PALMDALE -It all started on a routine family trip to Las Vegas two years ago.
Palmdale resident Martin Vartanian, his wife, Monica, and two teenage boys, Anthony and Alex, were in the city when he received a call from his workout parter, Luiz Perez, inviting him to a taping of “American Ninja Warrior.”
The Vartanians stood in line for an hour and a half waiting for the event to start. When it finally did, a light bulb went off.
“When I saw it happen, I said, ‘This is it. I gotta do this,'” Vartanian said while sitting on his living-room couch in East Palmdale, surrounded by his family.
Thus began Vartanian’s two-year journey that recently culminated in his selection to compete on Season 9 of the popular TV show. He ran his race on March 7, but could not disclose how he finished. The show will air sometime in May.
It took two attempts for Vartanian to be invited to the competition. Last year, he applied with Perez but did not make the cut. Perez, however, did.
This season, he almost wasn’t chosen again. But a producer tipped him as to how he could make it on the show. But it wasn’t easy.
Vartanian had to wait in a line of walk-on candidates every day for two weeks. He took time off from his job as a training director in information technology, and his family was left to hold down the fort at home in his absence.
“Everything was on hold,” Monica said. “We were on our own. Everybody was putting in what we could to get it done.”
But the waiting – and his family’s sacrifice – paid off. Vartanian ended up as one of the 33 remaining in the walk-on line, all of whom were given a spot on the show due to injuries and dropouts.
When Vartanian decided to take on this endeavor, he had to shift his entire fitness routine. Already a daily gym-goer, Vartanian incorporated training to improve his balance, grip strength and upper body. He also started indoor rock climbing, which he had never tried before.
Vartanian said he lost 20 pounds to get ready for the show.
But the 58-year-old wasn’t always so focused on fitness. Vartanian decided to make health a priority when he learned his wife was pregnant with their first son, Alex, who is currently 17.
His desire to stay fit for his children is rooted in a tragedy from his childhood.