With HGTV‘s fourth season of “Rock the Block” underway, all of the celebrity contestants have shared how glad they were to be part of it. But several have also revealed on social media and in interviews how draining and stressful the six-week competition was for them, resulting at times in physical illness and mental anguish.
The popular annual series, which premiered on March 6, 2023, pits four pairs of HGTV stars against each other as they complete renovation challenges on identical houses at a breakneck pace, with a winner of each challenge decided upon by fellow HGTV personalities who serve as judges. In 2022, the Ty Pennington-hosted show was HGTV’s most-watched series of the year.
This year’s teams, who worked their magic on four 5,000 square-foot homes on a cul-de-sac in Berthoud, Colorado, are married couple Bryan and Sarah Baeumler of “Renovation Island,” luxury design experts Michel Smith Boyd and Anthony Elle from “Luxe for Less,” renovation expert Jonathan Knight and high-end interior designer Kristina Crestin from “Farmhouse Fixer,” and house-flipping expert Page Turner with contractor Mitch Glew from “Fix My Flip.”
Though the teams knew the challenges wouldn’t be easy, several have shared that filming the show was so “intense,” they felt sick and stressed. Pennington told PopCulture that the teams have plenty to worry about as the competition ramps up in future weeks.
Jonathan Knight Says Past Contestants Advised Him Against Competing on ‘Rock the Block’
In a group interview with House Digest, the contestants agreed that working on “Rock the Block” was much harder than filming their own HGTV shows.
Sarah Baeumler called the experience “intense” and Turner said there was rarely any downtime to decompress.
“We had some days where we were having two reveals in one day, so we had to get these spaces done within a five-day period,” she said.
Knight told Showbiz CheatSheet that, after being a judge on the previous season of “Rock the Block,” he was warned by past contestants about how hard it is to compete on the show.
He said, “I called a lot of the past contestants and asked them, like, ‘What am I getting into?’ Some were, you know, they were saying, ‘Run, don’t do it.'”
He did it anyway, and learned quickly that his colleagues weren’t joking. During filming, Knight shared via social media about how grueling the process was, even worrying fans with one November post in which he shared a photo of himself looking run-down and revealed how “tired and sick” he was.
He wrote, “These past 6 weeks have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career! Tired and sick, beyond belief, but so incredibly happy to be here!”
But by the time the show premiered, Knight had nearly forgotten just how hard it had been. On March 6, he told Showbiz CheatSheet that it wasn’t as hard as people said it would be and that “it was just so much fun.”
In response, Turner said, “I don’t know what vacation Jon was on. We definitely did a lot, you know, smil(ing) through our pain.”
In fact, Turner said she felt like she might “die” while filming if she pushed herself any harder. While some contestants went home or on excursions on the weekends, Turner said she didn’t have the energy to travel and just stayed put — even though her other HGTV show, “Flip My Fix,” was filming back home.
“Mitch (and I) were still filming ‘Rock the Block’ while we were filming ‘Fix My Flip,’ and I didn’t go back, so my whole crew at home was stressed,” she told House Digest. “I was like, ‘Listen, if I come back, I’m going to die because I can’t breathe. I’m too stressed.’ I had to choose mental health and my physical health, unfortunately, over ‘Fix My Flip.’ Mitch would go back and film some days, and I’m like, ‘FaceTime me.'”
Meanwhile, Bryan Baeumler said he and his wife went into the competition feeling very confident, given that they’ve worked for two decades building luxury custom homes, similar to the ones they’d be working on in Colorado. But on the first day, he told Showbiz Cheat Sheet, anxiety set in as they realized they didn’t actually have any advantage over the competition.
“I think the level of talent that was there, you know, our secret weapons all shrunk on day one,” Baeumler said. “We didn’t get to see what everyone else was doing till the end and it was mind-blowing.”
Ty Pennington Explains Why ‘Rock the Block’ Gets So Stressful for Contestants
Pennington has now hosted four seasons of “Rock the Block” and told Heavy in February that this season was especially challenging and bigger than ever, given the size of the teams’ budgets of $250,000 per duo, the size of the houses, and the sweeping views of the mountains.
Describing this season, which he said included some contestants suffering from altitude sickness in Colorado, as “a steep uphill climb, but once at the top, it’s an incredible view. But it’s the highest, steepest climb I’ve ever seen.”
“Being a competitor on this show is absolutely the hardest thing you’ll do,” he told Pop Culture of the HGTV stars who agree to be part of the series.
He explained, “You’re doing it while you’re still filming another TV show, you’ve still got a family at home who’s wondering where you are for like two months, you’ve got businesses and clients saying ‘I’m done if you’re not gonna return my call.’ So, like, there’s a lot of stress that starts happening, especially toward the end. And you find out who’s really got what it takes to keep it together.”
When filming wrapped last November, Pennington shared in an Instagram post how impressed he was that the teams didn’t crack under the pressure.
He wrote, “The crew, the teams, the contractors, literally everyone involved hardly slept (sometimes wept 😅) and never ever gave up until they reached the summit.”
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” he told PopCulture. “I don’t get wowed that easily, but these guys rocked every single room in a way that it’s so different.”