Billed as a docu-reality show, WNBC digital platform New York Nonstop is running The Great American Health Challenge.
But don’t let the title fool you—this is pure New York.
This is a unique 12-week program where participants from the five borough complete “healthy” tasks such as: smoking cessation, nutrition, and sleeping better.
In the end, several grand prizes will be awarded, but the teams are also vying for the title “healthiest borough.”
“It is a battle of the boroughs,” says host Lauren Scala. “There [are] five teams of three people that represent each borough.”
Unlike the typical reality show that features contestants eliminated each week, here everyone remains until the end.
“It’s actually a points-based challenge… Whatever team has the most wins at the end, wins the prize,” Scala says.
Scala, with New York Nonstop for more than three years, is on various shows. But this seemed to fit her perfectly.
“When they [the outsourced production company] said it was going to be a competition, it got me really excited,” Scala tells FishbowlNY. “I’m a reality TV junkie—the good and the bad.”
Furthermore, Scala points out that reality shows are a rare commodity on the local TV scene, which made her “extra excited.”
But there’s an even more personal reason for Scala wanting to host the Health Challenge—she had her own earlier battles with weight.
“I think it’s always nice to be able to relate to people in a situation like that where they’re being pushed,” Scala says.
A back-up for Megan Meany on WNBC traffic reports, Scala says the participants found a deeper connection with her after learning of the health issues she endured.
“They look at me…I have a 5 foot 8 frame and I’m pretty athletic [and hears] ‘You’re on TV, you always look good,’” Scala admits. “It’s not the case.”
“Weight loss was a goal that I needed to get to help reach my dream,” Scala says.
She says talk of her battle with the bulge was originally planned to be brought into one of the episodes.
“It’s a half-hour show, and there [are] so many things going on that we really needed to focus more on the challenges and the contestants than what was going on with me,” Scala says.
She calls The Great American Health Challenge a combination of The Biggest Loser meets The Apprentice (both NBC shows).
“We’re making small little changes to help them kick-start a healthier lifestyle,” Scala says. “We’re shooting it in five weeks, so you can only see a certain amount of results.”
New episodes of The Great American Health Challenge air Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on New York Nonstop. Additionally, a montage from several shows will air on WNBC monthly through July.
Tonight’s “task” will involve a celebrity guest trainer who will participate in the President’s Adult Fitness Challenge as the players focus on easy-to-do exercises at home.
For the personable Long Island native (and Fordham graduate), Scala likes what this show offers for her.
“There [are] valuable little lessons that I’ve learned that I know other people will learn, and it’s been nice to work with New Yorkers.”
But most importantly, Scala wants everyone else to become enriched by the experience.
“I hope that people are excited and inspired by it…It’s been a lot of work and a fun experience and I just hope that that translates to the viewers,” Scala says.