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From Bear to Ninja Warrior

Allyssa Beird, G ’14, stars in the hit NBC television show

Story Series
News Feature

How well-known is Allyssa Beird these days? Young girls are dressing up as her for Halloween.

Now that’s impressively famous.

“I almost cried when I read that,” said the Marlboro resident.

The reason girls are sending her such fan mail and people are stopping her in the street is because Ms. Beird is an America Ninja Warrior, and has been amazing the millions of viewers who tune in each week to the popular NBC program of that name.

All the attention has taken the Middleboro school teacher by surprise. 

“That was kind of unexpected,” she said. “I did this for myself, but it’s grown into something much bigger.”

Ms. Beird grew up primarily in Kingston and attended Columbia College in Chicago, where she majored in photography. Eventually she found her way back to her home state harboring a desire to teach. She selected Bridgewater State University, where in 2014 she earned her graduate degree in elementary education.

“I looked at education programs in the state and I heard that Bridgewater has one of the best programs around,” she said.

Today, she teaches fifth grade at Henry B. Burkland Elementary School, and spends her free time training for the rigors of “American Ninja Warrior.”

The television show pits contestants against a series of obstacle courses, which increase in difficulty. The obstacles are not for the weak of stomach muscles, nor for anyone suffering from a fear of heights, water, rope climbing or trapeze. Completing the course takes inordinate amounts of strength, stamina, balance, tactical intelligence and courage.

This summer, Ms. Beird advanced to the finals in Las Vegas, where she became only the second woman in history to finish stage one. 

She’ll be back on the course Monday night at 8 p.m. to continue her quest.

Ms. Beird has always been interested in fitness and athletics. She began gymnastics at age 3. 

“I’ve been in the gym ever since,” she said.

In 2011, she ran a marathon with her father, but it wasn’t until 2015 while binging on Netflix shows that the idea to go ninja occurred to her.

Ninja gyms are outfitted with different obstacles. For Ms. Beird, it’s the place she goes to socialize and workout. “The community is incredibly supportive and encouraging,” she said. “It’s beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.”

For those hoping to emulate her ninja workout, which Ms. Beird says is “not too crazy,” all it takes are a few nights in the ninja gym each week, rock climbing, and a “leg day,” replete with sprints and “bleacher runs.” It’s also a good idea to keep a pull-up bar handy. You’ll need to do plenty of those, too.

This, along with grit and determination is what has Ms. Beird poised to make ninja history in the coming weeks (the finals were filmed in June, and each contestant is forbidden to share the results until after the season).

When this summer, Ms. Beird became only the second woman to complete the grueling stage one obstacle course, her reaction was understandably one of joy, but not surprise.

“That’s what I came here to do,” she said. (Story by John Winters, G ’11, University News & Media)

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