Caption: This past June, North Carolina dentist Dr. Desiree Walker, shown, was a featured athlete on NBC’s extreme obstacle competition, American Ninja Warrior.
“A great dentist”, “a kind dentist”, “a gentle dentist” – these were the normal, positive phrases that I hoped that my patients would use to describe me. Never did I think that one of the adjectives would be “Ninja” and never did I think that many of my patients would refer to me as the “Ninja Dentist”. But I am, at least locally, thanks to the NBC show American Ninja Warrior.
This past June, I was a featured athlete on American Ninja Warrior, the heart-racing, extreme obstacle competition, and ran the course. Not only did I get to showcase what one of the hosts called the most epic fall this season, but also myself, as a dentist and an athlete. The opportunity was a thrill of a lifetime, but the biggest blessing was the chance to share my story of dentistry and fitness; two topics that are rarely blended together. It was a chance to encourage females, dentists and professionals, that wellness, exercise and movement can be integrated into any lifestyle.
The events began unfolding back at the end of April. I was in my office on a Saturday afternoon, re-bonding ortho brackets on my husband Ash, when I got a call on my cell phone. I never answer calls while in the operatory with patients, of course, but this was a different situation, especially with the patient being my husband and the call coming from Los Angles, the complete opposite end of the country. I de-gloved and answered.
The conversation went as follows: “This is Claire, one of the producers from NBC. We received your application and tryout video for American Ninja Warrior. Would you be interested in participating on the show in Miami?”
Wow – I wasn’t expecting that! Several months ago, I did a spur-of-the-moment iPhone video of one of my actual training workouts in my house. It was the last day for submission of the application to the American Ninja Warrior Show, and we were snow bound in our homes. I did a brief introduction and filmed the workout. I sent in the video and application that evening, not thinking much about my chances of being chosen. I was in the third full month of my ground-up construction, start-up dental practice. It was consuming most of my time, focus and energy.