One of America’s popular TV shows, “American Ninja Warrior,” is returning for its 10th season this summer and its seventh full season on NBC-TV. This action-packed program follows competitors as they tackle a series of challenging obstacle courses in both city qualifying and city final rounds across the country. One of the competitors you may see on the show in Indianapolis, which is a two-hour episode scheduled to air on Mon., June 18, at 7 p.m., is a Hazelwood resident named John Wilmas, age 37.
Wilmas went to the city of Indianapolis for the taping of the show on April 29-30. Although he’s sworn to secrecy not to reveal the show’s outcome, Wilmas can describe where the event was held. “The course was awesome. It was a semi-circle course around the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in the center of downtown Indianapolis. There were over 100 contestants. I ran the course as well as I could,” John Wilmas said.
Wilmas is familiar with the “ins” and “outs” of trying out for “American Ninja Warrior” since he’s been doing it for the past four years. He says the key is putting together a three-minute video that tells a story, provides good personal information and shows off the applicant’s ability to do challenging obstacles. The last two videos he submitted for Season 9 (2017) and Season 10 (2018) produced call-backs and an invitation to participate at qualifying events in Kansas City and Indianapolis. But the earlier videos for Season 8 (2016) and Season (2015) generated no results.
Last year, he received a call-back to compete in the taping of the Kansas City Qualifier Show for Season 9 (2017). “In Kansas City, I almost made it to the final round. I placed 37 out of 110 contestants. It was close. We were still doing runs until about five o’clock in the morning,” Wilmas noted.
When asked what inspired him to train and compete in the “American Ninja Warrior” events, Wilmas says, “I enjoyed watching the TV show and thought I could do the obstacles. I saw it as a challenge and I started working out at the Kor Komplex. I was hooked. I began a fitness regimen to build my upper body strength and develop a stronger grip with my hands.”
He points out that in doing “American Ninja Warrior” obstacles, athletes need relative strength. According to Wilmas, “Contestants must be able to swing with their body weight or hold their body weight while suspended in air. They don’t need a body builder physique. Most of the top elite athletes on the show are not ripped. But they are very toned and do more relative strength exercises like pull-ups and dead hangs. They are built for endurance. They need to power to push forward and finish the course.”
Wilmas believes the story he shared on the last video made a difference. He referred to himself as the StairNinja and shared how he’s been recruiting his co-workers to get involved in his stair climbing fitness program and organizing StairNinja boot camps for them. He also mentioned his efforts to raise money for the American Lung Association through the “Fight for Air Climb,” which involves going up 856 steps to the top of the Metropolitan Square Building, and selling his new StairNinja t-shirts on www.teespring.com and donating the proceeds. In addition, Wilmas used footage of him doing some of the obstacles at Hazelwood’s new ninja obstacle course at Howdershell Park.
When asked about his thoughts of Hazelwood’s new ninja obstacle course, Wilmas said, “What a great idea! I’m proud it’s here in my hometown so I can use it.” Wilmas has spent most of his life in the City of Hazelwood. He grew up living on Villa Rosa in the Villa Maria subdivision. Now, he still lives in Hazelwood with his family in the Mary Jo subdivision.
He sees it as a great way to promote fitness and to keep teens and young adults away from their cell phones for a while. “I believe this would be a great activity for parents to do with their pre-teen and teenage children. My six-year-old son, Kaiden, likes to come up with me to Howdershell Park and try to do some of the obstacles. I call him my Mini StairNinja because he tries to emulate everything I do. Since he can’t do all of the obstacles, he likes to go over and spend time on the playground. That’s fine with me because playing with him at the playground is a workout in itself. Four or five years down the road, I can envision both of us climbing these obstacles together,” Wilmas added.