WATERVILLE — Jonathan Alexis often gets his workouts running up and down the stairs at MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Center, where he is an overnight security office supervisor.

The Waterville 48-year-old, who is also a martial arts teacher at his family’s jujitsu and karate school in Oakland, says it’s been good training for his upcoming appearance on “American Ninja Warrior,” a reality show on NBC that follows competitors along a series of obstacle courses around the country. Finalists in the show compete in a national round in Las Vegas for a chance to win $1 million.

The show’s seventh season, which premieres at 8 p.m. Monday, will include Alexis and his 26-year-old son, also Jonathan Alexis, as competitors. They said Saturday they can’t comment on the show’s outcome, but that they enjoyed auditioning and competing.

The younger Alexis said he got interested in the show when it first aired on NBC after seeing a Japanese version of a similar competition.

Alexis, who works at the Huhtamaki factory, had to put together a video about himself as part of the audition process, and he included his father in the video. The judges who looked at the video got in touch with the family to ask whether both father and son would be interested in competing.

“I guess once they saw that, they wanted to see if I would be part of the show too, so we ended up being a father-son combo,” the elder Alexis said.


The two trained together and traveled to a gymnasium in Brooklyn, New York, that specializes in workouts inspired by American Ninja Warrior, to prepare themselves.

Earlier this month they went to Orlando, Florida, to compete in a national qualifying competition. The obstacles in the competition included a five-step platform that participants have to jump up; a loose bridge that tips when you walk on it; and something called the “warped wall,” a curved wall participants have to run up.

One of the biggest challenges of the competition is getting between obstacles, which often requires participants to swing monkey-bar-style from one area to the next, rather than simply walk, the father said.

“The timing, the strength to get from one place to the next, the balancing — every aspect fully challenges your body — balance, strength, coordination. It’s an overall challenge and it can be difficult,” he said.

To get an edge over his competitors, the elder Alexis said, he trains at work in addition to his martial arts practice. The family, which lives in Waterville, owns Alexis’ Jujitsu & Karate School in Oakland. Crews from the NBC show also filmed Jonathan at his job at the Thayer Center.

“They just got done filming there, trying to show what I do for work and how I use work as a workout,” Jonathan said. “I use the stairs, I run the stairs at night. I do lunges in the hallways.” He also brings an ab roller and an exercise band to work for his 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift.


“It keeps me awake and it keeps me pumped. It keeps me in shape,” Alexis said.

No one ever has completed the four-stage course at the national American Ninja Warrior competition in the show’s six-season history. A $1 million prize awaits the person who does.

The pair can’t say what the outcome of this season’s show will be or whether they’ve been selected to compete in the finals in June. If they win the money, both said, they would use it to pay off debts and possibly build an obstacle course in Waterville. “I think we have a good chance. We definitely have a good background in strength,” the younger Alexis said.

Regardless of the show’s outcome, they said, they hope to compete again next year and get the rest of their family involved, too — Dominic and Asia Alexis and their mother, Debbie Michaud-Alexis.

“For a while, we were trying to think of something we could do together, because we didn’t really spend that much time together. This was a great opportunity,” the younger Alexis said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368


Twitter: @rachel_ohm

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.