A Different Take on The Biggest Loser
I read this blog post today on a behind the scenes look at the biggest loser. It totally changed my perspective. Do you think the Biggest Loser could stand to add in more background details about the training without losing much of their audience? What do the viewers REALLY want to see?
Interestingly, the blog goes to great lengths to say how much medical support the contestants receive from, for example, paramedics and mental health professionals. The blogger says:
"This is the kind of multi-disciplinary communication that’s sorely missed in most personal training environments"
That may be true, but most personal training environments (and for that matter most medical environments) don't have the luxury of enlisting a multi-disciplinary team of professionals - our CURRENT healthcare system is NOT set-up that way! One of the things that I always mention when asked about this show and others like it is that it PRESENTS AN UNREAL EXPECTATION (WORLD). The comments in the blog serve to support my opinion. While it's true that most personal training environments CANNOT provide the type of 'behind the scenes' medical and other support that the blogger sites, it's also true that we trainers cannot live with our clients 24-7 as on the show, and that not many (if any) of our clients would be able to afford the type of medical support that the contestants apparently receive.
I applaud the show, if it is truly providing the type of behind-the-scenes support that the blogger talks about. it truly changes some of my opinion as a fitness professional, but it does not really change my view of this type of show not providing the viewing public of a 'real-world' view of what training and the whole 'getting healthy by losing weight, exercising and proper diet' is truly about. As the blog so correctly points out, if these contestants receive the type of back-room/behind the scenes support he speaks of, then this again points to the disparity of what the show represents, and what the 'real-world' clients and trainers are faced with.
Thanks for sharing the link and for your question.
I do think we should celebrate the transformations and applaud the trainers who are able to get results, but couldn't we all give pretty darn good results if we had our clients working out 3 hours a day and on a calorie restricted nutrition plan?
of course there had to be a different perspective, and I am glad you posted this question. I like Raven's reply.
Yes, I do have very heavy clients, and the only thing I have to show for is the fact that they are still 'exercising' after so many years and are operating on a decent level. Not much weight loss to speak of but all the vital signs are pretty good. But this is all the success that I could have hoped for. Through the years, we have been battling cancer and the ups and downs of life.
Also not to forget that the participants in the 'Biggest Loser' are carefully selected to be able to withstand the rigors of this training. Plus they have a medical staff standing by.
I am delighted for the people who were winning by losing. There is nothing like a 'before' and 'after' picture, and I wish everybody well. But the return to normal life is often difficult when they are not shielded from stress and the temptations that lead them to their starting weight.
Seeing those spectacular results does not make me feel diminished as a trainer. I do the best I can for the clients I have.
I think the trainers walk the fine line of staying within their scope of practice.
I think it's an illusion of what it really takes for a "normal" everyday working person living a "regular"life.
On the other hand if our medical world would pay a fraction of the time they spend on the biggest loser with their "regular" patients and if our primary care physicians would work together with nutritionists and alert their patients when they are 15 % overweight, our world would not be as obese as it is today.
I just hope the show inspires people more to lose weight than discourages them!
I do not watch programs like that; there is nothing real about reality tv. These types of programs are only entertainment... for some... not me.
A couple things:
1. I think the US and UK versions of the show are very different. Everybody I've spoken to about the UK version has positive things to say about. The US is a different story. So maybe it's yet another case of the American entertainment industry having to make everything over the top.
2. I had never seen the show before this interview. The reason that I reached out to Kevin was because I wanted to get some perspective. I went into it completely blind. After speaking with him I watched some episodes before writing the article. It's pretty amazing what goes on behind the camera vs. what happens on it.
Of course, none of this is an excuse. The show doesn't portray training in a good light. The other argument is that training shouldn't be portrayed in a good light. The quality of the industry as a whole is not where it should be. Maybe we need a kick in the ass and some public backlash to finally weed out the pretenders.
What I will note, and still believe is the most important point that came out of the article, is that the transformations are amazing. How many trainers do you know that can produce such a change in his or her clients physiques and lives?
I believe that we baby our clients too much and they can withstand a lot more than we give them credit for. I too fell victim to the "functional training bug" and regret it to this day. I don't care and my clients don't care if they have a perfectly aligned squat. They didn't come in to learn how to function properly, they came in to look and feel better. Why in the hell are we getting people to suspend themselves in the air and perform exercises for 60 minutes straight attached to handles? Is that really what they need?
So look at the show as both a challenge and a wake up call. There's no point in getting angry or hating on it. Learn from it what you can (i.e. the interdisciplinary care and the need to push clients harder than I see in most gyms) and focus on getting better.