If you’re a fan of the television show American Ninja Warrior, you may have seen AIM Member Lance Pekus aka the Cowboy Ninja in his iconic black cowboy hat and blue jeans, swinging from chains, leaping over water-filled pits or suspended in mid-air climbing an inverted ladder hand-over-hand.
Although Lance often competes in front of a worldwide audience, at heart he’s a downhome husband and father from Salmon, Idaho who works for the forest service and on his father-in-law’s cattle ranch. He literally is a cowboy. He even trains in a modified calving shed where he’s built small versions of the obstacles from the show. This was mostly out of necessity because when he started, the only obstacle course training facilities were in California or on the East Coast. His father-in-law told him that if he was serious about pursuing this dream, he should use the calving shed as it’s only really in use a few months out of the year.
Lance has been an athlete all his life. He wrestled in college and had always been active, but he was looking for something new and fun. He tried running a triathlon, but decided triathlons weren’t for him. He was at a friend’s house when he saw American Ninja Warrior and decided to give that a try. He qualified, and it’s grown from there.
Lance is best at the obstacles that require upper-body strength like the salmon ladder, which has one rung that competitors hang from and manipulate upward. In order to complete the obstacle, the competitors must use their upper body strength to force that rung—the same one they are suspended from–upward into the notch above until the bar rests in the highest notch possible. As you can imagine, this takes incredible strength and coordination. It also takes a whole lot of focus.
“A lot of the obstacles are mental. I know a lot of really strong competitors who can do the obstacles individually, but when you put them all together and you’re on TV, it can be tough. It’s best to focus on what’s right in front of you and not what’s coming up.
“The best thing about doing the American Ninja Warrior competition is that it’s about pushing your body. You see an obstacle and you think, ‘that’s impossible’ at first. But then you train and you adapt, and then you can achieve it, and then you go on and attempt harder ones,” he said.
He first heard about Red Rush and AIM when he joined his brother-in-law for the WOD for Warriors competition at AIM Member-owned Snake River CrossFit. Lance won the competition and the prize was a box of Red Rush.
“I tried it out and used it. I definitely saw some positive gains and decided to use it for competitions. I’ve never been a fan of energy drinks because they get me too hyped up and jittery. I didn’t get that from Red Rush. I felt relaxed and focused, and I felt like I had extra breath when I was out there on the obstacle course.”