Could the next fitness TV star be a man who calls himself "The Denkster" and has an affinity for fluorescent weights? Wacky as it sounds, Alexander Denk has a shot to succeed Jake Steinfeld (of Body By Jake fame) as the next big thing in TV-based fitness programming.
ExerciseTV, a new multi-platform television network with video-on-demand fitness programs, recently wrapped up a talent search to find "America's Next Fitness Star." Announcement of The Chosen One is set for early 2007.
Should The Denkster win, he would get a one-year paid contract with ExerciseTV and appear in a new "Star Trainers" series. He'd also get a year's worth of New Balance footwear and apparel -- sorry, no fluorescent weights included.
Of course, any open casting call receives its fair share of…hmm, how do we put this politely? …"interesting" personalities. During his audition, Denk pitched the idea of a show where he would instruct children -- "the Little Denksters." Then, at the end of the show, he and the kids would all maybe sing a song. Yup, it's true, TV show auditions, such as American Idol, have become a theater of the absurd. (Remember William Hung who sang his way to a moment of off-key fame?) Sure, there is some “off-key” fitness talent, but ExerciseTV told SNEWS® it has actually discovered some serious talent.
"There are a lot of people out there who are very credible and qualified," said Chris Mansolillo, general manager for ExerciseTV. "There is this community of people who probably have what it takes; they just haven’t had an outlet to get their face out there and get their (fitness) program out there."
According to Mansolillo, the search has drawn significant interest from instructors. "We did a casting call in Boston in October, and we had to turn people away," he said, adding that he and Steinfeld interviewed hundreds of applicants.
A bonus for those trying out has been Steinfeld's hands-on involvement in the process. "Jake is very involved," said Mansolillo. "He actually saw a majority of the contestants who came into Boston. He’s talking to them, and giving them advice, and he loves it."
Though this year's search included casting calls in only two markets, Boston and Los Angeles, there are hopes of replicating the search in many more areas in the future, Mansolillo said. Select auditions are playing now at www.exercisetv.tv, where anyone can watch videos of tryouts from more than 50 applicants -- some of which are priceless. (Warning: Andrea Lane's tryout induced such hysterical laughter that Gatorade shot through this writer’s nose. Bad timing on that gulp of liquid!)
ExerciseTV was launched in early 2006 after a pre-launch test. Its programming is available for no additional charge to Comcast, Time Warner and Cox Cable digital cable customers with VOD service, and includes about 100 different programs. DVD-like functionality means viewers can work out at their own pace and selected time.