Isaac Caldiero is back. The 36-year-old took a break from American Ninja Warrior after his victory in season seven of the show, and now, he’s ready to show that he’s still got it.
Read on to learn more about Isaac Caldiero.
1. He Is an Expert Rock Climber
Caldiero began bouldering and as a boy in Utah. When he turned seventeen, he tested out of high school and rock climbing. Outsideonline.com writes, “For the past 16 years he has worked odd jobs—canyoneering guide in Zion, busboy in Colorado, on-and-off carpenter—making just enough money to kick the dirtbag dream a bit further down the road.”
Caldiero is known as a highball boulderer.
Asked if he thinks climbers have a clear advantage on the show, Caldiero says, “To a certain point. The rock climbing background is a huge part of why I did well, and why other climbers have done well, but you need to be an all-around athlete. You need so much agility and lower-body coordination to get to those upper-body obstacles. I would be shocked if anyone who had never trained for Ninja completed the course, even if they were the strongest rock climber in the world. The lower-body obstacles aren’t that hard, but without training, you just can’t do it. It’s so specific.”
2. He Is the First Person to Win ‘American Ninja Warrior’ and Walk Away with $1 Million
It took seven seasons before anyone was pronounced the winner of American Ninja Warrior. Two competitors– Caldiero and Geoff Britten– were able to complete stage three of the competition, also known as Mt. Moriyama, but Caldiero finished in the fastest time, meaning he was the lucky winner of $1 million.
ANW is based off of the Japanese competition show “Sasuke”. After taking home the title of the winner of the show, Caldiero said, “Winning this event always seemed impossible… As the first American Ninja Warrior I want to use this opportunity to inspire the world to find your impossible and conquer it.”
3. He Is Dating Fellow ANW Competitor Laura Kisana
Caldiero met Laura Kisana in 2009. The two live a “climb-and-camp-forever lifestyle”.
Together, the two drive around in a 1978 dodge Jamboree that they purchased for $1,200.
Since winning $1 million, Caldiero has been living in Chattanooga with Kisana and their black labrador, Sage. Why has he decided to return to the American Ninja Warrior competitoin? Caldiero tells EW, “I’ve been watching to see if anyone can grab the ring and follow my footsteps and nobody has… So I decided, okay, I’ll come back and let everyone know I’m here.”
Still, Caldiero agrees the obstacles have gotten harder since he last competted. “Yes, they have changed, but they aren’t that much harder… They are just different obstacles but they have a lot of room to grow, especially considering how much the ninja athletes are training. I’m looking forward to hitting some buzzers and having a good time.”
4. He Lives off Less Than $10,000 a Year
Caldiero explains that even though he made $1 million off his ANW win (which turned out to be far less than that once taxes got involved, he says) he has continued to live a similar siple lifestyle.
“We live out of an… RV and travel the world and rock climb. Most of the year, when we’re not doing odd jobs to actually afford that style of life– and from that style we devote our lives to this competition. We’re full-time ninja nerds.”
In an interview with The Rebellious Nerd, Caldiero makes it clear that he rebels against some of society’s norms. “I’m a good citizen. I don’t do anything bad… but I am against federal regulations of people, and I feel like there should be more freedom of choice in general…” He continues, “My rock climbing has helped me expand that and it comes from me not wanting to go to school and get married and have a home.”
5. He Believes Winning American Ninja Warrior Is All About Mental Strength
To train for ANW when he was younger, Caldiero built a ninja training center in his parent’s backyard. He trained seven days a week. He tells Chron.com that his many years climbng outdoors without ropes and harnesses has also prepared him by giving him a mental edge over his competitors.
“I do a lot of free-solo type climbing where my life is literally in my own hands. At times, falling is not an option, and I can’t let my nerves get to me. Otherwise I die, and I don’t want to die,” Caldiero said. “So I took that same mentality into this course. Not only was there this impossible feat that was driving me to accomplish, but in the back of my mind, I said I couldn’t fall.”
In an interview with AfterBuzzTV about what it is that made Caldiero an American Ninja Warrior, the athlete said, “We all have the physical talent. We all train as hard as we all want to be the best. We all want to be the first American Ninja Warrior. But in the end, it’s all going to come down to who has the mental capacity to achieve that.” He says he “definitely” thinks its mental over physical.