Does Colleen triumph over the warped wall? Listen to the audio to find out!
American Ninja Warrior is an obstacle course competition where hundreds of competitors compete in numerous cities around the United States, all hoping to win a top prize of $1,000,000.00. One such contestant is Colleen McCormack. She came on the College Talks & More show to discuss her time on American Ninja Warrior, her fitness, and her diet.
Colleen, why don’t you tell us more about your athletic background and your training?
My journey into athletics really started in high school. I was active as a child, like any average kid. High school was where I really got introduced to athletics. I was a cheerleader all four years. I made varsity my sophomore year. I was co-captain my senior year. I also took a weight training class as an elective in my sophomore year. I really pinpoint that class as what really got me interested in fitness as a whole. I got into fitness just to see what kind of changes my body would take. I also really enjoyed eating. So I figured as I was getting older in my twenties, and then later into my thirties, I wanted to make sure that I was finding the correct balance between food and exercise, because it is very important.
What made you start training to be on an obstacle course?
I started watching American Ninja Warrior, and I was just immediately hooked that year. It just so happened to be the year where another female had a breakthrough run that really changed the viewpoint of the show and kind of shifted it a little more towards the female athletes. After watching her and being super inspired, I wanted to try and go for it. I just was fortunate enough that I qualified and got on the show.
What was the application process like to be a competitor on American Ninja warrior?
The application process is a little bit daunting. There’s two parts: there is an online application as well as a video. The online application is a collection of short answer questions, and they really want to know everything about you. They want to know your family history, your athletic history, what you do for a living, where you live, if you’re involved in any special organizations, if there’s anything unique about you. That’s where you create your story. Then you translate that into a three minute video that reflects everything that you said in the application. You obviously also want to show your training as well, so they can see that you’re actually capable of completing the obstacles on the show.
What do you do for training?
I train a minimum of four to a maximum of six days a week. It really depends on how recovered I’m feeling. I do a lot of bodyweight training, especially focusing on activating a multitude of muscle groups in one workout, because on the obstacle course you’re really just lifting your own body. So having that advantage of being able to do a lot of pull-ups, being able to hang from a bar for an extended period of time, using a lot of core muscles, really helps. I train using mostly body weight, multiple muscle groups. I definitely work on endurance training as well. I do some sprint work, and I will go to my local Ninja gym that has replica obstacles. We’ll run through obstacle courses at the Ninja gym. That definitely becomes very helpful, because there you can work on the fear aspect too. The fear is always going to be there, but you know that you can still perform despite it being there.
How hard was the course really? And did the audience and other competitors ever get into your head?
It’s pretty hard. I can’t lie about that. It really is one shot and done. You don’t get any practice runs or anything like that. For me, personally, I have no problem performing in front of an audience. I use the energy from the audience, and I also try not to let other competitors get in my head, because sometimes that does happen. For the most part, everyone is just a big community, and we all want to see each other do well. It’s usually very positive interactions from other competitors.
How many seasons did you compete on American Ninja Warrior?
I competed for four consecutive seasons, 2016-2019.
Many people see the obstacle course for what it is, America’s craziest playground, but you see it as a metaphor for life. How is that?
As far as the obstacles being a metaphor for life, that’s kind of one of the things that drew me into it. From the fellow competitors on the show, you will see them sharing these vulnerable stories. Along with that, paired with Kacy’s huge success, is what really got me hooked. I’ve certainly been through my fair share of obstacles in life. My mother passed away from multiple sclerosis when I was 15. When I was 27, my father became mentally and physically handicapped. Using athletics as a coping mechanism, especially in an environment as positive as American Ninja Warrior and using the obstacles on the show to overcome obstacles in life, really just helped me to survive all of that.
Do you plan on competing on American Ninja Warrior again?
I plan on competing again. I would love to have year five under my belt. This year, due to COVID, they filmed an abbreviated season. Even though I applied, I didn’t get selected this year, but I’m not going to let that hold me back. I want to amp up my training, have my application ready for next year, and really hope that next year I’ll get another chance at it.
What do you think makes for a good athlete?
To be a good athlete you have to have a really strong mental grit, in addition to the physical training. I would say it’s probably evenly split between accumulating the physicality as well as having the mental grit. Being humble is also very important. There’s always something to learn through athletics and through training. When you can be humble and honest with yourself, that’s where you’ll really begin to peak in your performance.
How important is good sportsmanship. And can you give us a few example of what good sportsmanship is?
Good sportsmanship is definitely critical. I’m a big believer in the power of positivity. The moment an athlete exudes any negativity, whether it be toward another athlete, or if it’s just being mad at the obstacle course because the person didn’t perform as well as they wanted, that negativity is just going to snowball into other negative effects. Like I touched on before, being humble is important.
How was working at Alpha Warrior and hosting training sessions and obstacle course competitions with the alpha warrior battle ring in an effort to impact the way our armed forces train using functional fitness techniques?
It was definitely a life-changing experience. What we did with Alpha Warrior was traveled to a multitude of military bases. At the time, I was only focused on air force bases. I’ve been to about nine different air force bases from the East coast of Florida, all the way to Spokane, Washington. We would host competitions with the traveling obstacle course that we would bring to these air force bases, just to try and introduce functional fitness techniques to the armed forces, and to enhance their training methods. The goal was to introduce them to something new, get them to try something new, improve their mental grit as well. Like I said before, there’s always going to be a little bit of fear associated with trying something new. If you overcome that and still make it happen, or at the very least put forth your best effort, it is certainly life changing.
What made you decide to start training young ninjas at Evolution Dynamic Fitness?
It was just an idea that popped up. The owner of the gym had the idea, and I thought, “You know, why not? Let me put an ad out there and see what happens.” I’m no longer affiliated with the gym now, but for the two years I was able to have these training camps for these young girls, I was able to instill in them that you can be female and you can be physically strong and mentally strong. I emphasized supporting one another and having friendly competition. It was just a random idea that ended up being a huge success. I loved it.
Is there any other advice that you would like to give all the athletes out there?
I would say harness the power of positivity. Don’t let negativity interfere with what you want to accomplish. Stay consistent and stay humble.
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Does Colleen triumph over the warped wall? Listen to the audio to find out!