‘Team Ninja Warrior’ Exclusive: Party Time Reveals Their Secret Weapon to Winning

Team Ninja Warrior takes the courses and contestants we all know and love from American Ninja Warrior and has them team up and compete side by side for the coveted trophy. In the first season, we were surprised to see some of the top competitors get knocked out of the competition quickly. We also saw some rookies blow past the competition and make a name for themselves.

In the end, the winner was the team Party Time with Brian Arnold, Jennifer Tavernier, Jake Murray, and alternate Travis Weinand. Arnold has been a top competitor through multiple variations of the show, but the team still had its adversities in Team Ninja Warrior. One of their own was hurt while competing and rookie, Tavernier, had to go up against some amazing veterans.

Now, the winners are back to defend their title in Season 2 of Team Ninja Warrior. Arnold and Murray emailed The Cheat Sheet to talk about their strategy and the secret weapon to winning the game. Here are 16 things we learned from the winners.

Note: Tavernier was contacted for the interview, but was unavailable. 

1. A lot of the other captains came up with intimidating sounding names, but you went with Party Time. Was this supposed to reflect that you were more about having fun out there, or were you very serious about the competition?

Jennifer Tavernier, Brian Arnold, and Jake Murray pose together in orange uniforms.

Party Time on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Brian Arnold: Competition is about having fun! I wanted to remind myself to enjoy it, but by no means was that a way to say I wasn’t taking the competition seriously! I hate losing!

2. What would you say was the most difficult part of competing last season?

Brian Arnold, Jennifer Tavernier, Travis Weinand, and Jake Murray on Team Ninja Warrior are on the sideline talking to a reporter on Team Ninja Warrior.

Brian Arnold, Jennifer Tavernier, Travis Weinand, and Jake Murray on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Brian Arnold: Facing the fact that I lost one race to Kevin Bull! In my mind, I wanted to show everyone I was the best, and I lost one race.

3. Did you feel the pressure more this season to defend your title or were you more relaxed knowing you could win it again?

Brian Arnold and Jamie Rahn have their arms around each other after completing the course on Team Ninja Warrior.

Brian Arnold and Jamie Rahn on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Brian Arnold: I was ready because I didn’t have anything to prove and I just wanted to go out and have fun. The first season I wanted to show everyone how fast I was and no one had ever seen that!

4. After completing the first season of Team Ninja Warrior, how did you adapt your team’s training for this season?

Brian Arnold competing in his red ninja warrior t shirt

Brian Arnold | Esquire

Brian Arnold: As a team, we all know how important it is to work on our weaknesses. Jennifer was working in her trampoline work, Jake and I worked on cardio and sprinting.

5. What was your strategy this season when it came to leadership?

Jennifer Tavernier and Jeri D'Aurelio are climbing up the Warped Wall as everyone watches.

Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Brian Arnold: I told my team to have fun and to try to stay positive. I kept reminding each them that we were the champs for last year to keep our mental game strong.

6. I know your team had a dinner to celebrate your win, but is there another thing you did to celebrate on your own?

Brian Arnold is talking and wearing a blue tank top on Team Ninja Warrior.

Brian Arnold on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Brian Arnold: I had a viewing party with friends and family at my home.

7. Do you prefer tackling American Ninja Warrior solo or Team Ninja Warrior?

Brian Arnold is getting in position to start the course on Team Ninja Warrior.

Brian Arnold on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Brian Arnold: Team Ninja Warrior! I had more fun! That’s what allowed me to win last year.

8. You got hurt last season and had to have your alternate go in for you. What do you think you’ll try to do this season to avoid getting injured?

Jake Murray is sitting on the side of the course as a man tends to his leg.

Jake Murray on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Jake Murray: Yes, I was hurt during my run against Nathan Jasso of the InvincABELs in Season 1. Travis Weinand ended up filling in for me in the relay and killed it! Injury is a part of any sport and ultimately inevitable if you are pushing yourself. That being said, I don’t focus any attention on avoiding injury. I focus on the obstacle in front of me and executing efficiently. The body follows the mind.

9. When you came back after your injury how did you mentally get back into the game? Did you have to get over any self-doubt?

Jake Murray and Adam Grossman are in a runner's stance on the course of Team Ninja Warrior.

Jake Murray and Adam Grossman on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Jake Murray: After I was injured, there was no question that I wasn’t going to compete again. When I woke up the next day, It was painful, swollen, and bruised. Once we got to set, I re-taped it, ate some ibuprofen, and started putting weight on it. It loosened up, so I went for it. It was a decision that needed to be made for the good of the team, and if I had too much self-doubt I wouldn’t have put myself back in. I wanted to be there for my team, so that made my decision easier.

10. Your team name is Party Time and it’s pretty obvious that having fun is a huge part of your personal style on the course. What is your secret to keeping things light and fun while you’re competing?

Jake Murray looks dazed at the camera on the course of Team Ninja Warrior.

Jake Murray on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Jake Murray: I secretly dedicate my runs to all those who don’t get a chance and still train very hard. A simple reminder of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how hard you’ve worked always helps me too.

11. Were you surprised by how Jennifer Tavernier was able to get the Warped Wall in her first competition?

Jennifer Tavernier and Joyce Shahboz are in a runner's position at the start of the course.

Jennifer Tavernier and Joyce Shahboz on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Jake Murray: When Jen made the warped wall and became the first mom to complete it, I wasn’t surprised one bit. I knew Jen was slammer, that’s why we picked her.

12. Did you give Tavernier any advice before competing?

Jennifer Tavernier is getting ready to start on Team Ninja Warrior.

Jennifer Tavernier on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Jake Murray: I am sure I did all I could to stoke her up, remind her that she has [an] unreal ability, but also remind her to have fun.

13. Did you feel a lot of pressure going into Team Ninja Warrior for a second time as part of the reigning winning team?

Party Time is posing together on Team Ninja Warrior.

Party Time on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Jake Murray: There was a surprising amount of pressure going into the second season of TNW. I didn’t necessarily have expectations, but I always want to do well. We didn’t have the advantage of a “sleeper” status either like Season 1. Nobody really knew or expected Brian to be so quick entering into Season 1.

14. Do you prefer Team Ninja Warrior or American Ninja Warrior?

Jake Murray in a red tank top swinging from ring to ring while competing

Jake Murray | Esquire

Jake Murray: I thoroughly enjoy both, but ANW is where my focus lies. All my training is for the regular season. It is awesome to get to share TNW with your team, but all the competitors during ANW are on the same side, with the same goal of bringing down the Mountain.

15. What was your personal goal, other than winning, for this season of Team Ninja Warrior?

Jake Murray is on the side line looking at the course on Team Ninja Warrior.

Jake Murray on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Jake Murray: My personal goal this season is to continue having fun, punch some buzzers, and stay dry.

16. What would you say is your team’s secret weapon?

Team Party Time are holding up the trophy after their win on Team Ninja Warrior.

Party Time on Team Ninja Warrior | Esquire

Jake Murray: For Season 1, we had a couple secret weapons. Brian was wicked fast, unbeknownst to nearly every competitor and Jen was a total sleeper having never competed prior to Season 1. This season it’s not going to be as easy to surprise everyone, but we have a deep arsenal.

Brian Arnold: If I tell you it will not be a secret but the HIIT workouts on a treadmill are killer for speed!

Editor’s note: This story was originally published April 19, 2017.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice

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