CSU student, Marine veteran Dustin Fishman trains for American Ninja Warrior

Austin Fleskes

A Colorado State track and field member, a United States Marine and a competitor on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” is continuing his training for Season 10 of the competition.

Dustin Fishman first came to CSU’s campus to film himself pole vaulting for an upcoming season of “American Ninja Warrior.” Colorado State’s pole vaulting team took him on right then. 

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Originally from Frederick, Maryland, Fishman officially moved to Fort Collins this past July. 

“The area, the school, just the environment brought me out here,” Fishman said. 

Dustin Fishman poses for a portrait at a climbing gym in Fort Collins.
Dustin Fishman completes a one-armed pull up at the Ascent Studio Climbing and Fitness gym in Fort Collins on Feb. 14, 2018. Fishman, who is a Marine veteran, recently competed on season 9 of American Ninja Warrior. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

Fishman still attends CSU, but is inactive this semester. 

One day while doing pole vault, Fishman took off and his hamstring popped. 

“That was pretty much it,” Fishman said. “Obviously it hurt. I tried to walk it off, and got about 20 feet until all the blood started rushing to that part, and I just got really light headed and they had to come out with a trainer.” 

After this event, Fishman was unable to compete with the team. 

Before attending CSU and eventually becoming a member on “ANW,” Fishman joined the United States Marine Corps.  

Fishman said that he decided to join the Marines when he was around 10 years old while at a summer camp in which he heard from the different sections of the United States Military. 

“When the marines talked to us I was like ‘yep, that’s it. I want to be the best, and they sound like they’re the best'” Fishman said. “I decided right then and there to join.” 

Fishman joined right out of high school in 2009 when he was 18 years old. He spent four years, four months and four days on active duty and the rest of his time on inactive reserves. He moved all around the United States and was deployed to both Afghanistan and Tunis Tunisia, an area in Northern Africa. 

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“It was a lot of fun,” Fishman said. “There was a lot of down time, bursts of excitement.”

I’ve always wanted to try it so I was like ‘let’s go ahead and try it. I did pretty decent, and then they kept encouraging me to try out for the show and put in my video, and I did and somehow I got picked for the show. It has kind of all taken off from there.” -Dustin Fishman, competitor on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior”

Fishman got out of the Marines to explore new opportunities, including getting married to his wife Jen Fishman in July of 2017.

“He is one of those people that when he puts his mind to something he never gives up,” Jen Fishman said, adding that he helps push her out of her comfort zone.

Since his time in the Marines, he has worked in several job positions, including an electrician, a private security guard, an armored truck driver, a club bouncer and a private dog trainer. Fishman is currently trying to join the Larimer County Police Department. 

“I’ve done it all,” Fishman said. 

It was in Maryland where Fishman started his journey in “ANW.” After speaking to a number of competitors at a climbing gym, Fishman was invited to an “ANW” competition. 

Dustin Fishman poses for a portrait at a climbing gym in Fort Collins.
Dustin Fishman poses for a portrait at the Ascent Studio Climbing and Fitness gym in Fort Collins on Feb. 14, 2018. Fishman, who is a Marine veteran, recently competed on season 9 of American Ninja Warrior. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

“I’ve always wanted to try it so I was like ‘let’s go ahead and try it,'” Fishman said. “I did pretty decent, and then they kept encouraging me to try out for the show and put in my video, and I did and somehow I got picked for the show. It has kind of all taken off from there.” 

Eventually, Fishman came in touch with the Wolfpack Ninjas and became a member of their training gym in Loveland. 

Fishman’s training for his first run consisted mostly of climbing, pushed into his last month before competition. A week before qualifiers, Fishman’s finger got caught in a car door. However, the night before his run, Fishman said that his finger “magically stopped hurting.”

Fishman described his qualifying run as crazy and nerve-racking for both the week leading up and the week after qualifiers. 

“I hit the buzzer in qualifiers,” Fishman said. “So, then you have this hour moment of just bliss where you’re so happy and then you realize ‘oh crap, I have to compete the next night.'”

After placing 14th in finals, Fishman moved on to the the Las Vegas run. During his run in Las Vegas, Fishman fell on the jumping spider obstacle. 

“Honestly it was just a huge relief,” Fishman said. “I wasn’t upset at all. I wasn’t mad that I fell. It was my first season on the show, I had never really done spider-jump training before. So to fall on that, it was going to happen.” 

Jen Fishman has been watching her husband rise further in the competition next to other big names. 

“On the one hand I felt bad, but it was also just so surreal realizing he was one of a really select few people who were able to get as far as he did,” Jen Fishman said. “It was really exciting being around all those ninja warriors and all those big names you see on TV and all of a sudden he’s on the same level as they are.”

“American Ninja Warrior” is a spin-off of the Japanese television series “Sasuke.” Competitors on the show attempt to complete a series of obstacle courses.

Fishman said that his plan going forward is to win the million-dollar prize the “ANW” offers, and to use that money to buy a cheaper house and invest to start college funds for the children he wishes to have.

“It is just fun,” Fishman said. If it wasn’t fun none of us would be doing it. That’s really the simplest answer of what ‘American Ninja Warrior’ is to me, it’s fun. It’s a way for me to be a big kid as an adult, and get to play on obstacles for a living. Who doesn’t love that?” 

Collegian reporter Austin Fleskes can be reached at enteratinment@collegian.com or on Twitter @Austinfleskes07.