You may have seen Miami Springs resident Jim Matheis and his beautiful family running around town at the River Cities 5K or the annual Turkey Trot, or maybe you’ve seen Matheis working out at the Community Center. Maybe it was on the soccer field or baseball field where Matheis and his wife, Melissa, spend time coaching their 4-year-old son, Gavin.
Well, the next place you can look for Jim Matheis will be a June 23 episode of NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” series, the heart-racing obstacle course competition which recently began its sixth season.
The action-packed show follows competitors as they tackle a series of challenging obstacle courses in both qualifying and finals rounds across the country. Those who successfully complete the course will move on to the national finals round in Las Vegas, where they face a stunning four-stage course modeled after the famed Mt. Midoriyama in Japan.
Matheis’ “American Ninja Warrior” (ANW) journey began three years ago when he started watching the show.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
“A lot of people told me that I could do it,” Matheis said. “I’ve always been a good athlete, so I figured I had a shot.”
Matheis and his wife are both avid obstacle course racers. They travel regularly to compete in races like the Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Superhero Scramble and the Warrior Dash. Matheis began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu five years ago and has since earned his purple belt. He was a Division I wrestler in college and a high school All-American.
Jim and Melissa Matheis are not new to television. In 2004 they were on “Couples Fear Factor,” where they were eliminated on the fifth show, but not before winning two Jeep Wranglers and $10,000. The following year they were invited back for the “Fear Factor” reunion show.
As Matheis puts it, “We were out for blood!”
The couple would dominate the competition and eventually would walk away winning the entire show along with a prize of $70,000. It’s not just physical competition that Jim and Melissa Matheis excel at; their love story is prize worthy, too.
The couple was featured on The Learning Channel’s “A Wedding Story” in 2005, where their wedding preparations and special day were filmed, documentary style. Melissa Matheis also won “Wheel of Fortune” in 2006 and earned a total of $32,000 in cash and prizes.
Their next competition success story was supposed to be last year when ANW came to Miami. Matheis intended to compete, but a severe knee injury would keep him on the sidelines. By the time he was healthy enough to compete it was too late. Instead of giving up, his passion and determination, and support from his family, pushed him to persevere.
Over the next year he built obstacles in the backyard of his Miami Springs home and stayed focused.
“I’ve trained extremely hard, trying to master some of the obstacles I’ve seen on the show in the past,” said Matheis. “I lost about 20 pounds to be as light as possible and worked tirelessly on my grip strength.”
This year when “American Ninja Warrior” came to Miami, Matheis would be more ready than ever. He did everything to prepare both mentally and physically and his wife created an inspiring and charming audition video featuring Jim with Gavin attached to his daddy’s back all while training in their backyard obstacle course.
Matheis made it to the qualifying round, which consisted of some regular obstacles with funky names like the Quintuple Steps and the Warped Wall, in addition to some new and unique obstacles like the Dancing Stones and the Sheet Slider.
“The best part of the experience was being able to share it with my family and friends, especially my wife,” said Matheis. “Just seeing them all cheering and yelling my name was so motivating!”
Matheis is sworn to secrecy on revealing any outcomes of the show. “All I can say is that I definitely had a chance to compete in the Miami qualifying round,” shared Matheis. “As a rookie, not much is expected of you. It’s much harder than it looks on TV, but I held my own pretty well.”
Family, friends, and the entire community will have to wait with anticipation.
Those who make it through qualifying round will go to the city finals. There are 15 finalists from each city who will compete in the national finals in Las Vegas, where they’ll earn the chance to win the title of "American Ninja Warrior," along with the $500,000 grand prize.
You can see Matheis’ audition video on YouTube by searching “ANW Jim Matheis Audition Video.” “American Ninja Warrior” airs on NBC every Monday at 9 p.m., and the Miami qualifying round airs on Monday, June 23 at 9 p.m.