a desire to deepen her bond with her 6-year-old daughter, Briella. This active mother-daughter bond also extended to her 4-year-old daughter, Adeline. It is Sarah’s goal to help her girls see the beauty in being strong. If her daughters want to be strong, she will support them in any way she can so that they can reach their dreams. Thankfully, our society is starting to put more emphasis on women being strong, and less shame in it. However, women embracing their strength is still a work in progress within our society. “We need to throw out the stereotypes of what women are supposed to be and start embracing who you are.” We can teach our children that girls and women can be strong and incredible athletes, and that their strength is not a reflection of someone else’s ability. It is going to take hard work to continue to fight against the imbalance of strength with gender stereotypes, but, with incredible role models like Sarah, we can do it.
While Sarah is a model of strength to her daughters, she also expresses this value to her women in the ninja classes she coaches. “Be the best you” is a main focus of the ninja community she has created at Obstacle Academy. She wants to eliminate an air of competition between athletes so that she can create a sisterhood of intrinsically motivated competitors. “If you push yourself to be the best you then you will always push the hardest that you can. But if you are just pushing yourself to beat the person right behind you or beat the person right ahead of you, you will always stop yourself right there.” To focus on being the best you, Sarah suggests finding and focusing on your own limits so that you can work hard to surpass them. It is human nature to despise failing, however, intentionally failing is an imperative aspect of athletic growth in obstacle training.
No one is going to know how far or how hard they can truly push themselves until they reach the point of failure. That failure, such as failing on an obstacle, then shows you where your current limit is. This is not the point to be discouraged, but actually encouraged! This limit is now your next goal! For example, if you can make a 6-foot lache, push yourself to try an 8-foot lache, even if you aren’t 100% confident you’ll make it. If you don’t make it, the 8-foot lache can be an exciting new goal for you. Sarah also reminds us that no one is judging our failures, but when people see you fail, they know you are determined to find your limits. Then, when you make your next goal, everyone sees and can share in your success. “We all have our own struggles and are going through life at a completely different perspective. So even when you are looking at the course, you don’t want to look at how another person looks at an obstacle because you don’t know what battles they’re dealing with and you want to push yourself to your own limit.” Sarah’s wisdom in finding personal limitations has inspired me to intentionally fail and push myself to find my own limits so that I can work towards surpassing them to someday become limitless.
While pushing yourself to your limits, Sarah reminds us to keep the fun in our training. “Never lose the fun side. As soon as you get too serious and stop having fun with it, your mental side will take over.” This is one of the reasons that Sarah has encompassed her signature Northern Breeze dance into her obstacle training and competition preparation. Right before you compete, Sarah suggests finding something fun you like to do, such as dancing, that takes your mind off of obstacles. You should already have your visualized plan in mind, so taking a minute to relax your mental side with something fun will help settle competition nerves.
Sarah’s limitless spirit has encouraged me to push past my own boundaries to achieve any dream I have. She is living proof that strength is beautiful, and that beauty is limitless.
Written by Janelle Kopa
Living life on purpose means exploring with intentionality. Ninja Warrior athlete, Natalie Duran, found the key to personal happiness: purposefully following adventure. Her adventurous spirit flashed through countless Ninja Warrior courses: American Ninja Warrior seasons 5, 8, 9, 10 and Ninja vs Ninja season 1 and 2. With a degree in neuroscience from UCLA, this ninja studies the world inside and out. However, Natalie shares that self-discovery is really what life is all about.
Every day, every moment, we make a choice. We choose whether to follow our inner voice or to turn the volume low. Natalie explores her intuition, because it’s crucial to her identity. After striving to meet everyone’s expectations of who to be and how to live, she realized she wasn’t happy.
Expectations don’t erase emptiness; they create it.
You see, we trick ourselves into thinking everyone else knows best. But, when we chase after everything and everyone, we stop knowing ourselves. Natalie says, “I made a conscious decision to not let people’s opinions about me get to me.” Freeing herself from the expectations of others is the main reason Natalie says she overcomes failure and fully embraces happiness.
“Do something until it sparks something deep inside of you.”
Then relentlessly pursue that with your whole heart. Use that spark to light a flame that inspires others to find their fire. Finding your flame looks a lot like finding yourself. Cara says, “There’s value in really knowing yourself, knowing how you like to travel, how you like to operate, what makes you independent, and what makes you successful.” You’ve got one life so it’s 100% worth it to take the time now to intentionally seek out who you are and what matters to you.
Change the world by stepping into your purpose, not shying away from it.
Even if your inner demon wonders, Am I selfish for wanting to do my own thing? This thought has crossed my mind even when I take the time to work out each day that’s necessary to reach my ninja goals. I know by chasing determinedly after my dreams, I may not be spending as much time with friends and family as I could. However, Cara shares a unique and beautiful perspective for us to consider: “I can look at it like I’m being selfish, or I can look at it like this isn’t even supposed to be about me. If you’re giving your life to something positive and something good, there’s no shame in that.” Whatever your “thing” is, you can share that love with someone else; you can inspire them to dig deeper into their passion.
While you’re out there living life on purpose, surround yourself with positive people who make you feel alive. These people will push you to become the best version of yourself.
It’s going to be easier to seek after who you are by surrounding yourself with people who believe in finding the true you. Challenge yourself to cut out negative relationships in your life. If they aren’t building you up, they are only bringing you down. “You don’t realize the difference in living in a negative space and a positive space until you try and make a difference. There’s such a difference between people going after their life and people just living to get by.” Dedication to positivity will pay off, both in how you live and how you give to this world.
Natalie also advises us to align our agenda with adventure. She says, “Ninja puts you into a place where you’re forced to try new things and open up your mind. That’s how people change: when they put themselves out there. We don’t put ourselves in enough situations in which we are forced to change.”
Don’t let the expectation of finding a definition keep you from exploring.
Meaning, don’t cling to one permanent idea of who you are and what you like. Allow yourself to be creative in the exploration of life. Lay down any insecurity of failing and try something new. By forcing yourself outside of your comfort zone, you create a lifelong adventure.
Stop expecting, start exploring. You’ll find your spark along the way.
Listen to Jen’s episode and allow her story to soak in to your brain space and encourage your dreams. Jen is a ninja, personal trainer, and creator of the Minneninja App, but years ago should would have never imagined accomplishing all that. In her story she explains how she found her true passion in life and broke out of her own self-limiting beliefs.
Meet three of the strong and energetic rookies form American Ninja Warrior season 10! Danielle Malkin and Cara Poalillo competed in Philadelphia, and Jamie Ross competed in Minneapolis. Hear how they truly felt walking on to the ANW course for the first time. Meet these incredible ladies and get the inside scoop on their training, quirks, and ninja-dreams.
Written by Janelle Kopa
The dynamic duo, Allyssa Beird, and her mom, Daria Beird, have gratefully shared their ninja and life wisdom with us in this episode of The Ninjababes Podcast. Season 10 was Daria’s rookie year on American Ninja Warrior. When she isn’t in the gym, Daria is developing her inner and outer strength through her passion and job working on a horse farm. When Daria first saw American Ninja Warrior, she said, “Hey, where’s all the women? There should be women on this show!”, and that’s where her dream started. Her goal is to finish a ninja course and to make a statement for her age, inspiring other women that they can do it too! Allyssa, on the other hand, has followed her passions to teach and inspire 5th graders in the classroom. She has been a competitor on American Ninja Warrior for 3 seasons. She started Ninja Warrior by training with Jesse Labreck, and she is now rediscovering her love of running in her free time as well. Both Allyssa and Daria are not only thrilled to get a shot at the Season 10 course this year, but to have each other as they embrace the dichotomous uncertainty and predictability of it all.
Uncertainty and predictability are in a constant motion as we go about our daily lives. However, the Beird Babes explain that there’s a certain balance of both that is needed to channel in on our full potential as athletes and as regular people. We need uncertainty to capture our attention. Uncertainty makes you wonder what’s possible. What is the possibility of all you can contribute? What is the potential of who you can become? It motivates you to prepare; it motivates you to train harder. There’s something intriguing about not knowing the ninja course that lies before you. Yet, there’s something inspiring about believing in yourself and trusting your training to conquer each obstacle. Nevertheless, as we all know, too much uncertainty opens the door to fear. Thankfully, the Beird Babes have shared their advice on how they embrace predictability into their lifestyle to balance the uncertainty.
I know I’ve fallen into the trap of believing ninja warrior is completely unpredictable and that I have no control. Allyssa and Daria also know that feeling, but they combat that by making a game plan for every obstacle. By using mental visualization, they envision each hand and foot placement on the obstacle before they try it. Allyssa suggests timing your mental visualization to match the speed you want to run the course. Defining uncertainty of obstacles reduces fear, allowing you to put your best, confident self out there. Having a game plan also allows you to be more efficient on the course, making sure every movement you make counts towards your end goal.
The Beird Babes say that the best way to make a game plan is by knowing yourself inside and out as an athlete. By understanding your personal ability of strengths and weaknesses, knowing what strategies work best for you, and having awareness of your body in the moment, you deepen your understanding of who you are as an athlete and learn how to train and compete with a strategic mind. This also means acknowledging your weaknesses by accepting the role of a life-long learner. We can welcome the “not-yet” mindset, in which we set high goals for ourselves, with a plan to make real steps towards achieving what we once thought was impossible. Finally, instead of comparing ourselves to others, like it’s so easy to do, we can look at others and learn from their technique. With this mindset, the Beird Babes have taught us that our biggest comparisons can truly become our greatest inspirations. Though ninja is never completely predictable, these strategies can help us become more secure in our abilities, thus diminishing some of the uncertainty that comes with ninja obstacles, and allowing us to feel more confident in our abilities.
Written by Janelle Kopa