I Auditioned for American Ninja Warrior. Now What?

By Jackelyn Ho

So it’s been quite a while since you last saw me train. How have things been since?

It’s been okay. Just okay. I wish that I could tell you that I went hardcore beast mode and I can salmon ladder my way up the Empire State Building. But, alas, I cannot. I strongly dislike making excuses, but the reality of the matter is that I have a full-time job, I still commute like crazy, and getting in a full workout without compromising sleep or sanity is really, really hard. If Caltrain had a gym on board, then maybe I would truly be the next American Ninja Warrior.

I’ve been able to make small gains, though. My pull up number has gone up to about 8 consecutive pull-ups on a good day (is that even good?) and my jumps are getting a little bit higher each time. I still see an ocean of accomplishments ahead of me and I constantly wonder why I can’t do 20 pull-ups or keep a bent-elbow hang for more than a few seconds. I get frustrated at my lack of progression and then I start back at square one. Plus, keeping video footage of these movements should make me feel really epic when I look at them. Instead, I honestly feel so lame.

I’ve gone back to APEX Movement Norcal a few times, the American Ninja Warrior training facility here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I haven’t gone too often because it’s an hour and a half from where I live and I just don’t have much commute patience these days. So, my attendance there has been infrequent and my progression has shown that.

Alas, I made a promise to myself that I would try training for this anyway and I did. I will say this: I am not as strong or as agile or as graceful as some of the superhuman athletes on the show. But, I try my best to make little gains there every day. All I can ask for is that I am getting stronger compared to myself. That’s what I wanted out of this, right?

Right. They say that comparison is the thief of joy and that is so true. I started this journey because I was inspired by Meagan Martin, the female elite on the show. Once I got down to it, I got so overwhelmed and intimidated by how difficult these obstacles really were that I kept beating myself down whenever I didn’t succeed. I usually like to know what I’m doing and I generally feel pretty physically strong. To constantly fail felt so heartbreaking.

Regardless of my internal battles, I’ve continued training. I fit in 30-minute workouts focused on ninja warrior-type movements 4-5 days a week and definitely have had some good and bad days. For me, I have accomplished the goal of becoming stronger than I was when I started. I am a little less afraid of physically falling than I once was (although, it still makes my palms sweaty to think about tumbling off a 10-foot warped wall).

I know I still have a long way to go with my training. That’s the thing — I don’t think it ever stops. There’s always more to do, more to accomplish, more impossible things to make possible. Today, this is where I am. Today, these are the things that I can do. Whether or not it’s strong enough to be on the show, I’ll leave that in the hands of the show’s producers. For now, this is what I am capable of and I am proud. Tonight, I’ll sleep and tomorrow, I shall conquer new heights.

Update 2/11/16: I submitted my application in January and heard a follow-up in late January. If I make it then I will hear back once more. If I don’t make it, then I will hear nothing. Keep your fingers crossed!