McFarland man turns basement into ninja course, qualifies for American Ninja Warrior

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MCFARLAND, Wis. (WMTV) -- It was a goal that has been three years in the making-- getting on the popular show American Ninja Warrior. Fred Bartman can proudly say he has accomplished part of that goal.

"Three years ago when I started, I didn't have any experience climbing, jumping, hanging from ceilings. Nothing," Bartman said.

The 38-year-old is a middle school counselor who lives in McFarland. He has two little girls, and a supportive wife who he convinced to do something crazy.

Bartman fitted his basement into his own private ninja facility. He built a rock wall, hanging pipes, a peg board, and multiple swings.


Barman's fourth time auditioning landed him a spot in the qualifying round in Minneapolis.

He competed on the course in June, and unfortunately fell a little short of completing the course.

"It's a lot to take in. Being 20 feet on the course in the air, cameras in your face, bright lights," Bartman said, "It can get to you."

Bartman had support from his family, including his sister Kristine who motivated him to get into the niche sport. She has epilepsy and has struggled with her condition her whole life.

"Whole way through [her life], she has the best most positive outgoing personality outlook on everything and that has made a big impact on me," Bartman said.

She inspired Bartman to also create Ninja Forward. A non-profit that donates proceeds to the accommodation assistant fund at Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation.

As Bartman's love for ninja athletics grew, so did his basement.

"Sometimes the whole house shakes," Michelle Bartman said.

Michelle says she drew the line when he asked to have a warp wall go up through her office. Surprisingly, Michelle says she likes the set up because it keeps Fred home and around the kids more. It also serves as a way for their daughters to burn some energy.