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  • Courtesy Former Trine football player Mario Brown finished 22nd out of 120 competitors at the “American Ninja Warrior” regional in Indianapolis. Brown is continuing his training while also working with his community in Battle Creek, Mich. 

  • Courtesy photo Former Trine football player Mario Brown finished 22nd out of 120 competitors at the American Ninja Warrior regional in Indianapolis. While the top 15 advance, Brown is continuing his training while also working with his community in his hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. This handstand on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix is an example of using what he has available for exercises. 

Sunday, July 01, 2018 1:00 am

'Ninja' just the latest challenge

Former Trine football player just missed cut

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Every life obstacle that former Trine football player Mario Brown has gotten through has become motivation to keep improving.

His goal: To conquer physical obstacles.

Brown, 28, finished 22nd out of 120 competitors in the Indianapolis regional of “American Ninja Warrior” in April. Only the top 15 advanced to the next round.

The Battle Creek, Michigan, native played four years at Trine, graduating in 2012, before playing overseas in Serbia and Poland. It was there he began to get creative with his workouts.

“During college, I just worked out a lot at Trine playing football,” he said. “It didn't stop when I went overseas, the only thing that changed was the type of workout facilities. I was playing professional football in Europe. The sports aren't as advanced. What worked out best was heavy into calisthenics and bar workouts and stuff like that. I naturally started to challenge myself.

“Any type of workouts you can do outside. That's what I would do. I would do an hour or hour and a half of doing different workouts.”

Brown has been going through a trial and error process to develop strength and understanding of his body.

“I did a lot of research,” he said. “Growing up in sports, you get banged up, you get injured. Instead of going to the trainer and having them assist me, I take the time to put the research in to understand my body as much as possible and once I understand how things work, it's easier for me to come up with different workouts and scenarios and stuff like that to train my body.”

The obstacles started early in his life from his “tougher type of environment” growing up. Not the worst, but not the best, he described.

Brown's father was around and supportive, but he primarily grew up with a single mother. Gang violence claimed the life of his best friend – the father of his now 9-year-old godson – 10 years ago as well as other friends.

As a result of these hardships, Brown shifted his profession from marketing and finance to coaching football and track, pursuing teaching high school math and personal training all while training to get another shot at advancing in “American Ninja Warrior.”

“I came back to my community to give back and my little brother (who just finished his sophomore year) moved in with me,” he said.

“I have to love what I do and I'm more of a people person so I really find a lot more fulfillment in helping people. That was part of it. I wanted to move back in my community and help the youth within my community. There are a lot of kids that I've watched grow up that don't have the support system that I think they deserve.”

Brown went to Waterloo to train at Classic City Center, where many of his other Indianapolis regional competitors were training.

“In the (Battle Creek) area, we don't have a facility,” he said. “I can't train the technical aspects. I researched and saw the gym. I was able to get down there two or three times. They do have a nice facility and they taught me a lot from the technical aspect, as well. That's a blessing to be able to find them. Some of them wanted to see me succeed even though a couple of them were at the regional. It was a competition, but they wanted to see everybody succeed.”

The obstacle course and different levels of training at Classic City Center satisfied his competitiveness.

“The mindset that I've always had, I've always been a competitor,” he said. “I've always loved the pressure associated with competition and being better. As I've gotten older, not being able to participate in athletics like football or college athletics, the challenges that I've had have come from within.

“The person I'm in competition with isn't someone else, It's myself. It's nice to have an outlet that lets me truly see progress and an indication that I'm continuing to strive for success and progress, as well.”

Brown posts all his workout videos on his Facebook and Instagram (@MarionSBrown).