‘American Grit’ Season 2: Get to Know the Cadre

arrow - left
arrow - right
American Grit - Cadre and John Cena
Michael Becker/FOX
American Grit - John Burk
Michael Becker/FOX

John Burk

Age: 33

Training Infantry drill sergeant with the U.S. Army
Occupation:Entrepreneur, motivational speaker, personal trainer, CEO of In the Arena clothing, partner with Integrity Driven Nutrition.

How did you come to be a part of American Grit?

The gods spoke out to the Fox producers to find a man that is so offensive that it will cause women to cry without him even raising his voice; cue John Burk.

What should viewers know about you coming into the competition?

I don’t play games, and I’m not there to powder butts and wipe noses. I’m there to push these kids to their limits and prepare them for the obstacles they’re going to face. It gave me a chance to prove to the world that the drill sergeant style of motivation can also work on civilians as well as military.

What was it like working with John Cena?

He snores a lot.

What do you think is the one attribute that makes you stand out above the other Cadre members?

I’m honest and blunt. I don’t sugar coat things.

What can viewers expect from you and your team this season?

Offensive truth; motivation like you’ve never seen it before; and a lot of feelings being hurt. I don’t play games.

American Grit - Grady Powell
Michael Becker/FOX

Grady Powell

Age: 30

Training: Senior detachment weapons sergeant ODA-0313 10th Special Forces Group U.S. Army (Green Beret)
Occupation:Television personality and chief civilian firearms instructor at Asymmetric Solutions

How did you come to be a part of American Grit?

Executive producer Jon Kroll and I have been trying to find a way to work together for quite some time. The projects we attempted either weren’t a good fit, or timing wasn’t right. When I was first approached for season one, I was absolutely jacked to be part of the show, but, unfortunately, I was under contract with another network and wasn’t able to commit. Thankfully, I was still on their minds when season two came around.

What should viewers know about you coming into the competition?

I am a man of my word—an honest, but tricky man. My team comes first; they were my priority.

What was it like working with John Cena?
I have always admired John for how giving and caring he seemed with his fans, especially those in need. Working with him on a daily basis cemented it for me. He is real, as real as they come. Not only that, but he is an incredibly intelligent businessman, genuine and successful, two things I haven’t seen too much of lately.

What do you think is the one attribute that makes you stand out above the other Cadre members?

From the get-go, literally the first moment, I made sure my team knew we were not in the competition alone. We were a family and regardless of who wins the prize money, my goal was to grow as individuals. Money spends away, grit is forever. There would be challenges, but as in life we are not alone. In order to find your grit, sometimes you have to rely on others for strength. Friends, family, teammates.

Did your training style translate well when it comes to motivating your team members?

Failure isn’t losing, it’s quitting. I wanted my team—my family—to constantly have fun. But above all, I required their all, and promised mine in return. If they gave me that, then our lives were full of smiles and hugs regardless of competition outcomes.

What can viewers expect from you and your team this season?

A lot of laughter, hugs, laughs, and my signature howl.

American Grit - Chloe Mondesir
Michael BeckerFOX

Chloe Mondesir

Age: 33

Training

Ammunition technician with the U.S. Marines
OccupationActress and clerk at Department of Children and Family Services

How did you come to be a part of American Grit?

Funny, I auditioned for the first season and didn’t make the cut. I was later relieved about that because it was so hardcore! I didn’t really think I would’ve been able to coach some of those competitors through those challenges because they were already amazing athletes. I really admire the Cadre from the first season because coaching people who already have the mental and physical strength can bit of a challenge in and of itself. This time, I was actually recommended to the casting director by Gina Elise, the founder of an organization that I volunteer with, Pin-Ups for Vets. I went in for the interview and, apparently, I was a good fit for this season.

Did you watch the show during the first season?

Of course! I wanted to see what I was missing out on. It was intense, and I was proud and happy to see some veterans being seen in such a strong and positive light.

What should viewers know about you coming into the competition?

Viewers should know that I care. I know this is a competition and I want to help my team get as far as possible, but for me its way deeper than just winning money. I care about making a difference in the lives of each competitor on my team.

What was it like working with John Cena?

I didn’t know what to expect going into this. On the outside looking in, Cena looks like a pretty serious guy, but I was surprised to find that he had a great sense of humor. He was just as down to earth and fun as the rest of the cast. You can also tell that he’s very passionate about American Grit, the opportunity to change lives. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with such a good person.

What do you think is the one attribute that makes you stand out above the other Cadre members?

The other Cadre members are amazing! We all have our own “thing” and mine is my ability and eagerness to listen. I think everyone in this world wants to be heard, and I actually enjoy being an ear to those who need it. I’m pretty quiet for the most part, which is a big contrast to the other Cadre, but when I do speak people listen, and that’s important.

Did your training style translate well when it comes to motivating your team members?

My training style translated well most of the time, but other times I had to switch it up and turn up the volume a bit. Like I said before, I’m a listener and sometimes what I hear is, “this isn’t working,” so I make the necessary adjustments.

What can viewers expect from you and your team this season?

Viewers can definitely expect to go on an emotional rollercoaster with my team and I, so buckle up! It’ll be fun.

American Grit - Riki Long
Michael Becker/FOX

Riki Long

Age: 30

Training: Legal administration for the U.S Marine’s section of Installation Personnel Administration Center and squadron physical training instructor
Occupation: Owner and operator of online nutrition company, LilRikiFitness.com and nationally ranked competitive weightlifter and power-lifter

Did you watch the show during the first season?

I did not. After being told that they were interested in casting me, I decided to only watch the first episode. I wanted to see the outline of the show, but not get too into it, as the producers had told me that they’re planning on revamping it. I wanted to make sure I was going in staying true to myself and the way I prefer to lead a team.

What should viewers know about you coming into the competition?

Oftentimes I am underestimated, whether it’s being petite (I’m 4’11 and weigh 114 pounds), being a woman, or being a “POG” in the military. A POG stands for “Person Other than Grunt.” I’m here to break those stereotypes and show that I can lead a team to victory.

What was it like working with John Cena?

Oh my gosh, I don’t even know how to begin! Working with John Cena was so…life changing! He just genuinely cares for these people, including the Cadre. On- and off- camera, he’s the same exact person; so rare to find in a celebrity. Not that I have met many haha. I learned a lot from him, as a mentor, as an athlete, and even with my own business. Like I said, he truly cares and is ready to share his thoughts.

What do you think is the one attribute that makes you stand out above the other Cadre members?

I’m generally a happy person, jumping around and doing some awkward dance move. Oh, and I’m even introduced to the contestants as the “gassy one.” Get me fired up though, and the attitude will do a 180.

Did your training style translate well when it comes to motivating your team members?
Absolutely. I trained my team like I train my nutrition clients. I want my team and clients to be able to trust me and make sure they’re able to communicate with me whenever, so I befriend them. I want to see my friends succeed.

What can viewers expect from you and your team this season?

Viewers will quickly learn that my team is, well, new to working as a team. So expect to laugh, and expect to cry. These individuals will truly touch your heart and remind you that you’re not alone in your life’s journey.

1 of

John Cena puts another slew of competitors through the ultimate endurance test for the second season of American Grit, premiering Sunday, June 11, on Fox.

This fresh crop of 17 will split into teams captained by a new Cadre, including John Burk, an army infantry drill sergeant; Riki Long, a U.S. Marine; Chloe Mondesir, a U.S. Marine ammunition ion technician; and Grady Powell, a U.S. Army Green Beret. These heroes will lead their men and women through a series of challenges that test physical and mental toughness. In the end, only one will be left standing $250,000 richer after eliminations take place every week as the fallen “ring out” and go home.

'This Is Go Time': First Look at John Cena in 'American Grit' Season 2 (VIDEO)See Also

'This Is Go Time': First Look at John Cena in 'American Grit' Season 2 (VIDEO)

Cena's 'Cadre' of mentors in Season 2 includes an infantry drill sergeant with the U.S. Army, two U.S. Marines and a Green Beret.

Each of the four Cadre members bring their own unique backgrounds, personalities and coaching styles to the table. Powell is no stranger to military-themed, reality-show competitions. He won Stars Earn Stripes with Eve Torres. However, he believes it’s his background as a Green Beret that gives him an edge. “Our mission was to literally embed with foreign soldiers, and train them to be the best they could be. Back then, there was a language barrier, Grit didn’t have that barrier to overcome.”

Burk’s no nonsense reputation and drill instructor past may make his team one to watch. “I served 13 years in the infantry which involved training myself, as well as my soldiers.”

Mondesir is familiar with TV and commercial shoots, but calls American Grit very different from anything she has ever done. She was up to the challenge of working without a script. “I was used to knowing everything that’s going to happen, but with this there are rules in place that require us to be completely in the dark and that was both exciting and frustrating, but totally worth it.”

Looking at the field, Long may seem like one who would be underestimated. “The Cadre lived under one roof, so we got to know each other pretty well and quickly. We often argued with each other as to who had the better style of leadership. I think they respected my style, but they surely didn’t agree it’d work.”

Before viewers find out which approach is most effective, get to know the Cadre a little better—and what they think of their WWE champion host—by clicking through the gallery above.

American Grit, Season Premiere, June 11, 9/8c, Fox