Gymbox Holborn VPT Andrew Julien recently appeared on ITV's Ninja Warrior UK season 3. He may not have won, but he made it to the semi-finals and did us proud! He shares with us the experience of being on telly and the buzz of hitting those obstacles.
Hi Andrew! We just saw you competed on Ninja Warrior UK on ITV, how did this come about?
I've always been a fan of the show, the Japanese original and the American one, both of which have definitely blown up and become popular on social media. Seeing myself as a superhero (of course) I think it was only right to challenge myself by entering this UK version.
Was the experience as you imagined it would be?
The experience was absolutely amazing. It's crazy because I'm used to obstacles, but this was on the big stage. Imagine the Las Vegas of obstacles! Everything is 10 times bigger, shinier and louder than normal, with extra lights, smoke and cameras. Season 3 of the show has definitely upped its game. The producers of the show have clearly realised it has a strong following, which has been felt by all the competitors.
What were the trickiest elements of the course?
There were a few twists that were a great challenge, but to be honest, nothing I wasn't expecting! For example, in my heat there were three transitions – swinging from a rope to a tyre, and then onto a cargo net and spinning log. Loads of people got eliminated on this obstacle, including the last man standing from Season 2.
Was it fun being on TV? Did this affect your performance in any way?
It was great fun! But it didn't really affect my performance as you don't really think about being on TV while you're doing it. You're mainly infected by the crowd, who are amazing! Then you're blown away by the talent and strength of the other contestants. I met so many great athletes on both days I competed.
How did you train for the event?
I didn't change anything specifically. I train for obstacles races throughout the year and have always being a fan of the Ninja Warrior style of training. I tend to play with it when I work out – lots of hanging, grip work, lifts, swings, movements and explosive stuff. Fun!
What was it like watching yourself back on TV?
The first time I watched it I was quite upset actually. This was only because I only got five seconds worth of TV time. They showed me hit the wall, and then celebrate, but that was it! However, the second time they filmed me on the show with my wife, baby boy and friend. Being on with the people you love made the whole experience so much more worthwhile. However, watching the actual semi final run is always hard. I've seen it so many times now, and it doesn't get easier. I still get angry at myself for falling off the log.
If you were to go back and do it again, what would you approach differently?
I'd love to go back on the course again, if they take me back! Having already been on the show gives you an advantage as you know what to expect. Not just in regards to controlling your nerves, but how to approach the obstacles with more conviction – the same way I'd hit them during races. I now know I can complete that course, given another shot.
You teach Ninja Warrior at Gymbox Farringdon, what happens in the class when compared to the course on TV?
The class has changed in some ways since the change of venue, which also feels like it's a new season, like the show. Our obstacles will definitely challenge any individual. We work a great deal on holds and grip, which reflects aspects of the show to some degree. The main difference with this class is that you get to attempt obstacles as many times as you want, but there's still plenty of applause and high fives!
Are taking on new challenges, such as events like that, integral to improving one’s training and overall fitness?
I believe so, yes. I'm a firm believer of training for purpose. If you have a goal in mind, you're more then likely to push yourself that extra bit further. Most people get to an event and find it somewhat easier then they expected, because their training has been so tough. That's how it should be, training is the hardest part – the events are fun.
What are your next challenges?
This year I plan on running near 10 obstacle races. I will hopefully qualify for the World, European and UK championships. I also hope to be reconsidered for Ninja Warrior season 4, and maybe a few pop-ups along the way. We'll have to wait and see...