John Jones got the call of a lifetime last year after attempting for several years for a chance at the American Ninja Warrior competition. He was invited to travel to San Antonio to be an official participant for American Ninja Warrior, an American sports entertainment competition. The competition features hundreds of competitors attempting to complete a series of obstacle courses of increasing difficulty, trying to make it to the national finals on the Las Vegas Strip, in hopes of becoming an “American Ninja Warrior.” This year will be its tenth season and Jones plans to be there one way or another.
Five years ago, Jones weighed 195 pounds and says he was an alcoholic and a chain smoker. While watching television with his daughter, she made a playful comment that he was too old to do the things on the ANW obstacle course. He was 36 then. Now he weighs in around 165 pounds and has stopped drinking alcohol and smoking. “She planted a seed in my head and it kind of stuck into what it is today,” Jones said. “Obviously, I quit all that stuff and started working out, but I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing.” Jones said he found a local gym in Dallas and met people there with a greater understanding of how to reach his goal.
The application process for ANW involves a video of the applicant. He said the video that first year was terrible, but he didn’t know how it should be. He didn’t get the call he wanted the first year. So, the second year, he hired someone to produce it. The results were no better. It wasn’t until partnering with the Celina High School students in the Audio-Visual program for a quality video last year, that he finally got the invitation to run that course.
Jones says Jordan Harklau, a junior last year, took over his video project and produced something spectacular. Jones believes that video is what made the difference to get him into the competition. This year the video project is being coordinated by Tyler Tombaugh, a senior, and Jones says it will also be entered into the UIL competition in the short film category. When Jones appears at ANW this year, he’ll be proudly wearing a shirt designed to represent CISD. It’s the traditional Celina orange with the gray and white logo Jones has chosen for his campaign. It declares “Achieve More” and that is Jones’ plan.
He says that silly comment his daughter made five years ago was the catalyst that caused him to change his entire life. Since that time, he has met and married his wife Amanda and moved to Celina where she has been an educator for 18 years. He changed his job to construction, remodeling homes, which led to a contract installing cabinets in hotels across the country so he travels a lot. When at home, he says he likes having work, so he started substitute teaching at CISD.
But through all of his work endeavors, and his irregular schedule, his work-out regimen continues. After the outcome in San Antonio, at home in Celina, Jones and his wife met with his training team to figure out a new plan. “We put together a new training program,” he said. “Training sessions became more intense and a lot longer.” He said he was picked up by Elite Performance as a sponsor and they helped him put together a new training program. “Now I train six days a week with varied programs and locations,” he said. When asked if there are times when he doesn’t want to work out, his response was, “Sweet Mary, yes. There are days I don’t want to go. Sometimes the best workouts are the ones I don’t want to go to. Sometimes I have to ask myself how bad do I want to do this.” He said he realizes a lot of eyes are paying attention to what he’s doing. It’s not just about John Jones.
He remembers a quote from Bruce Lee that continues to inspire him. “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Jones says it’s the little things like that. “I will practice it over and over. It’s not about being skinny and fit,” Jones said. “It’s about being balanced and skilled. And then there is the diet.” Jones says he follows a ketosis diet and it’s difficult to keep. As a matter of fact, the day he spoke with us for this interview was his cheat day and he said with great excitement he had already called in his order for Jimbo’s Pizza. Regularly, Jones keeps his carbohydrate count as close to zero as possible in a day. “The most would be around 15 but that doesn’t count the natural carbs that come from avocados and nuts,” he said. “Natural carbs are good for you.”
Jones talks about his first trip to the ANW and says he will approach things differently this year, which will be held in Dallas at Fair Park. “Running the course is intimidating,” Jones said. “It was my rookie year and when we got there, I thought I had to watch others run it and wanted to know the course like the back of my hand. There is so much going on and you are so excited your adrenaline is going like crazy.” He said that standing on the stage with the cameras on him, all that intimidation went away. He became more focused with what was in front of him and all the hype around him fell away.
He said last year, he and his family did a lot of site seeing while they were there, but this year will be different. This year is about finishing what he started. He hopes to take everything he’s done this year and apply it to the course. The event is filmed overnight and not in the daytime, so he plans to condition himself before the competition to be alert and functioning during the night hours. Eliminating distractions will be a good game changer and will help.
For anyone interested in reading more about Jones and his training, visit the website at www.achievemore.us and visit his Facebook page where he is excited to have followers from around the globe. “Achieve more is our motto and it fits into every aspect of what I live up to.”
By Joyce Godwin