In this week’s Titan Spotlight I reached out to Kendall David Cooper who is one of the twelve Captains for Mud Titans 12 Labors of Hercules event. Kendall’s passion for fitness and helping others is conveyed every moment throughout his life. The excitement behind his voice when he speaks about his passion for races and overall fitness is remarkable. Kendall has taken his love of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) and recently opened a premier training facility in Central Florida aptly named NinjaFit. This training facility is not like your normal day to day gym. NinjaFit consists of rope swings, cargo nets, a 50 foott rig, rock walls, warped walls, and just about everything you need to practice on in order to enhance your OCR and/or fitness skills. Here is what Kendall had to say:
(KDub - AKA Muddy Warrior Chick) Tell me your name, age, where you are from and what do you do when you’re not racing on weekends?
(Kendall David Cooper - KC) My name is Kendall David Cooper, I am 47 years old. I am originally from Wisconsin, and came to Florida when I was 18 years old because it was warm. When I’m not racing on the weekends and before I had NinjaFit Gym I was a low voltage technician. I did anything from cable TV, phones, computers, card access, and I worked a lot in hospitals and schools.
(KDub) What made you take the leap and go from a low voltage technician to the complete opposite, a gym owner?
(KC) When I was doing the job I was always going to the gym. I was always going to races and I fell in love with OCRs. My very first race was the Spartan Super in Miami. I participated in everything from watching and doing the race, to volunteering at the merchandise tent. I saw all physical fitness types, from old to young, people who were in shape to people who this was their very first race, and seeing their smiles I thought to myself “this is so awesome.” I got back to my truck, to make the drive home to Orlando, and I discovered all of these flyers on my truck advertising races. I didn’t know there were more of these races around. The second race I found, and ran, was Highlander at Rock onAdventures. When I got there a girl walked up to me, Jillian Nicole, and said “hey what are you doing here standing all alone?” I said “well, this is my second race and I really don’t know anybody.” She said, “You know there are teams in mudrunning.” I’m like “there are teams in mudrunning?” She said “yeah, you see all those people over there in that tent?” I said “yeah, how do you get onto a team?” She replied, “Just be cool and fun.” She then asked me to do another race with her, which was a team building race, and then another, and the next thing you know I began knowing more people. I eventually brought my kids out with me and I eventually saw the love everyone had for each other and comradery we all shared. One thing led to another and I started going to race after race, and then, I wanted a Spartan Trifecta. I went to Hawaii to get my Trifecta and I saw people from all over the country come and compete. Then I went to my first Ninja Competition and I thought I would be able to practice before the competition. There were about 70 guys there and they said to us we weren’t allowed to practice on the obstacles before the competition. I raised my hand and said I had never been there before and about 50-60 guys competing all gave me advice, coached me, rallied around me and told me the techniques to get through the course. I made it to the second round. On the way home from that trip I said to myself “I’m going to open up a Ninja Gym in Orlando.” There is no place in that area to practice this stuff or train for an OCR and I wanted to make that happen.
(KC) It was about a year and a half ago. I came home and the first thing I did was get an email, email@example.com, then went on the internet to check out the domain and it was available. I bought the website www.ninjafitgym.com. I paid for everything for about a year, and slowly began buying equipment. I ended up building a little ninja course in my backyard. I started searching and asking my friends about the idea and found my business partner Chad Young. 13 weeks ago we moved in and have been building ever since. I’ve been here 14 hours a day making this a successful business. From the feedback and love I got from the community, friends of friends, support, and by giving them a good product, people would come. This was a place I knew kids would come, adults would come and I wanted to talk to people who really have no physical fitness at all. These are the people who want something different outside of a global gym. If they come here we will give them a good time, I will encourage them with their diet, talk to them, be their friend and they will come back.
(KDub) What’s the first thing you say to new comers to OCR, your gym, or after learning someone is starting their fitness journey to encourage them to come back for more?
(KC) You are going to make friends here. Everyone here will be your friend. Nobody is going to look down on you, everyone will be encouraging you. Before you leave here, you will become someone’s social media friend, you will sweat really good, and you’re going to think this is much different. This is a fun place. I say this 100 times, just because I own the gym this is your gym. You are here to do what you want to do. If you want to play games, we will play games and if you want to talk, we will talk, at least for a while till I have you run up and down the ramp.
(KDub) What piece of clothing, equipment, or good luck charm is essential for you to wear and/or bring to a race or ninja competition?
(KC) I bring my Spartan Trifecta and Team Regiment bag. These are the two things I feel most accomplished about. Receiving your Trifecta from Spartan is a big accomplishment and receiving a patch from Team Regiment is a big accomplishment. It’s the same bag I’ve been carrying since I’ve been racing and every time I put on that backpack I am reminded of my accomplishments. I know I’m going to have fun and it means a lot to me.
(KDub) Outside of opening a gym and becoming a successful business owner, what would you say has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
(KC) My weight loss. Coming down from the size of a big bulky football player hovering around 215 to 220 pounds to now down into the 180’s. Learning how to feed my body well, knowing what foods not to eat, my overall health and my true happiness of giving and participating in a fun event. People say “Wow Kendall, you’ve really changed. You’ve come down in size and you’re always in a good mood.” I tell them it’s because I eat well, I train fun, and I have fun with people. I surround myself with like-minded people and positive minds.
(KDub) We also know you are going to be one of the Coaches in the 12 Labors of Hercules presented by Mud Titan. As one of the coaches can you give the participants a preview, or any suggestions, about your particular trial?
(KC) To give me everything you have at that station. If you can’t do it give me excellent effort. Don’t half heart it. If you give a better effort you’re going to have more fun. If you take effort away from something you actually know you can do you’re holding yourself back. You will feel much better about yourself if you give all you have to give, and you’re going to want to come back and try it again. That effort is going to progress into everything else you do as well.
(KDub) Who is your role model?
(KC) It’s everybody here, it’s everybody who comes into this community. It’s not just one person it’s everyone. It’s everybody who reaches out to a person who is not here. When another person brings me a new person, that I don’t know, or friend or family, in shape, out of shape, someone who doesn’t think they can race, or do something in the gym. I want them to come, meet me, and let me show them they can.
(KDub) Will we see you at the next MudTitan 6 in Plant City on August 27?
(KC) Yes I will be there and am training again for the SpartanUltra Beast in Killington, VT on September 15.
(KDub) Any last words?
(KC) Keep bringing new people to the events. Keep coming to the events, and do the best you can. It’s not all about having fun, challenge yourself, move up to the elite wave. Just try to push yourself. If you see someone who inspires you find out why, read into that person, see what they are doing, where they bettered themselves and mimic them if you can. If one person can do it we all can do it. Stick together and show love in anything you do. Be kind, people will be kind, be nice, people will be nice, and if you give, other people will give.
Kendalls personality is well suited as a new gym owner and Coach for the 12 Labors of Hercules. His enthusiasm is even shown through the interview. No matter your level of fitness or starting point he is the guy who will welcome you with open arms. I encourage anyone in the Orlando, Florida surrounding area give his gym a try, introduce yourself, and you will have a friend and coach for the rest of your life.
Follow Kendall and his NinjaFit Gym on Instagram!
Don't forget to register for your next MudTitan Race at http://www.mudtitanrun.com/