The Inspiring Women of American Ninja Warrior

American Ninja Warrior has become an extremely popular show across the country. The female competitors on the show have proved to be strong and inspiring, and this article from The Cut proves just that.

We recently saw the conclusion of the US Open, a championship event where men and women athletes compete on the same stage, appear on the same TV channel, and are eligible for the same prize money. Tennis is one of the few athletic pursuits where that’s true. American Ninja Warrior ¡ª the successful sports competition show whose season-four finale aired last night on NBC ¡ª is another.

The American Ninja Warrior vibe is CrossFit meets American Gladiators, with competitors in singlets climbing red, white, and blue obstacles in front of a screaming crowd. (When someone falls off an obstacle and into the water pit below, an air horn sounds.) Yet despite the seemingly testosterone-soaked ambiance, the show has become a surprising hotbed for gender equality. Following competitors as they move from qualifying rounds to the finals in Las Vegas, the show offers men and women the chance to run on the same course and compete for the same $1 million prize. Until last night, no one had ever finished the course, but millions of people still watch athletes of all sizes and walks of life try. ANW averaged 5 million viewers in 2014 and climbed to 7.1 million this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. NBC recently renewed the show for its fifth season on its network and eighth overall (it aired on G4 from 2009 to 2012).

Obstacles like the 14-foot Warped Wall and curtain-on-a-zip-line Silk Slider are challenging for sure, but they’re certainly not as sadistic as, say, those on Wipeout. The athletes can and do get past them: You have to imagine that people watch because they want to see the Ninjas slap the buzzer at the end of the course. And increasingly, those elated Ninjas are women. Executive producer Kent Weed of A. Smith & Co. Productions says applications from women have increased every season, especially so after last year when a five-foot former gymnast named Kacy Catanzaro became the first woman to scale the Warped Wall, finish a qualifying course, attempt (and finish) a city finals course, and qualify for Vegas. The YouTube clip of Kacy finishing the 2014 Dallas Finals course has nearly 11 million views and is still the most popular video on the show’s channel.

Catanzaro didn’t fare as well this year (she fell in the qualifying round and earned a wildcard entry to Vegas), but she’s made her mark. Weed says her success has helped other women competitors believe that they can do as well as ¡ª or better than ¡ª the men. “Kacy opened a new door for them and gave people more confidence,” he said. “When you have confidence, your abilities take you the rest of the way.” To wit, after Kacy climbed the wall last season, two more women accomplished the feat: personal trainer Michelle Warnky and rock climber Meagan Martin. This season, we saw stuntwoman Jessie Graff conquer the wall and complete a city finals course, becoming the second woman since Catanzaro to qualify for Vegas outright. Martin equaled her 2014 Vegas performance by reaching the Warped Wall before timing out, and Graff joined her as the only other woman to get that far in Vegas.

When Kacy got up the Warped Wall, she was also the shortest person to do so, Weed says. In the spirit of equality, the producers do take height into consideration when designing obstacles: One test, the Body Prop, has three different settings. But otherwise, it’s just everyone versus the course, and people may be surprised by the Ninjas who do well, says Kristen Stabile, co-executive producer of ANW. For instance, former NFL players and Olympic gymnasts have come and fallen. “When you see a guy who’s well-built, maybe 220 pounds, go down on the third obstacle and then the 145-pound, five-foot-seven athlete comes up and whips right through the course, that’s exciting,” she says. “We’ve given a forum to an athlete that’s not necessarily celebrated in traditional sports.”

Women have advantages in certain sections of the course, Stabile says. “Women traditionally have better balance than men so that’s something that’s always benefited them on some of the earlier obstacles.” And Weed says that women’s height-to-weight ratio can serve them well on the later, hanging obstacles because they have less force pulling them down. But ANW is as much mental as it is physical. As Weed says of the single course, “We felt that the true nature of American Ninja Warrior was that anybody could come, anybody could compete ¡ª and anybody could fall on any given day, too.”

After moving from G4 to NBC, the show’s viewership began to shift from predominantly male to slightly more female. (Weed says it was about 52 percent versus 48 percent this year.) Part of that change is the result of going to a major network, but it’s also likely that women are tuning in as more and more female athletes break ground on a platform where they’re equal to men. “We are so excited about women in this sport,” Weed says. “I love that we created something that can actually be an equalizer between men and women.”

Check out more great stories from The Cut:

3 Easy Moves For Defined Calves”>Ana Ivanovic on Ice Baths, Jet Lag, and Treating Yourself”> Study Shows One-Third of American Kids Eat Fast Food on Any Given DayImage Source: Getty

The Inspiring Women of American Ninja Warrior

American Ninja Warrior has become an extremely popular show across the country. The female competitors on the show have proved to be strong and inspiring| and this article from The Cut proves just that.

We recently saw the conclusion of the US Open| a championship event where men and women athletes compete on the same stage| appear on the same TV channel| and are eligible for the same prize money. Tennis is one of the few athletic pursuits where that’s true. American Ninja Warrior the successful sports competition show whose season-four finale aired last night on NBC is another.

The American Ninja Warrior vibe is CrossFit meets American Gladiators| with competitors in singlets climbing red| white| and blue obstacles in front of a screaming crowd. (When someone falls off an obstacle and into the water pit below| an air horn sounds.) Yet despite the seemingly testosterone-soaked ambiance| the show has become a surprising hotbed for gender equality. Following competitors as they move from qualifying rounds to the finals in Las Vegas| the show offers men and women the chance to run on the same course and compete for the same $1 million prize. Until last night| no one had ever finished the course| but millions of people still watch athletes of all sizes and walks of life try. ANW averaged 5 million viewers in 2014 and climbed to 7.1 million this year| according to The Hollywood Reporter. NBC recently renewed the show for its fifth season on its network and eighth overall (it aired on G4 from 2009 to 2012).

Obstacles like the 14-foot Warped Wall and curtain-on-a-zip-line Silk Slider are challenging for sure| but they’re certainly not as sadistic as| say| those on Wipeout. The athletes can and do get past them: You have to imagine that people watch because they want to see the Ninjas slap the buzzer at the end of the course. And increasingly| those elated Ninjas are women. Executive producer Kent Weed of A. Smith & Co. Productions says applications from women have increased every season| especially so after last year when a five-foot former gymnast named Kacy Catanzaro became the first woman to scale the Warped Wall| finish a qualifying course| attempt (and finish) a city finals course| and qualify for Vegas. The YouTube clip of Kacy finishing the 2014 Dallas Finals course has nearly 11 million views and is still the most popular video on the show’s channel.

Catanzaro didn’t fare as well this year (she fell in the qualifying round and earned a wildcard entry to Vegas)| but she’s made her mark. Weed says her success has helped other women competitors believe that they can do as well as ¡ª or better than ¡ª the men. “Kacy opened a new door for them and gave people more confidence|” he said. “When you have confidence| your abilities take you the rest of the way.” To wit| after Kacy climbed the wall last season| two more women accomplished the feat: personal trainer Michelle Warnky and rock climber Meagan Martin. This season| we saw stuntwoman Jessie Graff conquer the wall and complete a city finals course| becoming the second woman since Catanzaro to qualify for Vegas outright. Martin equaled her 2014 Vegas performance by reaching the Warped Wall before timing out| and Graff joined her as the only other woman to get that far in Vegas.

When Kacy got up the Warped Wall| she was also the shortest person to do so| Weed says. In the spirit of equality| the producers do take height into consideration when designing obstacles: One test| the Body Prop| has three different settings. But otherwise| it’s just everyone versus the course| and people may be surprised by the Ninjas who do well| says Kristen Stabile| co-executive producer of ANW. For instance| former NFL players and Olympic gymnasts have come and fallen. “When you see a guy who’s well-built| maybe 220 pounds| go down on the third obstacle and then the 145-pound| five-foot-seven athlete comes up and whips right through the course| that’s exciting|” she says. “We’ve given a forum to an athlete that’s not necessarily celebrated in traditional sports.”

Women have advantages in certain sections of the course| Stabile says. “Women traditionally have better balance than men so that’s something that’s always benefited them on some of the earlier obstacles.” And Weed says that women’s height-to-weight ratio can serve them well on the later| hanging obstacles because they have less force pulling them down. But ANW is as much mental as it is physical. As Weed says of the single course| “We felt that the true nature of American Ninja Warrior was that anybody could come| anybody could compete ¡ª and anybody could fall on any given day| too.”

After moving from G4 to NBC| the show’s viewership began to shift from predominantly male to slightly more female. (Weed says it was about 52 percent versus 48 percent this year.) Part of that change is the result of going to a major network| but it’s also likely that women are tuning in as more and more female athletes break ground on a platform where they’re equal to men. “We are so excited about women in this sport|” Weed says. “I love that we created something that can actually be an equalizer between men and women.”

Check out more great stories from The Cut:

3 Easy Moves For Defined Calves”>Ana Ivanovic on Ice Baths| Jet Lag| and Treating Yourself”> Study Shows One-Third of American Kids Eat Fast Food on Any Given DayImage Source: Getty

Train Like a Badass: American Ninja Warrior Kacy Catanzaro’s Workout Tips

Let’s not forget former gymnast Kacy Catanzaro’s impressive performance last month on the reality show American Ninja Warrior, where she made history by becoming the first woman to complete the arduous qualifier obstacle course. Next up: Kacy competes tonight, Sept. 1, in the US finals. In the meantime, we wanted to know Kacy’s secret to completing a course that has stumped countless muscled men and women before her, so we asked her to share her favorite training tips. Whether you’re training for a Mud Run or marathon, Kacy’s advice will surely help you snag your own personal record.

Wake up, work out: “The longer that the day goes on, the more you wish you had already worked out,” Kacy says. “You always have to get that strength training in to keep your body at where it needs to be and able to do those extra things.” That’s why she strength trains in the morning as soon as she (and boyfriend/coach Brent Steffensen) wake up. Of course, they don’t stop there: in the evening the duo fits in another workout by practicing obstacles or going rock climbing.

No equipment necessary: One look at Kacy and it’s obvious that she’s a lean mean machine, which she attributes to her equipment-free circuit training. “Our workouts are all bodyweight workouts,” she says. ” Our goal is to be as light and lean as possible and as strong as you can be. We do lots of different kinds of pull-ups: strict pull-ups, neutral pull-ups, wide-arm pull-ups, which really get your back.” Other favorite muscle-sculpting moves for Kacy and Brent are handstand push-ups and hanging TRX rows.

Speak it: “No matter what people might think, talk to yourself whenever something is going on, because when you say something out loud it’s different than just being inside your own head,” Kacy says. “If I feel like I’m inside my head too much, instead of fighting back and forth that way, I just talk, and I’m like, ‘OK. No. Push that away. Bring some positive thoughts in.’ And it does help get over those negative thoughts.”

Make small goals: Signing up for a big challenge may seem daunting, which is why Kacy takes it one day at a time. “Make sure you make little goals on the way,” she advises. “Obviously nobody reaches their goal as quickly as they would like to and you can get discouraged. If you have this huge goal that seems out of reach for you and you’re only half really believing you can get there it’s really going to hinder your journey there.” Instead, Kacy recommends counting progress in smaller increments, like adding one more push-up to your set or meeting a daily or weekly goal.

Believe in yourself: It wasn’t luck that got Kacy up the wall and to the final buzzer ¡ª despite many people not believing that a woman could ever complete the course, she knew that she could. “I wanted to do it for myself to prove that I could do it, but also for other women showing them, ‘Hey, this isn’t impossible. You can do it, too,'” she explains. “You have to believe in yourself. Because if you come in and you’ve worked hard but you don’t believe that you’re going to get to the top, you’re not going to.”

Image Source: Getty

Train Like a Badass: American Ninja Warrior Kacy Catanzaro’s Workout Tips

Let’s not forget former gymnast Kacy Catanzaro’s impressive performance last month on the reality show American Ninja Warrior| where she made history by becoming the first woman to complete the arduous qualifier obstacle course. Next up: Kacy competes tonight| Sept. 1| in the US finals. In the meantime| we wanted to know Kacy’s secret to completing a course that has stumped countless muscled men and women before her| so we asked her to share her favorite training tips. Whether you’re training for a Mud Run or marathon| Kacy’s advice will surely help you snag your own personal record.

Wake up| work out: “The longer that the day goes on| the more you wish you had already worked out|” Kacy says. “You always have to get that strength training in to keep your body at where it needs to be and able to do those extra things.” That’s why she strength trains in the morning as soon as she (and boyfriend/coach Brent Steffensen) wake up. Of course| they don’t stop there: in the evening the duo fits in another workout by practicing obstacles or going rock climbing.

No equipment necessary: One look at Kacy and it’s obvious that she’s a lean mean machine| which she attributes to her equipment-free circuit training. “Our workouts are all bodyweight workouts|” she says. ” Our goal is to be as light and lean as possible and as strong as you can be. We do lots of different kinds of pull-ups: strict pull-ups| neutral pull-ups| wide-arm pull-ups| which really get your back.” Other favorite muscle-sculpting moves for Kacy and Brent are handstand push-ups and hanging TRX rows.

Speak it: “No matter what people might think| talk to yourself whenever something is going on| because when you say something out loud it’s different than just being inside your own head|” Kacy says. “If I feel like I’m inside my head too much| instead of fighting back and forth that way| I just talk| and I’m like| ‘OK. No. Push that away. Bring some positive thoughts in.’ And it does help get over those negative thoughts.”

Make small goals: Signing up for a big challenge may seem daunting| which is why Kacy takes it one day at a time. “Make sure you make little goals on the way|” she advises. “Obviously nobody reaches their goal as quickly as they would like to and you can get discouraged. If you have this huge goal that seems out of reach for you and you’re only half really believing you can get there it’s really going to hinder your journey there.” Instead| Kacy recommends counting progress in smaller increments| like adding one more push-up to your set or meeting a daily or weekly goal.

Believe in yourself: It wasn’t luck that got Kacy up the wall and to the final buzzer ¡ª despite many people not believing that a woman could ever complete the course| she knew that she could. “I wanted to do it for myself to prove that I could do it| but also for other women showing them| ‘Hey| this isn’t impossible. You can do it| too|'” she explains. “You have to believe in yourself. Because if you come in and you’ve worked hard but you don’t believe that you’re going to get to the top| you’re not going to.”

Image Source: Getty