I travel a lot for my job. So when a ninja gym opens up in one of the remote places I work, three things happen: first, I get excited. Second, I go there to work out and review the site for Mud Run Guide. And third, I secure the feeling that this whole ninja/OCR thing is here to stay for the long haul.

The JCX course

Last week, kids, parents, and guys like me filtered in and out of Jump, Climb, Extreme (JCX) during open gym time. Roy Klein, my host, and owner of JCX, showed me the ropes in Frederick, Maryland.

Roy Klein checking in ninjas

Ninja courses humble me. That’s what draws me to them. I want to know the techniques and beat the obstacles. JCX has plenty of humbling stuff packed into their studio. I had piles of questions for Roy.

He gained his experience through a lifelong love of fitness. He served eight years in the Navy and was often the PT Instructor for his group. After an honorable discharge from the Service, he went into full-time work in IT. He also found enough time to train and qualify for American Ninja Warrior season 6. It was not just the Navy, work, and training that brought him to ANW. His daughter had leukemia. That experience led him to open JCX, a place where he can pass on his knowledge, passion, and encouragement to other families who beat cancer.

The gym is laid out like a course from end to end. The sturdy pipe frame holds floating ladders, multiple spinning Atomik grips, cargo netting, and all the other essential ninja obstacles. There are 10-foot and 14-foot warped walls, a spider wall, a pegboard and a ring ladder against the walls. If you choose not to run up the warped walls, there are wall-mounted pipes and campus grips to challenge you.

10-foot walls are easy but 14-ers?

Wall-mounted pipes and campus boards presented left-wise

Wall-mounted ring ladder

Roy showed me some of the techniques he uses to conquer those challenges. He breaks each move down into its fundamentals and builds from there. For example, while the salmon ladder looks like a fairly simple explosive pull-up, there can be more to it when the mental game confronts someone like me doing this thing for the first time. We started by going half way. That was enough to help me get a feel for how jarring this thing is. That begins to train the muscles to compensate so the memory sets in thereby overcoming the mental hesitation.

Doing this six feet off the ground is another story

Stick the landing!

He did the same thing with me on the 40-inch straddle horse. Jump halfway up and push off with the hands. This helps give the feel for how much elevation is needed to get the feet beneath you to clear the horse. Roy is working on a signature move straddling the horse straight into a double rope grab and climb.

Cargo nets and rotating Atomik grips

While forty inches of soft, foam rubber block doesn’t look like a big deal, in my mind, it looks like a 50-foot solid brick wall. It’s the same visual trick as jumping from one two-by-four on edge to another six feet away. You gotta stick the landing, especially when you change the game by doing the same thing six feet off the ground. The move doesn’t change. But the mental challenge of height has been added.

Atomik grips from one rotation to another

Another tough challenge to overcome is history. The first time I tried a pegboard back in high school I successfully impaled my brain. Even though Roy showed me an excellent forearm lock technique, it was a no-go for me. Nevertheless, he encouraged me with some good exercises to try including negative chin ups and single arm locks.


JCX has the right stuff to get you into a ninja. Roy has the right knowledge to help you get on ANW if that’s your direction. He even has the galley proofs for a new ANW book coming out soon. His review and input will be solid I’m sure.

ANW Season 6 competitor Roy Klein with his copy of the new ANW book

Mud Run Guide thanks Roy Klein of JCX and presents him with a 5 of 5 rating.


Find More Ninja Gyms Around the Country on our Gym Finder Page.

Series Navigation

Share this post!