I admit I am not much of a TV watcher. I don’t have cable, I watch a lot of PBS, and my favorite series is a British TV program that I watch through Netflix. If you ask me if I’ve watched this week’s episode of some new series or reality program, I may not know what you are talking about. I thoroughly despise (yes, that’s a strong word) reality shows. I think they are part of the downfall of our society (hey, I’m being honest). However, I have in my cable days viewed enough of these programs to know that I don’t like the Biggest Loser. Yes, the stories are motivational and touching. Yes, I have shed tears when a participant has overcome incredible odds to change their health and weight. However, I can’t stand what the show is doing to the business of personal training and to the hopes of average people who can’t spend months at the Biggest Loser camp. If you are my personal training client, you know I’m not a screamer. I don’t criticize you because you can’t flip a 200 pound tractor tire (and I won’t make you do that anyway). I don’t yell at you that you are lazy or unmotivated. I don’t have you do plyometric jumps if you have problems with your knees. I don’t make you run sprints if I know your body can’t handle it. If you want that, there are trainers out there you can call. I try to be patient and understanding, but motivate you at the same time. I want you to continue to exercise and have a healthy lifestyle on your own, so I have to teach you. Maybe I should be considered a teacher instead of a trainer.
Here are my issues with the Biggest Loser. The trainers act more like Marine Drill Sargeants. They want to beat you down mentally to get you to do what you need to do. The trainers have participants do very unsafe exercises. If you are 65 years old and have problems with your hip, you shouldn’t jump on and off a 2 foot plyo-box. The participants are living at a camp, not in real life. Their meals are planned and prepared, they workout for hours each day, they basically have someone watching them and holding their hands 24 hours a day. They don’t go to work, pick up kids from school, change their plans because the kid puked in their bed in the middle of the night, make dinner for a picky family, run from work, to the grocery store, to home to make dinner, to baseball practice, then back home to help with homework before getting their kids to bed at a decent time, then clean up after the dog who pooped on the floor….you get the idea. Their 5-10 pound a week weight loss is not realistic, nor sustainable. Safe, sustainable weight loss is anywhere from 1/2 lb to 2 lbs per week. Sure you can drop a lot with some crazy diet and even crazier workouts. But I can guarantee that you will put that much, plus some back on within a year of stopping the crazy diet and workouts.
Unfortunately, there are trainers who will train like this and clients who expect to be trained the same way. I’m sad to say that my industry is not regulated. TV trainers aren’t always certified trainers. There isn’t the same accreditation that say a college has to be able to give you a certification. There are some trainers who received their certification with an online quiz and base their training on their own workouts (or the Biggest Loser).
Good health, if you don’t have it, is a process and you have to be patient. Here is the reality check: You didn’t gain the weight in one day and you won’t lose it all in one week. My workouts alone will not change your body completely if you don’t change the way you eat. Exercising once a week will not help you to lose weight if you don’t do anything the other 6 days. Flipping tractor tires and pushing cars will not be a friendly activity for your back. These fad workouts, fad diets, and reality shows are not reality.
We should all be in this for a healthier lifestyle. Weight loss is great, lowering blood pressure is fantastic, having more energy is a great goal, being able to carry your groceries or your kids up the steps is fabulous. So you won’t look like a celebrity, who wants to? Wouldn’t you rather be happy and healthy and be there for your family? Our reality (REAL reality) is not what is seen on TV. Be a smart media consumer and stop the insanity!