Here we have competitor Mitch, age 20, West Palm Beach, FL
My name is Mitchell Vasquez. I will be 21 years old on August 1st, 2016, and I’m originally from West Palm Beach, FL. I attend University of Central Florida (UCF), and I train at an awesome, newly opened gym in Orlando called NinjaFit Gym! This gym I train at is unlike any other, everyone there is like family and we love to see each other. I recommend anyone in the Orlando area goes out there and checks it out. Whether you’re a first time ninja or training for the show, I guarantee you will love it. I also do a lot of my training at the rock wall at UCF, which is in our Recreation Center!
Athletic background? I actually just began building my athleticism about 4 years ago. I began rock climbing, and started doing a lot of strength and endurance training in order to get better at climbing. I have always watched American Ninja Warrior, and about a year ago I started training for the show. I competed in the local competition for the UNAA in March of this year at Live Training Center in Tampa, then went onto regionals in Miami. It was the experience of a lifetime, and I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses.
How long obstacle course training? I have been obstacle training consistently since March, but I began my journey when I started climbing in my freshman year of college. I fell in love with climbing, started doing it almost every single day, and now I have a new passion that I enjoy sharing with the world.
Why obstacle training? I’m not really a huge fan of the traditional kind of workout. I enjoy seeing how small of a ledge I can hold onto, how many pullups I can manage, how far I can push my limits, and I’m really competitive when it comes to racing through obstacles. Ever since I became involved in competition, my training has gone from straight strength to increasing my endurance and going as fast as possible. I always tell people that Ninja Warrior is the most exciting kind of exercise there is, there’s really nothing like it, and I hope that everyone at least gives it a shot at some point in their lives!
Why compete? Motivation? I have so many motivations for competing. This started out as something I was doing for myself, to try to get stronger and to feel more confident with my strengths. Then, I saw how I can inspire people and that makes me so happy. My family and friends have been so supportive of me, they have seriously outpoured their support for my passion, which means the world to me.
A few of the people who have a special place in my life:
My grandpa Bill, who is a huge inspiration to me, passed away on September 5th, 2012, and even though I don’t have him here anymore, I still feel he is looking over me and would be so proud of everything I have done. He trained for the Olympics, was in the Air Force, and was one of the happiest people in the world, and I have always hoped I can be even half the person he was. I always wear one of his medals around my neck everywhere I go, and I feel it gives me the strength to do anything I put my mind to. His wife, my grandma Lil, is still around and she is a lot of the reason that I have come as far as I have. My mother has also been an amazing support to me, and along my journey, I have seen her become more athletic. I’m so proud of what she has done in her life, and I always want her to have pride in me as well. My dad is one of the most adventurous people out there, and he brought out that adventurous side in me. My grandpa Frank and Grandma Debbie have been amazing support, as well as my Grandma Joanne and Grandpa Lee. My grandparents are some of the best people in the world, and they do so much for me and I appreciate them more than I could put into words. My two cousins, Mackenzie and Madison, are extremely special to me. They are only 8 and 10, and are involved in gymnastics and are always showing me everything they’ve learned. They are always watching the show, asking me about my training, wanting to know when I’ll be on the show, and that just gives me so much drive to do better. My uncles and aunts and the rest of my cousins; I love each and every one of them so much and would do anything for them.
Favorite obstacle? Least favorite obstacle? My favorite obstacle would have to be the cliffhanger. It definitely tests my grip, and plays to my strengths. As I said before, I enjoy seeing how small of a ledge I can hold onto, and every time I finish the whole obstacle, I have this sense of accomplishment. I don’t really have a least favorite obstacle, which is why I’ve fallen in love with this sport, I enjoy working on my weaknesses just as much as my strengths.
Personal interests (movies, hobbies, music, books, charities, etc.)? I have a ton of interests; I’m always changing them up. When I have free time, I enjoy adventuring and rock climbing. I’ve done so much in life so far between skydiving, white water rafting, hiking mountains, and zip-lining, and I plan to do so much more. I love to vacation, and I’ve taken a ton of cruises! Cruises are my favorite way to travel because you get to go to all different places in the world on one trip and see all the different cultures and diversity, and you meet so many different people. I’ve made lifelong friends on the cruises that I’ve been on, and hopefully one day we can all have a reunion!
Giving back to the community is also important to me. I have attended leadership conferences across the country, spoken to people from all over the world, and I feel like I’ve learned as much from them, if not more, as they’ve been able to learn from me, which is what makes traveling so worth it to me. It’s the same way with Ninja Warrior. Every athlete I meet has a different strength and a different story that they can share, and I love to hear it from them.
Something interesting about you? Some people in the ninja community would be surprised that even with all of the training I’ve been doing, I’m actually extremely entwined in my schoolwork and it takes up even more of my time than Ninja Warrior. I’m a Mechanical Engineering student here at UCF, and although it’s some of the hardest work I’ve ever done, I love what I do and one day look forward to doing something awesome that will impact everyone in the community.
Motto or how you live your life? One of my favorite sayings out there is “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”.
I never used to be an early riser, but now I wake up to my alarm at 6 AM and I jump out of bed excited to start my day. The work I do is fun and my training doesn’t even seem like a workout because of how exhilarating it truly is. If I have one thing to tell everyone out there, it’s that if you haven’t found your passion quite yet, don’t stop searching because when you do, you will be happier than you’ve ever been and you’ll never look back.
Piece of advice for obstacle course training? The most important advice I can give anyone is that the mental training is even more important than the physical training. I used to have this mindset that if I lifted a lot of weights, or did 100 pullups, or ran a 4-minute mile, I could pretty much do anything, but then I’d get to an obstacle with this intimidation factor, and realize that it doesn’t always work like that. But as soon as you stop doubting yourself and you go in there with the mindset that “I can do this and will do this”, the physical training will take its part and you will power through. I can’t count the number of times that I have held onto an obstacle by my fingertips and powered through it. People will doubt you in your lifetime, and it’s your job to show them that you are as strong mentally as you are physically.
Social media info, pics, videos, other links?
I will be working on getting a website up soon, and will have the info on that posted as soon as I can. If you would like to follow my story, the best way is to follow my Instagram @mitchmav and I will keep that updated with news and videos as I continue my journey to be the next American Ninja Warrior!