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Sandy Zimmerman shares where she finds purpose outside of Ninja Warrior

She’s been teaching for 21 years and she still loves it.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Sometimes, something stops and makes us really remember how much we respect the people who become heroes on American Ninja Warrior. Today, while looking over an interview with Sandy Zimmerman, we were reminded that she’s not just inspiring moms on the show, she’s shaping young lives.

Sandy rose to prominence on American Ninja Warrior with her season 11 completion of the Seattle/Tacoma Qualifiers course. She was the first mom to hit the buzzer, an important milestone. During season 12, we asked Sandy what she would be doing if there was no Ninja Warrior. It’s a question we used a few times to get to know the competitors on a different level.

Sandy’s answer was both obvious and deeply moving. As a P.E. teacher, she knew exactly what she’d be up to with or without the show: Changing lives.

“Oh, that’s a good question. I’m still I’m teaching, which I love. I mean, I don’t think there’s many people that can say that. Let’s see, I’m going into my 21st year of teaching, which is insane. And I love it just as much as I did when I started. Honestly, probably even more now, because now I really understand that I’m teaching physical education, but honestly, what I’m really teaching are life lessons.”

“If these kids can take the life lessons about grit and determination and about being knocked down, but getting back up and how failure is part of the learning process. I just feel such a passion to help people pick those skills up and take them into life. Because I don’t care if you grow up in a great family or in a rough family, you’re rich, you’re poor, whatever it is, life is going to knock you down and we need those life skills in order to make it. And so I love that. I’m so passionate about that. And I know I use activity to teach those lessons and that’s part of it, but that’s where I really find a purpose and a why is those life lessons that we pass along.”

You can follow Sandy on Instagram here for updates on her family, workouts, and her progress towards season 13 of American Ninja Warrior.