Steve Austin is Jason Eveleth’s kind of man. Strong, fit and soft-spoken.
Eveleth, a 26-year-old Watervliet native, is trying to emulate the former professional wrestler — who went by the name of Stone Cold Steve Austin — as much as he can. Eveleth is one of eight male participants in Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Ranch Challenge, coming to the Country Music Television Network beginning at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 6.
“We got to hang out with him quite a bit, and for someone of his stature he’s the most down-to-earth, soft-spoken guy that I’ve ever met,” said Eveleth, who was at Austin’s ranch in Texas during March to film the show.
“He cares about you, and he was supportive of everybody there. He’s one of the great wrestlers of all time, but he’s basically just a real nice, hard-working guy.”
Eveleth isn’t a wrestler, although he did compete in the sport — as well as football and track and field — before graduating from Watervliet in 2004. These days he’s a bodybuilder and fitness freak who works out six days a week for more than two hours a day, usually at Vent Fitness in Latham. No performance-enhancing drugs.
He’s also an actor who’s done commercials and landed a few small roles in television and film, when he’s not at work as a mental health counselor at St. Anne Institute in Albany. He studied at Hudson Valley Community College and the University at Albany and got a master’s degree in mental health counseling at The College of Saint Rose. He is single, but has a “very steady” girlfriend.
The Broken Skull Ranch Challenge will run for 10 episodes and, due to contractual agreements, Eveleth can not say how he fared in the competition, which ends in a $10,000 prize for the top male and female competitors. He did reveal, however, that he plays a big role in the very first episode next Sunday night.
Q: How did you get involved in the Broken Skull Ranch Challenge?
A: I saw an audition on the web site back in October of 2013, and I sent in an application with some background on me and some pictures, and I was very fortunate to get a call back around December. I met with the producers face-to-face in Los Angeles, and I had to tell them why I was an appropriate athlete to put on the show. I told them, and luckily they agreed with me.
Q: What was the experience like?
A: I went off to the ranch in March when they taped the show. Each episode has eight athletes, and you are paired up against another competitor. If you do well, you go on to the next show.
The production was kind of secretive. We weren’t really allowed to talk to the other athletes, and the people on the production staff didn’t say too much to us. You might be involved in trench warfare, an obstacle course, something like that, and some of the events could have been dangerous. It’s head-to-head physical confrontations that combine strength and stamina. Sometimes there is a lot of body contact.
Q: When did you start bodybuilding?
A: When I was 18 I started getting involved with these top fitness agents, and I also got into acting. I’ve always loved fitness and I love acting, so if I could combine the two, like Steve Austin did, and get some success out of it that would be great. Right after high school I started thinking about how it would be neat to be on the cover of a men’s health or fitness magazine so I started educating myself on how to build health and muscle the right way; not using any drugs, and I dedicated the next 10 years to doing that. When I was growing up Arnold Schwarzenegger was my idol, and I wanted to see how far I could push the limit. I wrestled at 152 [pounds] in high school, and now when I compete in body building competitions I’m around 236.
Q: How often do you compete?
A: Probably only about once or twice a year, so I can have a little life outside of body building. When I’m training for an event it can get pretty intense. I actually hire a coach out in Rochester [who] creates this whole diet plan for me over a 16-week cycle. We watch my body and see how it reacts, and we slowly cut away any body fat I may have. When it gets to the competition, my body fat is usually between four and six percent. It takes about 16 weeks, and when I’m not competing I have a different meal plan. You have to give your body a break. Competing in these events can be stressful on your body.
Q: Why did you get into mental health counseling?
A: I always liked the feeling of being able to help people. I knew what it was like to feel like you need some help but you can’t communicate it. Being a teenager can be tough at times for everybody. You’re wondering how to be yourself and still fit in with the cool crowd. Helping people fit in and feel comfortable with who they are is something I enjoy.