Netflix's 'Physical: 100' second season crowns CrossFit influencer as champion

A still from season two of Netflix's "Physical: 100" [NETFLIX]

The second season of “Physical: 100" continued the quest to search for what the show calls the “ideal” human physique.

The survival competition show released on Netflix last month featured 100 participants including a retired UFC fighter, a rugby sevens Olympian, a retired firefighter and a ssireum (traditional Korean wrestling) athlete.

From this impressive lineup, only one participant walked away with the cash prize.

His name is Amotti, real name Kim Jae-hong — and he's a CrossFit influencer.

He never received professional training, and he does not have a job related to fitness. His only experience related to exercising is majoring in kinesiology at Yeungnam University and his time serving in the military as a Marine sergeant.

Even Amotti himself was surprised at his accomplishment. He said he only exercised because of his passion for it, as opposed to his fellow contestants who do it for a living.

This became his advantage, as his only focus was enjoying the process of completing each quest in the show.

The top three contestants and showrunner Jang Ho-gi of season two of Netflix's "Physical: 100" pose during a press interview at a cafe in Jongno District, central Seoul, on Wednesday. From left: Andre Jin Coquillard, Jang, Amotti and Hong Beom-seok [NETFLIX]

“It was just fun for me to see my body and mentality become sturdier throughout the episodes,” he said during a press interview in Jongno District, central Seoul, on Wednesday. Amotti was present along with showrunner Jang Ho-gi and the other two contestants who made it in the top three: Hong Beom-seok, a former firefighter, and Andre Jin Coquillard, who represented Korea in men’s rugby sevens at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Typically, people expect the most muscled person to win in a physical competition. The show intended to break this stereotype, said Jang, the creator of the “Physical: 100” franchise.

Jang made sure that the missions were designed not to rely purely on physical strength, but also agility and cardiovascular endurance by adding obstacles into the courses and making contestants run on treadmills. It shouldn't matter whether a contestant was shorter or thinner; the producers “wanted to make sure it was a fair game for everyone.”

“But I think ultimately, the game did end up favoring stronger contestants," Jang said. "If we get a new season, we’ll try to make sure to dodge the strength stereotype."

A still from season two of Netflix's "Physical: 100" [NETFLIX]

After a first season inspired by Ancient Greece, the second season literally goes deeper with a set designed like an underground mine. Jang wanted to immerse the contestants into the games as if they were really "held captive." The production team conducted in-depth research on actual underground mining experiences prior to production to make sure the games would reflect reality.

“This show may be a survival competition, but that doesn't mean that I want the setup to seem artificial,” Jang said. “Our aim was to make the underground mine universe believable, which is why we incorporated elements like using mine rollers.”

The show's set also featured mine carts, coal and more than 400 tons of sand. Following controversy from the first season, the crew also consulted experts and ran simulations to ensure safety.

Hong, who was the only contestant to participate in both seasons of the show, confirmed the scale upgrades, likening this season to “feeling like I was a main character in a movie.” The former firefighter came in second place, which is a huge jump from last season when he was abruptly eliminated in the first round.

A still from season two of Netflix's "Physical: 100" [NETFLIX]

Though it was a difficult decision to return to the show, he also didn’t want to regret turning down the offer. “My only thought was that I would do my best in my second attempt,” he said.

“It was also important for me to try to improve the perceptions of firefighters,” he said, adding that he wanted to “prove that Korean firefighters are strong.”

“If my body allows it, I guess I would be honored to be invited to the next season [if there is one],” he said with a laugh.

The show is arguably Korea’s most popular variety show, as both seasons topped Netflix’s weekly chart for non-English shows. The question is, then, if there will be a third season. The final episode of season two hints that it could be possible with a teaser clip for "Physical: 100 - Asia".

“I’ve always wanted ‘Physical: 100’ to become an international event where anyone from anywhere can participate,” Jang said.

For Jang, the "Physical: 100" franchise is more like a documentary rather than a variety show and an opportunity to spotlight the narratives of different participants. Although expanding the scale of the show from Korea to all of Asia would be a big step, he believes that it would help bring the participants' stories to a wider audience.

A still from season two of Netflix's "Physical: 100" [NETFLIX]

The renewal of the show has not yet been confirmed by Netflix.

But for now, the second season's champion has his own plans. Amotti had the biggest smile throughout the interview, and understandably so, as he just won the prize money of 300 million won ($222,200).

His next steps? "I'm from Daejeon, so I'll probably use the money to settle in Seoul," he said with a grin.