Kadeem Aarons, or the 5.2 Ninja, was born in New York, USA and moved to Australia after 9/11. Surviving that, Aarons’ Step-dad pushed for the move. Growing up in Sydney, Kadeem moved to Melbourne to study Sports Science. A television ad for Australian Ninja Warrior caught his attention in 2016 and he was compelled to apply. One of the first 50 ninjas to ever take on the Australian Ninja Warrior course and was the shortest male competitor coming in at 157cm or 5’2″.
“I’ve been fortunate to compete on 2 seasons.”
After not making the cut the last two years, I applied for American Ninja Warrior and was selected. This honour makes me the first dual Australian/American to compete on the show!
15 Questions With Kadeem Aarons, the 5.2 Ninja
Why is health & fitness important to you?
Fitness keeps me sane, haha. I’ve always competed in something or have done something athletic so for me, I’m always seeking to improve some aspect of that. I also like the endorphin rush haha
Does health & fitness help in other parts of your life?
Yes. Being fit and healthy helps with many work opportunities and of course with ninja training.
How often are you training?
Leading up to American Ninja Warrior, twice a week.
What is your favourite meal?
I haven’t had it in a while, but Spanish style pork chops with rice & beans. You would find this in little Spanish takeaway places in New York.
What is your clean vs junk food ratio?
Between 65-35% to 70-30%. I’m not particularly strict. I have a sweet tooth and it can sometimes be hard to control, especially if I have a craving haha.
If there’s a particular skill or goal you’re struggling to get, how do you break down the barriers and keep going?
At the moment I have been focusing on precision laches and mixing what I catch. I film things so I can watch it back and look for little changes to make. I also like to train with people who are significantly better than me.
photo: © Monkey Steve 2019
“If you can’t trust yourself, you won’t get far.”
How do you train your mental fitness?
This is can be a tough one for a lot of people but I find that doing course runs for me in training and not just training single obstacles is the way to go. You also need to train with people who are better than you so you can ‘try’ and catch up.
How do you stay calm or focus in a competition?
If you’ve put the work in, I think there has to be a point where you start realising you can do all the obstacles. That should give you confidence in yourself which for me, keeps me positive about the outcome. If I know I can do it, then I don’t need to worry about failing. After you have confidence and you’re not worrying about failing, then you can focus on the game plan and executing it.
If there is a crowd, do you feed off their cheers or drown it out?
I drown it out because I need to stay locked into what I’m doing. Personally I don’t find it hard to tune them out because I’m so focused on trying to beat the obstacle.
Who inspires you the most?
Tyler is a 5 x American Ninja Warrior and he’s shorter than me. He’s the shortest person in ANW history to make it to Stage 2 in Vegas
Is there any advice you’ve received that sticks out the most?
I have a podcast and I’ve been lucky enough to interview some of best Ninjas in world. They all have the same thing. Confidence in their abilities. If you can’t trust yourself, you won’t get far.
Last few questions…
For someone thinking about improving their fitness habits, how should they start?
It depends on what they want and how important it is to them. The first thing I would do is ask myself the harsh questions. Is this something I want right now? Or is this something I’m happy to do for the rest of my life? If you only want it right now, you’ll struggle to maintain motivation. Fitness is a lifelong pursuit and if you really don’t know where to start, it’s worth investing in a trainer at least for the beginning.
What would you ask your biggest life hero?
What struggles did you go through and how did you manage?
If someone asked you that question, what would be your answer?
I made the decision to not let life break me, every struggle I face is puzzle or problem for me to