The former gymnast tells PEOPLE about her "surreal" experience, and what's next for her in the competition

By Emily Strohm
Updated July 18, 2014 04:50 PM
Credit: American Ninja Warrior

Since becoming the first woman to complete the American Ninja Warrior finals course (see her kill it above!), Kacy Catanzaro has been blown away by fan support.

“I had no idea how many people would care so much about it,” the 24-year-old tells PEOPLE. “I’m getting messages from my friends saying telling me that I am trending on Facebook and Twitter and that my video has 4 million views. It’s amazing. My followers have skyrocketed 30,000 plus more in just a couple of days.

At just five feet tall and 100 lbs. the New Jersey native, who returned for her second season of the show, couldn’t have been more surprised by the overnight fame since a video of her obstacle course run went viral.

“Being able to get the opportunity to be in that spotlight and put such a positive message out has been so amazing,” she says. “It was a surreal moment.”

But long before she celebrated her success, Catanzaro logged hours of training to get there.

“I’ve done gymnastics my whole life and competed, so mentally and physically my body knows how to get itself ready,” she says.

While Catanzaro doesn’t quite know what obstacles to expect when it comes to the finals in Las Vegas, she plans plans to stick with her same winning strategy.

“The ring toss was something new this year and it was definitely a challenge, but I just took it slow and tried to stay calm. When I missed the rung a few ties and swung out and I could hear the audience go, ‘Oh!’ ” she says.

“You can see me say, ‘I’m O.K., I’m O.K.’ I just kept going and tried to stay calm and it was really helpful. I believed in myself and went for it.”