"Its kind of funny, the day after I found out I was going to be on the show, I used every opportunity to do like a pull up or like jump up onto a rock on one leg and balance it was kind of a game I would play with my kids," Sutter told TooFab in an interview ahead of his "Ninja Warrior" debut. "We would find just little things to jump on or do a pull up or a push up, or something like that. So it kind of because just like an obsessive daily focus. I was always looking for an opportunity to increase my upper body strength and balance."
If you're wondering why Sutter, who is married to Season 1 Bachelorette Trista Sutter, is competing on "American Ninja Warrior," it's because he was fan before it came to U.S. shores.
"I’ve always been a fan even before it was 'American Ninja Warrior' and it was the Japanese show," he told TooFab. "I think it's just one of those things that I always had a curiosity about. I was curious to see if I could do it and how well I could do against the course and all that sort of stuff."
See what else Sutter had to say about training, the course, and how he thinks "American Ninja Warrior" stacks up against the NFL.
The course is always a surprise so how did you train for the unexpected?
"I’ve always kind of maintained a philosophy that I never wanted to miss out on anything because I wasn’t physically capable of doing it or wasn't close to physically capable of doing it. Whether that was something like 'Ninja Warrior' or going on some sort of long expedition like climbing Mt. Everest or something like that, I always wanted to be in a position where if something came up last minute, I didn't have to decline it because I wasn’t fit enough to do it. So I’ve always kind of cross-trained to say if you will. I do a lot of outside types of things like riding my bike, trail running and firefighting obviously has a lot of components that require balance and strength and fitness and stuff so just my general fitness routine gives me a good baseline I think. When 'Ninja Warrior' did come up, I think I started to investigate it a little more closely and you could tell that a lot of the obstacles require a little grip strength, upper body strength and balance were really key components. So I tried to use the few weeks that I had from when I got accepted to taping when actually happening to strengthen those areas a little bit more. Thats kind of it, I think just maintaining those is a good solid baseline and then kind of tailor things."
What is your easiest and hardest obstacle so far?
"What I found was that the course was a lot more mental than I had anticipated. There’s a lot more focus necessary. I think that there's obviously a lot that requires physical fitness, but there was a lot more mental focus required than I thought. I thought it would be sorta just like fun, just running an obstacle course and just see what you can persevere and get through and how strong you are and that sort of stuff. Like when you see someone jump off the high dive and you think, 'Oh I want to do that' and then you climb up on the high dive and you think, 'Oh, I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.' It’s kind of like that. From an outsiders perspective, you see this really kind of physical challenge, but then when you're actually doing it theres a mental component you also have to overcome, so that was something I didn’t necessarily anticipate."
How do you prepare your body for you run on the show?
"I just try to stay in pretty good physical condition in general and then, its kind of funny, the day after I found out I was going to be on the show, I used every opportunity to do like a pull up or like jump up onto a rock on one leg and balance it was kind of a game I would play with my kids. We would find just little things to jump on or do a pull up or a push up or something like that. So it kind of because just like an obsessive daily focus. I was always looking for an opportunity to increase my upper body strength and balance."
You film in the middle of the night. Is there something you do during the week leading up to filming your run that you do to help you stay awake and energized during those hours?
"Not really. I didn’t really adjust my routine as much as maybe I should have. That definitely plays a factor. My body was not used to necessarily competing at that level in the middle of the night. Although I do think that firefighting helped with that as well because you do get called up in the middle of the night and you have to be ready to kind of go do emergency situations on a whim at any hour. So that may have helped you know a little bit, but I didn't do anything specific. I relied a lot on adrenaline and you know it was a brand new experience for me. That kind of kept me going. My family was there, just the excitement of it and all the people there are energized, that kind of helps out. There wasn’t anything that I specifically changed in order to accommodate for that late night performance."
You guys also had a lot of waiting around to do for your turn on the course, how did you stay busy?
"It actually went by pretty fast. You get there and you check in and start talking to people and then people start going. I was definitely in the first group, I didn't have to wait as long as some people did so I kind of got fortunate in that regard. But you know it was a few hours of hanging out and I think it's just one of those things that was really new and exciting and you're kind of into watching the other people go and you're kind of pulling for other people at least what you can see of them performing."
Do you find that “American Ninja Warrior” has become widely accepted as a sport? Or do you notice any stigma tied to it or any question of its validity?
"I think it's becoming more and more accepted. I mean, your starting to see 'Ninja Warrior' gyms pop up all over the place. Even in Vail there's two 'Ninja Warrior' camps for kids going at least for this week. We have some friends whose kids are going to a 'Ninja Warrior' camp this weekend. You know, I think its a legitimate sport for sure and anyone that says otherwise probably hasn't tried it. It's like skateboarding. Skateboarders make skateboarding look easy and then you step on a skateboard and just standing on a skateboard is hard, let along all of the tricks and things people do. It's similar to that. What I love about it is that it can be a competitive sport that you enjoy on the television or on the sort of head-to-head competition, but it can also be like a personal challenge type of thing. Like the Warped Wall, if you can go to a place that has a Warped Wall and you can kind of make it a challenge just to make it up that thing. Overcoming a Warped Wall feels good. It’s kind of like being a kid again running around on a playground. You’re just having a really great time, but it's also challenging, getting you in shape, getting you stronger and helping you be a better all-around athlete."
"I love it and I don’t plan on removing any of the sort of Ninja training from my life whether I ever do the course again or not. I don't know, I would love to, but it's become a really important component part of my fitness routine and something I can really easily integrate my kids into because they love it just as much as I do and they're good at it because it's kind of like a natural activity for them. It’s like being on the monkey bars at the play ground and it's just fun. It's for sure athletic and difficult and challenging and fun and the community of people that do it, at least at this point I don't know what it is about them or what type of personality trait is drawn to this type of challenge, but they're all really nice and they're all really friendly and willing to help you out and talk to you and give you advice. There was not one that I felt like was so competitive that they weren't willing to help a little bit here and there. That’s another thing that was also really refreshing, seeing how legitimately kind and compassionate the Ninja community is."
Do you think this sport will become as big as the NFL one day?
"That would be surprising, the NFL is a monster. But I could see it becoming as big as Olympic sports, like gymnastics for example, or it's probably already bigger than gymnastics. I don’t know about NFL thats like biting of a pretty big chunk of Americana. I look at it as it could become something as big as running or triathlons where a lot of people are participating in it and there's a large population of people who are interested in it and watch television programs about it, but probably aren’t going to sell 80,000 person stadiums to watch it like the NFL, but who knows."