The 28-year-old said that the other participants gave him the strength to keep going when things got tough
The Fair City actor will appear on the RTÉ show from tonight, where a group of eighteen famous faces will attempt to pass a gruelling course designed by former members of Ireland’s Special Forces unit, the Army Ranger Wing (ARW), enduring tough challenges from jumping out of a helicopter to being submerged in plunge pools.
Ryan told sundayworld.com that Ultimate Hell Week was a “life-changing experience” but admitted that he struggled at times.
The Dubliner explained: “I did have a bit of an emotional breakdown on the show. You're run down and feeling terrible and they start questioning you and bring up situations in your life.
“You’re really vulnerable. I felt like I was just a little kid and needed a big hug but when you want that and someone’s screaming at you, it just gets worse and worse.
“Emotionally, it was very very challenging. Probably the most emotionally challenged I’ve ever been in my life.
“It was all about the mindset, having a strong mindset going into it. They say it’s 90pc mental and 10pc physical. It’s physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually challenging.”
Ryan said that the challenges were “a hundred times worse” than what he expected even though he trained hard to prepare himself for the show.
“This was the very first programme I’ve done where I knew it was going to be horrible before I even went in,” he shared.
“I knew it was going to be tough so I trained hard for it. I'd be in the sea every day because I knew there was going to be water [involved]. I was walking or hiking up the mountains, I’d have weight on my back. I’d be doing a lot of body weights, pushups, squats.
“That went well but everything I trained for didn’t come up because when they throw you out of a helicopter or throw you off rope bridges across Mizen Head – there's so much stuff that you actually can’t train for.
“Everything was physically challenging. Even when you’re holding positions like a pushup. They wouldn’t just be holding you there for a minute – it could be a half an hour. Really, really pushing you to your limits at every single moment.”
The 28-year-old said that the other participants gave him the strength to keep going when things got tough.
“The 18 of us went through something that 99pc of the population will never go through and that bond is very close,” he shared.
“When we were in there, there were times when there were challenges that people struggled with but a hand would go out and it would help someone and get them through it.
“There were points where, if things go really tough, you’d just look across and meet a familiar, friendly face who’d give you a smile or a wink or a thumbs up. It can mean a lot at that point.”
Each of the celebrity recruits is taking part in RTÉ’s Ultimate Hell Week to raise money for their chosen charities.
Ryan chose to raise funds for the Mater Foundation, after staff in the hospital treated his father Jimmy when he contracted Covid-19 back in January.
Explaining his choice, he said: “I chose the Mater Foundation because my dad spent six or seven weeks there at the start of the year with Covid and it was a lovely charity to pick.
“I saw the work that they did. This is Ultimate Hell Week and they go through hell on a daily basis. That’s what they do every single day and they don’t necessarily get the thanks for it.
“I want to highlight what they did for my dad. It’s a brilliant charity, they’re great people and hopefully I’m going to raise as much money as I can.
“There were there all day every day. My dad was on a ventilator machine and was very close to death. But they never gave up. They kept working, they kept my mam and my brother in check all day long. They were amazing.”
Ultimate Hell Week: The Professionals premieres tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.