meagan martin

31 Minutes With Meagan Martin, America’s Toughest Ninja Warrior

Words: Michelle Hurni
Photography: Arjan de Kock  

No other female has finished the qualifier course for American Ninja Warrior, and she’s done it three years running. Meet Meagan Martin.

Meagan Martin is a tough, girly girl who wore skirts to climb trees before becoming a Ninja Warrior. The 26-year-old has conquered four unique sports, from gymnastics and rock climbing to pole vaulting and the televised obstacle-course competition series American Ninja Warrior.

Her accomplishment list is stacked. No other female has finished the qualifier course for American Ninja Warrior, and she’s done it three years running. She’s the 2003 Youth National Climbing champion who retired from climbing, then went to Vanderbilt on a sports scholarship to study English. She set Division 1 pole vaulting records before ascending back into the climbing world, ticking off highly technical (and physically challenging) bouldering routes from Rocky Mountain National Park to Switzerland with purple-painted nails.

meagan martin

© Arjan de Kock

Relentlessly transferring her immense talent between sports, she now coaches climbing for kids, trains five days a week, competes at a World Cup level and still finds time for the important things in life. The aspiring actress took a break from her Ninja training to chat recently.

THE RED BULLETIN: Are you surprised at your success in four different sports?

MEAGAN MARTIN: At first it all came so naturally. At a certain point, things do start to get harder. I did gymnastics — I was good at it. I switched to climbing — I was good at it. Then I switched to pole vaulting and I had to go through things not working out like they used to and having to work through it. It was a great base for getting back to climbing. It’s not easy. I have to work hard if I want to do well and keep up with everybody.

What did your parents think of you becoming a professional athlete?

They are really into us following our dreams and doing what makes us happy, as long as we do it well. Going to college, getting a scholarship and doing a sport in college was what I was supposed to do. After I’d done that, they were okay with me exploring other options. If there’s a cliff to jump off, my mother’s like, “do a backflip!” She’s crazy, but I love her. She always believes in our ability.

So you must be really strict about nutrition.

My life revolves around food. I’m an adventurous eater and love trying new things. I love dessert, I love carbs. Bread and butter? I think I could live off it. Thank goodness I work out so much, because otherwise I’d have health issues because of butter.                                                         

Have you used your Ninja skills in real life?

I don’t have ninja stars or anything. When I’m talus hopping [from rock to rock], I feel very comfortable. It’s never something I think about, like “can I make this gap?” I usually feel very confident that I can. That’s more because of how I grew up, being so active all the time.

Do some men find your athletic prowess intimidating? 

Guys always make comments about my muscles. They say “your arms are bigger than mine,” but they actually are not; they’re just shorter so they look bigger.

What are the top things you look for in a partner?

I’m really picky. For me, someone who is educated, ambitious, funny, athletic, kind — those are some of the top things. My list is a lot longer, sadly. The one tip my dad always gave me was, “don’t marry a lazy man.” He’s right.

Any advice to someone wanting to pursue a career in sports?

Know that failure is going to happen, but you have to get through the failure to get to the success. Don’t be discouraged by the failures. I’ve definitely had some amazing, successful moments, but there are still goals I want to meet.

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