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Each Ninja Warrior has been part of a Ninja Nation Day at various Project Fit schools

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Fit For You: American Ninja Warrior Abel Gonzalez
[Link to article]
By Audrey Nowakowski • Nov 14, 2017

Many people watch the competitors on the hit show American Ninja Warrior with amazement. From climbing up ropes to ascending the warped wall, the athletes demonstrate the pinnacle of human movement.

Professional Ninja Warrior Abel Gonzalez has worked extremely hard to accomplish what many of us take for granted. At the age of 10, he moved from Chicago to Edinburg, Texas to live with his grandmother and brother after his parents separated. In Chicago, Gonzalez and his siblings were at times homeless, neglected and malnourished. By age 20, he had custody of his two youngest brothers and aspired to be a professional football player. However, in addition to growing family duties, Gonzalez was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when he was just 23 and was told he would most likely be disabled by the condition by 30. "I just knew that if (the doctors) couldn't help me, than I was going to do it myself," says Gonzalez. "I wasn't going to accept that because this was my life - I wasn't going to let an illness take it away from me." [Credit: Abel Gonzalez / facebook.com]

Abel and brother
Abel Gonzalez (right) with his younger brother Matthew on their father's lot in the Maxwell Street Market in Chicago, IL.[Credit Abel Gonzalez / facebook.com]

He found himself transfixed with the Ninja Warrior sport after seeing a YouTube video of the original Japanese show. Gonzalez dove head first into the sport. "If they're doing it, then I can do it, so let me find out what they're doing to make that happen. So then I started training and I made the commitment to tryout for the show in a year."He changed his workout regimen to include more primal movement practices as well as his mindset and nutrition.

In 2014, Gonzalez was a rookie walk-on and waited in line for 5 days to get a chance in the Dallas, Texas qualifiers. He advanced and was the only rookie walk-on to beat Stage One in the Las Vegas, Nevada round. Today, he trains year-round in preparation for each new qualifying season of American Ninja Warrior. "It's the challenge," notes Gonzalez. "When it came down to it's like I can be the best athlete possible, and I know a lot of the athletes on the show are stronger than me, they're more experienced. But I knew that one advantage I would have is my composure."

In the off-season, Gonzalez travels to share his story and help combat the obesity-related diseases that plague the Rio Grande Valley and many other parts of the country. He also is South Texas Fitness Ambassador for Project Fit America and owns the XIOS Warrior Academy in Texas, where he offers classes for kids. Gonzalez says his passion is helping children stay active. "My movement is to go back to the way I was when I was a kid because that's when it was fun, that's when it was healthy and I was happier. It really helped with my relationships, with my outlook on life to be having fun with movement."

Grants fund fitness equipment at Peña, Ortiz elementary schools

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 10:45 pm
By GARY LONG Staff Writer
Credit link

Peña Elementary School has been given $25,000 in state-of-the-art outdoor fitness equipment thanks to a grant from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation. The school was one of two Brownsville Independent School District campuses to be named role model schools by Project Fit America, a national public charity dedicated to improving kids health. The other was Ortiz Elementary. The two BISD schools were among eight in the Rio Grande Valley to receive the $25,000 Project Fit America grants through the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation.

On Friday, Peña Elementary celebrated by inviting American Ninja Warrior Abel Gonzalez to the school to help break in the new equipment at an opening day kick off and fitness celebration. The equipment consists of outdoor fitness stations including step-up platforms, parallel bars, vault bars, monkey bars and poles meant to be climbed.

Gonzalez Credit: Miguel-Robert
American Ninja Warrior Abel Gonzalez exercises Friday on the new fitness equipment given to Pena Elementary School through Project Fit America and the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation. Photo Credit: Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald

As the students performed exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, climbs and lifts, Gonzalez demonstrated the range of fitness routines that can be performed on the equipment by someone who is really in shape.

Gonzalez is a two time national finalist in the American Ninja Warrior challenge on television. He was diagnosed at 23 with rheumatoid arthritis but through determination, diet and exercise has defeated the disease, according to his website.

At a similar celebration earlier in the week at Ortiz Elementary he said proper diet and nutrition, as well as exercise, are critical for a person trying to improve their physical condition.
“You can get incredible results within two years, but I would add that if you’re overweight your first priority has to be to lose that extra weight,” Gonzalez said. “Then exercise becomes fun.”
As the students cheered, Gonzalez demonstrated the principle by performing seemingly impossible flips, lifts and curls with ease.

Later, invited guests including state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville and BISD Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas proved their mettle by keeping hula hoops in motion around their waists for as long as they could. “Our campus and community share the same vision to foster energetic, active, health conscious students that have an equally balanced approach to academic and physical fitness,” said Yolanda Turbeville, Peña Elementary principal. “This grant has been so important as our students were in dire need to participate in a well-planned, highly effective physical education program that educates all the stakeholders.”

Since 1980 childhood obesity has tripled according to the U.S. Surgeon Generals’ Report. In answer to this alarming epidemic, PFA provides an action-based solution that works. PFA creates and donates fully funded fitness programs to schools that bring new opportunities for children to be active, fit and healthy.

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Cothran and Cedars Fitness Ambassadors

Guilford County school receives playground equipment from Project Fit America
Posted 8:17 am, September 18, 2017, by Cindy Farmer

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- When your school is so special that it is chosen to be the one-thousandth project for a national playground company, you deserve all the fanfare possible! And that's Simkins Elementary School in Guilford County.

The physical education classes at the school have used Project Fit America curriculum since the school opened, but because it was a new school they never qualified for the playground equipment. But then, PE teacher Gena Pagano got the call she had been waiting for. "Your school has been selected as the 1,000th Project Fit America School and they could have chosen any school in the whole United States and they chose us," Pagano said. "Because they knew that we really wanted it and we've been trying to get it. It was just a miracle."

To celebrate the new equipment and teach the students what all they can do, PFA sent two of the fittest men on earth -- American Ninja Warriors competitors Bootie Cothran and Dorian Cedars. "I hope that they are thinking maybe one day I can do this or be like that. I mean that would make it all worthwhile, Cothran said. "It's fun to get out there and do it but to spread that message to other kids and have them learn how to play and not forget how to play that's big."

The Ninja Warriors have a message for the kids too...
"If you try something once and you fail or it may not go the way you want it to go, you know, try it a different direction, Cedars said. "You know, but keep going keep trying harder and keep going at it no matter what it is you want to accomplish."

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Ginja Ninja at Yuma Elem

Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go: American Ninja Warrior visits Yuma Elementary
Nick Shepherd • Apr 20, 2017 at 7:30 PM
nshepherd@timesnews.net

YUMA — Students from Yuma Elementary lined both sides of the entrance to the school while eagerly holding posters and watching every passing car. They let out a scream, which turned into a dull roar, when they finally saw him. The Ginja Ninja was in town and every single student was excited to give him a high-five as he made his way into the school.
 
Chris Boehm, who made it to the finals on season 8 of the television show “American Ninja Warrior,” was at the school to help teach students about fitness. His appearance was part of Project Fit America, a nonprofit fitness group started in the 1990s. “They get donorship — for instance, in Kingsport it is the Wellmont Foundation — to go out to a school and provide that school with outdoor equipment,” said Brenda Byrd, a physical education teacher at Yuma and a regional trainer for Project Fit America. They also provide indoor curriculum and training. Project Fit America tests the equipment and works to address obesity with certain curricula including nutrition.

Yuma is a pilot school for some new curricula called the ninja challenges. Boehm, who lives in Nashville, heard about Project Fit America and wanted to get involved. Byrd said with the new challenges and Boehm being a ninja warrior, it was a perfect fit.“ I, as a competitor on the show, wanted to come out as an ambassador and talk to the kids about fitness, nutrition, show them a few cool things, take them through their equipment and just have some fun,” he said. “As ninjas, one of the big things we want to do ... is spread fitness. And you have to start with the kids.” Boehm spoke with the students about his experience on the show as the entire school gathered in the gym to listen.

The Wellmont Foundation was able to partner with Project Fit America through Children’s Miracle Network donations. The foundation bought Yuma new playground equipment back in 2009. It was an easy decision for Wellmont to bring Boehm to Yuma. “Wellmont is very passionate about bringing wellness to the community, and partnering with Project Fit America is one way we can do that,” said Anita Campbell, assistant director of development. “It helps them learn things. It’s fun for them. This is something they can take home with them and use in their everyday lives.”

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Ninja Nation School Celebrations Photo Gallery

Each Ninja Warrior has been part of a Ninja Nation Day at various Project Fit schools

Click any photo below to enlarge OR begin slideshow.

1 Students master the “flag”
Hills Chapel School in Booneville in MS
2 American Ninja Warrior Abel Gonzalez at Project Fit America kickoff celebration U.S. Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz Elementary School in Brownsville, TX
3 American Ninja Warriors Bootie Cothran and Dorian Cedars teamed up with students Simkins Elementary School in Greensboro, NC
4 Ninja Nation day with American Ninja Warrior Bootie Cothran Simpsonville Elementary School in Greenville, SC
5 American Ninja Warrior Abel Gonzalez at Project Fit America kickoff celebration Thomas Jefferson Elementary in Harlingen, TX
6
American Ninja Warrior, Chris Boehm aka “Ginga Ninja” with students

Yuma Elementary School at Gate City, VA
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