Still a Warrior

American Ninja Warrior Isaac Caldiero Looks for New Mountains to Conquer

American Ninja Warrior champion and Subaru owner Isaac Caldiero is chilling, literally, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m speaking to him by phone while he waits for a break in the cold, icy weather so that he can get outside and do what he loves most: rock climbing.

A Grand Tour

Since Caldiero’s spectacular conquest of the American Ninja Warrior course in September, he has been constantly on the move, visiting New York City, Los Angeles (twice), Seattle (three times), British Columbia, Iowa, Utah, Las Vegas (twice), San Francisco, Reno, as well as making numerous trips to Chattanooga. Caldiero digs the travel. “It’s exciting and fun,” he says, but he can’t imagine keeping up his current pace, as it is also “strenuous and stressful to constantly be on an airplane.”

When asked about his training to be the next American Ninja Warrior, Caldiero shares that he has not been specifically training, just climbing. “I have never enjoyed training or working out,” he says. “If there is a light at the end of the tunnel or a pot of gold, then I am motivated to train.” Instead, he prefers a more organic approach to preparation by simply heading for the hills and climbing hard. “At the end of the day, I am sore and tired, and that’s cool,” Caldiero says of his climbing. His usual strategy is to start training in earnest about two months prior to an event.

American Ninja Warrior, Isaac CaldieroIsaac Caldiero. Photo: Bobby Quillard

Bolder and Bouldering

Lately, Caldiero has been having fun focusing on bouldering, a challenging form of rock climbing performed without ropes or harnesses. “I am not trying anything insanely hard right now,” he says. When Caldiero uses phrases like “not anything insanely hard,” you have to consider the speaker, and take it with a boulder of salt. He does, in fact, have some seriously hard climbing and bouldering projects on his bucket list. Currently beckoning him is a bouldering challenge called Meadowlark Lemon in Red Rock, Nevada, where thousands of climbers have attempted the ascent – and few have succeeded. Another test for the world’s best climbers is the ominously named Necessary Evil located in the Virgin River Gorge, Utah.  Caldiero has spent a lot of his life trying to ascend this route but has never quite made it to the top. “It is always in the back of my head,” says Caldiero. Most of all, he is looking forward to a trip to South Africa, where he says the climbing is phenomenal and he has a whole array of climbing to do.

As of this writing, he is stoked for a big trip to Japan, where he and his girlfriend are going to soak up the local culture, climb, visit Samurai Temples, watch some Sumo wrestling, eat sushi, and hopefully compete in the original Ninja Warrior competition.

Except for that last little item on his Japan itinerary, it sounds like a pleasant, low-key trip. But once again, you have to consider the speaker; this is the guy who finds it “stressful” to be on an airplane all the time, “never enjoyed training,” and is “not trying anything insanely hard.” The smart money says Isaac Caldiero’s trip to Japan is going to be a lot more exciting than he says it will be.