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ITHACA, NY— Ithaca College alumnus Matthew Miller is no stranger to training elite performers and athletes, but he hasn’t had to do it in front of a TV audience.

At least not until now.

Miller, who graduated with a degree in athletic training in 2004, will be a featured fitness trainer on NBC’s newest reality show, “Strong,” which premiered April 13. Hosted by athlete, model and actress Gabrielle Reece, the show pairs 10 women with 10 personal trainers who will help them build their strength and endurance to complete physical and mental challenges.

Miller describes “Strong” – produced by actor Sylvester Stallone and the creators of “The Biggest Loser” – as a combination of that show, “American Ninja Warrior” and “Dancing with the Stars.” Instead of focusing on contestant weight loss, the show is performance-based, with each pair of trainer and trainee competing in weekly challenges.

Miller describes the challenges as team driven.

“Every one of the challenges is dependent upon both members of the team,” said Miller. “It’s not like the trainer can just carry the trainee when it gets difficult.”

Ithaca College alum Mathew Miller shows no mercy to a stack of concrete blocks on NBC’s “Strong.” (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)
Ithaca College alum Mathew Miller shows no mercy to a stack of concrete blocks on NBC’s “Strong.” (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

Miller became inspired to enter the world of athletic training in high school when he needed physical therapy to rehab an injury.

“It just felt like it fit,” said Miller. “I really liked doing it and had a lot of respect for my therapist.”

Though he intended to major in physical therapy at Ithaca College, Miller soon discovered athletic training and decided to pursue that path instead. While studying at IC, he worked as a trainer with the football and women’s volleyball teams, in addition to the Cornell University baseball team. That hands-on experience helped him along in his career.

“I made my first ACL and meniscus evaluation on the court at a volleyball game,” said Miller. “A lot of that experience definitely helped me round myself out.”

Miller has spent the past eight years as the head strength and conditioning coach for the acrobatic water show “Le Rêve” in Las Vegas. He says that his time training elite athletes to perform in frequent shows prepared him for the mental challenge of “Strong,” where he and his trainee always had to be ready for the unexpected.

“The athletes made me a better trainer and strength-conditioning coach because of how much I had to adapt and think in order to challenge them,” said Miller. “The show was a 24-7 thing. It’s not like football where you get an offseason – this was a game twice a night, five times a week, and you have to be ready for every one of those.”

“Strong” premiered on NBC on Wednesday, April 13. Future episodes will air Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.