Channeling Your Inner Ninja

American Ninja Warrior - Season 6I’ve already admitted to being an American Idol fan, but I have a new reality TV obsession.

It’s called American Ninja Warrior.

Have you heard of it?
Have you watched it?
Do you love it?

I LOVE it.

My 91-year-old grandpa is to blame for turning me into an ANW junkie. Since Grandma passed away he spends a lot of time at my parents’ house watching the Lawrence Welk reruns my mom records for him.

We were at my folks’ house one night, so I settled on the couch next to Grandpa to enjoy polyester palooza embellished with bubbles. Grandpa turned on the TV, but clicked passed his usual L-Dub collection and went to a new list. As he clicked on a title I didn’t recognize, Grandpa got an animated look on his face I haven’t seen in months and said, “Watch this. It’s pretty neat!”

Just a few minutes into the show I wholeheartedly agreed with Grandpa.

In case you’re not in the Ninja know, I’ll give you the low down. People from all walks of life tryout to compete on extreme obstacle courses that challenge athletic strength, agility and balance. There are ropes to swing on, monkey bars to maneuver across, walls to climb up and so forth. Competitions are held around the country and as competitors complete the courses they advance until a champion is crowned and awarded a substantial cash prize.

Why do I love this concept?

Because, like American Idol, it’s a Cinderella story. Deep down most of us have dreams of being a princess, a ninja, a rock star or some other delusional entity. Plucked from obscurity and commonness to be or do something extraordinary! The ninja competitors are electricians, cowboys, accountants, rock climbers, bankers, recovering addicts, doctors, moms, dads, chefs, etc. who push the parameters of ordinary to see if dreams really can come true, and I find it fascinating and inspiring.

The only training programs available for ANW are what competitors create by themselves. Some have built homemade courses in their backyards. Others use nature’s terrain of rocks, trees and park benches. A few mavericks have even opened up ninja training gyms on their own as a fitness outlet for people who either train to compete or just for fun. One top competitor trains with a boy with autism who has progressed leaps and bounds beyond other therapies his parent’s have tried to help with his disorder. Another guy started training to fight an early onset of rheumatoid arthritis. Then there’s the 52-year old grandpa from Utah who made us proud by being the oldest competitor to make it to the finals. All these people are inspired by a fanciful idea of becoming an American Ninja Warrior but, while only one person actually gets the title, many lives are changed for the better by pursuing a dream.

You never know what channeling your inner ninja can do.

It might make you think that even though you’ve been an unknown homemaker for 15 years, if you just keep writing and submitting you might actually get a real professional writing gig. Or it might just make you change the channel one night and discover a TV show that makes you feel young and alive again.

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