Meet Shanghai's Ninja Warrior Mom

Age is just a number

by Alex Sheffield | Fri, October 20, 2017

Two-time American Ninja Warrior and mom of three, Kristy Welch, chats fitness, flips and age just being a number.

Watch Kristy's audition video below!

Have you always been into fitness?

Always, I come from a very sporty family. Growing up in Michigan, born and raised, I was a soft ball player, a bowler, did some track and field but my main sport was gymnastics. I competed for eight years at the elite level, and was also on the junior Olympic national team.

What made you want to do American ninja warrior?

There was a former female gymnast on the show who was the first woman to make it up “the wall” and also to finish a city finals course. There was a lot of buzz around her, and I had people reaching out saying “oh my gosh – Kristy, I can totally see you doing it!” So my husband, Joe, started researching how to apply and we made a very low-budget audition tape. I got a call from the team saying “We loved your audition!” and how I introduced myself as a 41 year old working soccer mom and former gymnast. I’m much older than most competitors, but I thought I’d take a stab at it! We moved to Shanghai just over a year ago, and I thought, you know what? I’m going to try again. We filmed part of the audition in front of the Lujiazui skyline, and I got the call again! Around 77,000 people applied so it’s unbelievable that I was chosen.

Kirsty Welch

How do you train?

I’ve always done speed and agility and strength training, it’s amazing how your muscle memory remains. When we moved to Shanghai over a year ago, my first priority was to find a ninja gym. I was introduced to the Shanghai Ninjas; a group of diverse guys that have these crazy talents – they’re super strong – so, I trained with them. But my day to day go-to is cross fit. I joined a gym in Jinqiao and have since been chosen to compete in the china championships for cross fit this October.

Are your children excited about having a ninja mom?

Yes! They’re my biggest fans, and they’re awesome. Lucy is 13, Luke 11 and Nolan 9. All of them are very sporty; I think the boys might be following my footsteps. You have to be at least 21 to enter American Ninja Warrior, 10 years away for Luke. 2027 . . . watch this space!

Kirsty Welch

Do you have any advice for others looking to get fit?

Age is just a number. If you’re determined and you want something then you should go after it – it’s a mindset. I never imagined that at almost 44 I’d still be agile, back flip and walk on my hands – I’m stronger now than I probably ever have been. Whatever your goals are, there are opportunities all over Shanghai to pursue your definition of fitness. I encourage everyone, working or not, to explore the options (spinning, yoga, barre, pilates, swimming, boot camps, CrossFit, running clubs, etc.), the list is endless! This is your time to shine; if you want something, go after it!

Last word

Kristy teaches Shanghai Gymnastics, Pudong location. With classes from age three onwards, it’s never to early (or late!) to learn how to back flip. Check out

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