Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - Updated: 4:54 PM
By Rachel Keller Collins
Three weeks from now a Calvert City man will pack his bags and head for Daytona, Florida, where he will compete with other athletes from across the country for his chance at earning the title, ‘American Ninja Warrior.’
Andy Harrington, 26, at first glance appears to be like any other young man his age in western Kentucky, a member of the IBEW Local 816, working a full time job with DC Electric and attending apprentice classes by night. Even in his video he sent to the ‘American Ninja Warrior’ producers, he claims to represent the everyday, working-class man; but his dedication to physical fitness and exceeding personal goals is what sets him apart.
Five to six days a week, Harrington begins the day with a 4:30 a.m., hour-long workout before going to work, where he is teased by co-workers about looking like a “Unabomber,” wearing a weighted vest and running stairs during breaks. After work he balances another hour-and-a-half workout around his evening classes, utilizing either his Mega Gym membership or working with the obstacles he’s built in his back yard and in his garage.
Harrington said fitness has always been an interest of his and it’s his belief “it’s important to take care of yourself,” but it was something he did for himself. He said while he had been a fan of the show and had watched since its inception in Japan and continued watching when it transitioned to the U.S. and ‘American Ninja Warrior’ several years ago, he didn’t consider competing until a friend suggested it. But it was an interesting idea and allowed him to set a whole new level of goals so he went for it, made a video and sent it off.
On March 1, he got the call from Los Angeles saying he had been accepted.
“I’d say I was in shock. It was really surreal,” he said. “After, I just thanked God over and over. I don’t really care what I show the world; I just want to use what I can do for God in some way and find some way to use my abilities to show the world what God looks like.”
Harrington said regarding his training, once he found out he was accepted for the show, he “found another gear” his body kicked into, but the biggest change in regimen is his diet. While he previously indulged in pizza and cheeseburgers his diet now consists mostly of vegetables and fruits, “a lot of water,” no carbs and no sugars. He said he was a lean 185 pounds when he got the call but he’s trying to “get lighter because that’s a lot to carry around on your hands.”
Harrington said the hardest part was getting accepted; preparing his body for the challenges that lie ahead is the easy part, but now he will face “the world’s hardest set of obstacle courses.”
“You have to think on the fly because you don’t know what the obstacles are until you get there,” he said. “I mean, you can guess at a few by watching the previous seasons but you have to be mentally prepared for the challenge too and that’s not as easy to train for.”
Aril 6-8, Harrington will compete in the ‘qualifiers’ for the show and he said if he does well, his qualifiers will likely be aired on the NBC show’s 9th season late this summer. If he passes the qualifiers, he will go to Las Vegas, Nevada in late June for finals.
Harrington said while the $1 million cash prize for winning would be awesome, it’s very rare for anyone to make it that far. He said he’s happy just to have the chance to attend qualifiers because he’s worked so diligently, even through seven shoulder dislocations in the timespan of one year, to get where he is now.
Harrington said the mental and emotional support from his friends and family who are often neglected due to his dedication and schedule has been invaluable, but his friend, Brad Overby, has also set up a way to monetarily assist. Anyone interested in donating funds to help offset the cost of travel may do so by visiting www.gofundme.com/andy-harrington-ninja-warrior.