NORTH SYRACUSE — Ready to climb and swing their way to ultimate victory, two area residents are in the midst of competing on season 14 of the NBC program “American Ninja Warrior.”
Fayetteville resident Rachel Cornish is one half of this local pair chosen for the newest run of the sports entertainment reality show.
Ever since January of last year, the 29-year-old has been training two to three times a week at The Warrior Factory Syracuse, a 6,500-square-foot indoor park in Camillus rigged out with professionally fabricated obstacles resembling those seen on the hit television series.
Going in as a practiced weightlifter and already-regular viewer of “American Ninja Warrior,” she said she was hooked to the facility’s exercise routines from the point she stepped in for an open gym.
“The way that it pushed me as an athlete was just a different workout than I’ve ever done before,” Cornish said. “It was a new way to push me physically and mentally.”
The facility features everything from warped walls of different heights to salmon ladders, monkey bars, devil steps and cargo nets.
“A lot of those obstacles can be scary and intimidating, but getting up there and trying a new thing is really thrilling and it makes you feel empowered when you successfully complete one,” Cornish said.
Both she and fellow competitor Jeremy Warters, of North Syracuse, were required to send in online applications containing three-minute highlight reels and written-out details of their lives.
Cornish’ submission made mention of her work with the Jowonio School and Liberty POST as an occupational therapist for developmentally disabled children, while Warters accentuated his role as an assistant head coach at The Warrior Factory.
Currently 21 years old, Warters joined The Warrior Factory in the fall of 2019.
About a week before the emergence of COVID-related shutdowns, he was named to the managerial position and given his own key to the facility. With that, he collaborated with head trainer Julien McConnell to provide the interior with new setups like grip-testing cliffhanger ledges and wrist-strengthening cannonball features.
Previously disciplined in parkour, Warters made the jump to ninja warrior training after excelling on the gym’s courses and falling in love with its “supportive” and “upbeat” atmosphere.
“It quickly became a bigger passion of mine than parkour ever was,” he said. “I just became infatuated with it.”
By July 2021, Warters made the ascension to the top title of world champion in the adult male age division at the National Ninja League World Finals in Lawrence Township, New Jersey.
Joining about 240 other competitors, the local representatives in the 14th season of “American Ninja Warrior” headed to San Antonio, Texas, this past weekend for the show’s qualifying round.
Knowing her attempts will be broadcast nationally later in the year, Cornish said the amount of spectators and larger-scale obstacles will usher in a different environment than the Camillus training spot she has grown familiar with, though she looks forward to having Warters and befriended contestants from New England pushing her to succeed.
“Having that live audience and the camera crew is definitely gonna be an experience and it’ll definitely get the nerves going, but I’m very excited,” Cornish said.
Adding that he’s prepared to give the televised competition his all, Warters said he hopes to be a source of inspiration for the Warrior Factory members he coaches and anyone else seeking to introduce the sport of ninja into their lives.
The exact time slot and airing dates of “American Ninja Warrior” remain to be determined, but episodes of the brand new season are expected to begin running sometime this summer.