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5 things you should know about the team who builds the American Ninja Warrior courses

The ATS Team is responsible for those beastly courses.

In the most simple terms possible, The ATS Team designs, builds and manages the American Ninja Warrior courses.

There’s a LOT that goes into this.

Their job involves working with the producers at A. Smith and Co, working with NBC, brainstorming and designing obstacles, building them, testing them, tweaking them, getting all the Ninjas through safely, and then ripping the whole course down.

Over and over, all across the country. There’s a lot you should know about the ATS Team. Here’s some headlines to get you started.

They didn’t start out aiming to work in Hollywood.

ATS began in 1999 as Alpine Training Services. They taught outdoor classes, like canyoneering, through Sports Chalet. It wasn’t until a friend of a friend needed help constructing some set for “The Biggest Loser” that they realized their skills perfectly clicked into the niche of reality competition shows.

You’re familiar with their work.

The ATS Team has worked on American Ninja Warrior, The Biggest Loser, Amazing Race, Ninja Warrior shows in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Strong, Big Brother, Spartan and American Grit. They’re also working on Netflix’s first unscripted show.

Basically, you can’t talk about reality competition shows without talking about The ATS Team.

They came on to American Ninja Warrior in Season Four.

Since then, most of The ATS Team members who originally worked on the show are still around. This means they’re always learning from the season before and honing their tactics. The result is the visible evolution of the courses over the seasons.

They’re really really fit.

Most of the men and women of The ATS Team need to be able to not just design an obstacle, but also test it out. This means they have to be able to complete the obstacle themselves. If you’ve ever been to a live taping of American Ninja Warrior, the crazy people running the course in all black clothes before the Ninjas come out are the ATS team members making sure everything is perfect one last time.

No, they are not trying to make an impossible course.

Every obstacle can be accomplished and is designed to be accomplished. A. Smith and Co work closely with The ATS Team, studying each obstacle. They make the course challenging, but not impossible. ATS uses both professional obstacle testers and “general” testers to make sure as they’ve observed as many different people on the obstacle as they can.

More on how American Ninja Warrior is made