As a former football star at West Virginia University who spent parts of two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Washington native Dan Mozes is no stranger to television cameras.
But most of Mozes’ previous television work came while he was on a football field in full gear with 21 other men running around the field. It didn’t exactly prepare him for his newest role as a reality TV star.
That’s what Mozes and his co-workers at the Barwis Methods Training Center in Plymouth, Mich., become at 9 p.m. tonight when the show “American Muscle” begins an eight-episode run on Discovery Channel.
The show will follow the day-to-day duties of Mozes and others at the Barwis Methods gym, where Mozes is vice president of operations and head strength coach.
“Truthfully, this is not really a reality show to me,” the 30-year-old Mozes said Tuesday. “It’s not scripted at all like some reality shows are. Nothing here is staged. Everything that happed on this show is real. Nobody sat us down and said, ‘Speak these lines.’
“Our interaction with each other is real.”
That’s what Mozes and others are hoping will make the show a hit.
Mozes has been in the personal training business since his dreams of a NFL career ended with a major knee injury while in training camp with the Minnesota Vikings in 2007. He missed the entire season while rehabbing the injury, but returned to the Vikings the following training camp before he was released.
Just like that, a football career that had seen him lead Washington to a PIAA championship – and be named the Observer-Reporter’s Athlete of the Year – to West Virginia, where he was an All-American player and Rimington Award winner as college football’s top center, had come to an end.
Following his release by the Vikings in 2008, Mozes joined his former strength and condition coach at West Virginia, Mike Barwis, at Michigan. Barwis left West Virginia along with head coach Rich Rodriguez to take over the Wolverines’ program.
But when Michigan fired Rodriguez following the 2009 season, Barwis and Mozes decided to branch out on their own. By April of 2011, they opened the first Barwis Methods – there are now three gyms – at the Plymouth location just outside of Detroit.
“I’ve been with him here from Day 1,” said Mozes, who is described in his bio for the show as the Bearded Barbarian (yes, he’s got a foot-long beard). “It’s Mike’s name on the sign, but I consider myself the manager. It’s really a labor of love. Before all this madness started (with the tv show), my days began at 6 a.m. every day when I came in to open up and I’d be here to 8 p.m. at night.”
The television show was born out of a gym member’s love of the place’s vibe and Barwis’ outgoing character.
That member told his cousin about the gym and after visiting, the cousin had the idea to shoot a pilot for a TV show there and pitch it to different networks. Discovery Channel bit.
Filming of the first eight episodes took place in January and February of this year.
Episodes will include Mozes and the rest of the Barwis crew training everyone from professional athletes, to parapalegics, to average people just looking to get into better shape.
“It’s just going to be showing us being ourselves,” said Mozes, who married his college sweetheart, Heather, on New Year’s Day, 2012. “It will just show the passion that we have for this.
“I’ve never wanted to be a person who is in the limelight or anything like that. I’m a blue-collar guy, just like I was at Washington and West Virginia.”