Tamron Hall: "If You Look at the Roadblocks, You'll Never See the Road"

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You know Tamron Hall as the perky, well-heeled co-anchor of Today, but tonight at 8 p.m. EST, you’ll see a much tougher side to the journalist. On NBC's Running Wild with Bear Grylls, Hall joins Grylls, the famed adventurer and survivalist, for a grueling 48-hour journey in the Utah wilderness. We recently joined in a roundtable interview where she shared the easy workout that got her in shape for the adventure of a lifetime, the scariest moment of her trip, and her best advice for women who want to break down barriers in any industry.

Q: What’s your day-to-day workout routine? Did you do anything to prepare for the show?
A: My workout is pretty much riding my bike in the city. I actually hate going to the gym. I ran track from age four through college, and once I realized I was not going to be Flo Jo, I stopped running. I know at 44, I’m supposed to get in 30 minutes a day, but I’m not a big workout person. I like anything that doesn’t feel like working out, like walking home from the studio, and I just started doing yoga. 

To prepare for my experience with Bear, my yoga instructor wrote out a few exercises I can do. So when I get to work at 4:45 in the morning, I lay out a mat in my dressing room and do a 15-minute routine with pushups, sit-ups, planks, and side planks—nothing crazy. I’ve kept it up since filming the show too. It makes me feel awake.

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Q: What did this experience teach you about yourself?
A: If I don't have time to think about doing something, I can do it. I know that sounds really hippy, but the reason that I could do the task in front of me is that it was so spontaneous. The first morning I was there, I was told, "Get in the car and just drive. You will find Bear." So I'm driving and I see jackrabbits and tumbleweeds, and all of a sudden I see Bear dangling from this helicopter. And the next thing I know I'm dangling from the helicopter. If they told me the day before, "So, Bear is going to pick you up in a helicopter—and you're going to go with him," I would have said, H-E-double-chopsticks no. But, not having that time to think it over or worry about the consequences, I was able to complete it.

Q: You're the first African-American woman to co-host Today. What advice would you give to any woman who wants to break through barriers like that in their own career?
A: Don't look at barriers. As I just told a young lady who was asking me for advice, ‘If I looked at the roadblocks, I would never be able to see the road.’ I believe in talking about the unique things that we face as women—women of color, women from the South, wherever your perspective is from—but I think that when you're looking at your career and you're looking at what's ahead, you can't look at the road bumps. If there's one in a million, why can't you be that one? And while it is an incredible honor to have the description of being the first African-American woman on the Today show, it's not the total sum of my experience and I don't want it to be the total sum of who I am.

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Q: Which was harder, your journey to Today or being out with Bear?
A: Bear, because I really could have died. There was one moment when I thought, "I know he's taken all the safety precautions and he's crossed his T's and dotted his I's, but I could die. I could die." I'm not exaggerating. He looked scared. He looked concerned. And I've never thought I was going to die on set on Today!

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