Australian Ninja Warrior is taking the country by bloody storm.
Since premiering on July 9th on Nine, the show has consistently obliterated ratings, with each episode averaging over 1,500,000 viewers.
That figure should come as no surprise, really. We are a nation obsessed with sport.
Build a ginormous obstacle course, take the cream of our fitness crop and get them to smash their mortal rigs in the pursuit of sporting glory, all in front of a live audience, and you’ve got the basic citizen’s wet dream.
But have you ever sat through an episode and thought, I reckon I could have a decent crack at that course?
Ever watched a contestant miss their footing on a rolling log and remarked, You big idiot, I would have totally landed that?
Ever seen a freakishly fit bloke nail the course in under 2 minutes and thought, Pfft, coulda smashed it in 1 minute 30, easy?
Well folks, as easy as some contestants make it look, mastering the 136 metre-long course is tough titties. One of the competitions fiercest entrants, Stephanie Magiros, could tell you that for free.
You’d recognise Magiros as one of only two female competitors who made it through their initial heats and into the semi-finals on the show. No mean feat.
She’s a self-described #MunchkinNinjawWarrior, as well as a bonafide sporting champion off the course. Her experience as an elite-level gymnast and Olympic snowboarder helped her beat out over 2,000 entrants to make it on the show.
The 26-year-old is no stranger to competing at an intense level, having been placed #18 in the world for half pipe at the Winter Olympics in 2014. The craziest part? She went from beginner snowboarder to Olympian in under six years.
PEDESTRIAN.TV got her on the blower to get the low down how she trained, what she ate and how it felt to complete on the nation’s favourite reality TV show.
PTV: Talk us through the audition process. When did you apply and when did you find out you made it onto the show?
STEPHANIE MAGIROS: I found out that I was going to be on the show in October 2016. We went through the whole process of applying online, getting selected for auditions and eventually receiving the final selection.
We didn’t have all that much time to train – as soon as I saw the applications online I started training straight away.
[The audition was] pretty tough and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It reminded me a lot of my Olympic training and my Olympic testing. We had a specific test we had to complete and if we were successful, we were chosen for the show. So we had to be in pretty peak physical condition.
The show was filmed in December 2016, so it feels so long ago but it’s cool to relive it now on TV.
How fit were you before you auditioned, and how did you adjust your training to prepare?
I do something everyday. Gymnastics, snowboarding and trampoline work, alongside general bodyweight gym work.
I did start doing a lot more upper body work, and I introduced rock climbing and bouldering because it’s all upper body, finger grip, wrist and forearm strength, and as we’ve seen on the show you need a lot of that. Bouldering is the easiest and the best way to train that.
I was bouldering at least once a week, sometimes more. But with all my training for all my sports, be it gym and snowboarding, I’ve always done a lot of different things. I’ve never just focused on one thing.
When I was training for Olympic snowboarding I was always doing everything and training as many different things as I could to help that one sport I was training for.
To be a ninja, you can’t just do obstacle training. You need to do everything. I kept my up gymnastic because that helped me be the strongest ninja that I am.
How did you train in the days and weeks leading up to the run?
I kept everything the same. I took the same mentality that I did throughout the Olympics. In the lead up to a big major event a lot of the time I would back off the week and a couple of days before. If you push and push and push up until the event, you burn yourself out.
My body works best in competition when I’ve had some rest in the days leading up to it.
Did you change your diet at all in preparation?
I eat very healthily most of the time.
I’m on a gluten free, dairy free, pescatarian diet and I kept it all the same whether it was a heavy training day, a rest day or the week leading up to the competition.
I take competitions and training days the same and try and keep that same mentality as well.
Please don’t mind our invasive food questions… But what did you eat on the day of filming?
On that day I ate whatever they fed us so we didn’t know what we were going to get next. If there was salad we ate it, if there were fruit, we got given a lot of food, the hardest part was not knowing when we were going to do the course. Whether we would digest at time.
We don’t actually know [when we’d be called up], they just came in and said ‘Stephanie, up you get, come with us’, then 10 minutes later I did the course.
How gruelling was the course, really?
The course was pretty tough if you looked at it as a whole.
When you first step up to the course, you just see this massive monster in front of you, but my mentality going into my run, like my gymnastic and my snowboarding, was to take it one trick at a time.
If I worried about my whole entire run, it wouldn’t work out.
I worried about each individual obstacle in front of me. We were not able to see any runs beforehand.
How did you body feel the next day? Ruined?
No – I was more just tired and exhausted. It also depends on how much stress you put your body through on how long you put yourself through the course. I’ve had a lot of harder training sessions so my body wasn’t too sore the next day.
More so, I wanted to get back on the course. Through qualifying to the semifinals I got to have another go.
Lastly, how did it feel running that course in front of the nation?
I can remember each moment, but like my snowboarding at the Olympics, it goes so fast. You get to the bottom and you’re like, ‘Hold on a second, what just happened?’ It’s done, its over. It does feel super fast and when watching it back on tv, it seems a lot slower on tv.
I had my four supporters, my mum, dad and two brothers.
They were running right at the bottom of the course so I could see them during the course. The crowd was big and loud, but in terms of having strangers in a crowd watching me perform, that wasn’t really an issue for me.
Having competed in the Olympics, I’ve had the entire world watching me for one moment. When competing as a gymnast, you’re in a leotard at the bottom of a stadium with a huge crowd watching you.
I’ve been competing since I was 10-years-old, I’ve had a lot of training performing to a big crowd under pressure. If they’re getting excited and yelling and screaming, I’m actually really good at blocking it out and focusing on what’s in front of me and getting the job done.
So, there you have it folks. Becoming a Ninja Warrior isn’t as easy as jumping around a few platforms.
Australian Ninja Warrior airs on Nine on Sunday nights at 7pm, and Monday and Tuesday nights at 7:30pm.
Photo: Channel 9.