Lisa 'Pocket Rocket' Parkes flew onto our screens as a Ninja Warrior contestant hoping to run, grab, hang and dive her way to the finish of the world-famous obstacle course. With her new fitness venture Ninja Play Academy Byron Bay, its doors are open to help us all find the ninja in us. Lisa reflects on her journey towards becoming a real-life Ninja Warrior...
What led you to becoming a Personal Trainer?
At the age of 6, I told my mum I wanted to be a PE teacher. I was heavily into sport and always had a passion and desire to want to help others and enhance people’s lives. After being a competitive athlete, and then the tragedy of a severe accident causing me to lose the use of my legs, this desire to learn about the human body and help others grew stronger (see Lisa's story on YouTube).
What was the hardest thing about competing in Australia Ninja Warrior?
I didn’t have sufficient time to train and prepare for the obstacles I was faced with. Also, competing without being able to try out any of the obstacles beforehand was really difficult!
As I was third on the course, I wasn’t able to watch anyone else run which makes it quite hard, as I believe you can learn through observation and watching other’s mistakes.
What was your training schedule like in the lead up?
I started doing a session a week at the circus with an advanced aerial instructor. I also started climbing, jumping and swinging on things at every opportunity. I joined a Ninja training group on the Gold Coast for eight weeks practicing ninja-specific obstacles. I had a work colleague train me once a week setting up ninja inspired challenges, and I worked on grip strength and hanging when I could. Saying that I am sure it was nowhere near the preparation the others did as I have a very busy daily life. I had just opened my functional studio See Change Byron Bay so was instructing 12 classes a week and personal training around 30 hrs a week. I also have 3 children so I am always super busy!
Were there any workouts that really helped you?
Training with other ninjas on Saturday mornings pushed me to try harder and get better. I often felt I wasn’t very good but the training there was the closest thing I had to a ninja obstacle course and it definitely helped me prepare physically and mentally.
Have you always been into this style of training?
Fitness to me is all about function and balance so my training has always been a holistic well-rounded approach. I try vary my training as much as possible and often found that it helped with the ninja practice. I have always enjoyed a physical challenge and working out ways to overcome them.
How did you hear about Ninja Warrior?
I saw the TV advertisement and decided to go online and watch some of the American series. I felt inspired by the huge challenge of it and thought why not?
Will you compete again in the next season?
I have already started my audition process so I hope so! It’s a competitive process with a huge number of people wanting one of those 250 spots to run the course. It has become a true passion of mine and I just want to get better and better.
What have you taken away from competing in Ninja Warrior?
The power of believing in oneself: following your dreams and passions, pushing boundaries and taking on challenges and leading by example. Since the show, I have worked with many people with injuries and rehabilitation and coping with life. I have spoken at a number of business seminars for women about overcoming obstacles and succeeding in life and business. I am just about to open my second business Ninja Play Byron Bay, so I can bring the power of overcoming obstacles to many. Ninja Play will be a training ground for ninja warrior-style training as well as hosting competitions. It will be a space for corporate health development days, team training weekends and those wanting to compete in other obstacle races like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race. I want it to be a place for people to learn fundamental movement patterns and routines to help with tackling obstacles, as well as a functional fun place with positive, playful people. I can’t wait to bring out the inner ninja in all of us!!
You were a popular contestant on the first series of Australian Ninja Warrior. Was it this experience that led you to the birth of your business, Ninja Play?
Yes definitely, however I always have had a holistic approach to fitness and using the body functionally how it was designed, so ninja play enhances that functional fun movement further and then there’s the huge mental empowerment also. That is the amazing benefit from this type of movement.
You also have See Change personal training and three beautiful sons and make time to keep to your training. How do you manage your time?
I am a very busy person but juggle things well, being highly organised and healthy enables me to manage all I do daily and it’s amazing what we are capable of. We tend to limit ourselves and use the word "I can’t" far too often. I feel if something is important, you find time, not finding an excuse but a way! I have a Trello board and diary to help manage my time and an awesome team of staff also.
You use PTminder for both businesses. What features help most to manage them both?
Both businesses operate in the same premises, however run independent website and social media pages, so the calendar and payment systems make it easy to combine both business administratively. By having one system for all member contact admin is such a relief and makes all I do a lot simpler.
Check out Lisa's videos below...