Cara Poalillo of Maywood only went to her first ninja gym in Summer 2016 but has already climbed her way to the top of international rankings -- and it doesn't look like she'll be slowing down any time soon.
The 28-year-old landed a spot on Season 10 of American Ninja Warrior, the first episode of the Philadelphia region -- which Poalillo was a part of -- airing Monday, June 25 at 9 p.m. on NBC.
Poalillo says her ninja career only picked up in the past year when she realized how transformative the sport can be.
She amped up her training around this time last year with the launch of her empowerment community for ninja women called "The NinjaBabes."
"Using ninja as a platform, The NinjaBabes teaches people how to build self-confidence and get over their own fears," said Poalillo, who placed 24th internationally at a National Ninja Warrior worlds competition.
"It's to help people get over their own fears and not to be afraid of failure or to step out of their comfort zones."
The athlete speaks with firsthand experience.
When she went to her first ninja gym in 2016, Poalillo found many of the movements and obstacles difficult -- if not discouraging.
"I got frustrated in beginning," said Poalillo, who graduated from Eastern Christian High School in North Haledon before college.
"I was afraid to try something that I knew I wasn't going to get."
The lower body obstacles came easily for Poalillo, but upper body work took more effort. She had to work hard on building her grip strength and controlling her upper body muscles.
After a while, though, things started to fall into place.
"Ninja has transformed my mindset and how I look at failure," said Poalillo, an American Sign Language interpreter.
"I look at failure as an opportunity to learn and grow and fail forward... not something to put me down and make me feel like I'm no good at it."
With The NinjaBabes -- comprised of meet-ups, podcasts and YouTube content -- Poalillo hopes to show other women how empowering the sport can be.
Tune into NBC at 9 p.m. on Monday, June 25 to watch American Ninja Warrior Season 10.
FOLLOW: The NinjaBabes On Instagram
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