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Kye Ackel and David Yarter: American Ninja Warrior Season 9!

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American Ninja Warrior, NBC’s extreme obstacle course competition, has set its host cities for the 2017 season. We’ll have our eye on San Antonio this March, home to two #teamplayagain athletes who made the cut to compete. Veteran competitor David Yarter is back again and newcomer Kye Ackel, 23, is appearing for the first time. Kye and David talked to us – here are their stories in their own words.

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Kye Ackel: I’ve dreamed about being on American Ninja Warrior since I was in the 8th grade. I was inspired by Brian Arnold –he was the first Ninja competitor to make it to Stage Four before falling off the last transition on the final obstacle. After I reached out to him about two years ago, Brian gave me a big thumbs-up, and loved my video – his encouragement gave me the courage to become better and stronger.

My training includes everything – rock climbing, Parkour, vertical training, obstacle course racing, sprints – I don’t stick with any one thing. Being a diverse athlete is the way you make it to American Ninja Warrior. Learn your body – attack the stuff you are not good at. Your body will respond, and you’ll always find ways to improve. Ninja Warrior San Sann has been a mentor for me, and I have learned so much from him.

For me, there are three sets of unique and diverse skills that are huge determining factors on the ANW courses: grip, balance and endurance. Your grip is everything – and that’s what I train hardest on. I make sure I can do more than just the basics – and most important – ANW is my passion. To be great, you must love what you do.

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David Yarter: This year I feel more ready – my stamina and endurance have improved – I am much more prepared physically and mentally. I am spending a lot more time training on agility and balance – addressing my loss in Season 8. Because all the upper body training doesn’t matter without concentrating on the balance obstacles.

I continue to use my imagination to create balance obstacles to challenge myself. I build risk into the obstacles I design, so that if I make mistakes I could get hurt. It’s also important to me to take a lot of time to slow down my movements on these obstacles and go super slow. After all, we walk before we run.

Flow state – the mental state that keeps me present, gives me full immersion in and enjoyment of the process – helps me feel all of the motions as they happen. As I jump from one bar to the next on any obstacle, I breathe deeply and stay focused on every movement. I have learned to slow down to succeed under pressure.

Kye Ackel: There’s so much I want to do. I’m competing on ANW to win. I am a personal trainer, and I am working on growing my business. But most of all, I want to leave a legacy: Chase your dreams. And for my Dad: His birthday falls during the first ANW stage in my city of San Antonio in March. I am so honored – and I want to show people what a hometown Ninja looks like!

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David Yarter: This year I am competing with my brother David – who was on the sidelines in Oklahoma City and has triumphed over Stage 3 testicular cancer. My goal is to keep seeing what I’m made of – I want to keep challenging myself. Long term, I have a desire to influence kids early in their development to be fit and eat right. Of course, I want to win on American Ninja Warrior – and I hope kids learn that lifelong fitness is the real Ninja way.

Play Again Now is proud to be part of the training and recovery for these two awesome athletes. To learn more, visit www.playagainnow.com.

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