I teach a lot of classes to personal trainers and those seeking to become trainers and I often encourage people to watch the Biggest Looser. I suggest this not as an example of what to do but rather to show them what NOT to do. Of course people lose a lot of weight on the Biggest Looser. But, is it because Jillian and Bob are the best personal trainers out there ?
Here is the scoop on how the Biggest Looser works
People lose weight because they are basically confined to a controlled environment (The Ranch), away from everybody and everything and all temptations for at least 3 months. People also eat approximately 1600 – 1800 calories a day (the average man and women eat 4000 and 3000 calories a day respectively). In addition, the contestants, exercise – a lot! People on The Biggest Looser exercise about 6 hours every day. Most of the exercise they do is aerobic exercise. They do this because aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories. Massive amounts of exercise and eating drastically less calories is what leads to all that weight loss.
So, my question is, could any trainer get the same fantastic results if they had the ability to :
- Control everything a person eats and does 24 hrs a day 7 days a week for 3 months
- Make that person exercise for about 6 hours a day, every day.
Of course they could.
Let’s not forget also that Jillian and Bob are not alone on the TV show. There are several people supporting their efforts including doctors, and physical therapists who mop up any injuries or problems that crop up during the taping of the TV show.
I recently watched a documentary on the Discovery Channel called Confessions of a Reality Show Looser which told the story of Erik Chopin who lost 214 pounds on the Biggest Looser. Unfortunately, he eventually gained almost all of that weight back. While this fact about contestants regaining weight is one of the dirty little secrets about the Biggest Looser, what I found most intriguing about the documentary was a segment where Erik Chopin said that he didn’t learn anything about how to eat properly when he was on the Biggest Looser. Wow!! That was a bombshell!
So, all those little tidbits about chewing sugarless gum to curb appetite and eating Jell-O were nothing more than product placements. That said to me that most of what he learned on the TV show was how to exercise 6 hours a day. I can say this because on a segment of Access Hollywood (or one of those type shows. I can’t remember which) in early 2010 we learn that Erik is once again working out for 6 hours a day. He’s doing what he was taught to do – massive amounts of exercise.
Now, I'm not bashing exercise and I'm definitely not bashing Erik Chopin. But I wanted to bring this discussion full circle, back to the trainers. If Jillian was the best personal trainer out there why did she not prepare her clients for life in the real world, arming them with what they would need to know to make good decisions after the lights of the Biggest Looser dimmed and weekly weigh-ins were not the norm? If that was not her job to do this (it may not have been. I don’t know), then why didn’t the nutritionists (that the show probably also employed), teach them? I don’t know but maybe it was because you can’t measure knowledge on a big scale at the end of every episode?
See my other comments about Jillian :