Murfreesboro Mama: How to Start the School Year Like a Ninja Warrior

Aug 10, 2021 at 10:00 am by Laura Beth Payne

How to Start the School Year Like a Ninja Warrior
Image by Anna Bobo

I don't know about other parents, but all the air-conditioned movie watching and stress-snacking I did through the heat this summer has me currently evaluating my workout options.

Finding a great gym can be tough for adults, and throw in the logistics of childcare and kids activities, it's all but impossible in already impossibly full schedules. But Fortified Fitness is a gym that offers families something unique. With carefully structured classes and attendance options of open gyms, fantastic Ninja Warrior classes, and their brand-new aerial silks program, Fortified Fitness is a great way for multiple generation to get active and grow together.

Check out my conversation with owner Wayne Burns about Fortified Fitness to see how families can start out this new school year out like a Ninja Warrior.

1. Give me a snapshot of why and how you built Fortified Fitness. What led you (and wife Steph) to create it?

Burns: About 10 years ago, I was about 40lbs overweight and felt heavy physically, mentally and spiritually. The construction company I was working for had a "Biggest Loser" competition, which I had won by simply tracking calories and exercising. From that experience, I learned about the simplicity of setting and meeting goals. We felt led by the Lord to encourage others with the same concepts that worked for us. I began looking around and noticing and a lot of people around me were struggling with weight and heaviness in their life like I was, and I felt led to team up with them and help inspire people in their lives reach their potential and live life to the full. So in my late 40s we decided to change my career - I got certified as a Personal Trainer and began training people and that is how Fortified Fitness was born. 

Fortified means to strengthen inside and out. Definition: Fortified (dictionary.com) to protect or strengthen against attack; surround or provide with defensive military works. To furnish with a means of resisting force or standing strain or wear: to make strong; impart strength or vigor to: to increase the effectiveness of to strengthen mentally or morally: to be fortified by faith.

2. Tell me how you got into creating Ninja Warrior training courses.

Burns: My family has always loved watching American Ninja Warrior and loved how inspiring it is. About five to six years ago, my three boys and I attended a Ninja Warrior Clinic in Franklin, hosted by Tennessee Ninja Warrior Travis Rosen. After that experience, and with my construction and carpentry background, we came home and built a Ninja Warrior course in our backyard complete with a warped wall. People started asking to come play on our backyard course, so we became aware of an interest for Ninja Warrior as a sport in Murfreesboro. We then added Ninja Warrior camps to our fitness classes, and it grew from there. And we realized that we could offer fitness for parents and kids. 

Also, I have served as a course tester for several seasons of American Ninja Warrior. We have had about seven kids from our gym compete on American Ninja Warrior Junior and more recently three teens competed on the current season of American Ninja Warrior.

3. What’s unique about your facility’s course compared to others in the area, state, nation?

Burns: I have over 35 years of experience in construction and carpentry - everything from framing, finish carpentry, restoration and custom cabinetry. I love to design and build things, so we as a family designed, built and painted all the parts of our course from scratch using upright rigs as a framework. Our rig is unique in that all the bars and hanging obstacles are adjustable and interchangeable to create different layouts. We also provide 12 inch-thick crash mats to keep people safe, which is really important to us as a family facility.

4. What’s so great about Ninja Warrior training for kids? 

Burns: With Ninja Warrior and with silks, it's easy to see progression as they practice and master the obstacles. We see kids come in all the time who feel inadequate or intimidated and with a little encouragement and instruction they are able to conquer that obstacle - which is a huge encouragement to them. The sport itself teaches kids to try, try and try again to overcome obstacles after each failure. Also, it’s a very encouraging sport - everyone cheers everyone else on to do their best. Kids who seem to not fit into traditional sports seem to thrive at ninja warrior. Ninja Warrior is a great complimentary sport for kids who are looking to create overall strength in season and off season.  

Ninja Warrior creates overall strength to be able to hang, swing, climb, balance and beat the warped wall! The sport teaches patience, endurance, strength, agility, balance, teamwork. We teach these concepts in our Ninja Warrior Camps (and classes and events) to help encourage them with life concepts and skills that parallel ninja warrior skills. 

5. Tell me about the Aerial Silks program. 

Burns: We began the aerial program last year when the Lord brought us Callan Austin who moved to town from Jackson as an MTSU Student. Callan has a passion for Aerial Silks, and we felt that sport fit in perfect with Ninja Warrior and providing unique fitness opportunities for the whole family. We are not sure if it’s the only program in Rutherford County, but we don’t know of any other programs currently available.

6. What other offerings do you have for youth?

Burns: We offer one-on-one personal training for adults and kids - this could be anything from fitness training to sports training. We also offer family fitness, so teenagers are able to attend fitness classes with parents.

7. You also offer a lot of options for adults. What would you say are the top reasons adults come to your facility as opposed to other workout locales? 

Burns: We are unique in what we offer. We are a Christ-centered, family friendly facility, and we work hard to create a positive atmosphere that would encourage all ages in their life journey. We have the large Ninja Warrior gym, but we also offer a private fitness studio that feels like home rather than a big box gym. Rather than focusing on physique and muscles we focus more on strength and functional fitness that empowers people in their everyday lives. What we offer is truly unique to Murfreesboro as a fitness option for the whole family.

8. Tell me how else you work with the community. You have kid parties and small group opportunities. What are some creative ways that organizations have tapped you to help them?

Burns: We offer team building special events for sports teams, corporate groups, family events, FCA events, homeschool groups, school class events etc. In these events we encourage the group with life concepts similar to our camps. Talking about overcoming obstacles and talking about life concepts like balance, endurance, strength, agility, teamwork. We also offer private parties for birthdays and other events where people have exclusive access to the gym for their event with our staff available to lead the event.

9. Are there any special events coming up this fall that families love? 

Burns: We are planning to host a Ninja Warrior competition in November. We host Ninja Warrior camps every school break - fall break, winter break, spring break and summer break. We also host monthly Parent’s Night Out - Kid’s Ninja Warrior Night Out - those will start back up in the fall.

Ready to go? Fortified Fitness is located at 203 Southpointe Ct. Murfreesboro. See the schedule and learn about programs, events and offerings at iamfortified.com.


Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama and Murfreesboro native who lives in the Blackman community with her husband and two children. Follow her at @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram. Got a column idea? Email her at laurabethpayne@gmail.com.

Sections: Nice Things Business


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