Back in April, we introduced you to Andrew Yori, a Mayo Clinic lab technician/dog adoption advocate/CrossFit enthusiast/overall superhuman. Andrew was gearing up to compete in the Indianapolis Qualifier for "American Ninja Warrior," a reality TV show that pits athletes against seemingly insurmountable obstacles like the Death Spiral, Wheels of Pain, and Back Breaker. (That’s what we like to call them, anyway.) The episode featuring Andrew’s attempt aired last week, and—spoiler alert—he crushed the course. We caught up with him to learn a bit about the experience and find out what’s next on his quest for a chance to climb Mount Midoriyama.
The obstacles Andrew faced on the show “were much larger and more elaborate than other courses that we typically train on,” he tells us. And while he and the other competitors got to preview the course, they “weren’t allowed to touch anything” before attempting it. That meant his final preparation was mental. Turns out he’s strong in that department, too. Andrew tells us he “used a lot of visualization in order to prepare and strategize” and “developed a plan of attack in my head.” (Mission accomplished.)
While all the obstacles looked well-nigh impossible to desk jockeys like us, Andrew says he was “most concerned with the Fly Wheels, since hanging from my fingertips is a weakness of mine.” (Ours, too.) But the Rolling Log turned out to be a bigger challenge. “You get going pretty fast on that thing, and you have no clue where you are,” Andrew says. “You just hope that when you get tossed, you get tossed in the right direction.” Fortunately, he did and then set about “methodically destroying one obstacle after another,” according to one recap of Andrew’s performance. That earned him the chance to compete in the next round, which will be televised later this summer.
Show rules prevent Andrew from telling us whether he completed the expanded course and moved on to the Las Vegas finals, but our fingers are crossed. As are, we’re guessing, those of Andrew’s many fans—a good number of whom traveled to Indiana back in April to cheer on their favorite ninja warrior. “The course and experience can be pretty intimidating, so having friends and family there . . . was comforting and helped ease the nerves to a manageable level,” Andrew says. The group included some of his Mayo coworkers who “stood out in the rain and stayed up through the night to cheer me on.” He tells us he’s grateful to some other folks at Mayo Clinic as well: the Sports Medicine team that helped him rehab from a recent shoulder injury. The shoulder “felt great during competition, which included some pretty strenuous shoulder activities,” he says. “They did a great job.”
If you’d like to try your hand (or shoulder) at the kind of obstacles Andrew faced on the show, he’ll be leading a Ninja Warrior Workshop at CrossFit Progression on July 9. He says it’s “for anybody who thinks they might want to give this kind of thing a shot.”