In 15th-century Japan, ninjas had more to worry about than their bench press and body-mass index. They were too busy being awesome.
Some 600 years later, exercise routines tend to put health before stealth — and with good reason, given today's obesity and heart disease rates. But they also increasingly value versatility, mixing sports to "cross-train" better all-around athletes. And now a globe-trotting TV show is taking that idea a quintuple step further, mobilizing an army of would-be ninjas in the name of fitness.
NBC's "American Ninja Warrior," now with five seasons under its belt, is a spinoff of the long-running Japanese show "Sasuke" (aka "Ninja Warrior"). Contestants face a grueling array of athletic tests, similar to ABC's "Wipeout" but in the more serious style of Japan's original obstacle-course game shows. The U.S. version has yet to crown its first champion, but if you think you have what it takes, here are a few tips to help you release your inner ninja. (Text: Russell McLendon)