Unplugged offers student a new ‘reality’

Not one to be without his BlackBerry – and a self-proclaimed “high maintenance”-type of guy when it comes to the outdoors – you would expect being unplugged from technology and spending an entire month in the Canadian wilderness would be the last thing on Daniel Paluzzi’s mind. Think again.

“I am so ready to do this again. I want to do more,” said the third-year Western University Faculty of Science student.

Paluzzi was a recent participant on Operation Unplugged, a new reality show that takes eight self-proclaimed technology-obsessed Canadians and unplugs them from their network for a journey through Canada’s national parks and historic sites.

“You go in with such reservations until someone actually forces you to do it,” he said. “I really fell in love with it. When you push yourself it brings with it so many emotions and great feelings.”

Hosted by adventurer Alan Bishop, the six-part reality show premieres 9 p.m. Feb. 21 on the Travel + Escape (Rogers 267, Bell 527).

Not a big traveler – in fact, this was the first time on a plane for Paluzzi – that all changed last August. He visited some of Canada’s natural treasures from Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site in Nova Scotia to Fathom Five National Marine Park in Ontario to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in B.C., and numerous points between.

“I really wanted this experience,” Paluzzi said. “There are a lot of people who know me as not much of an outdoorsy type of person, so I thought this would be a really good way to expose myself to those types of situations, but also to prove everyone wrong that I could do it.”

But there wasn’t much time for relaxing for Paluzzi, who quickly needed to learn some survival skills with several days of challenges involving orienteering deep into the woods, racing to the top of a mountain, tracking wolves and mountain biking/rappelling that pushed him to his limits.

“There were wilderness challenges throughout and each would have a different purpose or reasoning behind it,” he said. “Some of the activities were pretty intense and I was like ‘you really expect me to do this?’ But I was really excited because I had never done anything like this before, so I was really ready for it. They push you to a certain extent, but once you start you have no intention of not finishing it and not getting to that end goal.

“It’s just getting over that initial hump.”

Paluzzi admits cutting himself off completely from technology opened his eyes to how productive he could be. “It really makes you re-focus things,” he said, admitting he’s started going to the gym – some days as early as 6 a.m.

“That was the biggest adjustment. When you’re out there, you wake up with the sun and the animals, there is no alarm clock. You are used to waking up at 5 or 6 a.m. and it’s sort of become habitual, even if I don’t have classes until noon.”

Admittedly, he never saw himself as a ‘reality star’ – although he did do diaper commercials as a baby. Paluzzi can’t give away the show’s ending, and while no one gets eliminated from the show, one is crowned Operation Unplugged champion.

“I never really considered being part of a reality show before,” he said. “My friends and I are going to watch and have a good laugh.”

 

PLUG IN FOR UNPLUGGED

Watch Western University Science student Daniel Paluzzi on Operation Unplugged, a six-part reality show which premieres 9 p.m. Feb. 21 on the Travel + Escape (Rogers 267, Bell 527).