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Week 8 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. Although he is now eliminated, Chris is still providing insight, and speaking to those still in the competition, for the blog. Follow Chris on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for more photos and insight from the show. 

Let’s talk about this week’s Ultimate Challenge…squat city! What were your thoughts on the challenge, and how would you have coached through it?

I LOVED this challenge! The squat is one of the most basic fundamental movements you can do in any strength and conditioning program, so I was glad to see this challenge. I know Purple squatted nearly every day in some way, shape or form, as we (the Orange Team) did too. This challenge definitely played to their strengths and most definitely would have for us to. 

At this point in the game, it is a complete battle; you can't hold anything back and Purple didn't disappoint. I would have coached it in much the same way; go to full depth, lock in that core, drive home hard and fast through your feet, and block out the lactic acid and burning lungs as best you can. Purple put on a squat clinic and put the rest of the teams on notice that they are here to play and play hard.

With only 4 teams left, the gamesmanship is the highest we’ve seen. Explain how you might have handled the nomination this wee, if you were the Purple Team.

I definitely would not have put in the Blue Team. They had already run the tower nearly as efficiently as possible in their second run. If you put them in, it would have only been more practice for them to potentially beat you in the tower possibly. Gray was the logical choice for sure. They had been to the tower several times before but had not strung together a great run, so putting them against Yellow made the most sense for Purple's choice.

Let’s talk about the Tower. Gray absolutely destroyed it. Take us through their run.

Absolutely! The tower had been a nemesis for them in their first couple runs...nearly destroying their chances of staying in the game. They left a lot of blood, sweat and tears in that tower, but in the end they were champions. Finishing on a high note, completing the fastest tower time up to that point. Their heads should be held up high forever after that run and Jasmine's incredible mental and physical transformation.

Just minutes after Gray sets a new record, the redemption team, Todd & Brittany, beat that record by a full four seconds to stay in the game yet again - what a moment! Tell us more about how their mental game is keeping them in, possibly more than their physical talent.

I think Todd, the Yellow Team's trainer, is one of the most motivational people I know. He has a certain knack for bringing out the best in you. And Brittany has a laser focus about her. She is ready to charge through walls, break down barriers and push herself harder than she could have ever imagined. It's no surprise they are excelling in the tower at this point. 

Were you able to talk to the departing team this week?

Yes, I was able to talk to Wes Okerson, Gray's trainer, at our event in New Jersey this weekend. Here is what he had to say:

"I grew up competing all through high school, college, and continue into my adult life. I've lost more times than I can count, but I've learned more often than not the hard way, which is to get back up, stop making excuses and fight on. When I started this journey on 'Strong' all I really knew for certain was that Dave Broome (creator) had a vision and I believed in him. I've had some time now to reflect back on the first season and I wouldn't take back a single moment...not even losing to the Yellow Team, which was the single most difficult loss I've ever experienced because it was the first time in the whole competition I felt the Gray Team had made it over the mountain only to be defeated seconds later. It was heartbreaking. But, I was humbled by the opportunity I had  to train alongside and compete against you all. Thanks guys it was a blast! Hats off to all off them!"

We’re down to three. I don’t think many are surprised that Purple and Blue are there, but they aren’t coasting into the finals with the Yellow Team battling every week. What do you think happens this week?

The most important medallion challenge to date is coming up this week. Think about it for a second. If you win this medallion challenge, you will ultimately pave your way into the final round. It's going to be absolute pure adrenaline rush of a show this week!

"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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