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ANW veterans’ three year journey culminates in opening the gym of their dreams, during a pandemic

MOTIVE, in South Carolina, is overcoming the obstacles put into play by COVID-19.

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MOTIVE School of Movement

Grace and Brett Sims are names we’ve grown to expect on the American Ninja Warrior course. Married in 2016 in Costa Rica, they have embraced the adventurous, Ninja lifestyle. From Ninja victories (like becoming the first married couple to ever qualify for City Finals together in season 11), to traveling adventures, to making their dreams come true, they’ve jam-packed a whole lot of fun and achievements into the last few years.

Grace and Brett teamed up with fellow Ninja Warrior Bootie Cothran and Parkour athlete Bob Reese for their latest endeavor — MOTIVE School of Movement, in Greenville, South Carolina. The photos speak for themselves:

MOTIVE School of Movement
MOTIVE School of Movement
MOTIVE School of Movement
MOTIVE School of Movement

Creating MOTIVE was a labor of love. Brett had always dreamed of owning a Ninja gym in Greenville, South Carolina, and they began actively working on his dream in 2017.

Step 1: Scheming, brainstorming, and a business plan.

Fun fact: In the spring of 2017, Brett, Grace, and Bootie were all at Bootie’s cabin in the woods, discussing their future Ninja gym when one of the story producers from ANW called them to do interviews for season 9.

Another fun fact: According to Grace, “Brett Sims’ grandfather and Bootie Cothran’s father started a real estate business in Greenville together years ago called Cothran Sims Barker. Neither Brett nor Bootie knew this fact until after the three of us had been competing on ANW together for a few years. It made sense that we should go into business together.”

Step 2: Location.

Finding a location that could comfortably accommodate athletes celebrating atop a 14.5 ft Warped Wall meant that 22 ft ceilings were a must. That, along with their other requirements, made finding the perfect building virtually impossible. Luck was on their side though, when a private investor offered to build their perfect building and rent it out to them.

Step 3: Turn an empty metal building into the Ninja/Parkour gym of their dreams.

Brett had already spent long hours designing the space with 3D modeling software, getting every detail just right. Now, it was up to Brett, Grace, Bootie, and Bob to dive in head first and turn Brett’s design into reality. Bootie built some unique Shrinking Steps, kid-sized Warped Walls, and many other obstacles. Grace built a lounge area and furniture, plus welded the bars in the parkour section and a trampoline frame. Bob, who had never in his life held a drill, was soon building vault boxes, drilling into concrete, cutting all the carpet to fit just perfectly, and working on all sorts of other crazy projects. Brett finished the wood in the parkour section, built plenty of obstacles, and had a hand in just about everything else. Even Ninja Warriors Ryan Stratis and Glenn Davis came to lend a helping hand.

Step 4: The front desk

We can’t help but give this piece of art the attention it deserves! When we asked Grace about it, she explained, “You only get one first impression, and we wanted to make sure that when people first stepped into MOTIVE, they saw it as extraordinary.”

MOTIVE School of Movement
MOTIVE School of Movement

Step 5: Advertise and prepare a grand opening for March 21, 2020

“We had big plans and high expectations for our Grand Opening event on March 21st. We had 13 local vendors doing amazing giveaways, a bounce house, food truck, performances, face painting, and volunteers lined up to help us start booking memberships, classes, and birthday parties. Jamie Rahn and Ryan Stratis had people signed up for their workshops and loads of parkour enthusiasts had flights booked from all over the country. We hoped the opening would help us kickstart our business with local news channels ready to cover the event,” said Grace.

Step 6: COVID-19 happened…

MOTIVE School of Movement

Grace explained, “Once Greenville county schools shut down, we decided to cancel the opening. It was so hard to tell everyone that they could no longer come. We refunded workshops, took down banners, and people canceled flights. The very next day we went back to work. While we were upset we couldn’t open, we were motivated to spend the extra time making our gym even better. We worked every day of the shut down...except March 21st...we took that day off and all played outside.”

Step 7: A new plan

MOTIVE School of Movement still hasn’t been able to follow through with their grand opening festivities. However, they’ve been able to slowly open with small class sizes, and they’re planning a smaller scale, but super fun event for August 1.

It’s a Beard Battle! Brett Sims and Ryan Stratis will be battling it out on a series of courses to see WHO WILL SHAVE?? Brett and Ryan have battled it out on the ANW course the last two years, but since that wasn’t possible this year, their battle is happening at MOTIVE School of Movement. Ryan has won the last 2 years, but Brett has home field advantage this year. We can’t wait to see who shaves!

Opening a Ninja/Parkour gym in the middle of a pandemic was not easy, and certainly nothing that Grace, Brett, Bootie, & Bob could have imagined three years ago when the plans for their gym were beginning to take shape. They’ve definitely made the most of it though. Grace is able to see the silver lining, saying, “The road to profit will most certainly be a longer one, but I must say, it’s pretty nice to be able to ease into things.”

Grace is confident in what they’ve created, saying, “MOTIVE is unique in that we have veteran ninjas from ANW and a pro-parkour athlete all running the gym together. It’s also the first parkour/ninja gym that we know of which has been built and designed from the ground up.”

With their positive attitude and amazing work ethic, we know they’ll do great things!