The Biggest Loser: Inspiration, Disappointment

The Biggest Loser is back! It’s in its one billionth season and my trusty little Roku is fired up to save all new episodes on my Hulu account.

It feels like the show has been off the air for a while. I’d petered out on watching it for a few seasons, but getting invited to audition to replace Jillian when she left to have a family reignited my interest in the show…go figure! 🙂

There is much I adore about the show: The message that real work yields real results. That there are no quick fixes. Only a lifestyle (not a diet) of exercise, healthy diet, and spiritual evolution are the answer.

What I love specifically about season 14 is the focus on childhood obesity and encouraging kids to get active and play with their families, as well as holding parents accountable for their children’s health and food choices. Within 20 minutes of episode one I was in love with all three kids, rooting them on and ready to mentor them all.

I also think it’s fantastic that they show that exercise is a path to self-discovery – not just a great body – and a tool to  help one realize that you are capable, strong, and genetically designed to have a healthy body.

There is also much I wish I could change could about the show: It is grossly unrealistic. It is unhealthy to lose 20 pounds in a week. It is damaging to the body and mind to train so intensely for so many hours in one day. And, the critical topic of nutrition is largely ignored! And when food is discussed, it is often with low-fat, processed substitutes for real food with a one-size fits all approach.

I was appalled as Jillian kicked her team members out of the gym on day one, while at least two contestants were rolling off their treadmills in agony as paramedics held their legs up and secured oxygen masks. Within five minutes of their workout, the puke bucket was in high demand.

As a trainer, encouraging this kind of abuse, yes, abuse, is a smack to our profession. We have a responsibility as fitness professionals to build our clients up, not break them down, to encourage, love, and support them. Yes, occasionally some tough love needs to be delivered, and I have seen my fair share of vomit in my training career, but there is a time, a place, and a way.

I began working with a new client today who also watches The Biggest Loser. I’m learning his style and curious about his preference and so I asked him if he could choose to have Bob, Dolvett, or Jillian, as his trainer, who would he pick? His answer: Neither! Who wants to be talked to that way?

Does This Style of Training Motivate You?


I would choose Bob first for his experience and more supportive spirit, Dolvett second because he seems to understand the all important mind/body connection, and Jillian third. She knows her stuff, clearly, and I respect her. But I don’t like anger.

So, just like many of the fitness magazines on the market, I say enjoy some of the unbelievable inspiration you find in the program and let your common sense guide you to know that losing five pounds in a week is a triumph, not a failure, that I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray is not real food, that if you’re 400 pounds, you might want to wait a couple hundred pounds before you go balls to the wall on the burpees.

What do you guys think? What do you look for in a trainer and who would you pick?

Love and Fitness, A

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