Here we have competitor Jennifer “JNice”, age 29, Miami, Florida.
Athletic background? I am a rock climber. I have been climbing and competing in recreational competitions for almost six years. As a rock climber, I typically boulder or sport climb, and I train a TON. I love training for power and grip strength, and climbing microscopic crimps is a passion of mine.
How long obstacle course training? I’ve been obstacle course training for about a yearand a half, with much more focus and dedication in the past year. I started training at a ninja warrior gym in my area when I moved back to Florida from North Carolina and couldn’t access the mountains. I wanted to be able to keep up with my grip strength and upper body abilities. Once I started training on obstacles, I was hooked. I quickly started competing in obstacle course races and mud runs, and of course – American Ninja Warrior!
Why obstacle training? One thing I love about obstacle training is that it’s so personally challenging. You have your own limit, and it’s up to you to break through that barrier and redefine yourself. Obstacle training is also comparable to training on a huge playground all day. I’m a total kid, so I really enjoy that! Beyond the obvious passion I have for all things athletic – obstacle training, itself, is such a parallel for life. That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about climbing, and seeing this in my ninja warrior training has been tremendous. We all have obstacles in life, and it’s up to use to choose how we respond to those challenges. Obstacle training brings on an entirely new mental challenge, which is integral for me in building my own mental toughness. Obstacle training has given me a way to continue to build myself as a climber, an athlete, and a person.
Why compete? Motivation? I’m a competitive person, so I think that part just comes naturally for a lot of ninja athletes! But I find that I’m always competing the most against myself, and obstacle training really lends itself to this. For me, I can directly target what obstacles I’m having trouble on, and how to conquer them. My motivation in competing isn’t just about my pushing myself as an athlete though. I love the message that obstacle training and competing sends to people, and how it’s taken on this sort of inspirational role in our community. The Ninja Warrior community is incredibly strong and having that support and respect for each other as athletes constantly pushes us to become the best we can on the course, and off. I’m very motivated personally because I always want to prove to myself what I’m capable of. That drive pushes me to really go for it, and I try and harness as much of that as possible.
Favorite obstacle? Least favorite obstacle? My favorite obstacle would be anything upper-body that is comparable to climbing. This is my area of expertise and I really love being able to show my strength and capabilities as a climber. I love the rings and peg board! I do prefer upper body obstacles where a gymnastic flexibility and strength are necessary, but feet can still be utilized. Watching the I Beam crossing obstacle utilized last season, I would love the opportunity to try that! I love upper body obstacles with my climbing background, but being a short athlete, I utilize my feet so much to help my climbing! Obstacles where I can use grip strength and my flexibility are definitely my favorite. My least favorite obstacles are any obstacles that have a huge distance or reach involved! It’s hard for me to feel like I’m limited based on my reach or size! But, that challenge is also really important. My major nemesis obstacles right now are definitely the salmon ladder and the warped wall!
Personal interests (movies, hobbies, music, books, charities, etc.)? More than anything, I love spending time with my boyfriend and my family! As far as hobbies, I love reading and writing. I was a writing minor in college and have always found that I’ve gravitated towards writing as an outlet. I love doing yoga when I can find the time! I also really enjoy cooking!
Something interesting about you? In April 2012, I was in a rock climbing accident and suffered massive damage to my left arm. The damage was severe enough that I almost lost my left arm. I severed almost the entire inside of my arm, including my brachial artery. The only thing still intact was my nerve. I had over seven hours of emergency surgery where surgeons essentially had to reattach my arm from the inside! This was life-changing for me. I was in the ICU and have had a long road of recovery since then. But I’ve had so much support and encouragement from those around me and I feel truly grateful for everything I’ve been through. We thought I’d never do a pull up again. But fighting back from my injury and having my loved ones and surgeons cheering me on every step of the way has really helped shape not just my recovery, but also who I am as a person. Obstacle training and American Ninja Warrior have given me the opportunity to come back from such a devastating injury and become even stronger. I am so unbelievably grateful for everything I’ve been through and how much support I’ve had – and continue to have – in chasing my dreams. I may have almost lost my arm, but somehow it’s helped me gain so much more.
Motto or how you live your life? I try to live my life embracing every moment as much as possible. One “motto” that’s always been resonant for me is:
“It’s not how you fall, but how you get back up, that defines you.”
For me this is a constant reminder of what I’ve been through and how strong I am. To never be afraid of falling down, but instead be ready to get back up and dream even harder, and push even further.
Piece of advice for obstacle course training? My biggest piece of advice for obstacle training would be to focus on yourself and your goals as an athlete and person. Often times it’s easy to get lost in all the pressure and even negativity that may come with any competitive endeavor. But it’s important to remember, in your heart, why you’re doing what you’re doing and what that means to you. Remember that it’s about you, your goals, and what you can do. Focus on lifting yourself up, as well as those around you.
Social media info, pics, videos, other links, anything you care to share?
My Facebook athlete page is http://www.facebook.com/jennifernicelyathlete and my website can be found at http://www.jennifernicely.com. My Instagram handle is @jendnice, and my Twitter handle is @jen_nicely.
For those looking for more information on my accident, media appearances, etc., my website has a ton of information, including pictures and videos from my accident and my recovery.