Following on from our Biggest Loser - The Size Debate, we would like to also elaborate further on our beliefs surrounding the show.
As The Biggest Loser heads into its 11th season, I thought I would weigh in on the hype.
Having never watched a full episode over those 11 seasons, I happened to catch half of last nights episode (March 15th). I have a few major concerns for the show, and the damage it is spreading across the nation. You may love it and watch it religiously, then I suggest you don't read on...
#1 - A contestant confessed that his arms felt "paralyzed" at the beginning of their fitness benchmark test day. After Shannon (trainer) asked him to move them around, and after the contestant doing so, said to him, "See, they're not paralyzed, they're just sore mate! When you're training and exercising those muscles, they're gonna get sore", spreads a very harmful message.
When you're training hard, and I'm sure the contestants are, you are bound to get sore and aching muscles. This is due to the breakdown of muscle tissue as you train them. Muscle fibres tear during exercise, and given the right environment, nutrition and rest, the body will repair them bigger and stronger in its attempt to prevent it happening again. In doing so though, the body doesn't really know that your intention is to do it all again a day or so later.
These contestants haven't exercised in 5, 10, 15 years, if at all before in their life. Forcing the contestants to "push through it" and not listen to their body couldn't be further from what they should be doing as well as the majority of the population undergoing a similar journey.
When your muscle fibres are torn, to the point where you can't lift your arms above your head, is your body's way of telling you, "Hey, better have a rest day today, and probably tomorrow." Pushing through it a sure way to do further damage leading to muscle tears, tendon ruptures or even worse, torn off the bone. I'm not saying to look for the easy way out by all means, I'm just saying, rest days make perfect sense, not perfect television.
For Joe Blow and Jane Doe sitting at home on the couch, looking to the show for help and guidance as they embark on their own transformation, they need to be shown the right way to go about beginning an exercise routine. Following their concepts does not fit, and should not be followed, by anyone!
Extra harm can and will be done, resulting in an inability to exercise for a longer time after, also creating a negative relationship with exercise, which is the last thing they need when just starting out.
The show should be teaching people the sustainable way to exercise and build up to a healthy routine, not teach them all the wrong habits to implement.
My next issue is with the trainers, sure, people may love them... me, not so much. So, I'm not a yelling type of trainer, I'm a subtle yet obvious encouragement type of guy. Very few people, and I mean a very small percentage of the population, actually respond in a positive way to being yelled at to perform a task. Even at AFL level, do players respond to being yelled at by their coach. Just like children, when they are yelled at, what's the first thing that happens? Their brain shuts off. They stop listening, and nothing registers, so anything you say after you've yelled at someone, they don't hear anyway. So, unless their drive and determination comes from within themselves and yelling will help them draw it out, yelling at them won't solve anything.
Judging from what I saw last night, I would find it very hard to believe if anyone at all was listening to the trainers while they are hunched over a drain vomiting. These contestants, vulnerable and trusting, need to be nurtured a bit more, and shown the positive way to go about it, not put in front of a TV for all to watch, and forced to do things they physically are not ready for. Let them establish a positive relationship with the whole process, and give them all the tools to succeed, not setting them up to fail after reality TV.
That's just my two cents, so I hope you're not a Biggest Loser buff... ;)
Stay healthy, active and love every minute of it! Have no resentment towards an active life. It shouldn't feel like a chore, just a way of life.