“American Ninja Warrior”
What: Buford native Trent Jarrett competes in reality TV show
When: 8 p.m. June 1
Buford native Trent Jarrett has been watching “American Ninja Warrior” since he was 8 years old.
Now, the summer after his 21st birthday, the trained gymnast will take on the challenging obstacle courses he’s dreamed of since his youth as season seven of “American Ninja Warrior” began Monday on NBC.
“The first time I ever saw the show, I knew it was something I wanted to do,” Jarrett said. “When I really started thinking about doing it, I wasn’t old enough yet. As soon as I turned 21, I started training for it.”
Scott Jarrett, Trent’s father, mentioned that they were particularly intrigued when Kacy Catanzaro, a 4-foot 11-inch former gymnast, completed the regional courses and moved on to finals in Las Vegas.
“We saw her, and saw that she could do it,” Scott Jarrett said. “We were originally concerned about Trent’s height being a challenge (he’s 5 feet, 1 inch tall), but we saw that former gymnasts did really well because of their grip strength and upper body strength.”
Trent Jarrett trained at the Atlanta School of Gymnastics for seven years before pursuing “ninja”-style training while in Chicago. He returned to Georgia over the winter holidays and trained with former ninja Ryan Stratis at NinjaKour at CrossFit Gym in Lilburn, which features a number of obstacles similar to those on the show.
“We went down to the gym just to watch some former ninjas practice, and they said, ‘Oh, you have to try it; you have to do it,’” said Scott Jarrett. “They trained with him and then told him ‘You really do need to apply, and you should do it now.’”
To be on the show, Trent Jarrett had to put together an audition video telling his life story, showing his training and explaining why he wanted to be on the show.
“I sent the video in around January, and a couple weeks later I got the call that they liked my story and wanted me to come do the show,” Trent Jarrett said.
However, there were still a number of hoops Jarrett had to jump through, literally and figuratively, to secure his spot. First, he had to make sure competing on the show wouldn’t interfere with his collegiate gymnastics competitions. He is a member of the gymnastics team at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
“First of all, we wanted to make sure doing the show wouldn’t interfere with his eligibility,” said Scott Jarrett. “We talked to his gymnastics coach and got it cleared, and then we started training.”
As long as filming and training for “American Ninja Warrior” didn’t take Trent Jarrett away from competitions or schooling or cause him to be injured, he was free to participate in the show.
“I was really hoping to do (American Ninja) regionals in Kansas City or Orlando because they were the ones after the NCAA competition,” Jarrett said. If they were before his collegiate season ended, he would likely have been unable to compete since it required a four-day trip away from campus and practice. Luckily, he was selected for the Kansas City regionals in April.
“Once practices are over, our coaches want us to stay in shape, so training for the show helped me do that,” Jarrett said.
During the competition, the top 30 participants from the first course move on to the second day’s competition, which adds three or more obstacles to the original course. Then, the top 15 from the second course reach the finals in Las Vegas. Jarrett isn’t allowed to tell how many of the courses he completed.
“You’ll just have to watch the show to find out,” he said. The Kansas City regionals will air on June 1 on NBC.
Jarrett noted, while his background in gymnastics absolutely helped him prepare for the kind of training he would have to endure, the courses on “American Ninja Warrior” are very different from the equipment he is used to.
“The course has rings, which is one of my skills, but they are much more awkward than gymnastics rings,” Jarrett said. “The course requires a combination of parkour and gymnastics, but it requires you to use your body in different ways.”
Jarrett said other than gymnastics, competing on the show has given him the biggest adrenaline rush.
“I love the rush that comes from using your body in different ways and defying the laws of gravity,” he said. “You could train as much as you want, and the obstacle may not even be there, so you have to trust your body.”
He likes the swinging obstacles, the spider jump and the stamina ladder the best of the different obstacles he has tried, and he plans to keep training and perfecting obstacles so he can compete again in years to come.
“After I finish school next year, I definitely want to do some more ‘Ninja-style’ training and compete on the show again,” Jarrett said. “I will probably try and go to some smaller competitions in the meantime.”