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Week 6 Recap: Getting STRONG With Chris Ryan

Last month, NBC debuted their latest fitness reality competition: STRONG. Airing on Thursdays at 8/7c, STRONG pairs 10 women with 10 elite trainers, and puts them on a journey like no other. Two of those trainers, Chris Ryan and Todd Durkin, have worked with Cybex for many years, and we are proud to watch and root for them on the show. 

As a weekly bonus, we'll recap the previous episode of STRONG with Chris right here on the Cybex blog. Chris will give us an insider’s perspective on each episode and maybe a hint about what's on tap in the next episode. Today, we talk to Chris about Thursday's episode, and all of the emotions associated with the show. Follow Chris on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for more photos and insight from the show. 

Well, let’s start from the end…this was not the result that any of us, especially you and Giovanna, had hoped to see at the conclusion of the episode. Before we get into the rest of the show, just reflect for a little bit on those few moments after being eliminated, and what it was like to relive it this week.

It has been almost 6 months since that tower run, and yes, it still stings. It stings the same way for past races I had in track that ended in defeat, not victory. You learn from those defeats and use it as fire for the next opportunity you have in life though. That is just being an athlete. You always learn a lot more from your failures than you do your victories. There is nothing like that inner turmoil to inspire you to greatness! In this case, we used it for Giovanna to be the best version of herself.  She would have to go through some mental and physical anguish to get to where she wanted to be, and it was absolutely worth it!

Like many viewers, we were shocked at the end result. Especially because Team Orange really seemed to be clicking. What does an early exit like this do to the momentum/progress you were making with Giovanna? How do you keep her going towards her amazing transformation?

Our early exit from the game only fueled Giovanna's fire to find the "best version of herself," which is ultimately why she wanted to be on STRONG in the first place. We knew it was an early exit, but like I had said before the tower is the ultimate deciding factor in who stays and who goes. By that point in the game, we had already had one medallion victory and two close runner-ups. We never finished anywhere close to the bottom. We had an overall record that was on par with blue and purple. Unfortunately, by the time we had a chance to run the tower, we had to face the purple team,  who had already been there. All we could do was give it our best shot.  We were the only team with a first-time flawless run and we also had the fastest first time tower run. It just was not enough at that point in the game unfortunately.

You guys almost pulled off another challenge victory. Tell us about the challenge and how tough it was.

That was probably the hardest challenge in the game so far. It was purely about strength and endurance, which is why we did so well at it. This challenge totally encompasses my training background and how Giovanna was being coached by me. We had a couple of hiccups with the ball hitting the cage at the wrong time and not scoring a point here and there, otherwise it would have have been another medallion victory for us. Hats off to the grey team though, they are a great team as well and proved to the viewing audience that they deserve to still be alive with that victory. 

This was your first shot at the Tower. What was it like actually being in there?

We loved the Tower! We never looked at it with fear. Ultimately, you would have to face the Tower no matter what, right? I do not coach to avoid your fears, but rather confront them head on. We prepared ourselves well and put on an amazing performance. We wanted to run it again. Seriously, it was so much fun! We were actually upset after the end of it all that we only got to run the Tower once. No matter what, we can hold our heads up high though. We had a flawless run. No other team even came close to that on their first time through the Tower. 

How do you prepare to take on the Tower? You’ve seen it now for a few weeks, I’m sure talked to the other teams that have gone in, but can you train for the elements, or is it really an ‘in the moment’ experience?

You can't really prepare for the Tower. Sure, we had seen it run by other teams, but nothing prepares you for how to communicate properly to hit the wishbone on your first try or how slippery it actually is. How to position your feet on the footpads properly for the steamroller or how to start the steamroller pull for your trainee. And the coil ladder? That is a whole other world. Cold, slippery bars that are in an ever-changing spindle of Hell!  All those little things add precious seconds to your run, where only experience of running the Tower helps. The only way to properly prepare for the Tower is to run the Tower. Other than that, you just have to rely on your instinct as a team and Giovanna's trust in me and herself to run it flawlessly.

Now that Team Orange is out, we’re down to five teams, including the new “super team” of Todd and Brittany who returned this week. Can you handicap the remaining teams for us? Are we just waiting for Blue and Purple to clash, or should we be on the lookout for a surprise?

I would say that the game is on now! Just as a stock prospectus says "past performance is not a guarantee of future performance," I think this game has proven that statement true every week, which makes it so exciting! I mean look at the purple team this week: they went from dominating for a couple weeks in a row, to getting last place in a medallion challenge and putting themselves into the Tower. Blue has had a couple victories as well, but also finished in the bottom of the pile, placing second to the last two times, almost forcing themselves into the Tower. Grey is coming off a huge medallion victory and wants to prove that it wasn't a fluke. Lime still hasn't won anything yet, so they definitely have a chip on their shoulder to prove to themselves and the rest of the teams that they belong. And lastly, yellow, the newly formed "super team" with Todd and Brittany. They want this! They had already been kicked out of the game; standing on the outside looking back in, I can sense how they feel. If Giovanna and I had a second shot, you can bet it would be fight to the finish. The next 4 episodes will be can't miss for sure!

"STRONG" is produced by Dave Broome and Sylvester Stallone.  The competition is hosted by Gabrielle Reece and airs in its regular time slot of Thursday nights at 8 p.m. Be sure to tune in and see how Chris and his partner Giovanna stack up to the competition, and check back here weekly for his recaps and thoughts from the episode. 

To learn more about the show, visit nbc.com/strong.

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