'American Ninja Warrior' princess packs mental and physical punch

Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:24am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When gymnast Kacy Catanzaro, the first woman to reach the finals of the “American Ninja Warrior” fitness TV competition show, faces an unfamiliar challenge she closes her eyes and pictures herself conquering it.

The 5-foot (1.5-meter), 100-pound (45-kg) powerhouse is known as Mighty Kacy ever since she leapt, pulled, climbed and swung her way through the show's obstacle course that has bedeviled many men. She credits her victory to mental focus and upper body strength.

“The course might even be more mental than physical,” said the 24-year-old New Jersey native. “Once you get out there you need to control your mind to tell your body what you want to do.”

“American Ninja Warrior,” which is in its sixth season, is based on the long-running Japanese show “Sasuke.”

At one point Catanzaro had to hang high in the air on big red rings while swinging them from one peg to another. That, she said, was a surprise.

“I’m a big visualization person, so if I didn’t have a technique prepared I had to visualize what would work for me,” said the former competitive gymnast.

“A foot can slip, an arm can give out. I never took it for granted until I hit that buzzer (to complete the course).”

Catanzaro prepared at Alpha Warrior, an obstacle-course gym in San Antonio, Texas, where she works with her boyfriend and fellow Ninja competitor Brent Steffensen. He was disqualified from the competition when he fell from the rings.   Continued...