Earlier this year I decided that I would send in a submission video for American Ninja Warrior. I watched the Japanese version when I was in high school, and it always seemed like it would be something fun to do. When I arrived in Denver for the qualifiers in May, I really didn't know what I was getting into. Silly me, I assumed that the whole qualifying round would take about an hour. I am going to call that my typical Cher from Clueless moment, which happens at least once a day. Looking at the obstacle course I couldn't wait to try it out. Growing up doing gymnastics, rock climbing, and pole vaulting, heights and swinging around have always been things that I like to do. A giant obstacle course is basically like a playground for adults, and I think that most people would agree that when you see it you feel like a kid again. The only thing you want to do is try everything and start swinging around.
As I approached the start of the course I felt a familiar feeling of overwhelming nerves. This feeling is a common one that I experience in every climbing competition. It is the moment right before my 5 minutes starts on a boulder problem. Following that feeling of overwhelming nerves I think to myself "whatever, just go and listen to your body." The same exact thing happened the night of my qualifying round of American Ninja Warrior, and the next thing I knew I was already through the Quintuple Steps. The next obstacle that I took a moment to prepare for was the mini -tramp jump to the cones. I knew that as long as I got to the cones I would be fine, but it was getting there that worried me. Since I am a former gymnast I know how to jump on a trampoline, but it is hard to tell how far away the objects that you are jumping to will be. As I leapt from the trampoline towards the holds I was ecstatic when I felt the cones securely in my hands. I cannot express how badly I wanted to stay dry during this whole run.
As I walked up to the Devil Steps I wasn't that worried. People who know my climbing style know that I am a very powerful climber, and I tend to not use my feet as much as I should at times. That being said, campusing up stairs seemed like the perfect obstacle for me. In the end I may have underestimated this obstacle a little bit. After watching each guy complete the obstacle the gap at the top didn't look that bad. The moment that I got to the last step on my way up I realized that the gap was a lot bigger than it looked. As I prepared to commit to the transition move the only thing I could think was "I hope I can grab the step on the other side." Once I felt the step in my hand I immediately pinched the step and felt a sigh of relief. I was feeling a bit fatigued as I campused down the steps, but I knew I had enough left to complete the course.
As I walked up to the Warped Wall I knew that I could do it. I was definitely tired, but I know that the body can always handle more than you think it can. Knowing that I only had three tries to complete the obstacle brought me back to a familiar feeling. This time to one that brought me back to my time as a Pole Vaulter. As I fell off the lip of the wall on my first attempt I was excited because I knew it was possible for me. After falling on my second attempt I realized that I just needed to relax, breathe, and let my body take over. When I grabbed the lip on my third attempt I entered into a state of total euphoria! I was so excited that it took me a second to find the buzzer. I knew that the course was possible for me, but I also know from being an experienced competitor that things sometimes just happen. I have to say I am so happy that I decided to do this, because it has been such a fun experience for me!
Since the show aired on Monday I have received so many kind words from so many people. I truly appreciate all of the support from friends, family, and fans of the show! When I walked into ABC Kids Climbing Gym to coach this week I was immediately surrounded by all of the little kids that I coach telling me how proud they were of me! I am not sure if there is anything cuter than that. The climbing community has been so supportive of this endeavor that I have embarked on as well, and it means the world to me. This community never ceases to amaze me, and it is made up of some of the best people I know. I'd especially like to thank my sponsors who are all very excited for me and who have been so supportive of me: Adidas Outdoor, La Sportiva, Rockwerx, Organic Climbing, Jtree Life, and Gnarly Nutrition. It has also been lovely to receive so many messages from women around the world, athletes and non-athletes, who are all so excited and have been inspired by the show. Health and fitness are two things that are really important to me, and if I can motivate women and girls to get involved in fitness I think it is an overall win! I have always had a muscular build and been quite strong, and I remember times when I was embarrassed by my muscles. Over time I grew to accept them and be proud of being a strong and athletic woman. I hope that women and girls see that it is okay to be strong, and if they want to be strong and girlie they can be. The future of female athletes is a bright one, and I am glad I can be a part of it! Tune in to NBC for the rest of the season of American Ninja Warrior and see where my journey takes me :)!