American Ninja Warrior and Rochester native helps others combat stress

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – Finding joy and peace in working out can be a challenge for some. But Stewart Mahler believes it should be the opposite.

“I’ve always been pretty physically active and I love working out but I had never got into a routine," said Mahler. "It was always like I’d do something for a little bit and then it falls off. This is the most consistently I’ve ever worked out in my entire life.”

Then, Mahler was urged to send in an application to a certain show called American Ninja Warrior, which puts everyday athletes to the test against an extreme obstacle course. After one denial and one COVID postponement, the third time was the charm, and the Rochester native competed in season 13 of the NBC-televised show.

Mahler traveled out to Tacoma, Washington for the competition, where he went down on the third obstacle. However, despite not making it to the end for a $1 million check, Mahler didn’t get discouraged.

“The thought of overcoming obstacles. I deal with this a lot with my patients. They’re dealing with hard things or they’re failing at certain aspects and it’s about getting back up and re-trying something. You fail obstacles, you get back up and you do it again," said Mahler.

So, he did do it again.

Mahler got the call back to enter the current season and says at this point, he’s hooked.

“Being able to have that mental resilience to push forward and learn from past things that have happened is huge. It translates really well for me. It’s very easy to have that connection in my mind and share that with other people," said Mahler.

And he’s got the perfect occupation to point people in the right way of improving physical fitness.

Mahler works as a physician at URMC, and said it’s his job there that ties right into the tasks at hand in American Ninja Warrior.

“We talk a lot about, especially in healthcare, but any career is burnout. Physician burnout is huge, especially in the pandemic," said Mahler. "Finding ways that you can rejuvenate yourself and combat that amount of burnout, I think physical activity, for me especially, is huge.

When Mahler isn’t sharing his expertise with his patients, he’s training with his wife and kids in their homemade basement-turned-obstacle course,..

“I want to make sure they’re known behind the scenes, because they really allow me to do everything I do," said Mahler.

I asked Mahler if he plans to continue trying out and entering American Ninja Warrior contests, and he said he does.

"As long as they keep calling me back and will allow me back, it’s just fun to have that experience and share it with other people," said Mahler.

For Mahler, that’s an every day commitment. And based on his motivation, this routine looks like it’ll last a while.