Dubbed one of the nation’s top athletic trainers during NBC’s competition-style TV show, “STRONG,” Mathew Miller, MS, ’06, and partner Nicole Bentley placed as top three finalists. “STRONG,” a 10-episode series, started with 10 teams comprised of professional trainers and trainees.
1. How were you recruited to the show?
It’s a funny story. When I was working at “Le Rêve,” one of my performers was great friends with the show’s casting director, who was familiar with my workout regimes. When they were ready to cast for the show, the casting director contacted the performer – her friend – and asked to be put in touch with me. Before I knew it, I was headed off to the finals. I met with the executive producers with NBC, and about a month later, I received a call that I got the gig.
2. How was living situation?
We were living in Malibu, California, at a well-known fitness retreat. We stayed at a completely different part of the retreat made for the show. We had our own cabins but shared a living room and kitchen with the rest of the cast. We spent every moment on the ranch, so people wouldn’t drop hints about the show. We did have a barbecue at the supervising physician’s house, but other than that, we spent every day training on the ranch.
Nicole Bentley and Mathew Miller (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
3. Each pro-trainer had their own training philosophy. What was your approach with Nicole?
I came up with my training philosophy for Nicole while working at “Le Rêve.” One of the hardest things at “Le Rêve” and “Cirque du Soleil” is that there is no off-season, so there’s no opportunity for the performers to take a developing season. You have to be able to train, and then do two shows a night. You can’t fully deplete yourself. Unlike football or basketball, there are off-seasons where they can take time to develop themselves.
The training method I used fit into place with the strength training I’d been doing at “Le Rêve” – allowing Nicole to recover and perform during the challenge, and then train the next day. I gave her one day off a week, but she’d still do some sort of activity.
4. What kept you and Nicole going during the three months of filming?
I think many partners had trust issues or didn’t feel vulnerable enough. What made us successful was our ability to communicate and trust each other. I like to think that a lot of the conditioning that I had her doing was working well, too.
5. Did the partners have a chance to meet before filming?
No. The easiest thing to know about the show is that it was a secret as much to us as to the viewer. I met Nicole the first night. The trainers had no idea who the women were or their demographics. We didn’t know if they would be extremely unfit, old, or young. And then into the show, we had no idea what the challenges would be.
Mathew Miller (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
6. What was the hardest part of doing the show?
The hardest thing was doing the actual show – the filming, extensive interviewing – because that’s taping a TV show. Also, we were with the same person for 10 weeks. You have arguments, but you have to find common ground, compromise, and move forward. I think that’s why Nicole and I were so successful. Off camera we communicated, and we had the same goals.
7. Are you keeping tabs on your partner Nicole?
I am keeping in touch with her, about once a week or so to see how she’s doing.
8. Would you do another competition like this?
I would absolutely do another one!