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NoVa Ninja owner Casey Passafaro talks fitness in Northern Virginia

Former ‘American Ninja Warrior’ contestant Casey Passafaro is celebrating the five-year anniversary of her Sterling-based training facility, NoVa Ninja. Here, she shares why it matters, New Year’s resolutions and more.

woman with arms crossed in purple tank
Photo by Aaron Spicer

Casey Passafaro opened NoVa Ninja, a premier ninja warrior training facility in Sterling, with one goal in mind: to create a community. Co-founder Passafaro has been a contestant on hit TV show American Ninja Warrior twice, and currently coaches multiple ninja classes at her gym, including adult and kids’ programming. We caught up with Passafaro about the gym’s upcoming anniversary, New Year’s resolutions and more, below.

What motivated you to open NoVa Ninja?
I started doing CrossFit, and when I got my first pullup, someone made a joke like, “You’re so strong, you should be on American Ninja Warrior.” I was like, “That’s kind of funny, but maybe I will.” I started training in my house and signed up for a ninja competition in North Carolina and I did horrible. I thought, my house is not working [for training], and on the drive back to Virginia I told myself I needed to open a ninja gym.

woman hanging from ladder in workout facility
Warrior Pose: Casey Passafaro, a two-time competitor on ‘American Ninja Warrior’ and owner of NoVa Ninja in Sterling, celebrates the gym’s fifth anniversary. (Photo by Aaron Spicer)

NoVa Ninja turns 5 on Jan. 1. How are you going to celebrate?
We do an event every New Year’s Eve at NoVa Ninja, where everyone gets dressed up really nice, and we have our members and friends come with Champagne and we celebrate. We’ll do it again just like that because that’s kind of tradition now.

What is your advice for people setting fitness resolutions for the New Year?
You need to find what motivates you and what makes you want to go into a gym; the rest will follow. I’m a big fan of not going 100% fitness aggressive, taking away everything you like right away. I don’t think that’s a sustainable form of fitness.

What do you love about community-based fitness?
I think doing a fitness regimen that has some sort of community is what’s truly needed for most people to establish a healthy lifestyle. For the ninja community, having that is what makes fitness work. You have people that are helping you be accountable, that help you reach your goal. They’re supporting you.

This post originally appeared in our January 2020 print issue. For more health and wellness stories, subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter.

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