In September of 2016, a ripped and unassuming woman approached the first obstacle of American Ninja Warrior’s Stage 1 course. Jessie Graff proceeded to nail it, and every obstacle thereafter. Months later, she then became the first woman to complete Stage 2, a highlight of her career that boosted the real life heroine into an online sensation literally overnight. Since, she’s become a realized version of Wonder Woman every boy, girl, man and woman from around the world look to in their own quest for ninja ascendancy.

But that wasn’t the beginning of her athletic career — far from it. Graff had been toppling competition for decades before she went viral, often commanding leads in gymnastics, pole vaulting and martial arts in her earlier years — even training to be a trapeze artist when she was just 12 years old. And long before her first appearance on Ninja Warrior in 2013, she held acting and stunt-double credits dating to as far back as 1998. She’s a beast out there proving to everyone that what’s in your pants has nothing to do with whether or not you can dominate anywhere and at anything in the world.

To prove to ourselves that we can be more than just a frighteningly gorgeous fixture on the couch late at night, we asked Graff to give us a few pointers in beginning a lifestyle that slightly resembles her own. We’ll never be able to beat Graff at her own game, but we can certainly join in on the fun.

What to eat.

"There’s no such thing as a cheat day."

Graff doesn’t believe in cheat days, and says that if your body is craving something, it’s likely in need of it (within reason). Even when pressed about the joys of overdoing it at an In-n-Out burger once in awhile, she maintains she’d rather be at home cooking her own meals — because who knows your tastes better than yourself?

Lean Meats
According to the CDC, a healthy eating plan is one that includes lean meats because of their high protein, low calorie sucker punch to your gut. This includes chicken, turkey, certain cuts of beef, pork and wild game.

Veggies man, Veggies
Mom, though cruel and unwavering, always had your best interest in mind. Veggies are loaded with body-building nutrients and greatly reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke or other ailments commonly related to a strictly Totino’s diet.

Plenty of Water
It can’t be said enough, staying hydrated is how your body functions. Sleep, mood, energy, appearance … sex … basically everything you do as a human is tied to the Earth’s most valuable resource: H2O. Drink as much as you can now before it’s gone.

– Producers of the show received close to 1,000 submission videos in its first year airing. Today, they receive over 50 times that from willing participants.

What to jam.

Basically, whatever you want to.

When DC Comics asked Graff to curate a playlist for promoting its then upcoming film Wonder Woman last year, she threw most everyone involved for a loop. “I describe it as happy music,” she says. Her pump up tracks stretch all across the board, with little cohesion to link any of them together. Take a look …


– Last year, Riko Rivera became the first competitor to complete parts of the course wearing an inflatable T-Rex costume. He was eliminated on the “spin cycle” obstacle because his arms were too short.

How to recover.

It has nothing to do with television or crying.

“Ewww,” she says of sitting in front of the TV all day when she’s down. “That sounds disgusting [laughs].” If she ever does break, Graff focuses most on “physical therapy, balance work, exercise bands, acupuncturists, massage therapists” etc. etc. etc. …  What’s most important, she says, is to know your body and your skill level, and to push yourself safely. “Eating healthy is a huge part of recovery too,” Graff adds.

-The oldest person to compete was 73-year-old Chuck Mammay, an Army Veteran that wakes up at 5 a.m. every morning to workout for hours at a time.

Wonder Woman’s Wisdom.

We couldn’t hold an interview and not ask what her advice for the youngsters is.

“A woman should be as strong as she wants to be, it’s none of your business.”

“If people are accusing you of cheating, you must be doing really well.”

“Be kind, humble and helpful.”

“Work hard. Rest Hard.”

“Learn everything.”

[photo credits: The Riker Brothers (cover), Scott Lloyd Photography and Mike Kelley/courtesy Jessie Graff]