Kevin Mullins doesn’t watch a ton–or any–of reality TV. Top secret agent Jack Bauer, not TMZ star Kim Kardashian, is his hero. But that didn’t stop 25-year-old Mullins, a personal trainer based in the District, from traveling to New York earlier this month to go head to head against seven other fitness experts in the Men’s Health Next Top Trainer, a reality competition for the gym set.

“I fell in love with the camera a little bit,” admitted Mullins, who’s been sworn to secrecy on which trainer won the top prize, a starring role in a fitness DVD series. The first episode premieres online June 9th.

“It was stressful,” continued Mullins who works as a strength coach at the Sports Club/LA of Washington. “Everything you were doing was under the microscope, any mistake you made could be your demise.”

Adam Campbell, a senior editor at Men’s Health and one of the competition’s judges, described the whole experience as “kind of a hell week” for the eight finalists the magazine decided were “the future of fitness in the country.” There would be tears and defeat, predicted Campbell before the starting bell rang.

“Kevin is the youngest competitor,” Campbell said in an interview before the competition began, “I think we called it a daunting task [for him] and I don’t think he liked that very much.”

Back from New York and back at his job at Sports Club/LA, Mullins told us the experience had changed him for the better.

“I know it sounds corny, but I never really felt more alive.”

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