AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nick Fordney loves to stay active. He was a gymnast for 10 years and then branched out and found enjoyment in tennis.
But while playing tennis, he watched television one night and a show caught his eye.
Like many before him, Fordney watched American Ninja Warrior and thought, “oh, that looks fun, I think I can do that.”
Around his seventeenth birthday, Fordney hit the ground running. He found a local gym in Houston, his home before Austin, and had an absolute blast.
“I kept bugging my parents everyday until December to try to go back and train some more,” Fordney said.
His persistence paid off. He went from training to working at the gym by March of the next year.
Everything “just kind of fell into line,” Fordney said.
And so did appearing on the show.
He’s on his second season, although, Fordney’s first attempt in Dallas didn’t go well.
“First season, I did very bad,” Fordney laughed. “I ended up falling on the first obstacle which sucks, but it was a really good learning experience for me.”
His fall gave him the opportunity to do “course testing” allowing him to try out the course which he had never done before.
He has since righted his wrong by leaps and bounds.
“All that experience I got from testing the past year from falling on the first obstacle… I don’t think I would have been as successful as I was this year on the show if it weren’t for that,” Fordney said. “It’s kind of like a blessing hidden in that curse.”
He had a new mindset ready to take on his second season.
“It was like no pressure. All I had to do was get past obstacle one and I did better than I did last year,” Fordney said.
And he did. But the experience is a bit hazy.
“When I’m on the show for some reason, like my city qualifier run, I don’t even remember running the course until I got to the fly wheels. I went through three obstacles where I had no idea that I was going,” Fordney said. “By the time you get from whenever they say go to whenever you’re at the end, or whenever you fall or whatever happens… for me it’s just kind of a whole blur.”
Fordney says the qualifiers go by quickly.
“If you’re cruising, you can forget what’s going on. I don’t even remember half of my runs from the show,” Fordney said.
Fordney believes he’s in a different head space when he’s doing a run.
“I’m an emotional wreck from the moment they call my name until I’m up on the starting platform. But anytime before that, and then right whenever they say go, I’m in my mode. I’m good to go.”
Good enough to qualify.
“Thankfully… I went through all six obstacles, climbed up the wall and hit the buzzer,” Fordney said. “I wanted to hit a buzzer especially after last season.”
A big moment for him heading into the Oklahoma City finals Monday, July 29. A new episode airs at 8 p.m. and Fordney will make an appearance.
“Some redemption for sure,” Fordney said. “I think it’s everyone’s goal to touch the back half of the course — the stuff past the warp wall. So just being able to do that on TV is really cool… I mean that’s one step closer to the grand prize, going to Vegas and winning and winning the million dollars, so any step is an awesome step, a good step forward.”
Another step forward for him and another for Austin Ninjas. A new “ninja” gym will be opening at a location in Cedar Park soon.