Discover Your Island

Islander Alumnus to Compete on ‘American Ninja Warrior’ on June 27

June 22, 2016

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi alumnus will put his strength, endurance and speed to the test as he competes in the eighth season of  “American Ninja Warrior.” Keegan O’Brien will appear in the final qualifying round in Philadelphia, Penn., which will air on Monday, June 27, at 9/8 p.m. Central Time on NBC.

“I am stoked to be on ‘American Ninja Warrior,’” said O’Brien. “Since the first time I saw the competition on TV, it has been my dream to test my athleticism against those other ninjas on the show.”

O’Brien, who graduated from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, had an obvious impact on the Island University campus. He transferred to A&M-Corpus Christi from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and became involved with the TAMU-CC Department of Theatre & Dance. Before he started dancing, he was also cast each semester as an actor in University main stage productions including “Shakespeare in Hollywood” and “Arabian Nights” where he served as a production personal trainer. O’Brien had a unique way of combining the science behind kinesiology with his love and passion for dance.

“He’s one of those alumni that I anticipate will do amazing things,” said Dr. Frank Spaniol, Professor of Kinesiology. “I’m big on passion, whether it’s for life, school, or anything else, so to see someone like Keegan take that passion and go somewhere with it is amazing.”

O’Brien currently owns BodybuildingBallet in Denver, Colo., a strength and conditioning company utilizing private in-home or in-studio training at Ballet Ariel, the company O’Brien dances with.

“BodybuildingBallet is the style of training that I developed while at TAMU-CC,” said O’Brien. “Simply put, I incorporate techniques to build and strengthen muscles while focusing on improving range of motion. We push our bodies beyond perceived limits; increasing our power, strength and endurance while maintaining the artistry of the human body.”

Neither Dr. Randy Bonnette, Professor of Kinesiology at TAMU-CC, nor his wife Shawnee Bonnette, Adjunct Professor of Dance at TAMU-CC and Professor of Dance at Del Mar College, are surprised to see O’Brien on the show and are incredibly proud of their former student. Both have witnessed his incredible drive and talent firsthand.

“He got to class early and left late and he quickly became one of the best movers in my dance class,” said Shawnee Bonnette. “He was hugely fit, but he had a grace to him. He could jump five feet in the air and land quietly.”

To prepare for the show, O’Brien has focused on training his hands to grip objects firmly and increasing his muscular endurance.

“As a rookie on the program, my biggest weakness will be my unfamiliarity with the course,” said O’Brien. “As I have never done this before, I have no specialized technique and will have to use the guess-and-check method on new obstacles.”

During his time on “American Ninja Warrior,” his ultimate goal is to demonstrate the level of athleticism needed for ballet and he hopes to inspire a few people to try the art.

“Too often, I hear about young men being ridiculed for dancing because it is ‘girly,’” said O’Brien. “I have yet to find anything more physically demanding than a ballet class – from strength, flexibility and muscular endurance to cardiovascular endurance, power and balance.”

Along with competing on “American Ninja Warrior,” O’Brien also recently competed in the Musclemania – Fitness Colorado Championships and won 1st place in the men’s fitness category.        

Health and fitness have always been important to O’Brien. He believes that you only get one body and you should take care of it.

“If nothing else, I hope you learn from me that there is no right way to take care of your body,” said O’Brien. “You can dance, lift weights or walk. It doesn’t matter what you chose, but for a few minutes, you have to do something physical every day for yourself.”