We’ve heard it plenty of times: “strong is the new skinny,” but we prefer to say, “strong is the new strong.” And tonight, NBC shows us just how strong 10 everyday women can become when they’re paired up with top-notch trainers to conquer feats of strength in the new reality competition Strong.
Throughout the summer, each team of trainer and client will train together and compete in physical challenges, with a weekly trip to the 4-story Elimination Tower (think Biggest Loser challenges on steroids). Each week, one team will be eliminated and later, their physical and mental transformations will be revealed.
The show, which premieres at 9 EDT tonight and continues at 8 Thursday night and every Thursday, has in its corner none other than Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone, as one of the executive producers, along with Biggest Loser exec Dave Broome and people associated with the movie Creed and the TV show American Ninja Warrior.
“When I was talking to Sly, it just came to me and I thought, you know, here is a man who created the most iconic underdog character maybe in pop culture history in Rocky,” said Broome in a telephone interview last week. “The spirit of the show is really taking a bunch of underdogs — all of our female trainees are underdogs themselves. This is a show about wanting to be the best version of yourself you possibly can be. That’s really what the spirit is at the end of the day.”
Hosting the show is a pretty fierce female in her own right — mom, model and volleyball player Gabrielle Reece.
“One of the trainees right at the beginning of the shoot said to me, ‘Wait, you have children?’ ” Reece said. “I understand what it’s like to birth a baby and try to get back in shape and aging and all that. So it was a really great environment for me because it was dealing with both sides of the coin, and really, most importantly, it’s how many people and, especially I believe, women are doing that calibration every single day trying to keep all those plates spinning.”
Reece signed on because she liked the relatability of the contestants.
“There’s going to be somebody in the cast that somebody can connect and relate to,” Reece said. “You’ll be like ‘She did it and I saw in the beginning it felt overwhelming. And she seemed nervous, but she pushed through and look at what happened.’ Consistency, eating, making better choices on your eating and moving. And then it’s that reminder like, ‘You know what? I could do that too.’ “
But don’t call this a weight-loss show. Yes, the women lose body fat and gain strength, but it’s a side effect of the training process, which reflects the CrossFit/bootcamp/Olympic lifting boom.
“I created Strong because I saw this major shift in the world of fitness,” Broome said. “You’re looking at Spartan races or Tough Mudder events, which look like commercials for the Marines where people are going under barbed wire fences and shocking their body parts. … I’m looking at it and I’m seeing that the fastest growing piece of all that are not men. They are women who are signing up for these things in droves.”
Will you be watching Strong? —Gail