Yoga studio owners/instructors Eric, 41, and Lisa Paskel, 43, were the victims of the first ever starting-line elimination on the premiere of The Amazing Race. The Encino, Calif.-based couple talked to PEOPLE about their experience on reality TV. –Carrie Bell
What went through your head when Phil Keoghan announced that someone would be leaving the game at the starting line? Lisa: It sucked in the moment. I thought, “This is really mean and somebody is not going to be handle it.” I felt like we were robbed of a chance to do something special and while it is great TV, it was emotional for us. But when you put it in perspective, around the corner there were kids sleeping on the street that morning and half the world is starving. We have so much to be thankful for. Eric: We never thought it would be us that would get knocked out in a second. It was shocking because we thought, ‘We’ll nail this,’ and go on to the next task. It was disappointing because we felt like we were representing a nation of yoga , our family and friends and our studios and students.
Was it hard to go out that way?Lisa: It had to be somebody and in a way. It was good that it was us because we can handle it emotionally. We have been through much, much worse like our divorce and we are both recovering addicts. We had put so much into being there including arranging our finances and childcare and I, more than Eric, wanted the adventure. But we look at every failure as a learning experience and an opportunity. We ended up in India studying with our guru for almost a month because we had to stay out of the country. Eric: What’s fair? The Race is the Race and anything goes. You’re playing their game, but I would not have signed up if I knew there was a chance of losing at the starting line. We knew there was a chance we’d be eliminated first, but figured we’d at least be gone somewhere around the world.
You handled your exit with grace.Eric: Every day we wake up and we practice yoga and prepare ourselves for whatever comes that day. That day was no different. We got up. We did our thing. You never know what is going to happen on any give day.
People seem divided on the twist. Have you gotten much response?Lisa: We have gotten, no exaggeration, 1,000 Facebook messages today because no one can believe that we were eliminated like that. People think we’re going to come back as a surprise. Fans have written us disappointed they didn’t get an opportunity to get to know us better. But we have also gotten a lot of emails saying thanks for showing them that they can skin their knees and get back up.
Did the Race have an impact on your relationship despite the short stay?Lisa: The first thing we did when we were done was grab each other. It was instinctive. If I didn’t have Eric by my side and I’m sure he feels the same — you better feel the same — it would have been a whole lot more devastating. It made us realize once again how lucky we are that we chose to be together and fought for it. Eric: There are a lot of I would have loved to win the race with, but there’s only one person I could have lost with and that’s Lisa. Robert Voets/CBS