PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - The line from Jason Bergstrom’s audition video that likely sold the producers of the hit television show "American Ninja Warrior" wasn’t delivered until near the end of the three-minute video:
It probably didn’t hurt that for the previous two minutes and 30 seconds, those same producers watched a 40-year old father of nine jump off, climb up and tower over a home-built jungle gym in his Seminole backyard.
“I’m just a dad that is looking to inspire my kids and others and stay in shape together and have fun doing it,” Bergstrom said.
The space where a basketball court once sat is now home to the Bergstrom family’s elaborate workout structure. It features swinging rope obstacles, tires, pegs and planks of wood with varying levels of fitness requirements to master.
The entire family gets in on the fun – if you can call it that.
“Oh yeah, this is very safe,” chuckled Jason’s wife, Kathy, somewhat sarcastically. “Especially that warped wall.”
All of the obstacles are modeled after those seen by millions on the hit TV show. Jason competed on the show in Daytona, which sparked an interest to make warrior-style fitness a business in Pinellas County.
“We feel like we’re going to scratch an itch that nobody is scratching right now,” Jason said. “From the time I could remember, I was borrowing my dad’s tools and whatever nails I could find and cobbling together forts and toys.”
Now, he spends his days readying Jungle Gym, which will sit across from the Wagon Wheel Flea Market in Pinellas Park once it opens. The gym will feature obstacles for all ages and skill levels and offer the chance for people to get to know the natural, “fluid” full-body workouts that the Bergstroms have come to love.
The family started hosting workouts in their backyard last year. Their first was a kid’s event on Halloween.
“It filled up like that,” said Kathy, quickly snapping her fingers. “We thought, there’s a huge need in this area for this type of thing.”
Jason concentrated as a sander smoothed off the rough edges of a handmade, wooden “swiss cheese” board, full of holes for grabbing while suspended in the air. Dust flew onto his black Jungle Gym t-shirt.
The work will continue. Hopes to open the gym by the end of the year.
“It’s the kind of gym that does more than gives you a workout,” he said. “It’s the kind of gym that brings people together that creates community. It’s the kind of place where people are going to establish some friendships.”
Jungle Gym will be located at 8100 Park Blvd. N, Suite 301 in Pinellas Park.