Not every climber is going to win a million dollars for their skill, but everyone can benefit by learning to climb.
Issac Caldiero, who is the only person to complete all four stages at the American Ninja Warrior competition in Las Vegas and take home the purse, said that he hated working out when he was growing up in Utah. The self-described “rambunctious kid” did like skateboarding and snowboarding, however, and when he started climbing at age 15, he was hooked.
“It’s a social sport with cool energy,” said Caldiero, who recently did a ‘How to Be a Ninja’ presentation at Momentum Silver Street. “It’s like a puzzle solving challenge. There are so many solutions. You have to figure it out for you.”
Caldiero and Momentum CEO Jeff Pedersen go way back as Caldiero began climbing at Pedersen’s first gym, Rock Garden Climbing Gym.
“We got to be really good friends,” said Caldiero. “He saw something in me, took me under his wing and introduced me to the climbing world.”
He said that he admired Pederson’s style of climbing, which is free solo climbing. Free solo climbing, also called Soloing, is where the person climbs without using ropes or harnesses, instead relying on ability. Caldiero said that he wants to climb the uncharted places in the world and to “get out and explore.”
“I like [soloing] because I’m 100 percent in control,” he said. “But I never climb to my limit.”
Caldiero has travelled the world climbing, working construction jobs in between and relying on sponsorship money. With his girlfriend, who he said is a transformed “city girl” turned very adept climber, Caldiero lived out of a camper in Europe for a time.
It was while watching Japan’s Ninja Warrior show which has been on for 34 seasons, with four different winners, that Caldiero and a friend decided that they should try out for the American version. Caldiero took it seriously and put up an obstacle course in his parents’ backyard.
“They had a 32 year old kid,” he jokes.
Out of the thousands of people who go through the qualifiers, Caldiero made it to Vegas three times. In the show’s fifth season he had a shoe malfunction and fell. In the sixth season he corrected that but was eliminated during stage three. The seventh season in 2015 was the charm. Caldiero said that it’s not just skill that matters but endurance.
“You are out there from midnight to sunrise,” he said. “They do stages two through four all on the same night.”
Since the win, Caldiero has put down roots in Chattanooga, TN which he visited during a tour of the south. He said he lives a very frugal life, but was able to buy a house with his earnings, and still travel and climb.
It was a no brainer for him to come present in the Silver Street facility that Momentum established in Houston.
“I had never seen a facility like this,” he said. “It’s so different, and much bigger. I could train here.”
For those who aren’t looking to go pro, Caldiero still promotes climbing as an intense, fun workout.
“[Climbing] happens pretty naturally,” he said. “Just look at kids. We’re designed to climb.”