For Joseph Moravsky, scaling up and bouncing off walls, jumping across moving platforms, and pulling himself up a ladder with use of a metal bar — basically doing things superheroes and stunt devils do — is all about as routine and simple as everyday activities for those who have an opportunity to watch him in action on television this week.
Moravsky, a coach at Vasi’s International Gymnastics in Newtown, is competing to become the first American Ninja Warrior winner in the fifth season of the show on NBC. The next episode of the show, featuring the Baltimore Regional Finals, will air at 8 pm on Monday, August 5.
The 24-year-old Sherman resident competes in an obstacle course that requires agility, speed, strength, jumping ability, and a knack for assessing things on the spot, he said.
“You know what you want to do, but your body has to want to do it,” said Moravsky, who was sixth among about 120 competitors, and thousands of applicants, in the qualifying round of the show in Baltimore, Md., in April.
Moravsky said the qualifying round required he wait around and compete on and off from about 4 pm in the afternoon through 6 am the next day. It was a frigid, 30-something degree night, he recalls.
It was all worthwhile.
“Just beating the first stage was the most confidence-building moment in my life,” said Moravsky, who advanced to regional finals for the right to go to the finals in Las Vegas. A spot in the finals means a chance to win $500,000.
Only the top 15 from each region advance to the finals. Nobody has successfully completed all of the stages of the rigorous course in America yet’ although there have been three winners in the Japanese version of the show. Among the obstacles is the warped wall, a 14-foot-high incline that slopes back.
Moravsky attributes his ability to perform acrobatic maneuvers to a combination of things, including his training and background in sports. He spends about 42 hours a week at Vasi’s during the summer and about 30 during the other seasons. He didn’t learn any gymnastics skills until the age of 18.
Heck, even Spiderman would be impressed by Moravsky’s climbing ability, and he’s got webs with which to work.
Moravsky credits Vasi Cioana, owner of Vasi’s and one of his best friends, as a big-time motivator to get into gymnastics.
“When I started working at Vasi’s International Gymnastics about four years ago, he helped me learn and grow to the person I’ve become today,” Moravsky said. “And I can definitely say that I would not be where I am today without him.”
Cioana made the Romanian Olympic Team and would have competed in the 2000 Olympic games but decided to stay in America after an international meet, Moravsky said. He opened the gym in Newtown in 2007. Cioana said Moravsky has come a long way with gymnastics in a short time. “He learned like nobody else would,” Cioana said.
Moravsky, as a child, played basketball, baseball, and soccer. He went on to play all three sports, as well as run a season of cross country, in high school.
In college, at Western Connecticut State University, Moravsky passed up an opportunity to play baseball because of the course demands for his major, meteorology. He’s still pursing a job in the field, but says he’s torn 50-50 as to whether to become a meteorologist or pursue some of the doors that are opening through his success on American Ninja Warrior. He’s considering expanding his career in gymnastics along with Cioana.
At Vasi’s, Moravsky coaches Parkour, or recreational freestyle gymnastics classes, and some cheerleading as well.
When asked if he’s sustained any injuries performing his amazing stunts, Moravsky says no because he’s “always very cautious.”
Right, cautious for someone who dares to do things that with one less bit of strength or any less perfect timing, could fall and break a bone in his body.
To get on the show he submitted a YouTube video with a sampling of his leaping, jumping, climbing, and overall strength abilities.
For a sneak preview of Moravsky’s abilities, search his name and YouTube.
You may follow Moravsky on his Facebook site at www.facebook.com/Americanninjajoe.