clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Behind the scenes where the American Ninja Warrior obstacles are born

New, 1 comment

The ATS Team production shop brings the courses to life.

The ATS Team’s production shop is pretty much the Willy Wonka’s factory of American Ninja Warrior obstacles. After an obstacle has made it through brainstorming and drafting, the prototypes and final products are made right downstairs in their Pacoima, CA warehouse.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at what they’ve got going on down there.

A full metal shop

Brian Fowler heads up the The ATS Team metal shop. His domain is loud and full of sharp objects. He’s responsible for building the skeletons and foundations of the obstacles.

A full wood working shop

After the metal shop, the obstacles head over to Erik Petko, who leads the wood working fabrication. His domain is also very loud and full of sharp tools. When you see the course on TV, you wouldn’t expect wood to be a key ingredient of the obstacles, but it is.

A Log Grip-esque obstacle making its way from metal, to wood, to coating and getting prepped for painting

The paint studio

After metal and wood, obstacles are coated in a polyurethane that’s similar to what’s used in truck bed liners. Then the red and silver paint we’re so used to is applied, giving the course that glossy, finished feeling.

The ATS Team is constantly working to refine their production process. It used to take a couple of days to build a Warped Wall. Now, they’ve got it down to six and half hours.

The inner workings of many shows

It’s easy to spot the American Ninja Warrior obstacles around the warehouse, but you’ll also notice some crazy looking things you’ve never seen before. The ATS Team works on multiple shows simultaneously. The team is constantly pushing themselves to be creative and avoid too many repeats.

A Warped Wall graveyard

The noble Warped Walls, the iconic obstacle of American Ninja Warrior, meet their final resting place behind the ATS warehouse. Some of the walls will make their way into new projects, but some will just enjoy the California sun for awhile.

So much safety equipment

Safety is absolutely key to the success of ATS. They need to keep the Ninjas safe and they need to keep themselves safe. There are walls of mats. There are layers of tiny pieces of cushioning to cover every bit of exposed metal a Ninja might hit.

For The ATS Team members there’s a cave of harnesses, helmets and rigging equipment, meticulously organized, so grabbing the tool need to do a job well is never a hassle.

Just one wall of mats
Tiny bits of padding to wrap around everything
Carefully organized rigging equipment

Hints at obstacles to come

If only we could tell you the things we saw! All The ATS Team members can have a hand in designing obstacles. There’s rough sketches and blueprints everywhere. It’s an obstacle buff’s candy land.

Signs of The ATS Team family

ATS is an extremely tight knit organization. They take trips together routinely. They share catered meals on a daily basis. Their style of collaboration and camaraderie creates an atmosphere of kinship.

The production floor is full of evidence to this effect. Little personal items, inside jokes, and even pictures of the newest ATS members adorn the walls.

More on how American Ninja Warrior is made