In addition to testing for safety and difficulty levels, Griffin also demonstrates how to do each obstacle for contestants, among other things.
“Every obstacle needs to be doable,” he notes. “And while contestants aren’t allowed to touch the obstacles [before their run], they can see me and some others complete them. In some countries, like the U.K. and Switzerland, I have to dress up as a ninja. So I’m completely in black and run the entire course every night in front of a crowd of thousands, which is pretty unique. In America, I do a bit more rigging, helping actually install the obstacles. And there’s a lot of brainstorming that needs to be done. Everyone on the team is multi-functional and multi-talented. We’re like the Avengers, because everyone’s got their own special talent.”
Despite doing this all over the world, Griffin admits that the American version of the show is toughest, and sometimes falls happen, even when you’re a professional.
“I did my first testing for the U.K. and Egypt and then I went to America, where the obstacles are at such a higher level,” he says. “So I fell a bit in my first year on American Ninja Warrior, and I still get surprised by an obstacle and fall sometimes. But every time I fall, I learn from it. Like if you fall on a massive swing because your grip goes, you know you need to work on your grip strength. Falling kind of shows you what you need to work on, so I’m getting better every season. But I do take falls quite seriously because there’s not much room for error when I go outside and climb a five-story building.”
And how does one fall — no pun intended — into such a profession? For Griffin, it all started when he’d jump out of windows a kid.
“I remember jumping out into a bush from my mom’s two-story house,” he recalls. “I jumped into a bush and then suddenly, at 30, I’m on set as a professional, and it all started with that jump and that sense of adventure. It’s like a mature version of playing around as a child. It feels so normal to me, but I try and put myself in other people’s shoes and I know it seems like a crazy thing to do.”