Last summer we asked Sherri Strayer if she’d model PJs for a segment on a local TV program. She didn’t hesitate. “I’ve been on QVC.” What? Who goes on QVC, and why? We wanted to know the story. “It was so much stinking fun. It was something I’d never done before, most likely never do again,” she said. Here’s the thing you need to know about Sherri, she loves to work out. She got hooked on weightlifting while she was a pharmacy student at Purdue University. After college she joined a local gym, where she was surrounded by meatheads, who chewed on dog bones. No, really, they did.
“A guy would carry around a box of milk bones,” she said. “You have no idea. These power lifters are a different breed. It was weird. That’s just the way they are.”
Sherri isn’t one to be scared away by a dog-bone eating weightlifter. She’s also almost always up for trying new workouts. Just don’t ask her to sign up for a marathon. She’s not in to running. A Fanny Lifter? Yes, she tried that. It came with a video produced by The Firm. She became a bit of a groupie of this Lexington, S.C. company.
“They filmed one work out a year, and it was movie quality. They were stunning, everyone wore coordinated outfits. It was legit,” she said. “You had to reserve a copy. The other thing is, they would sponsor trips, I went every year for eight or nine years, and met all these girls.”
The Firm also sold videos on QVC. The Firm owner Emily Welsh posted a note in 2005, looking for volunteers to demonstrate the Wave on QVC at its headquarters in West Chester, Pa. Sherri was all in. She messaged another Firm follower in Columbus, Ohio, and the two decided to meet up and volunteer.
It meant working out at 3 a.m. at the QVC building. While it was pitch black outside, it was buzzing inside. Phones were ringing, cameras were rolling, and someone was showing off a set of knives from one stage.
“Oh, it was a trip,” Sherri said. “You don’t realize that this (QVC), is just a large warehouse broken into individual sets, they were just filming shows, as we were walking back. The host, David, wants to know what he should talk about.”
There were no rehearsals. Sherri was among about eight women who stood behind The Wave, it was the latest equipment The Firm was selling, which doubled as a step, or it could be turned over and used for various moves to help improve balance. At 3 a.m., the music started, and the cameras started rolling. Sherri wore a yellow Lululemon tank top and bike short, plus a full face of make-up.
“Believe it or not at 3 a.m., they had people calling in,” Sherri said.
Was she nervous? Absolutely not. She knew the routine, plus an instructor was giving exercisers cues about what to do next. Plus, this was not Sherri’s first time on stage.
That would have been in 2000, when she competed in the Greater Northern Kentucky Fitness Competition. She had been working out to The Firm videos for years, but she really wanted to be a competitor. So, for her 35th birthday, she gifted herself training to make it happen. She walked into a local gym and announced she wanted to train for a fitness contest. She trained three times a week with a guy named Brian, who was a seasoned body builder and competitor. Once a month they drove to Cincinnati to meet with a nutritionist. By the time she was ready for competition, she was squatting 315 pounds and more than 600 pounds on a leg press, the most any woman had ever done before at the gym.
She was ripped. A seamstress made her a tiny bikini, a one-piece suit and a costume for her routine. When the competition was over, she put away the medal and her bikini and moved on to a different workout.
She’s traveled to Chicago and LA for Les Mills and Kettleworx workouts, and she trains a few times a week with a trainer to keep in shape. Every now and then, when she can’t make it to the gym – like being isolated at home during the coronavirus – she pulls out one of her Firm videos, to mix things up and reminisces about the time she was on QVC.