DeKalb Woman Takes on American Ninja Warrior

As a clinical therapist Jen Liam helps people overcome obstacles.


“Whether it is physical or something internal-slow and steady is kind of my approach- there is no quick fix-its hard work and persistence. It’s not how many times you fall down its how many times you get up,” she said. And as a lifelong athlete who thrives on competition, Liam knows a lot about overcoming obstacles. That competitive drive took Liam to Orlando last May where she competed in the regional qualifying round of the reality TV series American Ninja Warrior, where contestants attempt to complete a series of increasingly difficult obstacle courses called “stages.” The show premiered in 2009 and airs on both NBC and the Esquire Network.


Liam said she has watched the show for years and constantly thought about giving it a try. One night Liam asked her daughter Blais if she should do it. “She goes, ‘yeah I think you should,’’ said Liam, “and then like 30 seconds later she got kind of panicked and said Mom I don’t think you should do it. That was the moment that kicked me into gear,” said Liam. “I thought you know what, as a therapist, as a mother it is so important to model this idea of doing something because you love it and not because of the guarantee.”


Liam sent the required video and 10-page application to the series producers and waited. And waited. She finally told her wife Debbie and Blais she didn’t think she was going to get on the show. “We really all resigned as a family that it was worth it anyway-I’m glad I gave it a shot.” Then Liam got the call she had been waiting for. Though she didn’t make the finals and only got a few seconds of TV time Liam said she was pleased with how she did. “I will absolutely try it again; I’m already planning my next video. I’m ready, I feel like this year for me was all about – is this really something I can do and be a viable contender. Now I know I can do it.”


“You know I’m 41, I wasn’t quite ready to give up competing and it’s sweet to have it back in my life,” she said.


-Dean Hesse

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