American Ninja Warrior: The competition you should be watching

“Do you wanna talk about physical strength? Do you want to talk about sheer muscle? Do you want to talk about the Olympian ideal? You are a God!” ~Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein

Do you want to talk about motivation for fitness at any age? Do you want to talk about amazing feats of strength, endurance, determination and intestinal fortitude?

Look no further than American Ninja Warrior!

The sixth season of American Ninja Warrior ended in September 2014 with only two contestants out of hundreds of contestants and thousands of applicants from around the United States. Making it all the way to Stage 3 of Mount Midoriyama in Las Vegas, Elet Hall and Joe Moravsky where an inspiration to both veteran Ninja Warriors and new competitors alike, not to mention all of us at home watching and screaming at the television! While they didn’t get as far into Stage 3 as Brian Arnold did last year, it was an amazing run and they should be holding their heads up high as they take some rest and then get back into training for next year.

This year held some jaw dropping upsets when seasoned and highly skilled veterans made mistakes that cost them further advancement in the competition. This season was also marked by some amazing firsts, including the first woman to ever conquer the Warped Wall, successfully complete the qualifier round, the finals and earn a shot at Stage 1 of Mount Midoriyama. Yes, I’m speaking of the indomitable, “Mighty” Kacy Cantanzaro. We also saw 52yr old Jon Stewart become the oldest competitor to complete the finals course and head to the Mountain. Stephen France, an amputee competed with a prosthetic limb in the qualifying round. Like I said, some amazing things happened!

The season finale was a 3-hour event the week following the final competition with an amazing Team USA VS The World (aka Team Japan & Team Europe). Each team got to tackle each stage of the mighty mount in Vegas. And it was an amazing fight, all the way to Stage 4, which was another first for everyone.

Four years ago, I started watching this show on a family vacation to Oregon. I’ve been a fan ever since. O.K., O.K., I’ll stop with the advertisement of the show, I know, I’m starting to geek out. Just a bit. Needless to say, if you don’t watch this show, it might do you some good and provide some motivation to get up and get going! Do a search, take a look at NBC and Esquire TV on the web, or YouTube videos and get with the program already! I can’t encourage you enough to take a look at this competition next year!

Let me tell you why I like this show so much: motivation and inspiration.

When you see the seasoned veterans fluidly run through the obstacle course like they had rehearsed it time and time again, making it look so easy…

When you see the first timers tackle the course…

When you see the various obstacles…

When you see someone staring down that Warped Wall for their third and final attempt, giving it all they have to give and either making it or coming up short by literally a finger tip or two…

When you see the comraderie and support that the contestants give each other, even when there are friendly rivalries…

When you see men and women on the same course, facing the same difficulties, and see how much of a great equalizer this course actually is…

You are inspired.

You are motivated.

During season five, every time there was a commercial break I would run over to the pull up bar and crank out a few, because I was so inspired and motivated!

Even if your goal or desire isn’t to climb get a shot on the qualifier round, you watch the show and get inspired and motivated to be a better version of yourself. Bodyweight exercises like Lunges, Squats, Push Ups, Pull Ups, Planks, Dips become desirable. Things like sprinting short distances become desirable. Why? Because you are seeing the function on-screen and you are seeing how these people are having fun and getting/staying in shape.

When Ninja Warrior came to NBC, I started doing precision jumps and box jumps to work on my power and explosiveness. I got to the point where I could do a solid, well-balanced precision jump over a six-foot two-inch gap that was elevated roughly three feet off the ground. My landing spot was about a little wider than my feet together, but half their length. So, not too bad. Not parkour professional, mind you, but pretty damn good in my mind.

You don’t need to be a free-runner or parkour practitioner to enjoy the show or reap the benefits of it.

Start small, build from there, challenge yourself. Go to a public park/playground with your kids and climb around with them.

Get out and do something!

Be strong for you.

Be Strong 4 Family.

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