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Alexandria Firefighter Proving He’s ‘Tough as Nails’

Young An is a contestant on the new CBS reality show.

Alexandria’s Young An proudly representing the fire department on ‘Tough as Nails’. (Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Viewers looking for the next new and exciting reality show competition can find enjoyment in ‘Tough as Nails’ on CBS.

Thanks to a creative concept and the always-engaging host, Phil Keoghan, from ‘The Amazing Race’, ‘Tough As Nails’ introduces the viewers to 12 challengers from all walks of life; welder, Marine Corps veteran, farmer, roofer, deputy sheriff, and firefighter, among others.

That firefighter is Alexandria’s own Young An, who has 10 years of experience and works for the Alexandria Fire Department.

According to An, his journey all started on social media.

“[The show’s producer’s] found me on Instagram, after seeing a photo of me with my battalion chief. They sent me a message, and at first I was iffy, not sure if it was a scam or not, but I decided to go with the flow and it was legit,” An told The Zebra.

About the Show
‘Tough as Nails’ tests participant strength, endurance, agility, and mental toughness in everyday challenges. For example, in the first episode, 12 hard-working participants navigated a wheelbarrow and demonstrated their brick-laying skills to win the opportunity to choose their teams.

An learned quickly that tasks would be more difficult than he anticipated.

“I really liked the team aspect of the competition. One of my favorite things was the challenge to see who the team captains would be,” he said. “I was thinking it would be the easiest thing but I ended up thinking to myself, ‘Man, this isn’t that easy!’”

After captains were selected on that opening episode, team competitions took place. In one, teams working together to complete the missing part of a railroad track. In another, each member “punched in” for individual tests. Finally, the last two standing went head-to-head in a railroad overtime challenge.

An admitted that being one of the final two added to the pressure.

“I had all the confidence going in, thinking I was going to crush it, but obviously I didn’t, he said. “I kept thinking, This can’t be happening right now!”

With so much firefighting experience under his belt, An dug deep to pull out a surprising victory.

Looking back on the experience, he said, “The whole experience was awesome. Easily one of the craziest things I’ve ever done. In a good way!”

Alexandria’s Young An proudly representing the fire department on ‘Tough as Nails’.(Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS)

Being a Fireman
Using many of the skills he has learned to fight fires, An related the show’s team aspect to his job. “When I first joined [the fire department], I saw how it works like a sports team. Everyone does their part, everyone does their job.”

On top of the hard work and dedication, An’s job as a fireman also makes him a role model.

“Being Asian, you stand out, and everywhere I go, other Asians will see me and do a double-take,” he said. “Kids see me and go, ‘Oh! You look like me!’ Once I started seeing that part of the job, I really liked it.”

Learning On-Set
He said ‘Tough as Nails’ was a learning experience in many ways. Most importantly, the show taught him about patience. He also learned what takes place behind the scenes at a TV show. An has high praise for host and executive producer Phil Keoghan, remarking that he is “Just positive. He has great energy and I’d keep watching to see if he’d break in front of us but he never once did. What you see on TV, that energy and positive vibe, that’s him.”

No matter how An finishes, he’s already proven to be strong in heart and dedicated to making a positive impact in the Alexandria community.

Follow An’s ‘Tough as Nails’ journey Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST. Check local listings for details.

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