Two Middle Tennesseans, Bobby Zavala and Briggs Schneider, made an appearance at the national American Ninja Warrior Competition in Miami this year, and some of their training took place locally.
American Ninja Warrior is a competition in which athletes race through what is claimed to be one of the world’s most difficult obstacle courses for a chance at the title of ‘American Ninja Warrior’ and $500,000. Both Zavala and Schneider, each 21, went through rigorous training to compete in the competition for their first time.
The duo began training together after they met at Climb Nashville in October last year. Zavala had begun to build an obstacle course similar to the one on the show in his grandparents’ back yard in Lebanon. Schneider, who says he was unsure of the idea at first, quickly gained interest in the idea after seeing Zavala’s course.
Schneider, who has a background of wrestling, weight lifting and rock climbing, found that he was not even halfway prepared for the course. Through constant training with Zavala, Schneider improved his running strides and increased his vertical leap by 50 percent. Once the two had prepared their bodies for the challenge, they began to work on getting invited to the competition.
In order to be invited to the competition, hopeful competitors must submit a video that shows their ability as well as a story about them for television. Zavala used the course he had spent hours building for the inspiration of his video, and Schneider dedicated his video to his father who recently suffered a heart attack in addition to losing half of his right foot due to diabetes.
Two weeks before the competition, Schneider received his call inviting him to compete. The two became nervous when Zavala had not received a call, but luckily he was called and invited to compete just days before the competition.
Zavala and Schneider, along with Schneider’s father to cheer them on, made the long drive to Miami to make their debut appearances on American Ninja Warrior. To their surprise, the other competitors they met at the event were all very supportive of each other.
“Here we are competing for a chance for half a million dollars and we treated each other like well-loved brothers instead of stranger,” Schneider said “There wasn’t a single person I met who I wouldn’t be proud to call a friend.”
Although the competitors were friendly, the competition itself turned out to be brutal. The shooting for American Ninja Warrior is done at night for dramatic television effect, but this left the competitors waiting for hours through the night for their turn to attempt the course. It was not until 4 a.m. that Zavala and Schneider were able to compete.
The duo, who called themselves ‘Team Nash’ after their training together, were able to pull through and complete the course in their tired states, Schneider placing 10th in the Miami competition on his first attempt.
American Ninja Warrior airs every week Sundays at 8 p.m. on G4 and Mondays at 7 p.m. on NBC. The Miami city finals will be held Aug. 11.