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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

St. Joe’s grad becomes three-time American Ninja Warrior competitor

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Megan Johnson ’15 first ran on American Ninja Warrior in 2018. PHOTO COURTESY OF MEGAN JOHNSON

As a competitor in the National Ninja League, Megan Johnson ’15 has been invited to participate on the show “American Ninja Warrior” three times, with her first attempt at the 2018 Philadelphia City Qualifiers.

“When I found out that [American] Ninja Warrior was a thing, I got hooked,” Johnson said. “I went to the [ninja] gyms and the community is amazing so I just thought I’d apply to the show and it worked out, it’s become a whole lifestyle now.”

The sport of ninja is a competitive parkour sport which consists of running through a course of increasingly difficult obstacles which competitors look to complete in a set amount of time. The sport culminates into the popular TV series “American Ninja Warrior” on NBC which has been running for 13 seasons.

Johnson was heavily involved in campus life during her time at St. Joe’s as an undergraduate student.

“I was in Alpha Gamma Delta and I did a bunch of the service trips,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t an athlete at St. Joes, I mostly just lifted weights and I was on the club swim team for a while.”

Following graduation Johnson attended a baccalaureate certification program at the University of Pennsylvania for medical school. Upon completion, Johnson was accepted to medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine , just down the street from her alma mater. 

According to Johnson, it’s during this time where she would find her love for ninja.

“I can’t say there’s some inspirational story how it came about, it’s kind of just something I fell into,” Johnson said. “I had a friend [who] asked me to go to a rock climbing gym and then it later became a parkour gym and I was just immediately hooked.”

According to Johnson, training for ninja competitions is quite the regimen, but is a part of her day-to-day life. She said this can be challenging to maintain while balancing a medical student’s schedule.

“There’s a lot of different ninja gyms in the area, believe it or not,” Johnson said. “So when possible, I try to get to a gym two or three times a week.” 

In addition to attending several ninja gyms such as Centercourt Club & Sports in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, Johnson said there are also a number of different types of gyms she will visit to supplement her unique workout program.

“There was a parkour gym in Philly [that] COVID took out, but for a while parkour was a big part of the regiment and rock climbing is also a big one for the grip strength,” Johnson said. “So normally on a good week [I’m] training ninja two to three times a week, rock climbing two times a week, doing parkour once or twice a week and I also do gymnastics.”

Among her many endeavors, Johnson is also a second lieutenant in the United States military and said she hopes to use the skills she’s obtaining to work in a military hospital after graduation.

“My number one job is to finish medical school,” Johnson said. “[The military] does not require too much of me while in school, but I did have to do 10 weeks of basic military training. Once I graduate, I’ll go into a residency at one of the Army hospitals and then finish my residency and serve as a doctor for the Army.”

Jane Greenebaum, a friend and training partner of Johnson, said Johnson’s passion for ninja makes her an excellent member of the community. 

“We have training groups when it comes to ninja because it’s a lot more fun that way,” Greenebaum said. “We push each other and [Johnson’s] really awesome because she definitely pushes you to be the best. She has a really great positive attitude and she makes it a lot of fun too.”

Cara Mack, another training partner of Johnson and the founder of Ninjababes, a podcast turned organization formed to help empower women in ninja by focusing on sport performance, said Johnson excels at understanding the strategy of ninja.

“[Johnson’s] been so encouraging to train with, we’ve trained together for close to two years,” Mack said. “She’s such a great person to talk to you to motivate and to figure out what part of the obstacle we need to focus on better and how to then accomplish it and succeed.”

While Johnson continues her training and development in ninja, she highlighted the community aspect that the distinctive sport has formed. She said as it’s become such an intertwined part of her lifestyle, she will be working towards another American Ninja Warrior competition.

“Once you get into it, it’s a lifestyle and the community is amazing,” Johnson said. “You don’t know for sure that [American] Ninja Warrior will bring you back to the show for every season because you have to reapply every year, but I can only hope that I can continue on the show and I’ll continue [training] in the offseason.”

 

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