Being in the Navy requires being physically fit and now Groton Naval Lt. Natalie Schibell is putting her fitness to the test on the "American Ninja Warrior" obstacle course.
She's heading to the San Pedro section of Los Angeles on June 5 for the regional qualifiers, featuring military competitors who are either active duty or veterans. The show will be filmed on the USS Iowa and is expected to air June 29. If she advances, she'll compete in the city finals the next day and then the next stage would be Las Vegas.
Schibell, an environmental health officer for the United States Navy based in Groton, said her friend challenged her to apply while they were watching the show last summer.
"I just couldn't turn the challenge down," she said. "I hope to set an example for my sailors that they can achieve anything they desire if they believe in themselves and work hard for it. I also want to promote the Navy's culture of fitness and empower people to employ a healthy lifestyle."
In her Season 7 audition video on YouTube that she wanted to go on the show to "inspire people," young and old, to be "active and healthy, test you limits and be your best" and "have fun doing it."
"I get the greatest satisfaction from helping others, guiding my sailors and encouraging other people to be their very best," Schibell said in her audition video.
She said that training for "American Ninja Warrior has been a "humbling yet fulfilling experience." Last month, she was contacted to be on the show and she increased her training to "build specific strengths needed for success on the course such as grip strength and coordination." She has gone to rock climbing gyms and "ninja" and "parkour" training facilities in the tri-state area to prepare, she said.
"The pre-competition jitters are definitely there, especially since this is my first experience on the show," Schibell said. "The tremendous support of my family, friends, and fans continues to give me the confidence I need to tackle the course. No matter what, I will be giving it my all."
Exercise and sports have been a big part of Schibell's life. At age 5, she began swimming competitively and she's also done field hockey, soccer, track and field and crew, according to her audition video. All of her athletic training and her competitive nature inspired her to joint the Navy, she said.
In the Navy, she oversees a team of preventative medicine technicians and industrial hygienists to maintain public health on Naval submarines and vessels, she said on her audition video. She is also a fitness commander, making sure active duty personnel at four different bases in the country are meeting height and weight standards and are keeping up their fitness so that they're ready to be deployed at any time, she said.
She's also a certified health coach and attended the Culinary Institute of America. She said that most of her training exercises involve "her body weight and the floor."
"American Ninja Warrior" airs on NBC at 8/7 p.m. central time.