Never Give Up, Never Settle

It was early last year when I first wrote about Zorahgail Balino. At the time, she was auditioning for the American Ninja Warrior show. I shared her submission video and a story about her amazing transformation (see here). Unfortunately, Zorahgail was not selected for last year’s show but it appears she will get another chance. I am certainly pulling for her as I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the opportunity.

With that said, this entry is not about the American Ninja television series. More importantly, I believe we can use Zorahgail’s experience to highlight several aspects relevant to personal growth.

I. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish

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First and foremost, Zorahgail has no athletic background. She is not a lifetime jock who has exercised since childhood. Conversely, it was not long ago that she weighed over 200 pounds and struggled to walk two miles. Within a few years, she has become an all around exercise machine. And while her past may not mean much to the veterans of this site, it’s a powerful example for those who have yet to enter the promised land.

For example, following a recent post about enjoying the training process, I heard from several people who struggled to grasp the concept. The common link between them was that they also had no athletic background. Some of the individuals have been hesitant to begin as they believe it is too late to improve. In some ways, their past is still trying to control the future. They doubt what can be accomplished due previous inactivity.

Fortunately, Zorahgail’s example fills a void that I cannot. I have been an athlete my entire life so I can’t tell you how it feels to transition from a life of inactivity. I can only share the experiences I’ve seen. It is much more useful to see the individual who has actually made the change. Zorahgail’s transformation should serve as an inspiration to all.

II. Never give up

Life has two basic rules. First, never give up. Second, never forget rule #1. Zorahgail is a perfect example of these two simple rules. Following a rough start in life, she certainly did not give up. The transformation that I shared in the original entry was remarkable.

Yet despite her transformation, I am sure it was upsetting to not be selected for America Ninja. She clearly invested a lot of time and energy towards making the show. It is human nature to feel let down when a goal is missed. To no surprise however, Zorahgail never skipped a beat.

Instead, she moved right along to the next goal.  Her latest challenge was to enter a powerlifting meet. Guess what happened?

She won first place.

Zorahgail powerlifting champion

So here we have a woman who once weighed over 200 pounds who has now won a powerlifting meet and run multiple half marathons. And if that’s not impressive enough, she can also perform bodyweight movements that would humble most gym veterans. Zorahgail is the furthest thing from a one trick pony.

Would you like an example?

III. No limits

If you know me, you know that I’m a fan of standing rollouts. I have performed the exercise for years so it’s natural that I’ve heard many comments about the movement. I couldn’t tell you how many women have contacted me in search of substitutes for the wheel. And to be clear, I have no problem substituting an exercise that causes pain or requires equipment that you don’t own. I’m not referring to those cases. I’m referring to those who have it in their mind that an exercise is too difficult before they even try. I’ve had people flat out tell me that rollouts are not for women.

Meanwhile, Zorahgail never pondered such a thought. It was only a matter of time as she progressed gradually from one step to the next. She did not begin with limitations in her mind. There’s little time to worry about what can or can’t be accomplished when you are busy working. And when you are busy working, you tend to fly past goals with little interest in relishing the achievement. For example, her first comment to me after sharing the rollout video was that she plans to do 20 by the end of the year. She also has a goal to deadlift 405 pounds. Slowing down is not an option and I won’t be surprised when she conquers each goal. Not only is she strong, but perhaps more importantly Zorahgail believes in her ability.

When you believe in yourself, it’s only a matter of time before others learn to never doubt you again.


Update – Since posting this entry, Zorahgail submitted a new entry video for the 2014 season of the American Ninja Warrior. Check it out here.


  1. It is incredible how this young lady has transformed herself. From a person who had to struggle walking a couple of miles to running half-marathons. And as stated she exhibits “all-around” fitness. A 405lb deadlift for someone her size whether male or female, is quite impressive, so good luck to her reaching that goal. Couple that with the ability to run 13.1 miles and perform advanced bodyweight routines, it makes her even more impressive. If she reaches her goal of a 405lb deadlift and can still maintain her running endurance that is pretty damn impressive. A 405lb deadlift for a female at her weight and being capable of running a half-marathon puts her in elite company.

  2. Someone that is really successful said it best the other day. You can try your best and be happy with the outcome. Or you can do whatever it takes and not be happy until you get what you want.


  3. What a feat!! I wish I could do that! No, I mean I will do that someday! This 58 yr old woman is headed to the garage! Puttin’ on the hat and gonna go for it. Thnx Ross. I needed that.

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