Biggest Loser Inspires… Not Much
What’s so bad about The Biggest Loser?
As a fitness trainer with many years in the industry truly helping people get fit and into shape, shows like The Biggest Loser really irk me. I dislike the way the trainers work out their clients and how they disregard good form in place of thrashing their victims (sorry, clients) to do things they are not physically capable of doing properly. They make getting fit look like something painful and masochistic – who wants to go to the gym after witnessing someone having to run on a treadmill until she throws up in a bucket provided by her bully of a coach?
These shows take an approach to fitness much like crash diets do with nutrition – the idea of “crash fitness” is ridiculous which is probably why it makes for such entertaining TV. The big question is, do they actually inspire people to get active?
Real inspiration to get fit
A recent study published in the American Journal of Health Behavior (2013; 37 , 96-103) proved that people who watch The Biggest Loser are actually turned off exercise. Contrast that with a survey of local governments in the UK that found sports participation surged during the 2012 Olympic Games.
It turns out that when people imagine themselves being active they prefer the idea of being fluid, powerful and graceful in their movements (think Olympic athletes) as opposed to being red-faced, out-of-breath, awkward and having to be yelled at by a bully in front of a live audience (think Biggest Loser contestant).
The general consensus in a forum for personal trainers on the subject of The Biggest Loser was one of extreme distaste towards these kinds of reality shows. Michael Schmid had this to say, “…the physical training is abusive and at least borders on negligent. Contestants vomiting, passing out, being taken away in ambulances? How long would your gym be in business if those were common occurrences there? Not very long I’d bet.”
How can you use The Biggest Loser to your advantage?
- Stay away from The Biggest Loser for starters – that system of training is not workable nor is it real and now we know it’s not particularly inspirational either.
- Get yourself a book that has a system for getting active and fit with a step-by-step approach – you could try Fit Lean Healthy, 8 Simple Steps.
- Even better would be to hire a proper trainer who has a track record for helping people achieve their fitness goals and who understands and teaches correct exercise form so your workouts are both safe AND effective.