Ninjas on the Move was started in 2015 when Drew Struckmeyer was a senior at Lowell High School. It has been gaining popularity while being a positive influence accessible and affordable to kids. At 19 Struckmeyer is a business owner, college student and role model with his eyes set on accomplishing more.
Struckmeyer didn’t necessarily set out to be a business owner before the age of 20. In 2013 he began training for American Ninja Warrior after watching the show after a recommendation from his grandmother. He says, “I always loved rock climbing and climbing trees so this was right up my alley!” The minimum age to compete on the show is 21, therefore he will have had six years of training prior to auditioning for a contestant spot. In the meantime, his dedication to train for an event two years down the road has turned into sharing his skills with others.
Lowell has still had representation in other ninja warrior events. Struckmeyer has placed 3rd at Rockford Ninja Warrior and qualified for the national finals in New Mexico for the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association competing alongside some all-stars such as Joe Moravsky, Jessie Graff, and Jake Murray. He has also traveled to Indianapolis and Cleveland to run parts of the course and help test camera angles, lighting, and how hard obstacles were for American Ninja Warrior Seasons 8 & 9.
As part of his personal training Struckmeyer built a backyard course. “I realized that our course was top-notch and that there was a demand in Lowell for ninja warrior activities so I decided to run our first camp.” he says. In Fall of 2015 the inaugural backyard camp took place with 13 participants. Since then Ninjas on the Move has set up a ninja gym which opened the end of April on Plainfield in the Vanguard Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Studio where the first camp will be held on July 15, 22, and 29 from 10-10:45am for just $30. Register for this camp on the Ninjas on the Move website.
A new training center inside Grand Rapids Gymnastics will have its grand opening on August 8 during Gymboree. Ninjas on the Move: East Michigan is also on the horizon. Struckmeyer and his team are working on taking what is being done in the Grand Rapids area to the other side of the state. What started with under $5,000 less than two years ago continues to grow. One item Struckmeyer seeks is a semi-truck for transporting his mobile course to various events. His current method is neither efficient or quick. Loading and transporting a large course is no easy feat.
Ninjas on the Move isn’t the only thing which fills time for Struckmeyer. He recently earned an associate degree from GRCC. He will head to GVSU this fall studying education. “I decided to go into education because I believe that there few better ways to positively affect kids’ lives. Seeing the same friendly, encouraging, and open face day in and day out, really helps kids push through.” he states.
Providing a Positive Influence
This summer Ninjas on the Move will touch the lives of over 3,500 kids through camps and appearances at events. Struckmeyer has learned a lot while bringing ninja warrior activities to the area. “Running my own organization has helped me grow as a person with all the responsibilities it entails. I have to coordinate events, communicate with event hosts, students, and parents, keep tabs on our insurance, cover marketing and branding, keep track of our budget, make sure there are employees to work each event, make an effort to connect with each and every kid, and stay in shape to make sure I can do all of the ninja obstacles. It keeps me on my toes and that’s the way I like it.” he says listing the long list of responsibilities he oversees. All of these tasks lead to one objective – the kids.
The Ninjas on the Move team strives to show, by example, there are positive role models for kids. Training to be a competitor himself kids look at Struckmeyer as a “superhero” according to one parent. “Our top priorities as a staff are to be kind to all who come through the course, to be helpful to those who need it, encouraging to every single person, and to remain in great physical condition to help promote healthy habits.” As a younger adult himself kids look up to Drew seeing that dreams are possible with hard work. “It’s incredibly humbling to be held in such high regard. In that position, we are held to a higher standard because we have greater influence.”
Of the more than 10 employees all but two of them are between the ages of 13 and 20 providing experience in leadership and coaching. Among the accomplishments of Ninjas on the Move is providing a positive impact on lives. And it’s not only kids. Parents send emails and seek out conversations in order to convey thankfulness for the influence on a younger generation.
Find Your Inner Ninja
Open gym times can be set up by contacting Ninjas on the Move via their Facebook page or website. They’re flexible and affordable. Currently there are not any adult camps but grownups are welcome at non-registration events to take a shot at the course. The Kent County Youth Fair and Pink Arrow game are the next such opportunities for anyone wanting to see and try out what it’s like to be a ninja warrior. In addition to camp at the Plainfield location Ninjas on the Move is also participating in Kids Games next week.
Are you looking to build a ninja course in your own backyard? Ninjas on the Move can help with that as well. Bill Briggs is the obstacle engineer and builder. He along with Struckmeyer will combine their knowledge and provide a plan while considering ideas, space, and budget.
There are now indoor and outdoor ninja courses where kids can partake in physical and mental activity thanks to Ninjas on the Move. This is surely just the beginning for Drew Struckmeyer as he continues his own training and Ninjas on the Move continues to grow. Be sure to check out the website for general information and a list of upcoming events. Additionally, the Ninjas on the Move Facebook page is a good place to keep up to date on current happenings.