Austin dad competing in 'American Ninja Warrior'

12:00 a.m. Saturday, July 12, 2014 Lifestyle

Tune in Monday to watch an Austin man tackle what’s been dubbed the world’s toughest obstacle course at the regional finals of “American Ninja Warrior.”

Matt Laessig, a 43-year-old father of three and general manager of Austin-based BedandBreakfast.com, had to race much younger and lighter athletes to make it to the regional finals in Dallas. Of 150 who started, he was one of just 21 — and the second oldest — to finish the course. If he places near the top at this round, he’ll go on to the national finals in Las Vegas.

The show airs from 8 to 10 p.m. on NBC. The show is taped, so Laessig — a five-time “American Ninja Warrior” competitor — already knows how things turned out, but he’s not telling.

The obstacles on the show test agility, balance and upper body power. Think slanted panels that you have to dash across without falling into water below, or a steeply curved wall you have to scale. The first and last obstacles are the same across the country, but the other four vary by region.

“The first time you try an obstacle is when it’s on the course and it’s your turn,” Laessig says.

That requires lots of preparation (not to mention grip strength), and between his job and home life, Laessig doesn’t have a lot of time to train. That’s why he gets creative with his workouts — turning a trip to the playground or park or gym with his children into a training session.

“It’s a ton of fun. It’s a challenge that motivates me to stay fit and learn new skills as I push into middle age,” he says. “I’m compelled to compete. I see those obstacles and I want to try them and think I can do them all.”

Sounds pretty super human, don’t you think? Which is why I asked Laessig which Super Hero he’s most like.

“I’ve always liked Captain America because he doesn’t have the most ridiculous super powers, but he’s still game for any situation and uses his brain and leadership.”

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