Netflix recommendation- Strong (season 1)

Start to realise our natural greatness!

The power of Fomo! I was curious to learn what ‘Strong’ was as I’d seen it pop-up several times on my app, so I clicked on it and right at the top it stated that the title was going to be remove from Netflix on 30 September. Oh no! So although my initial interest in Strong was lukewarm to say the least, all of a sudden I was in a race against time to finish this series before it disappeared forever!

And wasn’t I glad to have this motivator? After episode one, we weren’t sold on Strong and my wife asked “Did we really have to watch this?” And my response was, “We have to, otherwise it’ll be gone after 30 Sept”… As don’t you just hate the knowledge of something not being there, even if you don’t really want it? So we persisted and this is what we thought.

For those who haven’t (and will never be able to watch it), Strong is an American competition reality TV show (10 episodes in length), brought to us by the same Producers of ‘The Biggest Loser’ and ‘American Ninja Warrior’. This makes so much sense now, in hindsight I can see the similarities- as it was like biggest loser meets Ninja warrior!

The 20 individuals who are brought into the competition are 10 Professional fitness trainers (all male), and 10 Trainees (all female). And the teams are made up of one Trainee and one Trainer, after the ladies hand pick a Trainer they would like to work with (after watching them prove themselves in the first physical challenge). After pairing off with their Trainers, spending most of the day, every day, working-out with the aim to become STRONG and to transform their lives. Dependent on what discipline the Trainer is from, they will use more of those techniques to provide their Trainees an all-round work-out.

Throughout each episode, the Teams would come back together to compete in various challenges. Either for immunity from weekly eviction, or to win a medallion which signified $25K in potential prize money, which they’d take home if they won the competition(there was up to $500K up for grabs).

The various challenges were either a team challenge, or only for the Trainee, or only for the Trainer- but all were gruelling which tested their strength, endurance, and competitive spirit.

And at the end of each episode, two teams are sent to the ‘Elimination Tower’, a circuit made up of 6 different physical challenges- testing teamwork, their experience, and of course their Strength! The two teams being the weakest team from that week, and a second team which was put in by the Strongest team from that week (usually for strategic purposes). And at the end of the Tower, the team which took the most time to complete the gruelling tower, were eliminated, stripped of their medallions….. Well, it was less heartless than that, as they were given the time and place to gift their medallions to the remaining teams which they thought were deserving. And before the credits roll, the Trainee who was just eliminated, has a short 30 second package, showing their before and after shots. The before images usually showed how ‘soft’ they were at the beginning, but the after images showed them as ‘model-like’, completely transformed. So everyone was a winner in the end, as the show continued to pay for the Trainee’s training even after they were evicted, until they realised who they wanted to be.

And why did we enjoy Strong?

Action & Drama- Well, it had a good mix of action and reality show catty-ness. In-between challenges, the contestants hang out, either recuperating or eating, and in these social settings there’s bound to be some friction. Either clashing personalities between the Trainers (too many alphas in one den), or a strategic choice to send a strong team to the Elimination Tower, had caused a rift between dudes. So the off-action drama added to the overall drama of the series.

Backstories & Transformations- We also liked it as the show invested time to develop each of the Trainee’s backstories. Each contestant had their personal reasons why they’d come onto the show, and for most their motivations were for noble reasons which you couldn’t help but get behind. And seeing the transformations at the end, and I’m not just talking about their physical transformations, but it was the new found confidence and joy that these ladies took away from the show which made it a ‘feel-good’ show for all!

Emotive & Motivational- And after watching Strong, who could possibly say that they weren’t motivated to get more physically active? I know that for me, there were several tip-bits which I was going to take away with me and add to my own workout regimes to maximise my strength!    

However the elements we thought could be improved upon were:

The team colours- My wife and I spent so much time discussing what other colours they could have used in replacement of a few that they used. There’s so many colours out there, surely there were others better than just white and olive!?

The prize money system- The medallions were kind of confusing? And the statement that they could win up to $500K was also deceptive. At first I thought that the teams could chill out over who were gifted medallions on the departure of a team. As I thought who ever won, would clean-up the entire $500K pot anyway. But no, that wasn’t the case, the winners only took home the amount of medallions they brought into the final eviction tower challenge. Therefore realistically, no team was ever going to win $500K as advertised, as it would require that the winning team either won every single Medallion challenge, or each time a team left, they had to gift their ‘tokens of no value’ to them- which was highly unlikely. And in addition, the runner up team needed to never win a medallion challenge, and be so detestable that no evicted team would want to leave them their hard earned money. So I think the competitors perhaps were lured into this game under false pretences, thinking that they were in for a larger pay-day, when the windfall was much less. And then their winnings had to be halved again between the Trainer and Trainee, so not a lot of coin considering the effort required to win it?

What the challenges tested for- And finally, although each of the physical challenges were different- but they always tested for the same thing- STRENGTH. Yes, yes, I know, the show is called Strong. However in physical fitness, it’s not just about strength- but what about agility, flexibility, aerobic fitness, and skill? I personally thought that too many of the challenges were just based on brute strength, and this was underlined by a certain challenge when a Trainer shouldered all of the weights for his team, because the Trainee was injured and she couldn’t bear any of her own weights. That scene was almost uncomfortable to watch, when this guy was complaining that his blood flow to his head was impeded due to the 170lbs he was carrying, while all the while the Trainee was screaming in his ear to hurry up???

But yeah, perhaps this post is more of a review than a recommendation, because by the time you read this post dear reader, Strong would have already been removed from the Netflix Australia library. Boo! But for the record, it was worth watching, a bit emotive to get off-your ass and start to realise your natural greatness! STRYNG!

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