A FORMER ballet dancer and fitness instructor who beat thousands of applicants to make it on to a gruelling television show has lifted the lid on his experience.
Grant Flynn was one of 22 people chosen to star in Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week, which is currently running on BBC2 and puts competitors through their paces in a series of SAS-inspired challenges.
The 31-year-old, who lives in Musselburgh with his fiancee Hayley, has now left the show but described the experience as both “humbling and therapeutic”.
Fronted by Reggie Yates, the show saw Grant and his fellow competitors jet off South Africa before being tested to the limit by SAS-style exercises from six different countries.
Grant, a former pupil of Portobello High School, trained in musical theatre at Telford College after having to turn down a prestigious scholarship at the Urdang Academy in London.
For eight years he then toured the world as a professional performer and choreographer, before returning to the Capital to embark on a new career as a fitness instructor.
He explained it wasn’t winning which made him want to enter – the overall winner is yet to be revealed – but the chance to shake off stereotypes about men who dance.
He said: “My reasons for doing it [were] not necessarily to win it but to prove a guy is a guy whether he dances or is in the SAS.
“I knew a guy who was on the first series – he introduced me to the casting director and that was the door opened.
“I went in as a professional dancer and aqua aerobics instructor and the casting director fell in love with that idea.”
As well as teaching aqua aerobics at Drumsheugh Baths Club, Grant also leads fitness sessions at Edinburgh University.
It was last March that Grant – midway through teaching a spin class – found out he had made it on to the show.
“It was phenomenal – I don’t think I’ve ever felt such euphoria,” he said.
“We found out it was going to be South Africa at the selection process and I think that made it more difficult.
“We knew it wasn’t just a grey environment like the UK, it was quite exotic and challenging.”
Grant explained he had tried to train as much as possible before heading out, for example by staying up all night before a day of classes to get his body used to sleep deprivation.
He even found himself working out in a sauna in full kit in an effort to prepare himself for South Africa’s searing 40 degree heat but admitted coping with the sun was still a challenge.
Another hurdle came just two days before Grant headed out – he found out his mum had cancer – but luckily she’s now on the mend.
And despite the exhaustion which ensued, Grant said he had enjoyed taking part - and would even recommend the experience. He added: “It’s been the most humbling, therapeutic sensation – it just challenges you as a human.”