When NBC’s new fitness competition series STRONG premieres Wednesday, it will introduce TV audiences to a whole new crop of the country’s top trainers as they push themselves and their competitors to the limit. One of those is Dan Wells, the dedicated Californian who doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit. LA Fan Cultures Examiner spoke to Dan to find out what appealed to him about TV, and what he’s going to bring to the show.
“I was close to doing The Biggest Loser at one point, so the network reapproached me with this idea,” Dan explained of how and why he joined the series. “The two things that I’m best at in my life were athletic competitions and training people to be the best versions of themselves they could be. It was right up my alley.”
Unlike The Biggest Loser, STRONG makes the trainer part of the game. Each trainer works with their contestant as a team to complete the various obstacles placed in front of them. Dan enjoyed that collaborative approach. “It’s a team effort with these things,” he said, “so two team members bring very different pieces to the puzzle and strengths and weaknesses to the table.
“The team dynamic between two individuals plays out through these obstacles,” he continued. “It’s probably more entertaining because they are absolutely mindblowing insane. Watching the dynamics play out within the team as they navigate these obstacles is like, you can’t turn your eyes away.”
“It’s a pressure cooker out there,” Dan added. “Your life is on the line every single event. You want to be able to see this person that you start to love and care about, transform themselves and change their life and go back into the world a different person. Unfortunately there’s other people trying to do the same thing and they’re trying to get in your way and stop you from doing that.
“What happens instead of this being a physical competition [is] it becomes an emotional nightmare for everyone because they want it so bad and they care so much,” he reflected. “It’s blood, sweat and tears but mostly tears. I didn’t expect that at all. I didn’t sign up for a single tear when I signed up on this show.”
And he was more than up for that intense level of competition. “You should be aware that if I’m on your team, I put every ounce of my heart, my soul and mind into the arena to protect you and make it the best it can be,” Dan told us.
He’s not the type of person you’d normally see on a reality TV series. Dan didn’t participate in STRONG to further himself. He already has more than enough to be proud of in his career: finishing 14th in the world in the 2015 CrossFit Games, owning the CrossFit Horsepower gyms in Los Angeles, earning a Masters in Business Administration from Cornell University. He became part of the show to motivate others to find the best in themselves.
“I would like to think the home audience would be inspired to see that they’re capable of more than they think,” he told us. “That’s what happened with me and my trainee. Without her, I would have never been able to accomplish what I did. As much as I motivated her and I made her cry and put her through things she never imagined ever going through, she gave it right back to me. She put me in a situation where if not for her believing in me when I started to get frustrated, there’s no way I could have persevered through what I did.
“The message I’m trying to get out is as much as we think we can do everything on our own and we can go to the gym by ourselves and do our strength routine we read in the latest magazines,” Dan continued, “if you can provide some accountability in your life by developing a community around you, even if that community is one person of support and be there for each other, you can arrive in a place that’s better than you could have ever imagined. As a bonus, it’s a hell of a lot more fun.”
He encourages viewers to do whatever they can to find that accountability in their lives. It doesn’t have to be a huge challenge. That can be little things like posting on social media, filling your house with real food, or putting your gym shoes next to your bed so you remember to exercise. When you surround yourself with the right resources and a community of people, you can succeed. And being able to enable people to succeed is what gets Dan out of bed every day.
“For me as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that I genuinely get so much more gratification seeing other people reach milestones and helping them change their lives,” he concluded. “That’s why I opened my gym. Being able to open a platform for people has been a really big blessing for me and I hope I can continue to be a positive light in more people’s lives. That’s what makes me feel like I’m fulfilling my job within my gut, who I’m supposed to be.”
STRONG premieres Wednesday, Apr. 13 at 9 p.m. on NBC.