The TV show “American Ninja Warrior” started back up this month. If you’ve always wanted to see if you have what it takes to be a ninja, a new Glendale gym has its own ninja rig. 

“It’s like a giant adult playground,” said Sara Bayer, owner of The Chasm. 

The course features a cargo net, climbing ropes, a rope ladder and monkey bars, among other obstacles. 

“I want to push people, I want to make them stronger, I want to connect with people on a physical level,” said Bayer, a Milwaukee resident. 

Group classes include “Sweatin’ to the ’80s” (a workout that incorporates Pogo balls, Skip-Its, jump ropes, Hula-Hoops, and ’80s music), “Feel the Beat” (a beginner bootcamp full-body workout), MMA conditioning (a high-intensity interval training workout), Krav Maga (a self-defense system) and boxing.

“Our world is just really serious right now and sometimes kind of depressing,” Bayer said. “I want people to have a place where they can walk in, play with toys, sweat and have a good time. You’re not going to think about your problems while you’re here.” 

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Sara Bayer owns The Chasm in Glendale. (Photo: Hannah Kirby / Now News Group)

Opening her own gym

Bayer had been personal training out of the gym at Cardinal Stritch University, her alma mater, since she was a graduate student there more than a decade ago. 

But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, she needed to find a new space to be able to continue working with her clients. 

She found a spot at 6575 N. Sidney Place, Glendale, and was able to “pull it together pretty quickly.”

“It’s amazing,” she said. “I love walking into work every day.”

She started personal training clients at The Chasm in July, and recently started holding classes. The space also offers open gym times. 

Personal training costs $35 for a half-hour session. A 12-session package for group classes costs $200. Other package options are available online.

All of the gyms offerings require preregistration, so Bayer can limit the number of people in the space. 

If you are interested in training with Bayer, sign up online or reach out to her at 

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The Chasm in Glendale has a ninja rig with a cargo net, climbing ropes, a rope ladder, monkey bars, among other obstacles. (Photo: Hannah Kirby / Now News Group)

Coronavirus precautions 

Bayer has about 30 personal training clients, most between the ages of 48 and 78, and about 10 people who consistently sign up for group classes. 

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Bayer said she is keeping class sizes down to four to six people for the time being. 

When Bayer is working with a personal training client, she said they’re usually the only two people in the gym. 

When clients enter the gym, they have to sanitize their hands. Everyone is required to wear a mask and stand 6 feet apart. Bayer said she sanitizes equipment after it’s done being used.

Where the name came from

Bayer named her gym after her favorite poem, “The Bridge Builder” by Will Allen Dromgoole.

She said there’s a “giant chasm” in the community, where people don’t go out of their way to talk or get to know strangers. She wants to use her gym to make that gap smaller. 

“It’s not just a gym to work out in,” she said. “We can mentor each other, we can help each other, we can lift each other up, we can get to know each other, we can turn strangers into friends.”

‘I always played sports’

Throughout her life, Bayer has participated in softball, baseball, basketball, jiujitsu and Krav Maga. She also played women’s semi-professional full contact tackle football on the Wisconsin Dragons, now called the Midwest Mountain Lions. 

“I always played sports,” Bayer said. “It was the thing in my life that got me through the day-to-day and through school.”

While attending Cardinal Stritch University for political science and sociology, she played softball for two years and basketball for five. She graduated in 2005. 

After college, she got into sales, where she sat at a desk all day. 

“I thought to myself, ‘This isn’t doing it for me,’ ” she said.

Bayer went back to Cardinal Stritch for her master’s degree in sports management, and ended up meeting her wife, Anna, in the university’s gym. Bayer finished her degree in 2010. 

Bayer is a certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist and performance enhancement specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. 

Before going off on her own to personal train, she worked at Bally Total Fitness in Milwaukee and LA Fitness in Glendale. 

Bayer has coached basketball at organizations throughout the Milwaukee area, including Cardinal Stritch University, Homestead High School, Nicolet High School, Rising Force Basketball Academy and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington County. 

She also worked with other Cardinal Stritch teams on strength and conditioning, and coached flag football at Milwaukee Excellence Charter School. 

“I can’t imagine doing anything else, to be honest,” Bayer said. 

Contact Hannah Kirby at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @HannahHopeKirby.

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