084. Never Stop Pushing For Your Goals with Ryan Stratis

The Do a Day Podcast from Bryan Falchuk

Ryan Stratis is one of only four Ninjas to compete on every single season of the tv show “American Ninja Warrior™”. He first found Ninja when it was still airing as the original Ninja Warrior (Sasuke) from Japan and immediately fell in love with the sport. He was determined to be a part of it and when Ninja Warrior came to the USA, he had his chance.

Since 2009, Ryan has made it to the finals in Las Vegas finals 7 times in a row and has competed internationally in Japan and Malaysia. Ryan served 12 years in the military and afterwards decided to transition into the civilian life and pursue stunt work in Atlanta, GA. While there he helped build the ninja community by working with local gyms to provide top notch experiences and spread the love of Ninja Warrior.

Ryan is currently based out of Aurora, Colorado Ryan is available for events, conducts public speaking engagements and clinics. Ryan tours the country for these events solo or along side the Wolfpack Ninjas as part of their pro team.

I was lucky enough to spend some time with him at a recent event he was at, and see first hand how much dedication he puts into what he does. He also spent a lot of time with all the kids at the event, talking to them about being on the show, what the competition is like, staying dedicated to your dreams and more. He gave so much of himself to everyone (including me, as you’ll see below) – it was awesome to see in person. I  am really excited to bring his story to you.

Heres my proud moment when I got to flex with this ANW Legend

Key Points from the Episode with Ryan Stratis:

  • Ryan, who grew up in Georgia, currently lives in Colorado, training for American Ninja Warrior full time
  • He’s become well-known to fans of American Ninja Warrior as one of the few participants who has been in every season of the show since it began.
  • He served in the Army National Guard for a six year period before getting into Ninja as one of the original participants in American Ninja Warrior
  • He’s currently focusing on his own Ninja career and recovering from a shoulder injury, and has pulled back from training other ninjas, which he was well known for on top of his performance on the show
  • Ryan has had staying power, being one of only four participants who have been on every season since the show started.
  • There are several mental components at play in Ryan’s Ninja career
  • Being mentally prepared and centered became a core theme to the interview
  • For Ryan, he’s dealt with both having really strong performances and then facing the expectations of staying on top and almost not taking it seriously enough because he had done really well
  • This happened after Season 3 of the show, when he did really well, and then almost didn’t take it seriously enough in Season 4.
  • He said he felt the spark or fire not being as strong going into Season 4 because of the hubris or perhaps over-confidence from his performance the year before.
  • This past season, he also did extremely well, making it all the way to Stage 3 of the finals. That sets up expectations for next season to live up to.
  • On top of living up to last season, he’s also now dealing with his shoulder injury and will be having surgery before the season begins, so he has that weighing on him, too.
  • After Season 4 went unexpectedly poorly, he came back in Season 5 with a different mental focus.
  • Since Season 5, he’s changed how he thinks about things, coming back to himself and removing external distractions.
  • That greater focus has served him well, after a strong Season 5, and qualifying for the Finals in Las Vegas every year since then, even when he had his last shoulder surgery heading into Season 8.
  • We talked about what happens when you have a tough time on a particular obstacle. If you make it past, how that struggle sticks with you can set the stage for how you perform on subsequent obstacles.
  • And it can effect you watching others struggle, as was the case in Baltimore last year where no one finished the city finals.
  • If you let those struggles take too much of your focus, that can get in your head and impact how you perform.
  • I asked about this interesting dynamic in Ninja where, despite the fact that everyone is competing with each other, there’s this very clear support and camaraderie that you can feel watching the show.
  • In any other sport, opposing teams are just that – opposing. But in Ninja, you see competitors wearing each other’s shirts, cheering each other on.
  • Ryan talked about leading a team of Ninjas in the Ninja vs. Ninja and Team Ninja Warrior shows, giving a special shout out to Mike Bernardo, his Ninja Brother.
  • Ryan is starting to think about how life going forward post-Ninja.
  • It’s an interesting situation given how much of his life is dedicated to ANW, he talks about being back at square one in terms of figuring out his career path, only doing so in his late 30s instead of earlier in life.
  • With the show and his Ninja career being such an all-consuming lifestyle, it leaves you wondering what you’d do otherwise.
  • We talked about staying power and commitment. If you set a major goal for yourself, you have to keep at it even if you don’t get there.
  • For Ryan, this plays out in staying with Ninja for so long regardless of if he wins it.
  • Ryan shared a role model in Sasuke (the original show ANW is based on) who has done it all 36 seasons despite not winning. He keeps at it, and that’s so inspiring for Ryan.
  • I asked if he’s always been this way – driven, committed and athletic.
  • Growing up, Ryan was wiry and not athletic. He got into wrestling in high school because he would be matched with kids his size rather than bigger than him, as most kids were.
  • After that, he got into the junior ROTC program, which set him down the military path and brought in the commitment and dedication that comes with it.
  • Ryan is clear that there’s no blueprint or set path. We all have our own way, and need to stay true to that and persevere.
  • He got into a book that really helped him with mental prep, Thinking Body Dancing Mind, which is all about the mental tools to succeed in life’s various challenges.
  • It goes into life in general, athletics and business situations, and the broad applicability of it really struck Ryan, and stuck with him starting with Season 3 of ANW, after he read it.


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