ATF Classic: Why Biggest Isn’t Best
Today I’m sharing the very first post I ever wrote for Angry Trainer Fitness as part of our ATF Classic strand…
Anyone who’s followed me for some time knows that I have many issues with the Biggest Loser TV show, and I’ve never held back from expressing them. In truth my view has changed a little since I first wrote this post and my attitude towards Jillian has definitely softened considerably! I now recognize she had a part to play in a show and I can’t argue with her success. In fact I quite like the work she’s doing now that she’s off the series…
Plus recently I was fortunate enough to actually meet Mr. Bob himself at his book launch in NYC – what a great guy and as I said, he’s a true class act (check out the Related Posts below). His Skinny Rules book is a great resource for people looking to get on a healthy diet and exercise program and his honesty is refreshing. I mean really…who doesn’t like Bob?
This post turned out to be a huge hit and one of the ATF site’s most read articles to date. To this day I still get comments on it, both good and bad! I just re-read the post myself and boy was I angry! It seems that almost 2 years later I’m a bit more tame and tolerant. So have a read and let me know what you think.
Here we go!
Why Biggest Isn’t Best!
Anyone who knows me knows I hate the Biggest Loser show – with a passion.
NBC’s long running weight loss show may be a huge hit (the series is now into its 10th season) but from a personal training perspective I think the show is wrong on so many levels – and gives a terrible, and misleading, impression of the fitness industry
Where to begin – here’s my five point takedown of the TV fitness juggernaut…
1) MONEY FOR NOTHING: First off, why are we rewarding people for doing nothing but workout, while they live in a beautiful ranch in LA, have all of their food cooked and prepared for them, and are given thousands of free ‘training’ hours (I use the word ‘training’ loosely) with monetary compensation? I wonder how many people would audition if it wasn’t televised and they had no chance of winning $250,000? Then we’d see who really wants to change their life. All the while these contestants have no responsibilities; no spouses, no careers, no kids, nothing. It’s ridiculous to me. It’s the farthest thing from reality a “reality” TV show could get.
2) ADDICTION ISSUES: The contestants, like most obese people, clearly have emotional issues with food due to other life situations – and addiction problems as well – not unlike a drug addict, an alcoholic, or a smoker. Yet we wouldn’t offer these other groups of addicts money, fame, book deals, status, and zero responsibility for months for them to get them clean. Would we?
The show almost never addresses the psychological component of these peoples’ journey, except for when Jillian stops yelling for a moment to try and play therapist. And that is a disservice. There may be therapy as part of the program, but it’s not included in the show. I do believe trainers assume some role as a coach and mentor, but there are boundaries to adhere to and limits to a trainer’s ability. I see this show as people trading one excessive behavior for another, from excessive food to excessive exercise. Much the same as crack addicts are given methadone. To work out 6 hours per day, for months on end is just irresponsible, and impossible to maintain. Olympic level and professional athletes don’t even exercise that much.
3) WEIGHT EXPECTATIONS: For me The Biggest Loser sends the wrong message to the viewing public. Remember, less than 15% of Americans have a regular exercise regimen. And our obesity level is nearing a 30% national average. Our “want it now” attitude is perpetuated by this show. You did not get out of shape and 100 lbs. overweight in 3 months, what makes you think you can healthily lose that same amount of weight in that amount of time?
Statistically the longer you take to lose weight the more likely you are to keep it off. Makes sense, right? Every knowledgeable trainer will tell you that. But on the Biggest Loser, contestants cry on the scale at a loss of “only” 5 pounds in one week! They are devastated. That’s sick, I can’t even tell you how crazy it makes me. Is this the message we want to send to overweight people? That a 5 pound weight loss in a week is a failure?
4) NO PAIN, NO GAIN? The shows heart is in the right place, but on the training front I feel the show’s producers really dropped the ball. The training itself is borderline negligent. I am sure the contract the participants sign is as thick as a dictionary. Mark my words, someone will get seriously injured working out at the ranch. Fitness programs need to be planned, they need to be intelligent, they need to be individualized to some extent. To have people as out of shape, overweight, and as de-conditioned as these contestants are perform some of the exercises that they do is pure madness.
The idea behind training programs is progression, to make continual progress. You cannot do a 180 in life in anything, or go from 0 to 100, especially in a fitness regimen. It is a recipe for disaster. I cringe when I see these training sessions as I feel like I’m just waiting for something bad to happen. If Bob or Jillian are listening- what the hell are you doing? These people may look different on the outside, but inside they are struggling. If you force-fed an anorexic for months to bring them to a healthy weight, they would certainly look healthy but are they?
5) BOB AND JILLIAN: And that brings me to the Biggest Loser’s two trainers – Bob and Jillian. Hmm – where do I begin? Well, Bob I have to admit I like. I don’t agree with his training style, and his occasional rant, and I think he’s jumped ship a bit to “Jillian’s” style, but, I at least believe him and feel his compassion and caring for the contestants is genuine. He seems real.
As for Jillian, I cannot stand her. The fact that she is called “America’s Toughest Trainer” kills me. She is not the toughest, maybe the most annoying, maybe the loudest, but definitely not the toughest – and her training sucks. She to me is as fake as they come. I just want to vomit when she attempts to care and console the contestants. It seems like an act, and a bad one at that. The fact that they are both amazingly successful means just that, they are successful, at being “TV Trainers”. It doesn’t mean either is actually good.
Jillian’s mouth, her profanity, her yelling, and her belittling, humiliating, condescending attitude is a disgrace to the Personal Training profession. Would her approach be acceptable in any other industry? Would you see Dr. Drew, or Dr. Phil hurl profanities at rehab participants? No. It is simply unacceptable and really pisses me off. I have been in many situations where a rant would have felt great, but I bit my tongue because I am a professional.
The Biggest Loser has obviously helped a great number of people and anything that prompts a discussion of weight issues is good with me. But I actually think it’s the people that don’t make it as contestants, but whose interest in fitness is sparked by the show, that have the best chance at long-term success. I don’t think that the contestants themselves, save for the top 5 of each season, stand a great chance at beating their food demons.
The Biggest Loser could be more informative, more real, and has the potential to dispel myths instead of foster them. But that doesn’t make for good TV unfortunately. And that’s why it does a disservice to one of the most critical issues facing our nation today…
But what do you think? Do you agree with my thoughts? Does The Biggest Loser drive you crazy – and why? Start weighing in…
All information contained within this site, Angry Trainer Fitness.com, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed within this website. Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Alfonso on July 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm, and is filed under FITNESS TV. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|