Unless you have just come in from living in the woods, you will have heard of The Biggest Loser. This reality show features morbidly obese individuals striving to lose weight and change their lifestyle, all under the guidance of "expert" trainers and staff. Now, this show has been on TV for a few years now and I can honestly say I have seen some of the early episodes during its first season. I tuned in during the first season more out of curiosity more than anything. I had clients ask about the show and the variety of workouts they perform, so I thought I should at least see a few shows to be able to make an informed comment. I wish I had something positive to say about the show, I really do.
But, sadly I cannot find any redeeming qualities in the show at all. First off let's talk about the contestants. They are all what is classed as "morbidly obese". Obesity is defined as:
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse affect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy. Morbidly obese individuals will have a body mass index greater than 40.0. Some of the medical conditions associated with obesity are: heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, low back pain, poor mobility, asthma, sleep apnea, various cancers, diabetes, GI reflux disease. These are just a few of the hundreds of medical conditions associated with obesity. The items that stand out in my mind as a fitness professional are: heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, low back pain, poor mobility, asthma, reflux. All of these conditions will not only determine an individuals' ability to exercise safely, but also will dictate what type of exercises that would be selected.
So, you can imagine my thoughts as I watched this show. Obviously no regard for the health of the contestants. It was just one dangerous exercise followed by another All, while their "expert" trainers yelled and belittled them to work hard, push more, go faster or further. The saddest part of this show I find, is that the trainers on this show are viewed as experts in their field. Now, I can't claim to know anything of their education or background. I do know that they both have appeared on other TV shows as guests and also both have books out. So, they must know what they are doing, right? So, you are probably wondering what prompted this rant?
Well, it first came to light early this morning as I was reading an article on the blog of Strength Coach, Mike Boyle. Here is the link to his article:
This is not a new blog post. But sadly, things have not changed that much with this show. The article basically commented about a contestant having to leave the show because of a stress fracture in her hip. Now, from past discussions I have had with other Strength Coaches in the U.S., this is not the first injury that has occurred on the show. There have been reports of various knee injuries, herniated discs; although most never make it to the public arena. After all, that wouldn't be good public relations for the network.
For those of us that do take our profession seriously, most of what you see on The Biggest Loser would never occur in our facilities. We take months to prepare clients to perform advanced exercises (lunges, push ups, etc). It may not be as glamorous as being on TV, but I think it has its own rewards in our clients' health and well being.
Till next time,