Ninja gym opens in Cedar Falls



Ninja U looks to bring a new style of fitness to the Cedar Valley.


A new form of fitness came swinging into the Cedar Valley on Sept. 13 when Scott Behrends and Jacob Pauli, UNI alumni, opened Ninja U, an American Ninja Warrior (ANW) training facility geared to “make fitness fun.”

Behrends has always been passionate about fitness, but the spark to begin ninja training came from his family.

“My family members over the years have always called me the monkey… they were always telling to me to watch the show [ANW] and finally I gave in and thought ‘Wow this is pretty cool,’” said Behrends.

According to Behrends, his kids were the ones who really got the ball rolling on creating and running through obstacle courses.

“At the time, [my kids] were doing obstacle course with their P.E. teacher, and they loved it, we watched the show [ANW], and we just started building stuff in our backyard, garage and basement and it just sort of snowballed from there.”

Behrends created an Instagram called @BackyardNinjaKids, with the goal of teaching his kids on “how to be a positive influence on social media,” and to “teach other kids about this [sport], especially if they don’t have a way to workout… you can just use whatever is in your backyard,” said Behrends. @BackyardNinjaKids now has over 5,000 followers on Instagram.

Two year later, Behrends and Pauli created Ninja U, and their gym is the first and only exclusively “ninja gym” in the state of Iowa, according to Behrends.

With Behrends’ long time passion of fitness, and Pauli being a former UNI Track and Field stand out, the pair’s skill sets combined are what, according to Behrends, set the force to create this “gateway to help see the world differently” when it comes to fitness.

According to Behrends, Ninja U offers “open training” for people to come in any day and at any time, along with unlimited training memberships and will later be offering specific classes for those training for a Ninja Warrior competition, including Behrends himself. “Birthday parties are also huge,” said Behrends.

For college students, Ninja U offers a ‘College Night’ on Thursdays from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m.; a night set aside solely for college students to try out the gym at a discounted rate of seven dollars per person for three hours of training, along with a competition for a chance to win a free pass for the next week, according to Behrends.

Ninja U is an “ever changing” gym that “takes you back to your roots of just being a kid on the playground…. It’s like a jungle gym on steroids with pads under you,” explains Behrends.

Behrends said he is looking forward to hosting competitions for college students and for the people training to be a Ninja Warrior.

For more information on class times, costs, or events, visit, or visit their Facebook or Instagram @NinjaUGym.