Creating Future Ninjas

Creating Future Ninjas

Jenelle Gilliard

Some may know him as “The Chef” from seasons 6-9 of American Ninja Warrior, but he is also known as the Master Trainer and Curriculum Specialist at The Warrior Factory in Rochester, NY. Danny Adair is a former chef-turned-personal trainer and creator of the ninja warrior training curriculum at The Warrior Factory. He has implemented a Ninja Band System, similar to belts in Karate, which allows students to set specific goals and work towards achieving them. More information about Danny and the curriculum he has built can be found in the interview below!


Q: Why TWF? What peaked your interest in this brand?

Danny: I joined The Warrior Factory team long before it was a brand but rather a glimpse in the eyes of the two that created it! What peaked my interest the most was the sense of passion that the founders, Carl and Bernard and I shared for a blossoming sport that is becoming well known as “Ninja.” The ability to stay active, safe and have fun at the same time, all in hopes of introducing a lifestyle to people outside of a phone, computer and tv screen is what makes The Warrior Factory special.


Q: Can you walk us through the process of preparing a training curriculum?

Danny: It has included a lot of trial and error. I have taken the knowledge that I’ve gained over the years of personal training and experience competing on American Ninja Warrior and the National Ninja League and brought it all together in a fun, safe an educational way. I test it out, reformat inefficiencies and then do it all over again. The curriculum that I have created is a perfect mix of fun for the casual ninja and serious training for the elite ninja!

Q: How did you learn the techniques that you incorporate into the curriculum?

Danny: Through years of training, real world experiences, and again, trial and error. When I first participated and started training for American Ninja Warrior, there was no perfect way to prepare for the show. Some competitors were gymnasts, rock climbers, tracers (parkour), firefighters, cross fitters, you name it! I took notes from all of them; every facet of fitness. They each entail a different element of mastery on the body and mind which is my vision of a perfect ninja; mastery of oneself, no matter the problem, sport, or obstacle. This also includes full understanding of one’s capabilities and in turn, possibilities.


Q: How do you measure the success of this curriculum?

Danny: I truly believe that if a program is fun and interactive, it will be successful. Retention and continuous growth are definitely physical proof of success. However, seeing the joy on every student’s face, day in and day out, is the visual proof that I look for the most.


Q: What is your favorite part about your job?

Danny: Spreading and everlasting knowledge that will help generations grow for years to come. Teaching the next generation not only how to be successful on obstacles, but in life as well. That definitely has to be one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever felt!   


Q: What if the difference between The Warrior Factory’s curriculum and other ninja gyms?

Danny: As a former chef, like any recipe, there are going to be some similarities. What sets us apart is the love and the care that we put into each session, each week, each class and each student. Trickling all the way from the changing obstacles for each class, to the catered teaching provided to each student. The high standard that we hold exemplifies not only what our coaches teach, but what The Warrior Factory brand itself means!


Q: Is there a specific moment that you can think of when you realized that all your hard work and coaching was paying off?

Danny: There is no single perfect answer here, so I will give a few. The first indicator was franchising. We had a great reaction as soon as we opened, allowing us to focus on that next step. The second was realizing we had almost 200 students on roster after only a year of business. It really hit home that the kids love the playground format, and the parents love the mix of education and activity. The third, and probably the biggest indicator was at the 2019 National Ninja League World Finals, where we had 50+ competitors attend. It was a swift reminder of how much room for growth this sport still has.

Danny at the 2019 NNL World Finals

Q: Have you seen an increase in kids and kids competing in ninja competitions?

Danny: The growth of the brand, the program, and kids all go hand-in-hand. As our facility grows, our coaches grow, and vicariously, the level of physical education we are teaching our students grows. As students become stronger in class, confidence and instincts are built, leading to the next level which is competing. Combine our Band System with our travel league (also known as The Warrior Factory Competition Squad) and our own local NNL competitions, and our students are able to progress their way to the elite level one step at a time!


Q: How is the retention rate? Do you see re-enrollment?

Danny: Our retention rate has been phenomenal. We have students that have been with us since the first day our doors opened! With the design of the curriculum and integration of our Ninja Band System, students have the opportunity to progress as fast or as slow as needed, therefore promoting years of progression and attendance. Fortunately, for those who may already be committed to other sports, “Ninja” is great cross-training, allowing seasonal training for almost any sport.


Q: What is the future for ninja training?

Danny: With the help of the Ninja community and gyms like The Warrior Factory, the future of ninja training will continue to grow to an Olympic level. This will allow participants from obstacle course TV shows such as American Ninja Warrior, to focus more on training and excelling in areas that directly correlate to athletics as opposed to a platform where interest stories tend to receive more traction. I believe that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything; even compete in the OLYMPICS!

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