Hi my name is Avey. I’m Sassy’s Man About Town. I was born in the year of the Monkey. I’ve recently become an avid Crossfitter… oh, and I’m a Ninja.
Now before you ask, I do not know how to throw shuriken, or traverse the moats of Japanese castles. And I’m certainly not Ninja pals with Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello or Michelangelo. I first came across Ninja Camp Bali through some eye-catching images on social media and was immediately intrigued by their mantra to ‘do one thing everyday that challenges you’.
Thinking it would make for a great investigative piece for the column, it seemed like the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone – fill a column, get fit and get tanned. Boom! I talked myself out of joining at least 10 times, but I couldn’t quite get the aforementioned mantra out of my head. So I decided that the only thing to do was to start getting comfortable, being uncomfortable.
Essentially I began my journey at CrossFit 852 in Causeway Bay, two weeks before I flew down to Bali. I had never done any CrossFit and was recommended to do a few classes to prepare for Ninja life. What is CrossFit you ask? With constantly varied, high-intensity functional movements, CrossFit is a training philosophy that coaches people of all shapes and sizes to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness in a hardcore, yet accepting and encouraging environment.
What attracted me to CrossFit, other than the strong sense of community, is the realisation that left to my own devices, I never push myself hard enough to truly make the changes I need in order to get in shape. The occasional boot camp class and going through the chest-and-biceps motions of a traditional gym simply hadn’t been getting it done. So armed with 2 weeks of WOD’s (that’s CrossFit lingo for ‘Workout of the Day’) under my belt, I packed my bags minus any expectations and bounced off into the unknown…
Once in Bali, I was whisked away in the Ninja mobile to the sleepy area of Caangu, which is located north of popular tourist hot spots Kuta and Seminyak. As I sat in the car watching the beautiful rice fields go by, I was suddenly hit by a wave of excitement. I was out there on my own, about to embark on journey I knew little about and ready to face whatever was thrown my way.
Arriving at the Ninja villa, butterflies filled my stomach. “Welcome to Ninja Camp” beamed a charming girl named Robin, who spoke with as Southern an accent as Matthew McConaughey’s. As soon as she spoke, I felt at home. But I didn’t have time to be nervous as I was whisked to my room and told to put on comfy clothes for a Yoga session, which was happening, like now.
Yoga sessions were led by the incredible Anna. I liked Anna almost immediately. I’ve done plenty of yoga classes with lots of good teachers, but always felt that they were somewhat removed because that’s their job and they’re just going through the motions. Anna, however, knew her stuff and with grace and humour was able to guide us into postures we’d never dreamed of doing. My hips were opened in ways they never have before!
“You want to practice backflips?” asked John, “the Godfather” and co-founder of Ninja Camp Bali, on the second day. I paused for half a second, having never done a back flip and also being severely out of my comfort zone. I usually watch friends attempt to do them off the side of junks boats in Hong Kong, before getting a bit nervous that someone is going to break their face off the side.
“Absolutely… why not” I exclaimed. The words hung in the air like a speech bubble in a comic book. Was I actually agreeing to this?! I found myself thinking that a lot during the week that I spent at Ninja Camp Bali. Throwing myself into every activity without any hesitation or fear became second nature…
I surfed for the first time (and stood up!). I faced my fear of riding (albeit at the back of) a motorbike. I powered through a WOD, which included handstand push-ups, having only just learned how to do them the day before. I reveled in all of the new skills I was learning – especially from Ninja coaches Vanessa “VFung” Fung and Michael “Mo” Mogard. On a couple of occasions at the start of the week, John kept mentioning that I would be the envy of my fellow Crossfitters back home if I told them I had trained with these two.
Initially that made me feel a little intimidated on what I was going to look like next to two of the fittest people on the planet. In fact, Michael competed in the CrossFit Games and held the title for Fittest in Asia. But when it came time for Mo to give us some tips, I felt honoured to be learning from such an accomplished athlete and he really encouraged me to persevere and do better. Equally as amazing was when VFung taught me how to Split Jerk – I felt like Madonna had just schooled me on how to ‘vogue’. It was a pretty epic moment!
There were too many epic moments throughout the week for me to fit into this column, but other highlights included the hardcore agility sessions on the beach, where quite literally I learned how to levitate; mind blowing massages speak for themselves; not to mention the mouth-watering menu prepared for us by Ninja chef Josh – I couldn’t get enough of the Ninja shakes, sweet potato croquettes, delectably fresh salads and my all time favourite – chicken!
I know I haven’t gone into great detail as to what Ninja Camp Bali entails, but I don’t really want to spoil the experience for those of you who are thinking of going. And honestly, no words can really capture how awesome it all was.
I will, however, tell you this – I am a changed man.
What initially started out as an idea for a column, turned into so much more than I expected. In the short space of a week, I had achieved new personal records down at the box (a little shout out to the awesomeness that is S2S CrossFit Bali), faced fears and insecurities, learned invaluable lessons about my mind and my body and generally had a whale of time… all this alongside an amazing group of like minded people that radiated so much passion, sincerity and love that if I could have bottled it up and brought it back home with me, I would be a happy man. Being the type that takes a little while to open up to new people, I wish I could have gotten to know them better, but I know that wherever in the world we are, we all have this one thing tying us together.
To my Ninja Family – John, Robin, Vanessa, Mo, Elli, Nick, Michael, Anna, Guillome, Matt, Crissilia, Josh, Komeng and the team, and not forgetting little puppy, thank you for challenging and inspiring me to become the best I can be.
For those of you just joining this journey, my name is Avey and I‘m a Ninja.
If you’re thinking about signing up, you’re in luck, because we’re offering Sassy girls a very special discount for the upcoming Ninja Camp round! All reservations made in the next 60 days will receive a special rate… simply email contact@NinjaCampBali.com with the subject line SASSY NINJA to apply!
About the blogger
I’m Avelino Cortes (or ‘Avey’ to my friends), and I’m the Marketing & Events Manager for Maximal Concepts overseeing all events, partnerships & promotions for award winning venues such as Blue Butcher, Brickhouse, Fish & Meat, Flawless and Mott 32. I’ve previously worked in the luxury industry as the Marketing & Communications Manager at Quintessentially Lifestyle.
Equal parts Spanish, Filipino, Thai and Danish, I contribute as Sassy’s Man About Town – on the look out for new trends, hidden gems and all things sassy.