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Luna, Linda, Leo with Dudley the gym mascot

Featured Article

Calling All Warriors

Building confidence and character in a fun and challenging environment

Article by Shay Brase

Photography by Randy Ellis Photography

Originally published in Broomfield Lifestyle

Warrior Challenge Arena is set out to inspire and motivate those of varying skill levels through interactive play. All ages, from preschool-aged to adult, are encouraged to challenge themselves physically and mentally in an uplifting environment of obstacles courses and games. WCA coaches encourage “can do” attitudes and building resilience and growth mindsets in their students.

Owner Michael Homan is passionate about the WCA youth program. He says that the most fulfilling part of this program is watching “I’ll try” become “I did it!” when a child finds inner strength they weren’t aware of before. The opportunity to feel this joy comes often, with 22 weekly classes being offered for ages 3-18, including a thriving homeschool program with a curriculum that incorporates science and biology. 

One family started in Warrior homeschool class three years ago and have found community in the WCA family. Leo and Luna Wood are not only highly-trained athletes in ninja and parkour, but are also coaches at the gym. Their mother, Linda, has watched them gain body awareness and life skills during their tenure, including coordination, personal limits, spacial awareness, and how to be supportive teammates.

Linda’s goal for her kids is first and foremost to have fun and enjoy life. She believes that when you’re having fun you learn the most, so discovering and honoring the things that drive us become win-win situations. As a family who enjoys an active lifestyle, warrior training is one of those situations.

“Seeing yourself (or your kids) improve and get stronger feels amazing, and gives such a great sense of achievement,” she says. 

Linda mentions how competition is not pushed in their household. Both of her kids have had time on the winners’ podium, but are also well-rounded teens with encouraging stories to tell. We had the chance to interview both Leo and Luna so that they could share their thoughts and stories.

Leo is more accomplished than your average teenager. He recently won 3rd place in state through the Colorado Ninja League (CNL), ran a Spartan Race, and joined a tricking class, and has years of training under his belt. He has also been coaching at WCA for nearly three years- a job that he takes seriously and enjoys, serving as a mentor for the up-and-coming warriors at the gym.

You won’t, however, see Leo’s stripes getting to his head.

“I’m still a normal teenager!” Wood says. He loves spending time with his family and friends, reading, video games, and being active outdoors.

Leo’s journey into training began at the age of six, after being mesmerized by a parkour class taking place at a park. The group was double his age and the coach was skeptical to let him try it out. After weeks of his mom’s persistence, the coach agreed to give Leo a shot, and he kept up- despite his size. By the end of the class it was the coach who was asking Linda to let him join the class officially. Persistence paid off!

Leo finds balance between challenging himself and self-preservation. “Some days I’m tired from a long week, but I get out there and train,” he says. “Some days I really need a break, and that’s okay too. You need to find ways to enjoy what you’re doing, even on the harder days.”

Leo is thankful for the opportunities he has coaching and training at Warrior Challenge Arena and says they will serve him well in the future. He is on track to join the pros next year and would like to continue coaching as an adult.

Luna’s gentle and patient nature is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes intense competitive environment, and is a great attribute of WCA’s Wee Warrior program. Luna also started her warrior training three years ago at the age of 11, and became an assistant coach the following year. She loves being able to help the younger ninja crew and the responsibility of having a job at such a young age.

“It’s amazing!” she says. “You have to keep [the children] safe and happy, and you want them to learn and have fun. I never make them do anything if they feel scared so I can gain their trust, but I always encourage them to do more and go further.”

Luna seems to live by the same mantra. She has earned first place rankings in both a CNL competition and an Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association (UNAA) state competition, but has learned that competing is not what drives her. She now finds joy taking pictures at the meets and cheering her gym mates and brother on from the sidelines, as well as teaching herself all she can about a new passion- aerial acrobatics.

Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone helps build resilience and problem solving skills that can be adapted to physical, mental, and emotional challenges in life. Early childhood is a great time to be introduced to such challenges. This type of environment will be more controlled than it will be once “real life” comes into play during adolescence and into adulthood. 

Of her own children, Linda Wood says that being involved in such sports and activities has kept them busy and helped them develop self-discipline. 

“When they are training for an upcoming competition, they’ve trained themselves to take the time to practice at home and at the gym, make sure they get enough sleep, and eat healthier foods,” she says. Such habits help build the foundation for a healthy and fulfilling adult life.

Warrior Challenge Arena aims to serve as a safe stepping stone toward teaching all ages to get excited, rather than frightened, of something different. Their resolve is to build warriors of character who are F.E.A.R.L.E.S.S.- through Focus, Effort, Attitude, Respect, Love, Enthusiasm, Strength, and Smarter Habits.

  • Leo Wood, age 17
  • Luna Wood, age 14
  • Luna Wood, age 14
  • Leo Wood, age 17
  • Luna, Linda, Leo with Dudley the gym mascot