Being on Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge

By Valerie Solomon, Busy Mom Gets Fit

Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge appears on CMT.  My show aired Sunday, March 13, 2016 - Season 3 Episode 10 "You Gotta Dig Deep"

The things I get myself into….  :-)

Me in the purple, far right

Me in the purple, far right

Thanks for rooting me on as I appeared on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge.  It was an amazing experience in many ways.  The biggest way…. for me, it was a great expression of living fully.   

So, I didn’t win $10k.  But as I’m typing this, I’m smiling.  This will be an experience I remember forever… It’s certainly not something I will regret because I wasn’t the champ.  It feels great to have taken a chance, prepared for it, and given it tremendous effort.  

I’ve replayed that tug-of-war challenge over and over in my mind.  I really wanted to get past the first round!!  Hindsight is always 20/20.  There are things I should have done differently, but ultimately my mind gave out.  I remember hearing Steve Austin and the other ladies screaming stuff and the minute I felt like I was losing, I did.  I’ve said it a million times on social media and to my kids.. your mind is your greatest challenge.

Being on and preparing for the show challenged me both physically and mentally.   I was forced to prepare and train in new ways.  I walked away stronger and with a better understanding of who I am.   Isn’t that how challenges always end?

How did I end up on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge?

I was watching the show, thought it was totally badass and said to myself, “I can do that!”  Without much more thought than that, I applied.  

My timing must have been right, because they called a few weeks later!  After several interviews and background checks, I was on a plane to Hollywood in July 2015…. not allowed to say anything about what I was up to… until now!

How I Trained For Broken Skull Challenge

When I got the final word that I would be on the show, I only had a few weeks to prepare. As a contestant on The Broken Skull Challenge, I felt like I needed:

1. Strength

I was confident in this area.  I had been killing it in the gym for fun for years with the guidance of longtime coach, Sascha Teems, who’s kept me a well rounded athlete.  I was not afraid to pull, push, or carry heavy stuff up a mountain.  Strength and muscle is not something a person can gain in just a few weeks, so I knew if any of the other girls were just fighting experts or endurance athletes, I’d have the upper hand with muscle power.

I also stopped wearing any gloves during strength training.  It was time to let the callouses be callouses for a purpose.  I’d been working on grip strength for a long time as well, but it became a more primary focus.

2. Endurance

I’m not going to lie, as a hard muscle gainer, I do not kill it with cardio year around.  I had to really bust my butt to get in cardiovascular shape for this level of competition.  I did a lot of high intensity interval training to try to mimic the beating my body would take with any given challenge.  I did a lot of incline walking to get ready for a chance at that god awful hill you’ve seen on TV.  It’s steeper in person!  

3. Combat

I had zero fighting experience but I was excited to learn!  After watching the show many times, I knew the likelihood of me being in some sort of hand to hand combat with another woman was high.  The likelihood of her being experienced in the area seemed pretty good too.  I jumped all in and took private lessons with an MMA fighter, Tenyeh Dixon.  That was one of the toughest workouts I’ve ever done!  Fighting for an hour straight was super tough, but really so much fun.  I’ve got to make time for this in the future.

Tenyeh helping me build one on one combat confidence was key in my mindset going into the show.  I could not go in without a mental game plan.  Knowing I could knock a chick out of a ring was important.

My dad is a retired master self defense instructor, and he was able to give me some very helpful pointers as well.  Screaming crazy words to distract people, using their momentum to keep them moving right by you…. these were all tools I practiced and packed away into my tool box.

4. Specific Event Training

I made sure I knew how to climb a rope.  I made sure I knew how to climb a rope when I was very tired and my arms might give out.  I made sure I could run while carrying something very heavy on my back.  I practiced having to pull something out of someone’s hands.  

Strength, endurance, fighting skills, and being prepared for any challenge turned out to be all very important.  I wanted to cover all of my bases and go in feeling ready for anything.

What Was the Filming Experience Like?

The whole experience was really amazing.  It was SO Hollywood!  We were picked up at the airport in a van, but now allowed to say anything to the other competitors all day.  Everybody was fit.  I knew we’d get along great if we weren’t there to potentially fight each other.  ha.  

We were taken to a doctor’s office of Hollywood Blvd. for a physical.  So interesting!

Then I met some of the production staff at the hotel when they came to my room for a final interview. They wanted to see what I would wear, make sure I wasn’t too crazy(?), ect.   

The next morning we drove out the Broken Skull Ranch set.  It was amazing to watch all of the moving parts of a production team.  

One of my biggest concerns was that saying I’m better than other strong women was a bit against my core belief and what I’ve built a couple of businesses on.  I loved the idea of this competition...grit, strength, muscle. But I also felt a great comradery with other women that love this sort of thing.  I knew they would ask me things to get me to tough talk.  Thankfully they also allowed me to say things that were true to me and my brand.  (Hopefully those are the clips that are used!)  Another important aspect was that the production team allowed me to wear whatever I wanted.  I really appreciated that they saw the importance of letting people be true to themselves.  There was no push to be sexy or show off skin.

After the filming of the show, I was able to chat with a few of the other competitors.  They were all cool women with whom I’ve enjoyed keeping up with over the year.  You don’t just get the gumption to do something like that and the muscle to go with it and have no story.

I posted this on Instagram last summer, "Dirty dusty trail runners.  Quiet on social media for the week.  Loud in the universe." 

I posted this on Instagram last summer, "Dirty dusty trail runners.  Quiet on social media for the week.  Loud in the universe." 

Jennifer - a crossfitting momma raising a special needs son

Brenda - a single hard working momma figure competitor

Jade - a beautiful young woman with a contagious energy and amazing muscles

So thanks again for watching and cheering me on!  It was scary, totally out of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I took the chance. If you take nothing else away from my experience, please take this, “Dang that was badass... what badass or scary thing am I holding back from?!”  An everyday person can do outrageous and crazy stuff (that can make life more fun!).  All it takes is action.

A replay of the show is on the CMT website.

-Val Solomon