'STRONG' crowns Blue team members Jill May and her trainer Bennie Wylie the winners
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/03/2016
STRONG, NBC's new reality fitness competition series, has crowned a winning team.
The Blue team -- trainee Jill May, a 35-year-old from Willmar, MN, and her trainer Bennie Wylie, a 39-year-old from Tuscola, TX -- won STRONG's first season after they completed three legs of challenges over the course of several days and finally finished the elimination tower in a faster time than the Yellow team.
"This victory is sweet. It's been a grueling 10 weeks. The Jill going back to Minnesota knows who she is, is confident in who she is and is super excited to live into who she is," Jill said in her final words.
"Nothing is beyond your teach. The human spirit is a strong thing. It doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter where you come from, you have to just put your mind to it, put the work in and go for it! You can do whatever you want do to."
Jill and Bennie walked away with a total of $300,000 in medallions they get to split between themselves. The pair beat Yellow team members Brittany Harrell-Miller, a 25-year-old from Lawrence, KS, and Todd Durkin, a 44-year-old from San Diego, CA.
"It's been amazing to watch Jill. She embodies everything I hope my daughter will turn out to be," Bennie added.
Jill started the competition as a size 10 with 31% body fat and a resting heart rate of 84. A post-victory update revealed Jill is now a size 2 and has a 12% body fat percentage and resting heart rate of 55. She also gained a whopping 24 pounds of lean muscle.
The three legs in STRONG's finale consisted of a challenge in the yard, the arena and finally the new and improved elimination tower.
The first leg required the two pairs to tackle numerous obstacles in a full-on sprint, and the team to finish with the fastest time would be able to decide whether they wanted $50,000 or five seconds off their overall time at the elimination tower.
The Yellow team finished in two minutes and 55 seconds, while the Blue team completed the sprint in two minutes and 42 seconds. As a result, the Blue team won this portion of the finale and chose the five-second time advantage at the tower.
For the second leg, the pairs had to engage in an old-fashioned "Tug of War" and then transfer 20-pound kettlebells from the top of their own pyramid to the top of the opposing team's pyramid. They had to race up and down the stairs, and the first team to transfer all 24 kettlebells would win $100,000 or a five-second advantage at the tower.
Because the Yellow team won the "Tug of War," they got to transfer one less kettlebell, so they only had 23 to work with. Strategy was also involved in this leg because a team could choose to move their own kettlebells or bring their opponents' bells back to the start.
The Yellow team won the second leg and also chose the five-second advantage so both teams could enter the tower on a level playing field. Also, if either team selected the money and lost at the elimination tower, they'd go home empty-handed.
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Once it became time to compete at the elimination tower, host Gabrielle Reece declared surprises were in store. The tower evolved to make the obstacles more difficult and tiring for the teams since they've come so far in their strength and endurance training.
In the end, the Yellow team completed the tower in three minutes and 42 seconds, while the Blue team won the season with their time of three minutes and 29 seconds.
In an update, runner-up Brittany announced she had started the competition as a size 12, with a body fat percentage of 31% and resting heart rate of 67. After competing on STRONG, Brittany is now a size 2 with a body fat percentage of 17% and resting heart rate of 53. She also gained seven pounds of lean muscle.