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Rapid City woman competes on NBC’s ‘The Titan Games’

January 5, 2019

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The first time Kelsey Horton picked up a barbell, her only goal was to shed some post-pregnancy weight. Six years later, she’s a powerhouse powerlifter who’s competing on “The Titan Games,” NBC’s new series inspired by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

“The Titan Games,” a 10-episode series, debuted Jan. 3. About 100,000 people worldwide applied to be on the show. Horton, 29, of Rapid City was one of 64 chosen by “The Rock” to compete. The series offers everyday men and women the opportunity to push themselves in extreme tests of strength, endurance and mental fortitude to win a grand prize of $100,000, according to NBC.

The show was inspired by “The Rock” and his belief that everyone has the potential to be the best they can be, and by Johnson’s desire to motivate people to achieve personal greatness. Horton’s story — a nursing school student and new mom who became a competitive powerlifter — attracted the attention of the show’s producers.

“A casting producer found me on Instagram and told me I should apply. That’s what they were looking for, an everyday person who has an alter ego ‘who’s a beast in the gym,’” Horton said, laughing. “I was first contacted in March or April. I thought someone was pulling my leg.”

After researching the inquiry to be sure it and the show were legitimate, Horton applied. In late May or early June, she got a call back and spent a weekend in Los Angeles getting medical clearance to compete and being tested to see how she looked on camera.

“They put you through the ringer and want to see you in person before they decide if they want you on the show,” Horton told the Rapid City Journal .

In late August, she was notified that she’d be competing on “The Titan Games.” ″My husband and kids heard me jumping and screaming. It was a pretty exciting phone call to get,” Horton said.

Though the show starts airing in January, the competition was filmed in September. Horton’s competitors are from all walks of life, she said, including a cancer survivor, a widowed single parent, former Olympians, former NFL players and members of the military who’d been deployed.

“They picked a wide variety of athletic people who had normal jobs and found time to excel in a certain type of fitness,” Horton said. “I’m honored to be among them and represent South Dakota.”

Horton mostly stuck with her typical workout routine to prepare for “The Titan Games.”

“I usually go to the gym after my kids are asleep. I powerlift for 1-1/2 to two hours. For ‘The Titan Games,’ I didn’t have any specific goals in mind; the producers didn’t tell us what we’d be doing. I didn’t change my training other than to add a little cardio, because it was the training I was doing before that got me on to this show,” Horton said.

To prevent spoilers, Horton revealed little about the show’s filming. She can’t divulge which episode or episodes she’ll be on, how many rounds of competition she was in, nor can Horton reveal who won.

“Going Hollywood” when the show was filmed was great fun, she said.

“I was in Los Angeles for close to two weeks. It was just amazing. There was hair and makeup for everything,” Horton said. “There were costumes. They put us up in a really nice hotel. You got to feel that Hollywood glamour, which was amazing.”

“The Titan Games” includes multiple events “almost too unbelievable to explain,” Horton said. “There were so many intricacies to them, they were so multifaceted. The theatrics were crazy. There were pyrotechnics and the crowd was so loud. They had it on a speedway from dusk until dawn. It was just a blast.”

“When I was out there, I gave ‘The Rock’ a hug and got my sweat on him,” she said, laughing. “The experience felt like it went by in a flash. It was once in a lifetime.”

Life, for now, has gone back to normal. She and her husband, Mark, have two children, Charlotte, 8, and Nolan, 3. Horton works as a nurse at Black Hills Surgical Hospital.

“You can’t come back and be a Hollywood mom,” Horton said, laughing.

Through her own passion for powerlifting and her appearance on “The Titan Games,” Horton hopes to raise awareness locally about powerlifting and inspire more people to get involved.

“In powerlifting, you don’t have to eat a certain way. You just get in the gym, get under a barbell and lift,” Horton said. “Literally anyone can do it. There’s no special skill needed to bend over and lift up a barbell.”

When Horton started powerlifting, she and her husband were recently married, had a baby and she was in nursing school. Finding excuses not to exercise was easy, Horton said. A former classmate who is a powerlifter agreed to be Horton’s workout buddy.

“We trained together for over two years and hardly ever missed a day. I credit him for teaching me the ropes. Without him, I wouldn’t have known what I was doing,” Horton said.

She entered powerlifting competitions in Arizona, New Mexico and Virginia. Horton also became the first certified powerlifting referee in South Dakota through the United States Powerlifting Association. She’s trying to organize a powerlifting competition in the Black Hills next year.

“Competing got me hooked. It’s empowering — if I can deadlift 300 pounds, what else can I do? Powerlifting is always keeping me wanting to go back for more,” Horton said. “I’m training to get stronger. I feel like my goals are more meaningful now... versus running or being on a stair climber for endless hours.”

“I guess my goal now is to get a barbell in as many hands as I can, because I love it and I feel like other people would too if they were exposed to it,” Horton said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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