Queensland native Rory Rhodes takes on the obstacle course on Australian Ninja Warrior.
Queensland native Rory Rhodes takes on the obstacle course on Australian Ninja Warrior. Channel 9

What does it take to make it on to Australian Ninja Warrior?

AUSTRALIAN Ninja Warrior is about to introduce a new breed of reality TV contestants to our screens.

Forget home cooks, amateur renovators and serial daters - these "ninjas" are everyday athletes taking on superhuman challenges.

The sports entertainment competition, which is so popular in the US it has spawned a chain of gyms, pits competitors against an obstacle course testing strength and agility.

Ranging in age from 18 to 60, the contestants vary from fitness-mad mums and dads to tradies, doctors, circus performers and former Olympians.

"I'm in awe of the competitors," Rebecca Maddern tells The Guide.

"The mental side is really fascinating. You can have this extremely fit guy or girl and you think when they're at the starting gates they're going to blitz it and they don't. Then somebody who doesn't have the same physical attributes as someone else goes all the way. How much of that is mind over matter? I think it's a lot."

Rebecca Maddern and Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff are hosts on Australian Ninja Warrior.
Rebecca Maddern and Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff are hosts on Australian Ninja Warrior. Channel 9

Filmed on a specially built course at Cockatoo Island in Sydney, Australian Ninja Warrior is hosted by Rebecca, Ben Fordham and Freddie Flintoff

"Ben and I are both commentating and I haven't done that before," she says.

"It is like race calling except we have only one competitor (at a time)."

Rebecca, also a co-host on The AFL Footy Show, is the first female host in the Ninja Warrior franchise.

"There are so many women in high profile jobs now and the door has well and truly been flung open," she says. "I think it's terrific the Nine executives have chosen a female commentator... I'm loving every second."

The Ninja Warrior course features obstacles including the 4.2m-high "warped wall", which contestants only get three attempts to scale. Whoever "gets the furthest the fastest" progresses to the semi-finals and eventually the grand final, when a $100,000 prize is up for grabs for whoever can beat the course and scale Mount Midoriyama.

"Some of the competitors have been training for years hoping Ninja Warrior would come to Australia," Rebecca says. "When their heart is broken yours breaks as well. It's not something they've thought about (doing) two months ago."

British cricketer and I'm A Celebrity champion Freddie is on the ground to celebrate and commiserate with each contestant and their families after they come off the course. Even though he's a former professional athlete, Freddie hasn't tried out the obstacle course himself.

"I could talk you through it; I know how you should do it," he says. "You look at it (the course) and you start working out how you'd do it, but realistically I'd have no chance."

Having watched the British series with his three children, Freddie believes Australia's ninjas are tough as nails.

"You're a different race here," he says. "I think it's because of the weather and the beaches... there's more pressure to have a body. In England the dad body is very acceptable. When you look at the contestants who do the English course, and I hate to say it, but Australia's a level up."

Australian Ninja Warrior premieres on Sunday at 7pm on Channel 9.


The Ninja Warrior fitness test

*Prospective contestants were rated on a scale from one to five, with five being the best

*To test core and arm strength applicants were asked to do a five-minute plank, then after one minute of rest five minutes of push ups followed by pull ups from a dead-hang position

*Applicants then had to hang from a bar for five minutes and  finished with five minutes of skipping rope, when they could show a bit of flair and personality

*Contestants who qualified for the heats were briefed on the obstacle course and watched a demonstration but were not allowed to practice on the obstacle course. They only get one shot and if any part of their body touches the water they are eliminated.

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