Kilgore 'Ninja' targets fitness for local youth


Hannah Grace Beets is eager to talk to youths about the benefits of physical fitness and the life lessons – she hopes some cred as a certified ninja warrior can help break the ice.

The Kilgore ISD teacher and Ignition Station head coach recently secured a competition berth on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” a spin-off of a Japanese reality series that pits contestants against a variety of obstacles to test their athletic and acrobatic merits.

While her third grade students and community gym participants are on Spring Break, Beets is spending the week in Austin, honing her ninja skills.

She’s already an avid CrossFit enthusiast and practitioner of parkour – a free-running, free-movement challenge to move as quickly as possible by running, vaulting or climbing along a route of urban obstacles. However, Beets wants to beef up her grip strength before tackling the reality show’s course.

“It’s a whole new world,” she said after spending Monday night at an indoor rock-climbing facility.

Beets’ TV appearance is a night shoot Sunday, March 25. The Dallas segment will likely air in June.

“If you get far enough, you’ll get to go to the second day, which is the city finals,” she said. “I don’t know what the obstacles will be. I’ll probably see them on Sunday when they give us a rundown of the rules.”

Whether she’s makes the long haul will remain a mystery: after the challenge, Beets will have to stay mum on her results.

“We’ll see from there if I go on to the semi-finals,” she said. “Whatever happens is secret.”

Wanting to push forward, Beets is excited for what she’s already gained.

“I really did it because I want to get into public speaking using demonstrations of movement. I thought, being on ‘American Ninja Warrior,’ teenagers could relate better. Hopefully it will be inspirational to them.”

In her video application to the show, Beets spotlighted Kilgore, the World’s Richest Acre, her student fitness efforts at Kilgore ISD and the young charges of her Ignition Station.

The Harris Street after school program is free to participants – donor-funded and working for nonprofit status – with four coaches in rotation. Beets’ goal is to develop the gym experience as a medium for fitness and movement to encourage children: for them to have hope and determination in overcoming obstacles, to inspire them to work hard, to have good character and to work as a team.

After opening in November, “It’s going well,” Beets said. As more volunteer coaches come on board to assist, more youth spots will become available. “You can really work with the kids. We’ve got about 15 steadily, sometimes it goes up to 20. I’m excited to see it keep growing.”

For more information about Ignition Station, contact Beets at 903-812-9033.