Network Blog

Reflections on fitness, wellness, health and more

The Biggest Loser, friend or foe of fitness?

The following Blog Post was written by Alisha Smith, Network's education manager.

The Biggest Loser. Let’s face it – we’re all watching it, and if we’re not then, at the very least, a solid majority of our clients and class participants most definitely are.

There’s no debating that as a nation (and particularly, as an industry) we’re captivated by the show’s drastic techniques and equally drastic transformations. From the airing of the first episode of a new series right up until the country gathers around the TV to witness the crowning of ‘The Biggest Loser’, we enjoy (in a slightly masochistic manner) observing the contestants struggle and – dare I say it – thinking to ourselves ‘thank goodness I’m not like that’.

Even for those fitness professionals not personally enthralled, many still watch for the pure fact that ‘forewarned is forearmed’. Every single day our clients and class members are asking us why we’re not employing the same methods in our sessions and classes. Jillian Michaels, from the US version of the show, was given a public dressing down by a prominent Spinning Master Trainer for removing the saddles from her morbidly obese contestants’ indoor bikes and forcing them, sweating profusely, to ride until they were completely breathless and tomato-red in the face. The Wednesday 4 March episode of the Australian version depicted blind-folded contestants encouraged to drink up to 3,000 calories worth of milkshake in order to win a challenge.

While the show undoubtedly encourages many unfit and overweight Australians to don the trainers and put one foot in front of the other, is it not also responsible for filling their heads with unrealistic expectations and mixed messages about the journey to long-term successful weight-loss? If the contestants want to change their lives so desperately that they are willing to cry, yell and parade half naked up to the ubiquitous scales, why are they being tempted to drink twice their daily calorie intake to win a challenge? Yes, they need to learn control and yes, they need to know about the temptations of the ‘real’ world, but being congratulated for downing 3 litres of fat and sugar laden shake seems to be pushing the boundaries somewhat.

Incidentally there was a blog post on the Sydney Morning Herald website written by Paula Goodyer which discusses this very topic, but from a consumer perspective. You can view the post by clicking the following link: http://blogs.smh.com.au/lifestyle/chewonthis/archives/2009/03/post_17.html

So, what do you think? ‘The Biggest Loser’ – friend or foe of fitness? We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on the topic so please feel free to fill in the comments form below.

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Posted by: Michelle Williams | 06-Mar-2009 11:26 AM | 5 out of 5 stars

There is not too much to say in regard to this topic. I haven't watched any episodes, whilst I admire their courage, commitment, dedication and determination, why did they get themselves to that state in the first place? Under lying factor it is reality TV and to boost the ratings they will do what they have to in order to get and audience. TV RATINGS WIN.
Join the ARMY if your looking for discipline, it did me no harm.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 12:39 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

As much as I love the show - I feel that the trainers are unrealistically training the contestants.


If I was training morbidly obese individuals, I would not start with high intensity workouts - what trainer in their right mind would?!?!!? Slow and steady with the morbidly obese or they could keel over at any moment.


It would be great if the show showed this aspect of training - starting off with aerobic training of moderate intensity (doing it properly) so that the people playing at home would know that this is the safest way to start an exercise program.


It also seems that the trainers (who I admire and are very very good at what they do) are not paying much attention to technique when the contestants are training - swinging arms with weights etc - they could end up with many injuries......shouldn't propper technique be encouraged so they start off on the right note and can continue at home????


BUT the show is fantastic and can help inspire many people at home to loose weight and eat well!!

Posted by: Joanne Butler | 06-Mar-2009 12:41 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I think most people watching realise that it is not real life and that things dont work like that in the real world.
As previously mentioned, it is a 'reality' TV show and as all 'reality' shows do, it has ended up being just another drama played out to entertain, not educate us.

Jo

Posted by: susanne wilson | 06-Mar-2009 12:43 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Although it is great to see obese people exercising at an intense rate and losing weight, the show is too focused on WEIGHT ie kg lost. It would be much better and more educational for the general public to see body fat % decreasing rather than kg- any one can lose 'weight' just by cutting off an arm, or perhaps not drinking anything for 24 hrs. This focus also discourages muscle gain, as muscle weighs more than fat, but is more desirable since it is metabolically active.
Also, get rid of the pointless warehouse! This is just a gimmick, and teaches nobody anything at all!

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 12:46 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

The biggest loser has been both the best thing for the fitness industry and the worst, the best because it gets people thinking about the results they could get with a personal trainer and the worst because it depicts personal trainers in the worst possible way and the general public see us all that way.
I have had many potential clients ask me for a Jillian style trainer or complete reverse "give me Jillian and I won't be spending one cent here!", we just have to learn how to work the free marketing the show give us in the right way depending on the client, so know what the client wants and likes before you make any reference to biggest loser trainers.

Posted by: Kylie | 06-Mar-2009 12:56 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

I had the opportunity to gain a rare insight into the Biggest Loser TV show when I trained one of the contestants in 2007. The pressure put on the contestants to lose kilograms as opposed to building a healthy, strong body resulted in my client suffering amenorrea, stress fractures, frequent illness and a decreased metabolism through overly strict dieting. The show is not about promoting a healthy mind and body. It is merely a platform for marketing products aimed at individuals who want a quick fix for their own weight problems.

I am also appalled at the additional promotional materials being flogged such as the Biggest Loser meal replacements. This just serves to perpetuate the quick fix mentality of modern society.

I refuse to watch the show as I believe it undermines what we, as health and fitness professionals, are trying to educate our clients about.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 12:56 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

I think the best thing about Biggest Loser is perhaps letting the more gung-ho trainers which give our industry a bad name see what impression they really make, other than the biggest loser participants who are "performing for the camera" no-one can live and eat exercise and diet 24/7 and if they do they are probably a trainer themselves or unhealthily fanatical.
Let's get realistic about helping people do something they can achieve for the rest of their lives and let's all be more amiable and real to deal with, it's not about image for those personal trainers who want to make big money it's about being genuinely understanding and approachable.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 12:59 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I must admit the whole family is a fan especially my daughter and we can't quite understand why - is she just fascinated by overweight people or can this be sending her a mixed message - ok to be that overweight as when time comes and u work like a crazy person u can loose it.

I think the 'house' has its place for those seriously overweight people - they have no distractions and can concentrate on the job at hand however the general public is only seeing a taste of what really goes on in there - how many other injuries are there that we don't see?

As a trainer i am interested to see what the shows trainers give the contestants and have been able to use the odd thing over the years however i agree with the comments above that the techniques used with some of these people are shocking - holding the boxing pads and slapping them down on the mitts of the boxer is one. Also the food warehouse is an interesting if not real situation.

As long as u take the good with the bad, the 'real' and the 'tv bit 'out of the show, and put it with the knowledge we know already then take it as good entertainment.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 01:13 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

I can't believe that no one has dropped dead on this show yet. I think it is only a matter of time before something tragic occurs. The irresponsible training methods are completely void of any duty of care to the participants, and the challenges for immunity are ridiculous.... i.e. drinking a 3000 calorie


I am constantly angered by the messages the show puts out to the general believing public. These weightloss goals and consequent expectations are completely unachievable in the real-world.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 01:19 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

I have to confess, I was addicted to the Biggest Loser. It stopped being broadcast where I live so I've missed the last series. What has always troubled me about the series is that it completely contrary to everything I was ever taught about weight loss ( slow weight loss is best) and training very overweight clients ( start slow etc) - I would never have asked an unfit 150kg client to jog!
But the interesting thing is that these techniques obviously work, whether long term I don't know, and of course it is a pretty superficial environment. I have just read Michelle Bridges' book and she agrees that the Biggest Loser methods are not conventional methods but are successful. Worth a read!

Posted by: Catherine Chapman | 06-Mar-2009 01:25 PM |

Whilst I am a regular viewer of the show I have to agree with many of the comments posted that yes, the training appears to be way too intense for participants of their size and fitness level. I also agree that there is not much thought given at all to technique. One particular episode really got to me - where 2 of the female contestants had to experience "Pain" and one was in a caged area "boxing" with a trainer whilst the other one was moving exremely heavy items on the outside of the caged area.
Having qualified with PunchFit in their punch pad course, kick pad course and personal trainer course, I was astounded to say the least to see how the "trainer" was using the focus pads to hit down on the punching mitts worn by the contestant who was boxing - also without any guidance as to how to "throw a punch".
Its also interesting to note the number of past contestants who are now in advertisements for weight loss companies which provide meal substitute shakes, bars etc. Isn't the whole idea of the show to teach them HOW to shop for, prepare and eat normal meals? Having said all of the above, I do feel it can be encouraging to others to lose weight and it is certainly amazing to see all the contestants when they reappear for the final show.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 01:33 PM | 2 out of 5 stars

It's just not safe. Is that not one of our biggest concerns in the fitness industry?

Posted by: Jay Bonaretti | 06-Mar-2009 01:56 PM |

My thoughts are published on my site: http://www.aminoz.com.au/the-biggest-loser-australia-n-188.html

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 02:04 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I admit to watching this show occasionally just to see what manner of inappropriate training they are doing this time. The potential for injuries amongst morbidly obese clients performing many types of exercise seen on the show is extremely high (especially given the lack of correct technique at times) and given the general discomfort of exercise for these people anyway in my experience it has been more of a deterrent than inspiration. Yes, the numbers they achieve in weight loss are brilliant but when put in a totaly unrealistic environment and trained til you fall over I suspect anyone could achieve those numbers - is it healthy in such a time frame? I think not.

I think the games and temptations while educational about what they will come across in real life to a point, are sending mixed messages to a group who already obviously have a problem with food.
By far my biggest beef with the show is the sponsorship by a weight loss supplement (but love Helgas - carbohydrates NOT so evil after all) and now, the promotion of shake based diets by ex-contestants. Sure when they don't exercise 8 hours each day they are going to have to reduce their calorie intake but drinking shakes provides no education on preparation of healthy meals that are sustainable for a lifetime. Pushing that to the general public then as a solution is promoting an 'easy way out' - another fix that avoids the real problems and/or lack of education they have with food in the first place and one that will ultimately see a decrease in their lean muscle mass and thus resting metabolism.

What message does any of this voyeuristic selectively educational viewing send to our children???
I would prefer to see a totally 'boring' show every fortnight/month that tracks the changes in morbidly obese contestants who apply some good lifestyle rules in their own homes with their trainers providing sessions and nutritional information 3-4 times per week while they carry on with work and family commitments. That would be truly inspiring for those in the real world who don't like the idea of becoming a Biggest Loser contestant. That would be more likely to be seen as achievable. That would be healthy viewing for the whole family.

But then I don't need television ratings.

Posted by: Jessica Kazdera | 06-Mar-2009 02:11 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

I Have to agree the training methods they use are definitely not by the book. But it's entertaining. I'll give it that. That's what the TV audience wants. Good entertainment.

If they did go by the book they would not be able to jam pack a full body transformation in to such a short series. Who would be bothered to watch a show that went on for a year? Realistically that's how long it should take. Minimum!


I agree with some of the other posts. You have to take the good with the bad and you also need explain to your clients that it's not like that in real life. Any one with common sense can work that on out.

Posted by: Bel | 06-Mar-2009 02:11 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I have been a huge fan of the show since it aired in the USA. Some of the posts above have raised some really good points. Yes its a reality show & maybe some the the exercises are not the most conventional but at the end of the day, its about helping people lose weight & teaching them to create healthy eating habits.
Realistically, I don't think its normal for the average overweight person to lose 4-10kg in one week & we don't all have trainers training us everyday telling us what we can & can't eat. However, we can still learn a lot from the show about the physical, mental & emotional barriers that come with trying to lose weight. I am always inspired by the contestants & also by the trainers who motivate the contestants to create better lives for themselves.
As a trainer, I get a lot of ideas from the show as well (however I am more focused on technique)! Bring on more Biggest Loser I say!

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 02:12 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

Its absolute crap. Those people should be embarrassed to be involved with it and they will kill someone on that show.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 02:14 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

Some very valid comments made above and I have a tendancy to agree with quite a few, especially regarding the pressure to have large and continious weight losses, plus the absence of a strength program to build fat burning muscle.


What I don't have a concern is about the most training methods, ( particulary Steve Willis ) as a personal trainer I employ quite a lot of high intensity interval workouts using the Crossfit methods. An olympic athlete and a old age pensioner both require the same thing, function. One wants functional dominance the other wants functional competence. I don't see why a morbidly obese person ( as long as they a cleared by a medical professional ) cannot push themselves to THEIR maximum for 20 seconds at a time.


Remember gentle exercise gives gentle results.


I find that any overweight clients that come to me find it a great achivement to be able to do the same workout as the much fitter clients and as a consequence have a lot mor self confidence in their own personal weight loss journey.


" We change load and intensity, not the workout "

Posted by: Hilyander Australia | 06-Mar-2009 02:19 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Ok - Love me or hate me i will have my say!


I was one of the original Australia's Biggest Losers and yes it is a reality TV show there is a lot of behind the camera you don't see and as far as safety there is always just out of shot a paramedic. like when we ran up the Harbour Bridge and i was that unfit and full off cigarettes that i needed oxygen, not the shows fault, that was my years of neglect!.


And how many times have we heard of a fit person having a heart attack!!! - yes these guys are at a greater risk but i love & believe in the concept.


Yes they did some stupid things to us - you try getting a 200kg man jogging on asphalt and not expect an injury, my knees are shot and i have Jillian to thank for that, but i also have the biggest loser to thank for changing my life and so many lives of other Australians who are still 3 years on emailing me on how they got off the couch because of us and how they have changed their lives.


I am now a Cert III/IV PT and can help people take that next step not only by motivation - but by sweat and hard work.


Which brings me to my big rant: What is it with the shake evolution!!!!!!


The first thing AJ said to us Day 1 on the show, "Hi Guys, welcome to the biggest loser - you are going to lose weight the old fashion way, no pills, shakes or surgery - just hard word exercise and a health diet.


3 years on its - lets bring out a range of loser shakes bars and soups, I'm sure they are sending the right message, year right! its all about the money and the fact that every second person now are promoting Diet Shakes, who knows i may come up with my own range!!!!! :-) - I JUST DON'T GET THEN DOING THAT - IT REALLY DID MY HEAD IN AT THE START OF THIS YEAR - LEFT ME A LITTLE RATTLED


Don't get me wrong love the show for the fun value and if it gets people in to our gyms, parks or classes it is then up to us to train them the right way.


And i may get shot for this but remember the reality TV side, a week is not a week it can be up to 17 days and we see what they want us to - to get those ratings, that is the part i hate and the mis-conception of the weight loss and to be honest it does hurt more that inspire people who follow the show and train at the same time, who then say why cant i drop 8kg a week, but loser is what it is and you have to take it as a whole.


Love Loser or hate it, it has change my life for ever as i am sure it has change so many other Australian's and people from all over the world who are now getting Series 1, 2 & 3 in there part of the world, use it as a motivational tool and it also gives you a talking point on the nutritional side which may other wise not be a concern to your clients, who think they are going fine on the food front.


And the other thing to remember they are not training with the trainers all day every day, and you actually got more time to train once you left the house than being there on TV, with all the temptations, weigh-ins, challenges, walks, warehouse, elimination and the endless interviews, you would get no time to train if you have to fit all that in a REAL week and try and lose weight.


Anyway i may be bias as being part of the Loser family, I loved my time on it I loved the people who were with me, the other contestants i have met, and how it gave me the kick in the arse i needed and if it gets bums moving so be it, maybe we can get kids moving more and we wont end up with so many people needing to go on a show like that.


Ok I'm Done !!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 02:39 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

It is crap and gives people an unrealistic perception of trainers. I believe it is detrimental to the fitness industry and the trainers should be ashamed of themselves for making obese clients train as hard as they do. Surprised no one has had a heart attack. If the fitness industry is serious about helping people, they should act to have the concept banned.

Posted by: April Adsett | 06-Mar-2009 02:40 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

Belittling people on television and encouraging backstabbing is not my idea of entertainment. Someone will die using the unsafe methods employed by these trainers. The show is complete bull and that is why I have only watched it twice and that was last week!
Never again.

Posted by: Elyse | 06-Mar-2009 03:17 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

Something that is a real shame about this show is that a lot of deconditioned people believe that they HAVE to train that hard (e.g. for hours every day, until they can hardly breathe and their face is bright red) just to get results. This either scares them before they have even started, or if they do actually try it, they end up getting discouraged due to pain or injury.


We all know that it is better to start slow and focus on perfecting technique before adding a lot of resistance or challenge.


Also, some of these overweight people who are older are at risk of heart attacks or diabetic attacks, yet on the show they are not advised of any modifications that they should take with exercise.
Participants in the Biggest Loser are also encouraged to "push through the pain", for example if they have a knee injury or sprained ankle. Um, hello! This person needs to rest and recover to support their injury.


My final issue with this show is the controversy that Shannan Ponton has been in. It puts the icing on the cake for why I would never watch that show!

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 03:42 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

Krap with a capital K. I have not and will not ever watch the show. I have been in the fitness industry for nearly 25 years and the whole concept goes against everything I have ever learned and believed in.


What next.... a show where we get skinny people to PUT ON 8 kg in one week? Ohhhhh.... what fun!


The only Biggest Losers are the ones who watch that garbage.

Posted by: Callaghan Australia | 06-Mar-2009 03:52 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

I am absolutely shocked that there could be such a show. Being a personal trainer myself, I would never treat/train those people like the way they are treated/trained on the show, but hey - that's TV for you and like some of you have said - ratings win.


What are these people going to be like when they are eventually in the real world? How many of the contestants from the Australian and US shows have put the weight back on? Those that have put the weight back on have said that its because they got back into their old habits, not having enough time to exercise and basically, because they've lost the weight, they can relax and eat whatever they want again!!!


Eating healthy and adequate exercise is a life long quest and this shouldn't stop just because you're a normal weight again. What are these people thinking? What are the producers thinking? Clearly, its not all about the contestants and the media spotlight triumphs again.

Posted by: John | 06-Mar-2009 03:57 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

I think that the knowledge and info' the participants receive is very valuable...re eating, and need for exercise, as it seems that they've never bothered to learn anything re health. However, I think that the exercises they are pushed to do when they are still hugely heavy are dangerous..I also believe the practice of be-littling them is horrible, and the games are stupid.


There are lots of strategies and methods ..eg NLP (psychotherapy, hypnosis etc ) that could be used to clear the underlying 'issue/s' that started them on their journey to where they found themselves dangerously over-weight.


The elimination process teaches people to be and stay separate..I'm more important than you type energy., when we all should be helping each other....caring, respect, etc helps shed 'fat, anger, fear' a lot better than the angry stuff...the new age 'gurus' say..'we are one', one with the earth, people, plants, animals etc....time is running out...the show will only survive if people watch it..don't watch!

Posted by: T57 | 06-Mar-2009 04:39 PM | 2 out of 5 stars

I think the Biggest Loser is a foe of our industry because it reinforces the quick fix and unrealistic expectations of overweight clients. I get asked by clients everytime a new series comes on about how can they lose so much weight so quickly. But the BL is just the tip of the iceberg of the direction our industry has been drifting over the last few years.
I have been an Instructor for 18 years and like most people started off because I wanted to help people make life long changes for the better. I subscribed to Network magazine and went to all the new workshops for new information I could pass on to my clients. Presenters were passionate about spreading their knowledge and gave freely what we now are expected to pay dearly for.
These days I notice that information is no longer shared freely between those of us in the fitness industry, every second person seems to have a 'brand' they are trying to sell or franchise. It seems information is no longer shared by people who have a passion to help others, our industry has become a platform to make money by selling the latest training idea. When I started out we would scoff at those contraptions sold on day time TV with '3 easy payments you can have a flat stomach, etc' Now that sort of selling mentality has spread to fitness professionals by packaging up an idea and franchising it off to other fitness professionals.

I think it is time we all paused and got back to basics before we lose the respect of our clients and our peers.

Posted by: Adam | 06-Mar-2009 05:03 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

The show is great, can you beleive the amount of people worldwide that start their own fitness program and acheive a better state of health and save millions of dollars of government money by not developing illnesses? All the contestants are checked by doctors and I don't beleive they would start a high risk person on an intense exercise program like this without supervision very close by at all times.
If you are a good trainer and a client asks why they can't lose 8kg or so per week then you would explain that the extreme side of things which they show on TV has a dangerous side and that your job as a trainer is to make their exercise program as safe as you can and that you have their best interests at heart. If you are a good trainer then your clients should respect you and if you tell them something they should beleive it more than the words of some TV show trainer.
If any trainers out there think that the show portrays us in a bad way, get over yourself. If you can't market your passion for helping people enough that a show like this discourages clients from training with you then you are obviously not putting out the message that you ARE passionate about the industry. People see us and what we do and should be incouraged or even inspired to change themselves and I don't see how a TV show can change peoples opinions that I am not passionate about helping them.
There, that is my rant.

Posted by: Magic | 06-Mar-2009 05:31 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

How irresponsible to have people eating only 3 times a day and exercising to the point of continual injuries. If these people really wanted to show a public fight of obesity they should perhaps get their facts straight first.
Some huge topics omitted from the program are psychology, nutrition for results and BSL control.

Posted by: Sean | 06-Mar-2009 05:34 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

While The Biggest Loser does changes the lives of most of the contestants, we must remember that it's a highly edited & contrived T.V show. The biggest issue trainers face is that the methods used by Shannan & Michelle on the show are far removed from the methods taught & promoted by the leading fitness education providers. The majority of trainers would be more cautious in their approach to exercising morbidly obese clients at such high intensity so early on. On the other side of the coin there are a lot of people whose fear of exercise is reinforced by the shows high intensity, boot camp methods.

Having said that, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes in regards to medical, nutritional & psychological support to get the contestants to where the show needs them to be. There is a lot at stake if the contestants don't lose enough weight throughout the course of the show. At the end of the day the show is inspirational & entertaining to some & loathed by others.

I do agree with the comments made by "T57" about the direction of the fitness industry. Too many people trying to cash in these days.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 05:48 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

IS IT SAFE? NO

IS IT EFFECTIVE? NO - it doesn't mentor a long term/life-changing attitude towards self-care

IS IT RESPECTFUL? NO!

WHO CARES? If contestants accept being treated so harshly, will contestants then treat themselves & others in life harshly.

Posted by: Scott Stefl | 06-Mar-2009 05:51 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I find the show to be addictive as I want to see how these people get on with their lives in the "house". I watch it for the entertainment value.

I think it is a great educational tool for us as trainers for all the people who come to us and say I want to lose 10kg in 10 weeks or more like they do on the Biggest Loser. This is where we need to step up and explain what is a realistic or unrealistic goal.


Of course there are a lot of bad thing that go on with the show (i.e. bad technique, high intensity workouts with obese, drinking 3000 calories for immunity), but it is a show with limited time to get results. I think the trainers do a great job for what they are given. If you only have 10 weeks to get someone to lose a huge amount of weight for a money prize, it is more about getting them moving than correcting their technique so their HR falls and then has to be picked back up. And how many of those contestants would go out and have a huge shake or some of the other temptation foods if they weren't in the "house"? It is trying to teach them to focus on the long term goal rather than satisfiy their craving and about choices. They weren't forced to drink it!

Has it helped our industry, overall I believe it has. Are you a personal trainer knocking on the doors of these obese people to get them as clients? Most of us aren't and they won't come to a gym because of the way they look. They already get ridiculed enough. We want clients who aren't quite that overweight and more active.

This shows gives some hope to obese people who are scared to get started on their own. It can motivate obese people to get out and change their lives. Obese people are in serious need of help and who better to help than us.

The show shows that it isn't easy to lose the weight, but it can happen.

What no one metions is the talk Michelle had with Cameron last night after he walked out on her. She made him think about what he has always been angry about and got the emotion out about his wife telling him to lose weight or she is leaving. There is always an emotional aspect to someone being in this condition, even if they did it to themself, we have to show empathy.


But the people on the show are amazing for the courage they display in finally trying to make a difference in their lives. For all the bad points about the show there are so many good ones if you change your perspective.

Posted by: Bill Moore | 06-Mar-2009 06:20 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I'm in a unique position to comment on the show, (with the possible exception of David, a previous contestant) as I'm married to Michelle Bridges, The Biggest Loser's red team trainer.

It's fascinating that there is so much commentary about TBL, itself a significant factor as it reflects the level of interest in physical activity and healthy eating in the community at large - finally!

Those who have been in the industry for a bit of time will know that we spent years just trying to get people interested in exercise, so the level of awareness it has raised is in itself a positive.
Until now there has never been the laboratory like conditions for exercise and obesity that TBL has provided, so seeing the results are enlightening to say the least. A few truisms have come out of it I believe, and if you'll indulge me I'd like to list a few.

First - speaking as an ex-trainer and lifetime exerciser - who amongst us in the fitness fraternity would have thought that you could flog these poor souls that hard without someone dying? But no-one has. In fact the most remarkable feature is just how much punishment a de-conditioned body can take. You could almost argue that as personal trainers we haven't been working our clients hard enough to get the results that they came to us (and paid us) for. I asked the medic on set one day what was the most prevalent injury amongst them. His reply? "Blisters".

There is a lot of criticism about belittling the contestants. The contestants are absolute heroes in the eyes of the trainers and everyone involved with the show, and I know that both Michelle and Shannan have nothing but respect and admiration for them. Many of them remain in touch and some have become good friends. These men and women have stood up on national television and said 'enough's enough'. They mightn't deserve your sympathy, but you've got to admire their courage.

When it comes to putting the weight back on, as Michelle says, the knowledge and strength contestants get from their involvement with TBL is like winning the lottery. Some people blow it on the pokies, and some people invest it wisely. Importantly, that's about psychology, not physiology, and there is no research to suggest that if you go through a rapid weight loss program of healthy eating and exercise you'll put the weight back on.

Sometimes the show suggests that the exercises are unsafe or they don't warm up properly. Again, what actually happens and what comes out of the edit suite are sometimes two different things. That's reality TV.

Overall it would be hard not to recognise the positive effect that it's had on the community. I can't tell you how many emails we get from people who have turned their life around after being inspired to do so by the contestants and trainers. These are people whose lives were wretched and horrible because of their poor life choices, and they've reinvented themselves when no-one else thought they could. The emotion around these 'journeys' (pardon the cliche) is extraordinary. Often when people meet Michelle in the street they literally burst into tears. Not because it's Michelle, but because she personifies the enormous emotional burden of living a life of unhappiness due to obesity, and ultimately, relief from leaving it behind.

We both believe that there is a paradigm shift in the community away from the gentle approach to weight loss prevalent in the nineties (remember when high impact classes became taboo? and walking, yoga and Pilates for weight loss rocketed to prominence?) to a desire for a more results focused regime. So many weight loss candidates of that era are still just that - weight loss candidates. And a lot of them are over it. Endless diets, training philosophies etc. have soured these people and we seem to be withdrawing to what we all intuitively knew - that if you flog yourself in the gym and stop eating like a teenager you'll strip the fat. Enter TBL, confirming the growing suspicions of the overweight public.

As for the show itself, yes it's cheesy, yes it's unrealistic, yes it's controversial. But it's watched by over 50% of the national female viewing audience (think about that for a minute - 1 out of 2 women who turn on a TV watch TBL) and speaking as someone who's been kicking around the fitness industry for a long time, it's been instrumental in revitalising the general public's interest in fitness, and in reinforcing the idea that a personal trainer can really make a difference in our national obesity crisis. And every trainer in the country has benefitted from it to some extent. Just make sure that you give the punters what they've paid for when they come and see you. If they want a shoulder to cry on, send them to a life coach. Otherwise, work 'em hard.



Bill you have some very valid points, thanks so much for your contribution. It's great to see an insiders perspective - Network

Posted by: JMc | 06-Mar-2009 06:23 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

This show is truly inspirational. Yes we all realize that it does not depict realistic expectations BUT it can generate a feeling of 'If they can do it, then why not me". Yes I agree it is not the safest way to lose weight, or the healthiest. Technique needs to be sorted out to prevent injury. There are lots of issues generated by the show. The motto to weight loss should be consistency and moderation, not all or nothing.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 07:39 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Unless you've lived as a morbidly obese person you don't fully understand the mental affliction and trauma that comes along with it all. I lived all of my adult life over 130kg until finally at age 37 I just about packed in life. I had to lose weight fast and furiously or I wouldn't have struggled through. 50kg shed in the first 7 months and then 10 in the next 5 months. The only way to stay driven and focused - for me... and for so many others that have lived with the debilitating disease for so long. You've already lost dignity, lost self-respect and so much more when you reach morbidly obese. I now have hope, a life and a future. That TV show lit a fire and saved my life. Was it safe? Perhaps not - but neither was living at over 130kg.



Excellent point. You should be proud of yourself for achieving what you did. - Network

Posted by: Daniel Neave | 06-Mar-2009 08:14 PM |

T57 hit the nail on the head.


The biggest loser has its market and the fitness industry has its market which to me is totally different to the biggest losers. At the end of the day if people want quick results using training methods endorsed from the biggest loser show then thats great, however I won't be training them!!! Why would we ( the fitness industry) want to train and build a buisness servicing short term quick fix mentality buyers who will drain us and sap our creative energy that others could be benifiting from and who would most likely pay a lot more for.


Do I support the biggest loser? For sure! It creates more opportunity for us to educate and pass on our information!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Mar-2009 10:29 PM |

Besides the fact that it is very entertaining for many viewers (drama), i am sickened by the whole thing...it makes me feel very angry! I have worked in the health & fitness Industry for 15 years, Group fitness instructing, PT, Management, Remedial Massage, Reiki Healer/Teacher, all over Aus...never in all my experience have i seen such an unrealistic & backward (not to mention terribly dangerous) way of trying to help someone. I am so disappointed with everyone who has put this show together! It is sending out the wrong message (on all levels)...It needs to be taken over by a group of compassionate, knowledgeable & intelligent professionals!

Posted by: Chris | 07-Mar-2009 12:10 AM | 5 out of 5 stars

Love it or hate it one can not undermine the marketing potential it creates for P/T's and the fitness industry. Business people know, marketing is the key, whether good or bad. Personally i think authors of above comments conclude obese people are stupid because they watch a programme like this and think that unrealistic hard training and 1200 calories a day is gonna get them in shape in 12 weeks???? Come on guys overweight people are just that..FAT BODIES NOT FAT HEADS. What it shows is that diet and exercise is the key to weight loss. And excuses are just that... excuses.....

Question:???? Has Biggest Loser attributed to obesity in Australia, or is it a bi-product of our unhealthy society and our need for quick fix solutions... Dont shoot the messenger guys, shoot the creator.

Posted by: Gwenda Smith WA | 07-Mar-2009 12:31 AM | 1 out of 5 stars

I am so pleased there are so many trainers in OZ who take pride in CORRECT technique food habits and sustainable training for their clients. I have no respect for the trainers on this ridiculously dangerous show, it is simply ego for them. I wonder how well ego will be when there is a death on the show!

As an experienced theatre nurse Im sure there are many surgeons rubbing their hands together as they see all the opportunities of surgery coming their way all as a result of the shocking way the exercises are performed. The amount of fat around the vital organs of these people is so extreme that there is no way there wont be consequences for the stupid training they are put through.

Shakes are NOT nutritional and are not good for bowel health.

Humiliation intimidation degradation and making people dislike another all for the sake of money WOW what type of people are they all? To get to such a size and only be enticed to loose it by possibly winning money,certainly is not a good way to improve anyone's health or well being.

The show is load of absolute rubbish and flys in the face of what we have been taught.

To all the sensible trainers I wish you very best of success in your business keep up the great work.

Posted by: HG | 07-Mar-2009 08:07 AM | 5 out of 5 stars

I love the show as does my whole family. Yes it is entertaining to see what these contestants (and that's exactly what they are) are put through. Like any other reality show they are chosen on personality, provided they are also obese. I do cringe watching the lack of technique and the "go until you collapse" mentality of the trainers, however it is doubtful that "real world" people would put themselves through such torture under their own steam. To be that obese and hitting the gym we can only hope that under the watchful eye of a professional trainer that technique and real goals are set.


If this show encourages the disturbing number of obese Australians to get up off their bums and get moving then it can only be a positive thing.

Posted by: Vicki | 07-Mar-2009 11:27 AM | 3 out of 5 stars

I think the biggest loser is a great motivator for our overweight public but it is also unrealistic. It's not healthy to lose so much weight so quickly. Weight loss is about lifestyle changes not quick fixes. Why are the contestants promoting quick fix solutions? They should have been taught how to prepare meals in the real world again what happened to the lifestyle change?

How many of these past contestants have gained the weight that was lost so quickly?

Posted by: Anonymous | 07-Mar-2009 12:25 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

Hate it or Love it.. You can't please everyone.

As a trainer myself I train obese people and they WANT to work hard, they work harder than most of my other clients.. The determination that my clients have are amazing! I am so proud of them pushing through everything. It all comes down to us trainers to educate our clients and set them up for a successful future.

So many people are getting inspired to get up off the couch after watching biggest loser and do something themselves. It shows people that it is never to late!

I agree with many other comments that technique is out the window and I think of the long term injuries it could possibly cause, but go to your nearest gym and watch a pump class - I see such poor technique in those classes and it is impossible for the trainer on stage to perfect everyone in the class. Trainers need to get out there on the gym floor and be more proactive to help the general population. I can't stand when I see a trainer walk past someone training with horrible technique and ignore it. It takes two minutes to show them the correct technique. It will make a difference int he world and hey - it might be your next potential client.

For the show - it is TV and people want entertainment factor... It could be a great way to teach people some cooking techniques and more knowledge about food and what to eat and how to know how much to eat.

Posted by: snez paunovic | 08-Mar-2009 12:19 AM | 3 out of 5 stars

I am on the fence about the show.It is entertainment for some and inspiration to others. Quick fix is what it's all about these days. For each person that is inspired to change their life, there are probably 10 that would rather take a meal replacement than get off their couch-why do something that is going to hurt?

As disillusioned as I am about the industry(and I haven't been in it for long but I myself have exercised for a long time-I teach GF)I still believe that even if I can help just 1 person then it is worth it and if TBL can do the same then great.

ps.Am I the only one who thinks AJ is boring?How about an ex contestant as host?

How about a reality show that follows the contestants battle with the excess skin as a result of such fast weight loss?

I tell you it will only be a matter of time before the public's desire for reality TV takes it all to a level more perverse than what it already is.

Posted by: Amanda Bracks | 08-Mar-2009 07:55 AM | 5 out of 5 stars

I think it is a fantastic show and completely inspiring for my staff and members. I encourage my staff to watch it - so they are motivated to changing people's lives.


The biggest problem with our industry is that we are so critical over different techniques if their not our own personal beliefs.


The most important thing to remember about the Biggest Loser is that it is television and is sensationalized - it has to be otherwise it wouldn't get viewers and wouldn't be aired. Therefore the things they are showing are controversial. The fights, temptation, the one minute flogging in the gym are all the things shown for TV and to get viewers and hype about the show. It's called marketing!


Does this encourage people at home wanting to lose weight? Well my clubs seem to have record membership sales during the time the show is on air. Biggest Loser continue to have record number of people apply for the show and they are helping thousands of people lose weight from their web site - why not!


There has been comment that people at home will go and do the controversial exercises by themselves. If they haven't exercised for years they are not going to go and do sprints with sand bags etc. The show shows the importance of having a personal trainer and hopefully our industry can capitalize on this.


My advice is to run campaigns during the airing of the show each year to attract the de-conditioned market and then you have the opportunity to train these people how you want to and get them results.


Basically if the shows inspires people to simply get moving...... how can it not be an absolute WINNER! Most days i personally get tears in my eyes so happy of what they are accomplishing.


Biggest Winner in my mind

Posted by: Renee | 08-Mar-2009 01:45 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I love the show and have watched all series. The show is all about money and viewers and probably have a lot of stuff you wouldn't do with an overweight, unfit client. But, if this starts a conversation about obesity, eating habits and encourage someone to take the first step to change their life, it's definitely worth it!!!

Michelle and Shannan are showing the contestants and Australia that you need to get to the root cause of your issues and get back to basics and cut the excuses.

What I love most is when transformation happens, when the penny finally drops. Just hoping the contestants carry that with them for the rest of their lives.

Posted by: Ferreo Australia | 08-Mar-2009 03:35 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

I feel i am watching the show as i only have to nights off. To sit in front of a tv and chill out. I am a head chef and therefore work long hours into the night. So my nights off are quite vegetative. The show draws you in but as someone studying and getting into the industry. It is a mixed bag for me because you do see bad technique used and they are not being gradually introduced to the new life of healthy living. So how do they expect to live in the real world once the show is over. After there personal trainers on the outside start to cost them money and they realise that it is a lot of hard work to eat right and buy the correct foods and to maintain the lifestyle. I think it is good in some respects but mainly it is ratings for the bigger corporations. The worse part is it will absolutely crush 90% of the people that grace the screen. But its their decision and that's my opinion.

Posted by: Sue Wells | 08-Mar-2009 06:45 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

While we know this is a TV program that is designed to get ratings, those struggling with weight issues I fear will be put off PT because of the grueling workouts and poor nutrition these people are put through.

The inappropriate modes chosen for the contestants such as running morbidly obese people on beaches etc will result in injury to backs, knees and feet in the long term. If 10x your body weight goes through each foot on impact and you weigh150kgs, that's 1.5tonnes per foot each time their foot hits the ground. Stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, stress incontinence and PFP will be just 4 of the outcome possibilities. This will put them out for months and back to square one.

Their bio mechanics are already compromised with poor centre of gravity placement, poor posture, unstable joints and poor muscle recruitment patterns and strength.

While intensity is an individual thing, in the de-conditioned they are going to use carbohydrate as fuel initially more than a conditioned person would. The show takes this fuel source out initially and the trainers are almost gleeful when the contestant throws up that it has something to do with their training and that "they haven't lost their touch"! The nutrition these people are given in part maybe ok in the short term for the morbidly obese but to have them exercise at that intensity while eating such a low calorie intake is irresponsible and sends the wrong message to the viewers.

What the biggest loser does for these contestants is short term. A long term solution is not as interesting or dramatic to watch but is better for the person taking part's health and permanency of result.

Posted by: Marg | 08-Mar-2009 07:06 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

The show is totally unrealistic according to the real world.

Who can afford to only focus on training and what they eat 24/7?

The real world involves working, chores, looking after family and FUN.

How to manage weight loss and achieve a normal life is not taught on the show, in a nutshell it is void of reality or progressive health and fitness life skills.

I constantly have to answer questions from my PT cients and Cert 3 + 4 TAFE students regarding this show and the huge amount of weight that seems to be lost in record time. The intensity of exercise in the early stages also is of great concern. The show contraindicates everything we educate our general population or special populations clients and future industry instructors to do and achieve over a normal period of time.

I was given the chance to cast as a trainer (along with other fitness professionals from around Australia) for this show and refused on principle!

We need to send a clear message to our community that there are many other much safer ways to achieve our fitness goals.

For the few that are inspired to exercise because of the show....how may others would give up before they start because of it?

Posted by: Anonymous | 08-Mar-2009 07:52 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

I agree 100% with Marg. Your last two lines are spot on:

For the few that are inspired to exercise because of the show....how may others would give up before they start because of it?

Posted by: Anonymous | 08-Mar-2009 10:23 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

This show has done nothing but give the passionate PT a bad image. Why? Because everyone out there who has never been to a gym or partaken in fitness at this level, or more importantly is overweight or at worst, obese, is led to believe that this is the treatment that they will receive from a PT. That is so not the case.


Personally, I have been from being a lightweight bodybuilder through to being bulimic, and then morbidly obese for 8 years after having my son, through to being anorexic. I beat the lot of it, and this is why I became a P.T. If I can do it, then so can they!!


I am not out there to ridicule, intimidate or humiliate my clients. Nor do I, but as far as I, as well as my clients are concerned, this is exactly what happens on this reality TV show.


Not all of us P.T's are out there to be glorified. A lot of us are out there in the interest of not only the health of our communities but also the health of our nation as well. Why make the whole process look harder and more painful than it truly is. Seeing someone crying on TV because they failed their PT and team really isn't motivating anyone else watching at home to seek a healthier lifestyle.





Posted by: Michael Hennessy | 09-Mar-2009 07:48 AM | 1 out of 5 stars

Yep the show is a joke.

Have you seen much consistent weight management from former contestants?? NO......

Does it send a message of gradual lifestyle changes? NO....

Does the TV show you the hours of physio each contestant goes through to maintain the ridiculous training regime? NO....


And the part i hate the most is that is shows a "quick fix" or transformation that occurs over a short period of time. No individual without such a controlled environment stands a chance of emulating the 'success' these biggest losers are having. Its setting people up to fail and fall back into the low self esteem spiral that many of them struggle with. Also its showing people insanely tough training sessions and turning people away from exercise and any thought that exercise can be fun, enjoyable and a daily activity.


I hate it! (in case you were wondering.......)

Posted by: Tim | 09-Mar-2009 10:06 AM |

As has already been said this is a TV show specifically designed to earn money. There are benefits to the industry certainly but I think that a disclosure should be added to the program detailing the safety risks involved (remembering that they most likely have a team of medical personnel on hand), and the healthier alternatives such as lifestyle changes. Although the techniques evidently work, for the general population they are not safe and not long term. The temptations are ludicrous. I'm a pig and I don't think I could drink a 3L milk shake. Maybe chocolate flavoured!!!!!

Posted by: Ryan Heldoorn | 09-Mar-2009 10:28 AM | 1 out of 5 stars

Firstly, the show has done nothing but further damage an industry that has become so geared towards quick fix, aesthetically result driven outcomes.

Reality tv, please. How is taking 12wks off your life to loose weight reality.

What is reality is what happens to the contestants after the show!Adrenal exhaustion, endocrine failure, stress fractures, tendinitis issues, degenerative joint disease...........etc.

I had one client who competed in a similar contest that it took 2 years to rehabilitate to get her energy levels back to norm and off garbage supplements that she had become so addicted too.

Congrats, you have created a show that turns fat beat up people into skinny beat up people.
This hasn't hurt our industry, IT'S THE PROBLEM WITH THE INDUSTRY!!!

Posted by: Nicole T | 09-Mar-2009 11:49 AM | 1 out of 5 stars

I'm just waiting for someone to have a mild/major heart attack etc due to the huge amount and high intensity cardio they are 'prescribing' these people. It makes me angry as a trainer to witness these people being smashed and tortured to loose weight at an unhealthy and unrealistic rate. Yeah we know the show is designed to make money, but seriously, its hurting the industry more then doing it good.

Posted by: Mattias | 09-Mar-2009 12:59 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

I am actually quite ashamed to see that some of you think that this show resembles anything that would act as positive influence to anyone.

The show is appalling. It is nothing but a sadistic game show. I, like some others that have posted here, am astounded that no one has died on this show yet.

The fact that some of you watch and enjoy the show, demonstrates the need for much stricter guidelines and higher education in the Fitness Industry in general.

If they did want to 'fix' this outrageous excuse for Television, the focus should be put on body fat %, as one or two of you have already suggested. This would at least stop the outrageously restrictive diets that these people go on.

This has helped the Fitness Industry in 1 way and 1 way only. It has shown people that despite them being morbidly obese, they can still lose the weight if they put in the effort. Other then that, it has given people unrealistic and false ideas about weight loss, health and fitness.

Reality Television in general has turned our society into voyeurs and The Biggest Loser is by no means an exception. When will Channel 10 (who airs most of them) take a little responsibility and stop doing this to our society?

On the same subject, So You Think You Can Dance does a similar thing. It takes fit, healthy young people and works them into the ground so badly that these normally healthy people end up with numerous injuries, poor nutrition, exhaustion and sleep deprivation just to name a few.

This voyeurism that is Reality Television has to stop.

Posted by: Borbone James | 09-Mar-2009 04:18 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

I don't watch the show avidly but have seen it, know the concept and have been a trainer at a biggest loser run from the gym I used to work at. Do I like the show? NO, can't stand it, can't stand the trainers, participants, advice or completely crazy system of voting people off (surely the lowest weight loss = elimination). And this is my biggest issue, don't completely destroy someones confidence, motivation and will to succeed by allowing them to be voted off when they have lost more weight than someone else.

As we all know, people want a quick fix these days. Why do we learn to train in a progressive and safe fashion? Because we are looking to get a lifestyle change and not a quick fix solution. There is no quick fix solution, there is only healthy nutrition and regular exercise. Even if you cross train, TRX, vibro plate, longrun, bootcamp or whatever else your training method is, it needs to be something that is sustainable for the rest of that clients life. You may get results quicker, but that doesn't mean you stop.

Education and progression cannot be passed on during 12 weeks of intense training, and a lifestyle change cannot be adopted in such a short space of time.

However, the show does get people thinking about things, it does get more people into a gym and it does get people asking questions. And whether the program is good or bad, anything that increases numbers through the door of my facility and allows me the opportunity to make a change to that persons life, then I won't complain!!

Posted by: Michelle Wood | 09-Mar-2009 08:20 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

I've always loved the biggest loser and have watched most episodes on most series. I believe it does a lot for not only the contestants but also the viewers. Whilst I realise it encourages drastic measures for weight loss different people need different things and what these people have done to their bodies requires drastic change - the show saves lives as far as I'm concerned.

What I don't understand is why a show that promotes healthy eating and regular exercise is also promoting a meal replacement of the same brand - it actually makes me quite angry. I have never believed in meal replacements in fact feel they do more harm than good and feel the biggest loser is completing contradicting what they are promoting in their ad breaks. I can not understand their thinking on this one??

Posted by: Heather | 09-Mar-2009 11:53 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

Many people have touched on the fact that this show gives the public the wrong idea about the fitness industry, weight loss & nutrition but take into consideration those people setting out to become trainers and moving into the industry with incorrect information from what they have seen trainers doing on such TV shows. How can the industry move forward when people who are well known in the industry commit themselves to participating in such bad practices?? The people involved need to think more about how the public and industry suffer not just about their bank accounts - you would think after one or two seasons they would have enough money to give it a rest right?

Posted by: Jennifer Sage | 10-Mar-2009 04:37 AM |

Wow, great to see such passionate comments down there in Oz regarding your BL. Here in the US, people are just as divided, just as passionate. As the author of the blog post you linked to - "An Open Letter to Jillian Michaels" it's quite obvious that I abhor their methods.


My post was directed to her horrific methods of having the "victims" (as I think of them) ride a Spin bike, but as a personal trainer, I echo the thoughts of many others who have posted here. It's bad for our industry, it's bad for our clients, it's bad for the trainers. I, too, agree that for every person who is "inspired" by TBL to go out and lose weight (bravo! good for them!) there are many, many more who are turned off by it, and as a result, who may never achieve the joys of health or their desired weight because of the fear that the methods on TBL are the only way that are going to work. That would scare ME away, and I'm passionate about exercise! The "No Pain No Gain" mentality has been dead for over a decade, and we see much success without going down that path!


Here's to a healthy and fit life, without the "suffering"!


Jennifer Sage, CSCS

Posted by: Matt O'Neill | 11-Mar-2009 02:45 AM | 3 out of 5 stars

Hi Guys, I did a thorough review 3 years ago of the pros and cons of TBL & the lessons we can all take away (www.smartshape.com.au/a/693.html).

Many of the positive elements have been listed above, so I'll focus on my main concern. The biggest of which is the introduction of meal replacements. Sure, they are convenient and you can get quick results that are motivating to continue, but there are costs. Firstly, when I recently reviewed pharmacy-based meal replacement programs for Choice Magazine (Feb 2009) we discovered diets below 5000kJ. Cutting back from 10,000kJ to less than 5,000KJ will drop your metabolic rate by around 5% within 24hrs, another 5% within a few weeks and if maintained, by up to 20% over a number of months.
Less dramatic energy deficits can still get results without the hit to metabolic rate.

Secondly, meal replacements are processed foods that even with fortification with vitamins and minerals cannot replicate the synergy of nutrition present in natural whole foods like dairy, nuts, seeds, lean meats, etc. At best, they are a poor comparison and at worst, they are powdered junk food.

Thirdly, diet shakes do not teach people what is in real food, how to manage real food or their appetite around real food. I have around 300 people in an email program with customised real-food diets now & am inspired by their keenness to embrace nutrient-rich eating and reject processed foods. I'm also seeing that the optimum balance of nutrients from wholefoods is effectively re-wiring faulty metabolisms, delivering results & energising attitudes towards healthy food. When you see this happen and you know the science, it's a natural choice to demand nutrient-rich, real food ad want to share this message.

Posted by: Jo in Taz | 11-Mar-2009 08:58 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I love reality tv and this show is no exception. I love to watch the journeys of these people but I hate the big picture messages within the show - like - you can neglect your health for most of your life and fix it in 3 months. I hate to see people with really awesome weight loss figures disappointed in their loss because it is a game.
I hate the idea that a piece of chocolate is the enemy. It isn't - it is just a piece of chocolate. And finally losses of 5 kilo's and more each week are the norm - this is just not attainable for so many, for so many reasons. I'll keep watching though because as I said - I just love watching the journey, and aren't we all amazed at the results!

Posted by: Snezana Vujic | 12-Mar-2009 06:33 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

One of my concerns is whether the successful contestants that have gone into the fitness industry after TBL use the same principles and techniques in their practices?

They would have to have done Cert 3and or 4 and hopefully been re-educated in the long term successes of making life long changes and the benefits of exercising with your capabilities and lifestyle in mind.If only we were all so lucky to be able to put our lives on hold to achieve what these people do.I have also read that a lot of the contestants continue to exercise for up to 4 hours a day to keep the weight off.True or not-the average person trying to hold down a job and keep a family and household going cannot afford that luxury.

Surely this filtering down of incorrect and damaging information and poor practices will only hurt the industry in years to come.

I think a lot of PTs will have to defend their way of training .

Along with all the fad diets and TV fitness equipment ,I think the TBL weight loss way will be around for many years to come ,until somebody realises that they don't really work,they will be a part of society and just another technique of quick fix weight loss to join all the other quick fix fads.

Posted by: J | 13-Mar-2009 10:08 AM | 3 out of 5 stars

Obviously you need to ensure that people are educated correctly, but the reality is that people who fit the mold of a biggest loser contestant are not attracted to our facilities and that is the real problem we face...


There are tonnes of other industries or profession's who would kill for a 12 week prime time TV show that airs 6 nights a week, and yes i understand that they can use methods that do not match with the training many of us have received but at least they seem to be able to attract applicants of this nature! I work in a suburb noted for some of the most obese people in the country and i can promise you that we don't even make a dent with them! regardless of the methods used, they are just not comfortable to enter any health club type facilities, so anything that helps them start to consider their health status should be applauded and capitalised on WITH THE RIGHT INFORMATION...

Posted by: Carol | 13-Mar-2009 09:17 PM |

To be the biggest loser or not to be the biggest loser .That is the question!

(You could substitute "trainer" for "loser" in above.hehe!)

From a PT's point of view:

YES the injury factors associated with training such big bodies, at such high intensity levels , is definitely a concern to all. But that is what the TBL show is all about "high Intensity" from all angles.To get results. Really in your Face stuff.

Meanwhile... back at the ranch, I can't put my weight loss clients through such rigours! Have to take into account working within the boundaries of any treating professionals they may have already, medications, previous conditions and the like. Safe training overall works best! I want to improve my clients well being and not create more problems for them. I do discuss The Show with clients, to get their point of view and to give them mine. Its great actually because it creates some great conversations about the whole business !!! So Good for business in that sense!

Health and Fitness to all.

Posted by: Anonymous | 17-Mar-2009 05:16 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

Hey, let's just cut the bulls%#t and say what this show is all about - $$$

Ratings Dollars for CH10, endorsement dollars and appearance fees for the Trainers, and hopefully some dollars for fitness professionals that take the initiative to reap the rewards from the exposure the industry gets in one way or another from the show. Mate, even Michelle Bridge's husband, who I heard quit his job to become her manager, tries to justify why the trainers on TBL "smash" the contestants the way they do. Of course he would, it's in his best interest to. But come on Bill, there are many ways to create intensity safely in a workout, and the way it's done sometimes on the show is just not "safe". You can try and spin it as much as you want, but the educated out there aren't buying it.


So, let's call a spade a spade. The show is just that - a "show". On the show are "contestants" not clients. If you don't like the show, don't watch it. If clients come to you for advice and refer to things that are done on the show, advise them using your expertise as a fitness professional, and most of all - try and make some $$!!

Posted by: Steve | 16-May-2009 12:45 AM | 4 out of 5 stars

These grossly overweight people go on this show to do one thing.....lose weight fast. They all know what is going to happen, and how hard they are going to be made to train. They are all given complete medicals, and there are medical staff always present. They are given dietary advice and made to look at their old habits in the cold hard light of day.

Yes this is a 'show' and has parts to it that are for entertainment......but I disagree completely with many of the comments about it being dangerous and someone will die! Rubbish. 3 years on and no deaths, just living proof that massive weight loss is achievable with hard work and dedication.......something that most people seem to have forgotten, including many personal trainers in this country.

The old fallacy of working in your 'fat burning zone' for long periods has been shown to be just that - a fallacy. Hard, intense workouts will always get the quickest results. No their technique may not be great, but when was the last time you saw a personal trainer training someone new to exercise and they had perfect technique? Most of all, without the biggest loser, these people would likely be draining our public health system for years, or be dead before long. And don't even get me started on the ones who complain 12 months later that they have put the weight back on. They are given support for months afterward, and I am sorry, did they have their eyes and ears closed while on the show.....can't they remember what they ate and what exercises they did?

I also agree whole heartedly with the harsh treatment they are given when they enter the house. They need to be 'broken' as such, so they will put all the excuses and denial and resistance behind them and can focus on doing what they joined the show for - losing weight. This show should be a boon for Aussie personal trainers who should have overweight people queuing up for a session. Rather than complain, make the most of this opportunity to grow your PT business!