Brock trains for TV glory

ST. ALBANS — Christine Brock twists in an armchair and scans the Traveled Cup’s interior.

She looks at a beam.

“I would grab it, and I would just climb up it, like a spider or whatever,” Brock says.

She turns back and looks out the window, at poles supporting the storefront awning.

“Obviously they’re not strong enough,” Brock says, “but what I see is laches, where
you swing back and jump, swing back, jump.”

Brock shifts again to eye the café’s hanging ceiling lights.

“They remind me of the UFO that we have in the ninja gym,” she says.

The… UFO… in the ninja gym?

Brock means a training implement at the Vermont Ninja Warrior Training Center in Essex, a flying saucer gymnasts must grip just right or lose their balance.

And when Brock says “ninja,” she doesn’t mean she’s training to toss throwing stars and creep silently through the night. Quite the opposite: the producers of American Ninja Warrior have invited her to try out for the hit NBC series’ eleventh season.

American Ninja Warrior is a reality sports series. Hundreds of competitors
attempt to navigate series of fantastical, and increasingly difficult, obstacle courses.

The goal is to advance to national finals in Las Vegas, and then to be crowned the season’s American Ninja Warrior.

Brock is trying out for the series in Baltimore, Md. over two nights at the end of the month, April 28-29. Brock pointed out so many people try out that she may never appear
on the show. But she’s optimistic she’ll move forward in the competition “as long as I do really well, or if I fall and it’s a really hilarious fall.”

“Hopefully I don’t fall,” she said. “Fingers crossed.”

Aspiring contestants apply to be on the show.

One application question stumped Brock: “non-athletic hobbies.”

“That was a bad one, because almost everything I do is really athletic,”
Brock said.

Her answer? “My bunnies.”

But Brock said two pieces of her identity might have helped more: that she’s epileptic, and adopted.

Brock mentors an epileptic 12-year-old and trains her for cross
country.

“I’m really close to her,” Brock said. “I love her.”

Brock knows what it’s like to growup with epilepsy.

“I couldn’t even come home to shower alone,” she said. “I had to have somebody there. The door had to be unlocked. Because you never know if I’m going to have a seizure.”

Brock didn’t get her driver’s license until she was 17, after a period without a seizure. Then she seized while driving and drove into a ditch. She lost her license for six months.

“I had to have somebody on me at all times,” Brock said.

Now Brock spends her free time proving what she, alone, can do.

Her mind is constantly seeking ways to train — even during days working in Internet sales at St. Albans’ Handy Buick GMC.

Brock said she uses the dealership’s lifts to train, testing her balance on one foot. She’ll do pull-ups on the dealership’s welcome sign.

“Almost everywhere I go, I find some type of ninja thing to do,” she said, and laughed.

Brock has only practiced ninja athletics for seven months.

She has no background in gymnastics. She did track and hurdling in high school.

And yet she placed 26th among females in the National Ninja League’s World Championship Pro Division during a February competition at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.

“When I’m determined, I tend to do things I didn’t even realize I had in me,” Brock said.

Right now she’s training at the Essex gym every Tuesday night.

She does about an hour of cardio three times a week to prepare for the running involved in ninja sports competitions.

At home, she does pistol squats and yoga.

She also does weighted pull-ups at Duke’s Fitness Center here in St.Albans, because ninja athletics “is lot of holding your own bodyweight up,” Brock said.

Brock said she’s trained at high caliber ninja gyms in Boston and New York, too.

But, she said, “I feel like every competition, that’s what really gets me better.”

Brock severely sprained her ankle three months into her ninja training. She was on crutches, but she kept training, focusing on her upper body.

“I wasn’t about to lose the strength I had gained,” she said.

After all, her aspirations go beyond just appearing on American Ninja Warrior. She wants to be a household ninja warrior name, like Jessie Graff, a regular American Ninja Warrior competitor.

“I’m not going to stop,” Brock said. “I’m going to keep training. I want to be like that, that ninja they call every year — ‘You got to have her. You got to have her. She’s part of the
show now.’”