To say Flip Rodriguez is an American Ninja Warrior fan-favorite is an understatement. He’s a fan inspiration. Flip has been competing on the show since season three and during that time, the audience has watched Flip grow and change. He was once known as the man in the mask who had a love for break-neck speed on the course. As time has gone on, he’s learned to lean into his skills, becoming maybe slightly slower, but earning repeated places in the National Finals.
In season seven, Flip removed the mask. In season eight, he was ready to share the reason why with the audience. As a survivor of sexual abuse, Flip had used the mask to help himself feel safe. Taking it off was his way of saying he was ready to share his story. Since then, Flip has become a motivational speaker, traveling to share his experiences with others.
On the Los Angeles course for season 10, Flip was wearing a shirt that said “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” It’s become somewhat of a motto of his, as it addresses both finding the strength to discuss painful topics as well as pushing himself in physical training.
Flip was in a whole new gear for this run. In the Qualifiers, he’d fallen on the tough new Doorknob Drop. For the City Finals, he passed the obstacle, and steadily toppled the course, earning his first City Finals finish in five years.
We talked to Flip to learn more about how his training as developed and what the fans mean to him after all these years.
“Individually, these obstacles are a walk in the park. But then you put them all together, you add the pressure of the crowd, waiting all night, the weather, it’s cold, your muscles aren’t warm. Putting it all together is more nerve-racking than anything else. You just gotta go out and have fun. Sometimes, you just have to send it. Believe in your training, trust in it and see what happens.”
“For me, its the fans who’ve been there from the beginning, who knew me as the guy with the mask. They didn’t know my story, then they found out my story and managed to stick around and even support me then. Those fans have always been very close to my heart. I constantly see them on social media and I remember who they are, even as the fanbase gets bigger. It’s inspiring to have them stay around and believe in me so much. Even through year after year of it not going the way you want it to. Those fans right there will push me every single day.”
“Ninja Warrior for me is a huge discipline. Physically, it’s a huge discipline for sure. There’s no way around it, you’ve got to train really hard. But not only that, you have to eat right. That’s the hardest part for me. I guess the hardest part for most people is to, day in and day out, remember what your goal is and why you’re here and go, ‘I cannot have this pizza right now. Everyone else is eating this pizza. I cannot have this pizza.’
I’ve learned a lot about self discipline and self love at the same time. It’s bigger than self discipline. It’s like, you can have this pizza, but remember tomorrow you’re not going to feel that good. It’s not going to help you in any way shape or form in your goal. You have to remember that you love yourself enough to say you can’t have that pizza. You have to stay on your track and keep yourself focused. If you don’t do that, no one else will.”
“I tell my parkour and free running students, yes, you’re training, but I’m giving them life tools. In the same way, Ninja Warrior has taught me life tools as well. You can talk about, ‘Yeah, I’m confident. I’m good. I got this,’ or you’re nervous or whatever. However you feel towards the course, the outcome is going to be the outcome because of how you believe in yourself mentally and physically in your training. I believe you learn a lot about yourself under pressure. Ninja Warrior is a big life tool. Once that pressure hits, it comes down to who are you. Are you a person that fights through, or are you a person that gives up?”
“I was talking to my best friend. We just had this conversation yesterday. He’s very strong minded. Anything you put him against, you’d be astonished at what he does. His mind is to strong and so powerful. I’ve been trying to learn from him. He was telling me, ‘Every year it’s like you got it. You got it. And then you face adversity and your body mechanics just change. I’m like, oh man, he doesn’t have it.’ That’s what he sees.
Training day in and day out, we train hard. We train so hard. Any one who wants to come try it with us, you’re more than welcome to. There’s none of that pressure, none of that mechanics changes. He doesn’t see that. Just pushing and fighting the whole time. Out there, I don’t know what it is. Mentally it’s tough. You either really believe and trust yourself and your training, or you don’t.”
So how does one of the hardest working Ninjas reward himself after a run like that?
“Pizza is so good. Especially for me, Little Caesars. The Crazy Bread? Fire. I promise you, after City Finals I’m going straight to Little Caesars.”
With that spectacular trip to the buzzer, Flip is through to the National Finals in Las Vegas. We hope he got his Crazy Bread.