At 5-foot, 3-inches tall, you might not size Watertown-raised Waltham resident Tina Torchio for a fierce competitor — but you’d be wrong. The insurance broker and mother of three young boys (ages 7, 4, and 3), will be one of eight competing ladies on this Sunday’s episode of Steve Austin’s CMT show, “Broken Skull Challenge.”
The 10-episode reality series features eight elite athletes per show, pitting them against each other in head-to-head battles at Austin’s ranch in Texas. The last standing competitor must take on Austin’s personal obstacle course, the Skullbuster, for a chance to win $10,000.
We caught up with Torchio ahead of her episode, which airs this Aug. 10 at 8 p.m., to talk about how she was recruited for the show, how she manages to fit in six workouts each week, and what it took to get her into competition shape.
Boston.com: So Tina, what inspired you to apply to be on the show?
Tina Torchio: I’d actually never heard of this competition until I was contacted by a casting producer in LA who knew about this show. She saw a picture of me on Instagram and she said ‘There’s a new show coming out, I think you’d totally rock it.’ I was skeptical at first so I decided to just e-mail her and see what it was about, and it kind of just snowballed. We did a Skype interview and the next thing I knew, I was a finalist.
BDC: What was it like when you went down to Texas for the show? Did you have any idea what it would be like?
TT: No! They kept everything a secret. We couldn’t ask questions or talk to any of the contestants. They wanted us to size each other up when we saw each other.
BDC: How did your friends and family react when you told them that you were taking part in the show?
TT: That’s the funniest part because I’m always known as a very soft-spoken, very sweet person. I couldn’t trash talk to save my life. When they found out that I was going on this show they were like ‘what! Of all people? You’re supposed to be a badass, a tough person. What are you going to do on camera?’...I think everybody was pretty surprised and when they found out I did it, they were all rooting for me and they’re so excited to see my show on this Sunday.
BDC: How long was the filming process?
TT: I flew out there on a Wednesday and flew back on a Sunday. That’s the only reason I could do it. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to be on ‘Survivor,’ but I can’t do that much time away from my family and my job. When this casting producer found me, I was like ‘this is a dream come true.’ I mean, it’s not ‘Survivor,’ but it’s the next best thing for me because I get to compete.
BDC: Did you get to directly interact with Steve Austin while you were there?
TT: Oh, he was awesome. I never get star struck but when I met him, I was like ‘It’s such an honor to meet you,’ and I was the only dork to say that. I was a little bit embarrassed but I wanted him to know I was really honored that I got to be on season 1 of his show. I was totally blown away by that.
BDC: What were you doing to get ready for the competition? Did you train any differently than you usually do?
TT: See, that’s the thing. They only showed us a short casting video to kind of promote it a little bit and that’s all I had to train with. I saw people climbing ropes and doing the kind of obstacle races and physical challenges that I would love and I think that’s what I was doing in the [Instagram] picture. That’s why I think [the casting producer] was like ‘Oh, this girl would love this.’ And I did.
BDC: What got you into this type of fitness activities and training activities?
TT: After my second son was born, I was like ‘I can’t believe what a human body can do.’
BDC: How do you find the time to fit training in?
TT: Early in the morning when everyone is sleeping. My husband is very understanding. He goes to the gym as well so we always try to find time to squeeze in our fitness — it’s more like our therapy. I definitely make it a priority. It definitely keeps me sane.
BDC: Do you work with a trainer to get in shape? Do you use video tutorials?
TT: I think a lot of people are doing this, but I started off with P90X and then I got into all the beach body videos like Insanity, P25 and stuff like that. That’s what I do in the morning, and then if I have time, I got to the gym in the evening or go for long runs.
BDC: Do you belong to a CrossFit gym in the area?
TT: I’ve actually been poking around to a few of them, but I haven’t found one that I’m in love with just yet.
BDC: What kind of tips would you give to men and women that are trying to work toward being more fit?
TT: It’s kind of like a religion that you need to squeeze in at some time. I think it takes multiple days to just get used to working out. If you do it just a couple times, I feel like it’s not going to stick. You just have to be dedicated.
BDC: Have you ever done a Tough Mudder or a similar event?
TT: It’s on the horizon. I’m actually signing up for them as I go. I only started doing this stuff last year, that’s how new I am to this whole fitness thing. I’ve never been considered an athlete until recently, so to be considered an elite athlete on this show with these amazing women I was cast with, is just — I’m just so humbled by it. It’s really amazing.
This interview has been edited and condensed.