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Kyle Soderman brings his Ninja Warrior passion to LA while waiting for his shot

He’s a well-known competitor, although he still hasn’t stepped on the American Ninja Warrior course.

When we prepared to chat with Kyle Soderman, we found ourselves thinking, “Kyle Soderman... He’s great on the course. What were his results last season? Wait a second...”

Because for all the name recognition Kyle has accrued, he’s never stepped on the American Ninja Warrior course. However, that doesn’t mean he’s not acknowledged as a talent amongst the American Ninja Warrior community and accomplished in his own right. It also isn’t stopping him from growing the sport through his new role with Ninja Nation.

Kyle took part in Ninja vs Ninja, alongside Hunter Guerard and Sarah Schoback on their team, Lizard Kings. There, he raced head to head against Ninjas such as Adam Rayl, Ethan Swanson, Daniel Gil, and Kevin Bull. He only lost to Daniel Gil on the extended course.

He’s currently in third place in the National Ninja League. He also recently appeared on the show “1st Look” where he trained Johnny Bananas for a Ninja competition against Hunter. Kyle’s accolades also include placing third overall on the Netflix obstacle competition show, “Ultimate Beastmaster.”

But the ultimate goal for Kyle is the big stage of American Ninja Warrior.

“I feel as though I’ve more so put my name out into the Ninja Warrior community not because I was just a competitor on the show and super popular there, but because I was actually going to competitions and doing really well. That’s something I’m really proud of, that I put out my name. Usually people get their name from the show and obviously doing really well and being skilled, but having that show backing behind them. But now I’m feeling the same way, I want to get on the show and put my name out there that way.”

Kyle has a strong association with the Minnesota Ninja Warrior community. There’s, of course, his close friendships with Sarah and Hunter, who are based in Minnesota. It’s also where Kyle first got bit by the Ninja bug and stepped into this new world.

“I come from a big action sports background. I’ve done competitive BMX, competitive paint ball, competitive snowboarding. I grew up doing things that could potentially get you hurt. Almost four years ago, I found a Ninja Warrior gym out in Minnesota when I was living there. I absolutely fell in love with it once I started doing it. It was something that I could do with all the other action sports that I was doing, and it was a whole lot safer, so my mom definitely liked that.

About a year and a half after I started training, I helped open a Ninja Warrior gym in Edina, Minnesota. That’s Obstacle Academy. I worked there for about a year before I went back to the family business.”

Which is why, when Kyle reached out to chat about a new Ninja project in Los Angeles, we were a bit confused. But it turns out, he’s been in California for about a year, chasing a lifelong dream of his.

“For the past year, I’ve been doing various stunt work and athletic commercials. I’ve actually been working at Universal Studios too. If you can imagine the childhood dream of growing up to be a dinosaur, that’s what I actually did. I’m in the velociraptor costume at Universal.”

Even that wasn’t going to stymie his devotion to Ninja Warrior. Kyle traveled to take part in the Colorado Ninja Challenge. The challenge, put on by Ninja Nation, had competitors from across the country flying in to try to best each other’s times on a speed course. Kyle ended up taking second in that competition with a time of 17.02 seconds, just behind Adam Rayl’s winning time of 16.48 seconds.

It was there that Geoff Britten and Brian Arnold tapped Kyle into their business, Ninja Nation. The company has been opening gyms in Colorado and Texas, and has a mobile course division headed up by Brian.

Now, Kyle is tasked with bringing a Ninja Warrior-style mobile course to the Los Angeles region.

“It’s a little bit difficult because there’s not a lot of gyms out here. Really, the only one is MLab, which is out in San Dimas. It’s hard for everyone to get together. There’s a ton of Ninjas out here, but we’re all so spread out just because that’s how LA is. My main training at this point is climbing, and I try to get out to MLab as much as I can.

It’s pretty sporadic which is another reason why I’m really excited to be with Ninja Nation, helping them expand out to the west coast. It would be really nice to have a gym that’s a little more central for all the Ninja Warrior athletes.”

But before that permanent gym becomes a reality, Kyle is busy with the mobile course. The structure is a rentable set up of truss, catering to all kinds of events. Smaller versions can include three “truss bays” which include a few obstacles each, a Warped Wall (complete with buzzer and fog, naturally), and two racing lanes to give that Ninja vs Ninja vibe. Larger set ups can include up to six truss bays and four racing lanes. The flexibility makes the course adaptable to various age groups and events, from elementary schools to corporate gatherings.

An example of a six bay set up.
Ninja Nation

“With Ninja Warrior, as everyone says, you can be three or you can be 93 and still compete on it. The average person who jumps on the course isn’t going to be able to do a legitimate Ninja Warrior course. However, it is completely professional. It looks like the show. All the truss work and all the obstacles are professionally built. Geoff Britten is the creative director for the company, so he’s the one that comes up with the various obstacles and what we use for the mobile courses. It’s all very professional looking and it’s all as professional as the TV show, just not as difficult.”

This is more than just a business venture for Kyle. It’s an extension into the community he so loves, even if he hasn’t received a call back for the show. It’s a new avenue into the training and coaching that has already been a part of his life for years.

“What I especially love about it is fact that with American Ninja Warrior, you don’t have to be a professional athlete in order to do it. It’s a ton of technique involved. Obviously it helps to be strong, but once you get the technique down, then you can do a lot better. I always say it’s 80% technique and 20% strength for Ninja Warrior. That gives us the opportunity to bring people in, show them the course, give them a nerf-ed down version of an American Ninja Warrior course and get them interested in the sport.

What I’m excited about is bringing this sport to so many new people. What we can do with our staff being there is we can coach them, teach them how to do something. If they’re failing at first, then we can have our staff help them out. If they complete that obstacle, they feel accomplished. They love the sport even more and hopefully become even more passionate about it, just like all of us are.”

The application period for season 11 of American Ninja Warrior closed back on January 2nd. And yes, Kyle made sure his submission was in on time. Now he’ll wait with thousands of other Ninjas to see if he’s selected to compete this year. Regardless of what happens with that, Kyle will still be living and breathing Ninja Warrior every day.

Kyle is currently setting up bookings for the Los Angeles mobile course beginning in late February. You can find more information about the course here.