HILO — A husband-and-wife duo from Pahoa are competing against 11 other couples for the title of “Fittest Couple” in a new television competition that premiered Tuesday on the Paramount Network.
Known as “The Yoga Couple” on Instagram, and “The Yogis” on the show, Ash Cottrell and Mat Micheletti, both 31, are one of a dozen couples who will battle their way through grueling, physical and mental challenges “that will put every ounce of their athleticism to the test” on “Battle of the Fittest Couples.”
The losing couple is automatically put up for elimination and the winning couple chooses another to send with them into the “Rage Cage” to face off. One team will win, the other will be sent home.
In the end, one couple will win $100,000 and earn the prestige of being named “Fittest Couple.”
On Tuesday’s episode, the Yogis made it through.
“We were actually scouted to compete on the show by a casting director,” Cottrell said recently by phone from Nepal, where the couple was vacationing. “Yoga isn’t known for being a competitive sport, but we felt like this was a really great opportunity for us to demonstrate (the) strength and mental discipline yoga requires.”
The couple said they are known for traveling and teaching yoga throughout the United States.
Micheletti said the show filmed more than a year ago — in July and August 2018 — outside Atlanta, “and it was an amazing experience.”
It was “probably the most challenging experience we have ever had in our entire lives,” Cottrell said.
The couples, who come “from extremely diverse athletic backgrounds,” are put into a house to live and compete, she said. The dynamic was “not only competing in physical challenges, but the relationships were tested to their limits because we were under such extreme living conditions.”
It was one thing to show up in competition, Micheletti said, but it was “a whole other level living with them and having to interact” on a day-to-day basis.
The situation “created a lot of interesting drama,” he said, adding they had to always be on their toes “because the fact you are living with your competition really makes it a 24-7 competition.”
Cottrell originally hails from Las Vegas and Micheletti from Northern California, but the couple, who have been together six years and married four, have lived on the Big Island two years.
Cottrell said she and Micheletti, who have a combined 24 years of yoga practice, moved to Hawaii Island after being invited to teach yoga here, “and fell in love with the tranformational energy of Pele and the culture and the people.”
Micheletti said they’ve trained teachers, taught workshops, had retreats and also authored books.
Their life work, he said, is to “spread the philosophy and teachings of yoga.”
“I feel like we had the biggest advantage coming into ‘Battle of the Fittest Couples,’” Cottrell said about their yoga background. “While other couples had strong physical discipline, we had strong physical discipline and spiritual discipline.”
In yoga, the philosophy is that those disciplines are interconnected.
Micheletti said the pair had a strong relationship “because of the nature of what yoga has made us learn about ourselves and our relationship,” which was another “huge advantage in a relationship-testing environment.”
Cottrell said they both feel competing on the show “has strengthened our relationship and connection to each other because we were able to see who we really were in the competition and show up for each other.”
The show airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on the Paramount Network, which is channel 559 or 1559 for Spectrum customers in Hilo, and channel 141 for Hawaiian Telcom customers.
Email Stephanie Salmons at email@example.com.