EAST LANSING, Mich. — At just 9-years-old, Tristin Martin's ninja warrior skills are off the chain.
The East Lansing girl spends a lot of her time jumping, running, climbing, and hanging from things in order to be the best at racing through ninja obstacle courses.
How does it make her feel?
"Fun, happy, excited," she said.
She's preparing for the National Ninja League World Championships this summer. This will be her second time competing. Last year she took second in her age group. This year, she says, she's ready to win.
The competition is similar to the TV show "American Ninja Warrior" and will take place in Lawrence Township, New Jersey.
She trains every day.
"I have a 6 by 12 feet ninja rig in my back yard," she said. "I have a TV in my basement and I have hanging stuff in my basement."
Tristin's father, Scott Martin, said Ninja competitions "have a set course of various different obstacles whether they are balanced, they're hanging, they're endurance, and you just see how you can manage to manipulate your body in order to hang and get through the course in a set amount of time."
Tristin has competed in more than 30 competitions. Her first was in 2019 but this little ninja started her journey at a younger age.
"We had been watching 'American Ninja Warrior' on and off for seasons, but, about the time she was five, she really took a liking to it. We heard a huge thump. She was in our basement and we had caught her jumping from a couch to a cross beam in our basement," said her mother, Nichole Martin.
This act became a routine for Tristin, and her mom says it got to a point where they realized they had to find an activity to help her release all of her energy.
"We didn't really know that it was going to be ninja, but we were fortunate enough to have found our gym in Howell due to some friends letting us know that a ninja gym even existed," Nichole said.
The family fell in love with the sport and the rest is history. Her mom says ninja has been a positive impact on Tristin's life. Last year she was diagnosed with dyslexia and her mom says her training has helped her focus more in school.
Tristian's home gym closed in December so now she spends her time training at ninja gyms in Livonia and Plymouth and at Spartan Dance and Fit Center in East Lansing.
Her father coaches her when she does her courses
"It's very cool that I get to do that with my dad and I get to do this stuff with my whole family," Tristin said.
"It's one of those great things that, when you can coach your kids and they listen and you see them succeed and the rewards, you can get together on that," Scott Martin said.
Tristin also trains at Gripz Gym in Southfield. The owner Ryan Hespenheide says having her there is great.
"Anytime we have an athlete like Tristin that is really competitive, it brings up the level of athleticism and kind of that competitiveness of everyone around her," Hespenheide said. "They see her fly through the air and grab a giant lache, which is just flying from one bar and grabbing on to another. The next kid in line gets all fired up and wants to do it."
When Tristin is racing through a course, the first thing that comes to mind is "I want to get this. I want to win first," she said.
Her eyes are on the prize for her competition this summer, but her ultimate goal is to be on "American Ninja Warrior" and "American Ninja Warrior Junior."
Tristin and her family are working with Spartan Dance and Fitness Center to start a ninja gym in East Lansing in order to bring awareness to the sport.
"It doesn't matter what age you are," Tristin said. "It just matters if you want to do something to always work up to it and never stop trying to do it."
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