American Grit Series Premiere Recap: Ruck Up

Scott Fishman
(Olugbenro Ogunsemore/FOX)

There is a sense of patriotism and inspiration that comes from watching the season premiere of American Grit on Fox.

(Olugbenro Ogunsemore/FOX)
(Olugbenro Ogunsemore/FOX)

The reality show competition features four of the most decorated heroes representing different branches of the military.  Navy Seal Commander Rorke Denver, Army Sergeant Noah Galloway, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Tawanda “Tee” Hanible and Army Ranger Nick “The Reaper” Irving head up teams vying for a $1 million payout.

Over the course of 10 episodes 16 contestants from all walks of life endure military-grade challenges with the hope of surviving each week.

WWE superstar John Cena serves as an executive producer proves the perfect host for this type of environment. The 15-time world champion is known for his philanthropic work and support of the men and women in uniform. He not only adds a bit of star power to the show, but knows how to motivate with his never-give-up attitude.

Cena also proved right out of the gate that he can react to certain situations and step in with some honest feedback when needed. His passion for the project really resonates.

This week set the pieces in place, with each of the mentors deciding the four contestants they want on their respective teams. From there, the teammates get a look at the living space over the course of the competition. It’s at this point you start to see the personalities at play. Chris, the personal trainer, already rubbed people the wrong way with his cockiness. He even got into it a bit with fitness model Maria the “No Excuses Mom,” who also comes off abrasive.

( Olugbenro Ogunsemore/FOX)
( Olugbenro Ogunsemore/FOX)

There was definitely a lack of respect, especially when it came to his coach Tee. The underlying tension between the two was clear during the first evolution or team-based challenge called Ruck Up. Competitors had to work together with their teams to carry a 120-pound log for three miles through the forest with some obstacles inbetween. Team Noah dropped the log and put them in last place. Somehow through ingenuity and strong communication they were able to turn things around and make it on top in the end.

The victory meant Team Noah was immune to elimination. However, the other three had to choose one member to risk going home by participating in “The Circus.” After working through 13 obstacles comes the endurance test. This time around whoever drops a rope holding their sandbag first gives up, rings out and goes home.

Not surprising Tee picked Chris in an effort to humble him. Coach Nick wanted Jim, the Boston cop, as his representative knowing he would take it as a way to redeem himself. Rorke chose Tabatha “Goldie,” a mom and star of roller-derby. You can’t help but get behind the underdog. In comparison, Chris was the favorite as he finished through obstacles first and was given the most time to rest before the sandbag holding began. His arrogance was his undoing after the rain fell and they moved past the 40-minute mark. Chris lost his grip and was surprisingly sent packing. Part of me wishes he survived as I feel every show like this needs a villain. However, he was annoying for much of the episode. I did enjoy watching Cena lay into him about the lack of respect he was showing “Tee.”

(Olugbenro Ogunsemore/FOX)
(Olugbenro Ogunsemore/FOX)

But I think “Goldie” really exemplifies what the show is all about. It’s not necessarily only about physical strength, but mental toughness. Producers have done a good job with casting those from varying backgrounds. Yes, there is even a professional wrestler in Cam. I’m excited to see how everything pans out and learning the stories behind those involved.

  • Watch “American Grit” 9 p.m. ET Thursdays on Fox.
  • Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.