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The Titan of Turnersville
Jonathan Brascetta will compete on NBC’s newest show
By Kate Morgan

Even a casual conversation with Jonathan Brascetta will motivate you to get to the gym. The martial arts instructor and fitness center owner is quick to launch into stirring speeches full of positive messages: You can be the best version of you. If you believe in yourself and constantly work hard, you can go anywhere you want.  

That positive vibe recently landed him on NBCs newest athletic competition show, The Titan Games,” hosted by Dwayne The Rock” Johnson. Despite being one of the smallest competitors – Brascetta is 56” – the Turnersville resident was chosen from a pool of 80,000 applicants for the show. 

Brascetta spent a month in Los Angeles filming his episode of The Titan Games,” which aired last month. Sadly, he did not make it past his qualifying round, losing to his opponent in the Herculean Pull, a fierce tug-of-war match. Back in Turnersville, Brascetta talked about the thrill of competing in the Titan Arena, the workout regimen he used to prepare and what its like to hug The Rock. 

Q: How did you apply for the show?  

Jonathan: It was an 11-page application with about a million questions: best moment of your life, worst moment of your life, your accomplishments, family, background. Then you also had to send in a bunch of videos. I sent videos of me teaching at our martial arts school, me working out, me with my wife and son.  

I went to a combine in July. Of the 80,000 people whod applied, 100 got invited to the combine.  

We were there for a week basically taking on all kinds of physical challenges: obstacle courses, deadlifts, hanging from monkey bars. Plus, there was an interview process where I think they were trying to get a feel for our personalities.  

Q: What kinds of things did they ask?  

Jonathan: Actually, they asked me how I felt about being the shortest person there. I was just like, well, Im here. I got chosen, and not because of how tall I am.  

Q: Was it intimidating to be competing against so many other athletes?  

Jonathan: When I got there, I was comparing myself to every other huge guy. I even called my wife, and the first thing I said was, Everybody is really big.” And I remember the first morning of the combine I was looking in the mirror and I was like, This is what you do. This is what you love. This is fun.” When we got out on the floor, none of those bigger guys could move like me. Nobody was as fast or as agile as I was.  

Q: What did you do to prepare?

Jonathan: I have been doing martial arts since I was 4 years old, and Ive always been into acrobatics, flips and tricks, so I just kind of turned up the intensity on that. I incorporated more gymnastics and calisthenics into my daily workouts and implemented a little bit of Crossfit. When I first got to the Titan Arena and saw the challenges, the first thing I thought was, There is no way I could have trained for any of this.” We didnt know in advance what wed be doing, so we got a few minutes to practice on each challenge before the competition started, but that was it.   

Q: Normally when you train, your appearance isn’t on your mind. But this is television, was that different?  

Jonathan: Oh, it was the first thing on their minds! It was crazy being in a Hollywood-type setting with makeup artists and wardrobe people. I was doing a photoshoot in the uniform, and youre under these bright lights and youre flexing. I had a little sweat stain on my chest, and they took my shirt off and blow dried it. 

Q: Do you think your challenge favored your opponent?  

Jonathan: He is an amazing guy, and he deserved his win, but his weight and size definitely held the advantage in what was clearly a strength competition. If we had maybe done a different event in which speed, agility and movement was a factor, the results may have differed. 

Q: So how big is The Rock in real life?  

Jonathan: The Rock is even bigger than you think. He came up to say hi, and kind of gave me a bro hug, and I was just like, Man, you are gigantic.” His biceps are bigger than my head.

March 2019
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