Photo credits: Nicole Spear Photography (Grooming Photos) & UNAA (Ninja Photos)
Will you remember exactly where you were and what was going through your mind the moment you decided to move forward with the one step, one action—even as small as clicking a button or picking up the phone—that could change everything?
You’ll know that you won’t be able to look back, but you will also know that this one action could open the doors to your dreams, bringing new challenges and pushing you beyond what you thought possible. In the moments before you decide to move forward, you think about how far you are willing to push yourself to reach your dreams. As hard as you think it will be, it is going to be even harder than that.
When it comes to climbing over obstacles, resilience is important. But as important to this story as resilience is, it is not the only thing that made the journey of pet groomer Kat Henschen possible. Hard work, determination, a certain amount of time management and organization, and love and support from caring people are all a part of the recipe in Henschen’s case.
Kat Henschen, also known as “The Ninja Groomer” (@theninjagroomer), is a groomer with a passion for Ninja obstacle sports. And it takes a whole lot of strength and training to jump, run, climb, balance and fly through these courses.
For Henschen, climbing over obstacles and having the strength to get up and keep doing it, even after painful falls and crashes, takes on literal meaning. Henschen is an animal lover and an athlete with a competitive drive. She spends her days caring for animals on her micro farm as well as all of the pets she grooms (and adores) in her salon, “Platinum Paws,” which she owns with her husband in Carmel, Indiana. But she doesn’t stop there.
Henschen is also passionate about grooming rescue dogs and giving them the love and patience they so deeply need. She has even been involved in Barkleigh’s prestigious “Rescue Round Up,” a nationwide grooming competition where groomers style local rescue dogs to help improve their appearance and expose them to potential adopters.
As a business owner and groomer, it takes determination and planning to balance it all with intense workouts and training. Even while recovering from knee injuries and surgeries, Henschen knew what she wanted to do, and with a whole lot of determination and support from her husband, she applied for NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”
Imagine still recovering from past injuries while completing an application for such a challenging competition. Henschen didn’t let that stop her.
“I’m still recovering, and I’m hitting that send button on the application on the computer,” Henschen explains.
Henschen’s competitive drive and determination come naturally for her.
“I think that it was something I was born with,” she says. “It was something that was given to me in my heart from the beginning. In gymnastics, my coach used to say, ‘You have one percent talent and ninety–nine percent determination.’ I have always had that resilience.”
Although she may be naturally competitive, Henschen has not had it easy. From injuries to extreme difficulties that she has encountered throughout her life, it took a lot to move forward. As Henschen explains, she had to dig deeper than what might have seemed possible in order to find strength to build on.
“You have to find a ‘why’,” explains Henschen.
Having a goal to focus on and one that would require her to push hard was one of Henschen’s “whys” when it comes to Ninja.
“When you’ve hit bottom and you need something to believe in, it was nice to have this to follow through with,” Henschen expresses.
As for grooming dogs, Henschen also has a reason she shares: “And for the dogs, they put so much love in my heart that I feel, I give that back to them.”
Henschen’s competitive interest isn’t just for Ninja. She also began competing in grooming contests with her standard Poodle around 2012.
“I would learn something new at every competition. I would always learn something from the judge,” says Henschen.
In the competitive grooming world, Henschen brings the same amount of determination and hard work which has helped her bring home wins and placements.
“I had to keep coming back, and I had to be vulnerable to feedback and not knowing what I was doing,” she explains. “Being willing to be taught, willing to learn and being humble. I had to do that.”
By now, every groomer is wondering one thing—how does she do it all? A busy salon, competing and Ninja, how does Henschen balance it all?
A part of achieving your dreams is finding a way, no matter what. Kat Henschen found her “whys” and then she figured out a way to make it all work.
“I get up at 4:00 a.m. and I do a thirty–minute workout, then I do all the chores; take care of the horses and the chickens,” she says.
She will oftentimes combine her workouts with her chores; balancing on posts, jumping between hay bales and doing pull–ups on the stalls.
When it comes to balancing Ninja with business, Henschen has loyal and supportive clients and a knack for future planning which makes it all work.
“I book my schedule so all of my clients are booked up for an entire year,” she explains. “I think it helps knowing exactly what my week is going to look like a month from now. It helps me plan better. It’s still fluid, but it’s a good starting point.”
Kat Henschen’s story is one of hard work, but without that one action of sitting in front of her computer and hitting “submit,” she would have never found herself living one of her biggest dreams.
Even after injuries and being in places so low it took everything to come back from them; after writing it off, thinking, they must not be making calls anymore due to the pandemic, Ninja Groomer Kat Henschen received the life–changing call.
That was the day Henschen found out she would be competing on season 12 of NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”
“It was a lot to take in in that moment, and I’ll never forget that moment. Ever,” she shares.
There is so much we can learn from Kat Henschen’s story—no matter what your dreams are and even if you have not yet discovered them.
Could it be opening a salon, walking into the show ring for the first time, teaching a seminar or grooming a breed you are not confident with? Whatever seems difficult might not be out of reach with the right amount of determination. When it seems difficult, there are really only two options; give up or persevere.
“It is hard. It’s really hard. There are days that I have to dig so deep. My hands are ripped from being in the gym, so washing dogs and getting shampoo on my hands first thing in the morning, it’s hard; it’s painful. My muscles are sore a lot of the times, but you have to push through,” Henschen shares.
For groomers who know all too well what it is like to have challenging days, remember one more thing that Kat Henschen shares: “I feel like any groomer is a Ninja, really. It takes so much. People have no idea how much stamina it takes to be a groomer day in and day out.”
What’s the next obstacle you will climb? ✂️