American Ninja Wannabe
American Ninja Warror. Those who can, do. Those who can’t watch. And I’ve been watching.
Have you seen this show? Technically it’s a reality show, but the level of athleticism needed to compete is astounding, making it a very fascinating program.
The athletes do the most challenging things, on an almost impossible and wacky obstacle course. I’m insanely impressed and love to watch the men and women do, what seems to me, the impossible. Well frankly, to me it is impossible.
Although, for most of the challenges, I can compete with them for my own personal bests.
For 2016, one of the first Ninja challenges on the course is the ring jump over the pegs. Athletes dangle from a bar on two giant red rings, and use their entire body strength to leap up and over eight-inch high pegs atop the pole. They travel that way, leaping and moving along toward the next challenge. Failure means dropping into water below.
For me this is not unlike my leaping up to hang stuff on my closet’s severely too-high clothes rod. It takes my entire body strength to leap up and catch the plastic hanger on the bar. If the plastic hanger breaks, I go, not into the water, but into a pile of shoes. Water would hurt less.
It’s a thrill to watch these muscular Ninja women hold onto a horizontal one-inch ledge with their heels, thighs and fingertips, then drop to a vertical position, holding on only by their fingertips. The announcers go crazy about the strength of their fingertips.
Have you ever tried to open a Tupperware container of dog kibble? Once that Tupperware has been burped, to re-open it takes the same Herculean fingertip strength those Ninja’s use. Struggle for a while to pop the top without success and you’ll wish for a dunking instead of the pitying look on the Schnauzer face below.
They should have a Ninja challenge like the trial posed by my fancy new washing machine. Something where the warrior has to bend completely in half to retrieve a small object from a revolving drum, well below the tiny platform where they are perched.
I stand on a wobbly footstool, bent in half at the waist, flailing wildly, trying not to plummet head first into the washing machine, just to retrieve a wet pair of underpants. These new appliances are so bottomless that short people like me wind up on ladders, leaning down to retrieve socks with salad tongs.
I love to watch the Ninja’s leap into mid-air to grab onto a swinging cylindrical boxing bag, landing on the tiniest ledge around it. It rivals my getting up a good head of steam, jumping onto the back of my giant rolling trash can, leaning back to the proper angle and propelling a week’s worth of stinky garbage to the curb. Wheeee! Go, Waste Management Warrior!
Then there’s the Warrior Escalator challenge. The contestant has to jump from step to moving step, legs almost horizontal, hoping not to miss a foothold and get dunked in the water.
It’s really pretty similar to the happy dance I do in the yard to avoid puppy land mines. I repeat, landing in water would be better.
And finally, the 2016 Ninja Challenge course ends with the Great Wall. These mega-athletes take a running start and exercise a superhuman leap to propel themselves straight up a nearly vertical barrier. For the very few that make it, it’s on to the finals.
Ha! They have nothing on me leaping up the sheer face of the refrigerator hoping to open the cabinet above where I’ve hidden the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. For the very few times I make it, I’m on to the final wearing of my current size shorts.
Now in order to be cast on the program and to compete as a Ninja, there’s a whole application process. First, you have to fill out an essay about why you want to complete. Frankly, I’m pretty sure I can handle that challenge. Second, they say that since it’s a reality show, in addition to your physical training you must have a captivating backstory. What do you think? Mine sure wouldn’t be the same old work-out and physical fitness tale.
And finally, you have to send them a video of your training program and glimpse of your training regimen.
I’m in the process of doing a video selfie of me fishing for dish towels in the washing machine and executing my poop-dodging backyard choreography. I’ll probably have to enlist the help of a videographer to film my two-handed Girl Scout Cookie lunge and rescue.
All in all, American Ninja Warriors inspires my quest to stay fit and accomplish the activities of daily living. And it really entertains me. Maybe my video application can do the same for the show’s producers.
Ready, set, hang up those pants! Film at 11.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach, For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries, and her newest book Time Fries—Aging Gracelessly in Rehoboth Beach.