Noah Galloway on ‘American Grit’ and using his story to inspire others

Scott Fishman
Olugbenro Ogunsemore/FOX

Heading into the finals of American Grit, Noah Galloway couldn’t be more proud of his team’s success. Throughout the Fox reality show competition his crew has dominated with Evolution victories.

Michael Lavine/FOX
Michael Lavine/FOX

“What has really helped is that they are really tough,” Galloway said, ahead of the American Grit season finale which will air Thursday, June 9, at 8/7CT. The coach in green attributes the string of wins to a supportive leadership style adopted from the battlefield and a group of driven teammates.

“I have an Olympic athlete. I have a lumberjack and a woman who practically lived on a fishing boat for 20 years,” he explains. “They told her she shouldn’t be on fishing boats because they were bad luck. She saw it as a challenge. Then Lisa who has been through struggles, picked herself up and changed her entire life.

“These are four people that when they want something, they go after that. Then they worked so well together. There weren’t a whole bunch of alphas trying to steal the spotlight. They were working well as a team. That shows how well teamwork works. The tighter the team, the better you are going to be.”

When the Alabama boy found out that American Grit infused elements of the military with fitness, he was excited to join. He loved the experience, but didn’t approach the project as a TV show.

“I was just concentrating on my team,” he said. “I even told my team to be the most boring team on here so they don’t even want o film you. You just concentrate on winning. Now shows have aired, the executive producer was saying they were having a hard time building a story around my team. It was fun to shoot.”

Galloway has enjoyed watching the season progress and getting the chance to see the finished product. This was a major change from his time on Dancing with the Stars, which filmed live and meant he was fully entrenched in the process as it aired.

American Grit Team Noah
American Grit — Team Noah. Photo: Olugbenro Ogunsemore/FOX

During Galloway’s military career, he served as a sergeant in the 1st Battalion of the 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. He made headlines after surviving an IED attack during a second deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Despite losing his left arm and leg, the Purple Heart recipient continues to participate in physical activity and inspire others. Galloway appreciates having the platform of American Grit to tell his incredible story of survival.

“That has been incredible,” he said. “Everything from being on the cover of Men’s Health, being on Dancing With the Stars, and American Grit; this all started where I pulled myself out of depression. I got help and got into fitness because I wanted to be a better father. That is still my main objective is being a good father. Then as things started to build, veterans started reaching out to me saying they’ve been proud of me.

“That is a huge honor to have all these men and women who I have such respect for are happy with the way things are going for me and how I am representing them on American Grit. That’s what I want to do. That is why I don’t leave Alabama because my kids are my No. 1 priority. Priority two is making sure I am a good representation of the military, because I feel like too often people are proud of veterans and treat us with respect, but I think there is still this stigma to those who served in combat — that we are broken.

“They are proud we have risked life and limb for this country,” he continues. “I went through depression, got help and came out to the other side. Other veterans are doing the same thing and have been very successful. So I want to continue doing things highlighting that. It excites me to be part of that movement showing that we are a group of men and women who work hard and make things happen in a positive way.”

AMERICAN GRIT: L-R: Noah Galloway, Nick ÒThe ReaperÓ Irving, John Cenaª, Tawanda ÒTeeÓ Hanible and Rorke Denver. AMERICAN GRIT, a new, 10-episode competition series starring WWE¨ Superstar John Cenaª and an elite group of mentors from the nationÕs most exclusive military units Ð including Navy Seal Commander Rorke Denver, Army Sergeant Noah Galloway, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Tawanda ÒTeeÓ Hanible and Army Ranger Nick ÒThe ReaperÓ Irving. AMERICAN GRIT will debut Thursday, April 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). Cr: Michael Lavine/FOX
Michael Lavine/FOX

Galloway feels American Grit does a good job providing a glimpse into what the brave men and women in uniform endure.

“You see movies like Full Metal Jacket and have this mindset of a drill sergeant and think that’s how the military is,” he said.

“This show is showing different styles of the military. No matter what branch, you have those people who are hard on you and build you up to make you stronger and have those like me, who give a little bit of guidance to help them figure it out. This shows what the military is really all about and goes beyond what you think of it. In the military, it’s like any other job where you have different styles of leadership. How it comes across, I think this is good for the military.”

For Galloway, the positive feedback from fellow veterans and soldiers has been overwhelming. They have specifically complimented his calm, cool and collected demeanor on the show.

“That makes me feel good because I was in for the least amount of time compared to my colleagues on the show,” he said. “I only served around five years. I went in because of 9/11 and then my second deployment, I was injured, so I had the least amount of time in. I learned a lot in leadership. My platoon sergeant, his leadership was that of I can work with you. I’m not going to stand over you and micromanage it. That’s how I treated my team on the show.”

While shooting American Grit, he could feel a level of mutual respect with the show’s host and executive producer John Cena. He found him to be a nice guy.

“I didn’t really get to hang out with him as much as the others, but we got to spend some time together,” Galloway said. “He is laid back. As big and successful as he is, he doesn’t act like it. You genuinely feel he appreciates the troops. So when he says he supports the troops, it’s not for show. It’s genuine. He is just an awesome guy.”

Amazon
Amazon

After filming finished, Galloway would often go back to the hotel room to work on his upcoming memoir, “Living with No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth of an American Soldier.” The book is out in August but available for preorder through Amazon.

“It tells a lot about my story,” Galloway said. “It talks about my deployment and the different mindsets I had as I deployed and then my injury. I went into the details of my struggle I went through with depression. It really is showing the ups and downs I experienced and continuing to push on one foot in front of the other and try to pull out to the other end. I was real excited to do this book. I wanted to be brutally honest with the struggles I went through. People can relate to it, whether they are a veteran or not. People can relate in a sense that mental health is real. We have to take care of our minds. There are struggles, but you can make it to the other end.”

Galloway is ready to see who rings out and who takes home the money on the American Grit finale.  He’s glad he gets to watch it before leaving for 10 days with a group local high schoolers to do some good for a sister school in Honduras. Viewers can expect things to get real intense as the competition dwindles down.

“These final participants really have to challenge themselves and push themselves to make it to the end,” he said. “Then those who make it to the end, it’s anybody’s game. It doesn’t matter how many people who are left on the team. It’s who can stick it out the longest. I think it’s going to be real exciting at the end.”

The American Grit Season 1 finale airs Thursday, June 9, at 9/8CT on FOX.