There are fantastic Ninja gyms and local competitions all over the country now. But there’s something different about laying your hands on the official, ATS built, NBC producer approved American Ninja Warrior course. It’s special. And it can be tough to get there.
You might not be aware that there’s a way to get yourself on the course, without having to qualify for the show.
Become a course tester
In every city, before every night of filming, a group of testers gathers with the producers and team members from ATS. Each obstacle is carefully examined and tried over and over again.
The adjustments made from these testers are incredibly important. An obstacle might be made harder or easier based on their performances. They have an important role in creating the best course possible.
How to get in:
There are a few pathways that will get you into the world of testers. You need to get a little creative, but if you do, it’s not too difficult to get involved. Pay attention to what cities American Ninja Warrior will be taping in and get ready to take on the course.
Testers come from absolutely everywhere: the walk-on line, gyms, schools, applicants that don’t make the show and most importantly word of mouth.
If American Ninja Warrior is coming to a town near someone that’s interested in testing the best way for them to get involved is to visit the set and ask.
The other way is to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There's usually a posting [online] from the ninja challenge producer and we just email him. He'll give you some forms to fill out. If you feel that you're athletic enough or they feel that you can, they'll send you a confirmation email to say ‘Hey you got the spot to test!"- Jaysen Saly, tester in Philadelphia
“My husband was actually on the show 2 years ago. And then we both decided to test this year. I've been training with him since last July. It just sounded like a lot of fun. So I decided to head down here." -Kristen Boehmer, tester in Los Angeles
"A friend of mine, who is also here today, she posted on Facebook last year. And all her friends were like 'Oh, Congratulations,' and I was the only one that was like, 'Congratulations! Can I do it too?' Because I always like trying new things. So I got the email from the coordinator and came down last year."- Drew Mercouris, tester in Los Angeles
Why you should do it:
Aside from the obvious reason that it’s really cool to get to see the American Ninja Warrior set firsthand, it can be a huge help to your training for any competition.
“The most important attribute we look for in testers is that they have the mentality of our competitors so we get accurate feedback. If they are hesitant or shy in tackling obstacles, we’re not learning much because the ninjas take a fearless approach.” -Trent Eaton, challenge producer
It’s also a way for those who didn’t make the show to improve their skills for next season’s application video.
"Actually I did go out for the show this year, but knew by this point that I had not been picked. My friends or acquaintances who have been picked have already been called. I can't wait in the walk-up line for like 5 days. So I learned about what my [application] video was lacking. I also know that another year of training is not going to do me any bad anyway. It's going to be only good for me." - Drew Mercouris
What to expect:
As with any outdoor event, the weather is going to be a big factor. You’ll be testing during the day, so bring lots of sunblock. Chances are you’re also going to want to bring a change of clothes and an extra pair of sneakers. (Unless you’re 100% certain there’s no way you’re getting wet.)
Your day as a tester will typically be anywhere from 3-4 hours long. This includes a brief orientation.
The production team needs to really understand how the obstacles will perform during the taping, so don’t get disappointed if you don’t get the chance to test every single obstacle.
“The idea is to get as many people on as many obstacles as possible but there is no set amount. Often the number of obstacles a tester tries out correlates with how they’re doing, so a tester that’s really crushing the course stays on longer since they are completing obstacles and staying dry.” - Trent Eaton
But there is a major perk to being a tester, no matter how many obstacles you get on.
"They do let us stay for the taping. As long as you keep your wrist bands on, we can stay for the taping, cheering on our Ninja Warrior friends who are competing." - Jaysen Saly
Words of advice:
If you do get the chance to take on the course as a tester, you’ll want to be prepared to get the most out of it.
"Train ahead of time. Because people think they can just go, 'Oh I'm athletic, I can do this.' There's a specific set of skills you need to do these things. And a lot of those things you can learn at American Ninja Warrior type gyms." - Drew Mercouris
Remember what was said earlier about being fearless? If you don’t go full force at the obstacles, you’ll end up wet.
"Don't stop. That was my problem, I stopped because I was totally like 'Whoa, that's super far. Just keep going." - Kristen Boehmer
There are some major perks:
Be prepared to have an amazing day getting to know the American Ninja Warrior community. Not only is it a behind-the-scenes look at how the show comes together, but it’s a window into a network of athletes that share the same goals as you.
"The next best thing [to being on the show] is to test the course. Just to get some experience for when you hopefully get chosen for next year. And really start training and learning from this testing experience." - Jaysen Saly
"Oh, it’s awesome! It's so much fun. Everyone is really supportive."- Kristen Boehmer
“I was going to quit half way through [Tick Tock] because I didn't think I could make it, and the crowd started cheering, which is awesome. You find out in this community everybody is really supportive. It really helped me move forward and I ended up doing something that I was really scared to do, which is kind of what this is all about for me." - Drew Mercouris
While American Ninja Warrior isn’t taping at the moment, make sure to keep an eye out for announcements about the taping of season 9! This will let you know what cities will need testers so you can start planning your course domination.
More on how American Ninja Warrior is made
- 5 things you should know about the team that builds the courses
- The ATS Team is coming up with new American Ninja Warrior obstacles right now
- Behind the scenes where the obstacles are born
- Meet the green hats, the people in charge of the American Ninja Warrior course
- The past, present and future of the company at the core of the course
- The other insanely cool things the company the makes the course are doing
- Get your hands on the course as a tester
- Jen Hansen has the coolest job on American Ninja Warrior
- Meet the man dedicated to destroying Ninjas
- What you need to know about being an audience member
- 5 surprises from the American Ninja Warrior production trailer
- How many people does it take to pull off an episode of American Ninja Warrior?