ST. GEORGE — Mady Howard, an ICU nurse at St. George Regional Hospital, will be among the one dozen contestants featured in a special Mother’s Day episode of “American Ninja Warrior.”
The two-hour program is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Sunday on NBC.
“They are doing the first-ever women’s championship,” Howard told St. George News. “They invited 12 women from last season to compete against each other, and the winner gets $50,000.”
Howard said the episode was filmed last year in St. Louis, Missouri. Although she is not allowed to divulge the contest’s outcome before the broadcast, she did say she enjoyed participating in what marks her sixth appearance on the show over the past few years.
The popular program features contestants navigating a course filled with various physically challenging obstacles, all while racing against each other and a timer.
Howard said the show in St. Louis was filmed under COVID-19 restrictions.
“They were pretty strict, just because in order for the season to happen, they wanted us to all stay safe and not for it not to get canceled,” she said. “So we all had to wear masks the whole time, except for when we were on the course, then we stayed 6 feet apart from each other. They had people watching us and making sure we were following all the rules.”
Howard added that the course last year included several new obstacles.
“Some of them I had already done in the qualifying round from the regular season, and some of them were new. The obstacles were just big and fun,” she said. “They had all 12 of us run the first course, which was six obstacles, and then the top six advanced to the next course, which had 10. And then, the top four got to compete on the power tower.”
The program being broadcast on Mother’s Day will have special significance for Howard this year, as she and her husband Tyler are expecting their first child in August.
Although she won’t be competing on the show later this year because of her pregnancy, she said she was glad she was able to appear on this year’s episode.
“I’m hoping to compete again next year, after the baby.”
Howard, who graduated from Southern Utah University in 2017 with a nursing degree, said she started doing ninja warrior training as a way of staying in shape after having competed as a member of SUU’s gymnastics team.
“I was just looking for something to do after I graduated from college,” she said. “And then I met the Beckstrands, the people who own The Grip (a fitness center in Washington, Utah), and they all were applying for the show. And so I just submitted an application – like, very last minute.”
“I got called and then I did pretty well my first year, so then I kind of just surprised myself.”
Howard said she doesn’t do it for the attention or publicity, although she admits it’s fun to have people occasionally recognize her at the hospital, the gym or in other public places.
The challenge of the sport itself, she says, is her main motivation.
“It really is so much fun,” she said. “I’m taking a small break right now, but it’s just something that I love that’s fun to do. It’s a fun hobby. I’m excited to get back into it after the baby.”
Sunday’s two-hour program is a standalone special. The 13th season of the regular “American Ninja Warrior” is scheduled to begin airing May 31, also on NBC.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.