Paige Hemmis with Bode Miller
In this new series of TVGuide.com celebrity blog entries, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Paige Hemmis shares an inside look at her run on ABC's The Superstars, premiering Tuesday, June 23, at 8 pm/ET.
Usually, I write to you while I'm building a house for a family on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. This time, my location is a bit more glamorous — the Bahamas! But my television experience is not glamorous in the least. It consists of hard work, both mentally and physically, and many of us are seen at our worst!
I write to you sitting on the balcony of my 15th-floor room that overlooks the cove and the dock where the cruise ships dock for the night. We are staying at the Atlantis resort, which consists of several towers, and we are at the newest addition to their property, the Cove. I'm looking down over the white beach that curves around to a white plaster light house on the edge of a half-moon shaped shoreline. There is a small bridge behind that, connecting a couple of tiny islands, and the mainland is to my left, filled with trees, buildings and house rooftops as far as the eye can see. The harbor is filled with all sorts of boats, ranging from tiny inflatable raft types, small catamarans and sail boats, all the way up to huge private yachts that give Carnival and Royal Caribbean a run for their money. The water is beautiful — a crystal blue/green light color close to shore, graduating to a rich blue out in deeper waters.
There is always a breeze here. Sometimes it's a little gusty, but overall the weather stays about 78 degrees, sunny and gorgeous. Since it is early morning, there are not many people out. I'm looking over the pool area, filled with hundreds of lounge chairs not yet occupied. The sun is making its way onto the building across from me, but I won't feel the rays on this side of the building for another couple of hours. I'm sipping my caramel latte (OK, maybe not the best drink for an athlete-in-training, but I can't deny myself the tasty treat!) from Starbucks (ah yes, there is a Starbucks here). Getting to Starbucks, however, was a mission. It's close by, but my quads (thighs) burn with every step; more on that subject in a minute.
Once in a while, the sound of nails being hammered and wood being cut by a circular saw fills my ears over the rush of the waves and wind. At first, I thought it must simply be my ears deceiving me, since working on a TV show, from my experience, typically means hearing such things. But upon further discovery, they are adding a covered porch to the food stand below my room, near the pool. They are currently ripping off some of the asphalt shingles in a straight line across the middle of the roof, which does not connect to the porch, so I'm curious to see what they are creating. Seems I can never truly escape home improvement! There is even a Cat skip-loader (kinda looks like a tractor for those who are not inundated with construction vehicles as I am) raking the beach right now. I feel right at home!
It does feel a lot like America, with everyone speaking English, American plugs for appliances, even using the U.S. dollar, so it's strange that phone calls cost $1.99-a-minute, text messages 50 cents to send and receive, and my Blackberry is refusing to work. Grrr!
The cruise ship docks across from our balcony are mostly empty this morning. Just one other cruise ship looms in the distance, partially blocked by the hotel across from me. At times, there are up to six ships docked there at one time. Yesterday, we saw a Carnival cruise ship that had a full water-slide park on the top deck! Got me in the mood to go on a cruise! Who's with me?
OK, so you've got the lay of the land. Now on to the juicy details (or as juicy as the details can get under confidentiality).
I arrived here on Saturday evening, as did many of my other competitors. But since none of us knew who was on the show with us, all of us were speculating. At the airport, I was met by one of our friendly producers and put in a limo with one of my competitors, Joanna Krupa, who is a supermodel and is gorgeous! Wow — this body of hers is amazing. On the plane, I saw Ali Landry ("the Doritos girl"), who is also beautiful. Both models with perfect bathing suit bodies — oy! The thought of being scantily clad amongst these beauties hurt my head just to think about.
The first night we were here, we had a short meeting where we were introduced to everyone. We didn't know who we were paired with until the start of the first episode the next morning... but the moment I met Bode Miller, the Olympic skier, I knew he'd be my partner. The first episode starts out with the "draft." They announced our teams and I was so happy to be paired with Bode. He is such a cool guy — and an awesome athlete. He is one of those guys who is just good at everything. He was on Superstars in 2003 (it was a cable show for a couple of years) and he won it! Yay! And our personalities are great together.
Whoever put these teams together really did a good job. Neither of us are trash-talkers, and we are the only ones encouraging everyone else. As part of the first episode, we had to say "wild lines," kinda like they do on Dancing with the Stars, where one teams puts the other team down or challenges them. For instance, Terrell Owens had to say, "Paige, go build yourself a chair, then go sit in it and be quiet!" He ran over to me and apologized right after he said it, which was cute. Everyone was saying these lines, but Bode and I protested. We stuck together and said that we wouldn't talk trash about anyone, so we made up our own lines. Instead of putting the teams down, we told them that they were good, they were hot, etc. Everyone was laughing.
We are all paired in teams and ready to get to work on the first episode. Bode and I already assessed our competition. It seems the people to beat are Brandi Chastain/Julio Iglesias, Jr. and Krist Leskinen/Maks[im Chmerkovskiy]. When an already fit celeb guy is paired with a kick-butt athlete girl, they have an advantage.
The way The Superstars works is that there are two challenges for every episode, and you get points for every challenge. The points are tallied together and the Top 3 are safe from elimination. The rest have to go to the obstacle course. Whoever loses the obstacle course is eliminated. So it's a fight for first, second and third, because you do not want to have to compete in that!
Our first challenge right after we got our partners was the "run and ride." The course was only 1.1 miles, but it was up a steep bridge, up another hill, and we only had one bike between us. Me — running? Ahhh! I'm such a slow runner. So our strategy was to have me start running, and Bode take the bike. Our plan was to switch at the top of the hill (well, Bode was going to leave the bike there for me and continue running). We all started off and I was last! I was thinking "this was a big mistake! What am I doing in this competition against all these athletes?" My lungs were on fire, and I thought I was going to die. I ran (and walked) to the top of the bridge and grabbed the bike. I flew down the other side, and actually passed several people. My mood improved a bit.
I screamed Bode's name as I flew by him running and he told me to leave the bike at the top of the hill for him and run the rest of the way. He was the first up the hill on the bike, by the way, and pushed himself so hard that when he ditched the bike and went to run, both legs gave out on him and he fell. I ditched the bike and ran for the finish line. I felt like my lungs were bleeding. I was running against Lisa Leslie, who is 6-foot-5 and each one of her strides took me four! Her partner pulled up and gave her the bike. Bode rode up beside me and I begged for the bike, but he couldn't. I held onto his arm, for fear that I might die if I didn't and we crossed the finish line together. I couldn't believe we were not last! He ditched the bike and ran to the bushes and threw up, all the while cursing. It would have been pretty funny if I didn't feel like I was going to die. My lungs seriously felt like they were bleeding. I went to take a drink of water and I couldn't swallow, so it went all over me. I sat at the curb, near death, and tried to spit. I think I just drooled. Not my finest moment on television, people. Bode finally made it back over to me and laid on the concrete. The other teams were smiling and happy, and Bode and I were sitting with the grim reaper. But we gave it a valiant effort! Although, by looking at us, you would swear that we had run 30 miles.
After that, I couldn't bear the thought of doing anything else athletic. I already felt that I was a fish out of water, and that I was way out of my league! The rest of that day was filled with interviews, which was fine with me — I was pooped! One of the interesting things we got to do was a helicopter shot in a suite that connected the two buildings of the royal tower here at Atlantis. We were all on the balcony. It was such a cool view! This suite is 4,000 square feet, and is $25,000 a night! It had a grand piano, a couple of bedrooms, a few bathrooms, and a great view. This Atlantis place is like a fairy tale — we were overlooking the ocean, palm trees, numerous pools, shark tanks, sting ray tanks, water slides, etc;. From the back of the suite, we caught a glimpse of the obstacle course. We were far away, but it looked crazy! With a 12-foot wall, ropes, pyramids and other things that made us strive to never visit it. Actually, you have to visit it to win the final, but you just hope that you never have to go before.
The second day, we were kayaking down a river that runs through the property. Now this I was more comfortable doing! It was a relay race. We got a practice round first, and I got hit by Jeff — and when I say "hit," I don't mean my boat got hit! He caught a wave and came up onto my boat and his boat hit me in the arm. I have a big arm bruise to prove it today. I can't tell you what happened, but I will tell you that I got caught up with Kristi and we were battling it out. At one point, I was up against the wall on my left, and her boat was on my right. I had no place to put my paddle in! I was trapped! But you will have to watch to find out what happened.
The obstacle course is a real killer. And you would be shocked to know who got eliminated! But that I can't tell you. Sorry! You will just have to watch!!!
Just know that from me, you are getting the point-of-view of someone who is not athletic. Sure, home improvement keeps me fit - it's a hard job building a house in a week, but nothing prepared me for what I endured on The Superstars. I walked away from the entire experience with a whole new respect for professional athletes (along with bruises over my entire body). These men and women I competed with are amazing! The stress they endure, both mentally and physically, is intense. I got a taste of it through this TV show, and am a better person for it. Most of all, I walked away from this experience with friends that I will have for a lifetime.
As for when I walked away from this experience? Well... you will just have to watch!
ABC's The Superstars premieres Tuesday, June 23, at 8 pm/ET.