Puppetry and circus skills aren’t attributes that immediately come to mind when you think of a ninja warrior.
But the fitness and strength required for these performance genres have set Neal Holmes up for a tilt at the extreme obstacle course of Channel Nine’s new show Australian Ninja Warrior.
Known on the show as Non Stop Neal, the 32-year-old Clunes performer beat about 6000 other applicants to be one of the warriors on the show, appearing on screen in the semi finals on Tuesday.
“I found it a little stressful, more for myself because being a performer I put a lot of stress and pressure on myself to make sure I do well,” he said.
After his successful run through the course in the heat, Mr Holmes said it was as much about mental toughness as physical prowess.
“There’s a lot of agility and balance. It’s a more mental course. Physically it’s very tiring but I think it’s a mix of being up late, because it’s shot after dark, and not knowing what’s going on.
“It looks easy on television but it’s different when you look at it from straight on.”
Mr Holmes has kept an eye on the Ninja Warrior phenomenon since it began in Japan in 1997 and then spread across the globe.
“I watched it because I like to play with that style of training with my acrobatics and the strength work I do. I adopt that style of play because it’s really fun to do and doesn’t feel like you’re in a gym pushing weights.
“There’s a lot of different areas you need to be good on – climbing, jumping, running, balance so when the Australian notification came out I was a bit nervous to apply, but I felt obliged because a few friends had been on the German and UK versions of the show.”
Mr Holmes set up his own training gym in the back yard of his Clunes home to prepare for the obstacle course-style contest.
“I didn’t enter until late because I get a little bit obsessed with stuff and knew if I applied I would have to change everything and get obsessed with it.
“But I’ve learned a lot of lessons about myself and how to take on other competitive things.”