Haley Shapley knows what we are about. She wrote a book called, “Strong Like Her”. Her book is described as, “An adult version of the hugely successful book Strong Is the New Pretty, this is an inspiring tribute to female athletes—those who have paved the way throughout history and those who continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be strong.” Maggi Thorne is featured in this book and other women like, Barclay Stockett, are interviewed as well. The amazing photographs in the book are taken by Sophy Holland.
Greetings from social distancing! Hang in there Ninjababe! Allison Greff shares her experience placing 4th in the Adult Pro division this season at the National Ninja League World Champs. She has a strong determination and shares her success and advice. We discuss how to schedule your time during quarantine in order to feel more in control and enjoy your time at home.
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Athletes driven by self motivation are absolutely incredible to watch on the ninja course. Zhanique Lovett is one of these awe-inspiring athletes, because she competes with her whole heart. American Ninja Warrior Season 9 was her breakthrough rookie season. In this season, she proved to herself that a dream she thought was impossible, could actually become reality by training her hardest and having faith in her abilities. Since there were no ninja gyms by her at the time and she wanted to be on American Ninja Warrior, she focused on lifting, running, and living out a healthy lifestyle. Finally, when a ninja gym opened up, she was ready to take the first step towards her dreams.
In the podcast, Zhanique talks about being humbled the first time she tried out ninja obstacles. Truth be told, ninja athletes often make obstacles look easy. However, this simply is a representation of an athlete’s continuous dedication and hard work to get stronger. “Ninja is specific, and unique. It doesn’t come easy and natural.”
This is one of the best aspects of ninja warrior: what you put in is what you get out.
Zhanique’s athletic journey is inspiring because it is a story of self-motivation. With her dream of ninja warrior determined, she increased her ninja-focused training in the gym. However, when it came time to apply for season 9 of ANW, Zhanique admits being hesitant. Her gym owner encouraged her to apply, yet, the fear of rejection was ever-present. She was nervous that the American Ninja Warrior producers would say they didn’t want her on the show.
With the due date of the Season 11 applications rolling around the corner, I believe this universal fear of rejection is something we should talk about. Even if you are a confident person, there is often still that little negative voice inside of you saying not to try or that you don’t have what it takes.
We are internally asking ourselves: What if i put my whole self out there, and I’m rejected? What if this rejection is a definition of who I am?
The reality is that fear of rejection is innate in our human nature, but we can’t let it stop us. Becoming self-motivated requires that you learn how to turn off your negative voice and amp up the positive one; it means pushing harder and giving it your all even if you don’t know the outcome. Do your best, forget the rest, and focus on who you want to become. Zhanique says, “Allow yourself to have fun and be the best you can be. When you do that, there’s no restriction to yourself.” Give yourself permission to give it your all without punishing yourself for an unknown outcome.
“Be that person 30 years from now, laughing with your friends how you almost didn’t go, you almost said no. You almost let your worry and doubt get the best of you. Then you took a step back, and you remembered what matters, (“Almost” by Your World Within). These are a few inspirational lines from my favorite 3-minute motivational speech (that can be found on Spotify and YouTube) that I feel speak so true to our fear of rejection and unknown outcomes. I encourage you to take a step towards your dreams today in the most courageous way possible. Zhanique almost didn’t apply to season 9. She almost said ‘no’, but she remembered her dreams were what mattered. Without this step of faith in the direction of her dreams, Zhanique never would have started her American Ninja Warrior journey. She never would have ended up as another exquisite returnee competitor on season 10 of ANW either. With this in mind, Ninjababes, keep trying and keep putting yourself out there, because it will pay off. You will find your way. Your decision to say ‘yes’ to your big dreams in small moments, can truly change the course of your life.
To continue on a journey of self-motivation, Zhanique advises us to “find what you really love to do and just throw yourself into that. Pour everything into what you love to do and strive to be your best.” Set small goals for areas of change, and overtime these small goals turn into large changes. “Each goal that you meet will boost your confidence and your self-esteem. Then build off those goals.” Be patient, be passionate, be persistent.
Zhanique also discusses how self-motivation can’t be fueled without self-care. After battling anorexia and insecurities, Zhanique decided to see a counselor. Counseling helped transform her life in tremendous ways and it is one type of self-care that she recommends to others. Taking care of our inner athlete, our mental, and emotional health is one of the most important things that we can invest in. Take care of your mind like you would take care of your body.
With all this being said, let Zhanique’s story of self-motivation inspire you to start your own story. Use your inner passion to fuel your personal fire. And remember, “almost” doesn’t have to be your outcome. You can do this.
Blog Written By Janelle Kopa
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.