I love The Biggest Loser. I have watched every season and I have the greatest respect for Jillian and Bob, the show’s trainers, and the expertise they use when working with the contestants on the show. But there’s a problem. Reality TV is crossing over into reality and people are getting hurt.
What do I mean exactly? Well, recently a client whom I share with another trainer got injured doing Biggest Loser-style moves. This woman, who was post-partum, was instructed to jump repeatedly onto a tall platform. Then she was asked to swing a medicine ball back and forth at full velocity, whamming it into a wall on one side of her and then spinning it around into the wall on the opposite side. She trusted her trainer and followed his prompts to the letter. Then she lay down on the floor for an hour before she could scrape herself up and go home. She had seriously injured her back.
Bob and Jillian use a lot of explosive movements and plyometric work to get their contestants to lose an amazing amount of weight in a ridiculously short period of time. However, they do it with control. What viewers don’t see is the baby steps the contestants first took as they learned to get the control and build the strength needed to do the large movements we see on TV.
For the most part, these types of exercises are unnecessary for folks like you and I. If you play basketball or volleyball or jump hurdles, these plyometric moves would be good to incorporate to improve your game. But generally, the average Jane and Joe don’t need ‘em. If you want to incorporate explosive moves into your training, there are safer ways to do it, such as vertical leap devices that will encourage high jumps without the threat of tripping on a box because you didn’t jump quite high enough.
Here’s the real bone I have to pick with Bob and Jillian:
Stop climbing on equipment and adding your body weight to the machines and stop jumping on people’s backs!
Unfortunately, trainers are following the examples they see on TV and are using these routines in health clubs and people are getting hurt. This is real. This is serious. As an owner in the fitness industry, if I ever saw a trainer do that to a client I would fire them on the spot.
I have a feeling neither Biggest Loser trainer did this before they were cast on the show. I hope this stems from the prodding of a producer because seeing a woman carrying a 250-pound teammate across the floor makes for “good TV.” It is good TV; it’s dramatic and inspiring. But every time I see it, I cringe and hope the contestant’s knees and back don’t suffer a serious injury.
Now take the above scene and recreate it at gyms throughout the U.S. with trainers who only have weekend course certifications. Trust me, this is happening. Even worse, imagine an untrained viewer trying to do these moves on their own with zero guidance!
So this is my request to the producers of the show: please stop having the contestants perform dangerous training practices on camera. Your program is an opportunity to show Americans safe workout routines geared to creating the healthy lives that the audience is yearning for. Give the viewers good information, inspiration, and keep them safe. Because right now, you are having a negative impact which is entirely in your control to change.
Thanks for listening. I would love your comments.