The television show, “The Biggest Loser” is bad for your health as it provides us with a cornucopia of dysfunctional and unhealthy behaviors that causes more problems than it solves. Fitness professionals shouldn’t pattern themselves after the trainers on this show and consumers shouldn’t let themselves be treated with the disrespect displayed by trainers on the show.
It’s hard to imagine any situation or atmosphere that is more negative, harmful and dysfunctional than the one presented on the television show, “The Biggest Loser.” Everything from the misguided emphasis on weight loss, the rampant display of disordered eating, the mistreatment of the contestants and the inefficient and random nature of the training sessions and “Last Chance Workouts” is a testament to what is wrong with the current state of mainstream diet and exercise.
The Biggest Loser Chronicle will be a regular feature at HealthAndFitnessAdvice.com and provide commentary on the training and nutrition methods used on the show.
During episode 703 the contestants are forced to compete in a fitness challenge that involves jumping over a swinging beam, the winner being the last one to jump without hitting and breaking the beam. Picture a swing set with giant swings that have a balsa wood board where the seat would be and that swings about 6-inches from the ground with it comes around. This was what the 285-pound plus contestants were forced to do.
Kind of like the water-boarding torture, but for fitness. Well someone’s idea of fitness anyway.
In the intro to the challenge we’re told “The Biggest Loser” record for this challenge was 40-minute, and a former Biggest Loser winner set the record. There’s an oxymoron for you. Anyway, from what we’ve seen from these contestants thus far in the show it’s apparent that at least 3 or 4 can’t even walk properly, so quick exits are certain. Sure enough once the swing starts these contestants fail and are removed from the challenge, the first one eliminated couldn’t even step over the swing once.
There’s quite a battle for first place as several contestants make it past the old record of 40-minutes despite the 95-degree heat. There are 3 people left as the swing is sped up after the contestants completed around 700 jumps and at this point one contestant breaks the board and is removed. The 2 girls left battle it out for 300+ more jumps, and the winner smashes the record as she completes 1030 jumps in just under 2 and a half hours.
The winner vomits after the event ends and tells her fellow competitors that she was vomiting and re-swallowing it during the competition so that she wouldn’t lose fluids The runner-up who complete 1029 jumps was distraught because she “lost.” There was not one redeeming aspect in this inappropriate lesson in how not to treat and train people, as contestants who complete hundreds of jumps were in effect losers.
What was worse than this “challenge” was the behavior of the trainers throughout the show. Personal trainer Bob yells and curses at clients, and called one woman “a mess” as she tried to complete sprints during a treadmill workout. During the “Last Chance Workout,” which is right before a weigh-in, he tells us he’s going to, “Put a whole week’s (worth of exercise) into one workout.” And during this workout, after pounding a young contestant he proudly crows, “That’s what I wanted (to make this kid cry). If I can get him to cry I’m doing something right.”
There isn’t a club in the world that should employ a trainer that expresses this sentiment and isn’t no one should endure this kind of treatment. Behavior like this serves as an insult to the personal trainers out there who adhere to a professional code of conduct.
Personal trainer Jillian is just as bad, if not worse, as during the ridiculous “Last Chance Workout” she says, “It’s fun watching other people suffer.” Her most embarrassing moment is during her “Trainer’ Tip,” segment where she presents her 3-step interval course, where she shows us how to do a 3 exercise circuit that features jumping, bicycle abs and running in place. The application of these kinds of exercises is inappropriate for a general audience and the “workout” is constructed in a ham-handed manner.
Her jumping technique is horrible as she doesn’t properly bend her knees during the take off phase and her landing mechanics are improper – she allows her knees to buckle inward when her feet hit the ground. Women have a particular problem with ACL tears that are partially due to structural issues, but this problem can be greatly minimized by proper landing mechanics.
From watching this demonstration you can say that either Jillian is unaware of the proper techniques involved with jumping and landing or is aware of the proper mechanics but didn’t care enough to make sure that these techniques were properly demonstrated during the demo. From this demonstration you have to wonder if Jillian has really ever performed this movement. Any way you slice is, this substandard and slipshod workout is a great example of everything that’s wrong with “The Biggest Loser.”
There are other examples of questionable personal training methods and philosophies just from this one episode – the treatment of clients, exercise selection and technique, messages that further disordered eating, and the establishment and reinforcement of negative attitudes and connections between exercise, eating and weight.
The Biggest Loser” is a part of the problem, not a solution.