For Max Feinberg, it all began at age 10 during his elementary-school days at Kent Gardens with a love and fascination for the monkey bars.
Uninterested in traditional team sports like soccer, baseball, basketball and football, Feinberg turned to obstacle-course training, free running and ninja obstacles about the same time of his like for the monkey bars kicked in.
He found an appetite for the events and has been participating in competitions for two years, winning more than a half-dozen events, and recently finished third at the United Ninja Athletes Association World Finals in Albuquerque.
For four days this past summer, at age 14, the McLean High School freshman was an “American Ninja Warrior Junior” participant in Los Angeles. Feinberg was one of 64 who participated in the 13-14 age group in the initial season of the show’s obstacle- course competition. It began airing in October, televised on Universal Kids and USA Network.
“That was so much fun, seeing how it all works,” Feinberg said of the experience.
Episode 10, which includes Feinberg, airs Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. on Universal Kids. The family has been told not to reveal how Feinberg did in the competition.
The show is an offshoot of the popular adult (19 and older) American Ninja Warrior version on NBC, recently concluding its 10th season.
Feinberg and his mother, Debbie, each said Max was not a big climber as a toddler. The climbing bug began at age 9 or 10.
“Things are made to be climbed and jumped over,” Max said. “I played soccer and didn’t enjoy that, tried Taekwondo and it never really clicked. No other sports really worked for me. Something clicked on the monkey bars and I really took to it. I’d spend the entire half-hour recess mastering the monkey bars and get bloody palms. After school, I’d want to go back and climb more and on other stuff. I’ve been doing this for four years now. I want to keep going and training hard.”
Feinberg trains at the Northern Virginia Ninja Training obstacle course in Sterling. He also works out in the basement in his parents’ home on Westmoreland Street, sometimes two or three hours a night. That’s where a climbing zone and training facility was assembled over time.
Feinberg also now coaches some young climbers.