The Biggest Loser: Transformed and Controversial
New, but improved? We will have to wait and see.
The Biggest Loser returned to TV last week, in an all-new 'transformed' format.
As is traditional for me, I watch a few episodes in the first week to see what is new, or more honestly - tell anyone who will listen how I would do so many things differently, because I think I am such a good trainer!
There are some big changes to the show in 2017.
The days of only selecting morbidly obese contestants are gone, and now we see a diverse range of contestants. The emphasis appears to have been more towards psychological impacts of the contestant's weight and what this might be holding them back from doing (eg. getting married, joining the police force, and flying planes).
As a fitness professional, I think this is a more-relevant cross-section of the community than previously seen on the show. The psychological impact and limitations of weight can be significant, and limit people from progressing their lives. Also, by having more average-looking people - instead of only morbidly obese contestant's - these sentiments could be more relatable to the general population.
I think this new format opens the door for more education and learning potential for the viewers. However, the question is whether education is what people want?
You don't see crowds outside gyms because people want to watch others exercise.
The appeal of previous series of The Biggest Loser no doubt came from the rapid weight loss (up to 8kg in one week), the contestant's interactions with each other and their Trainer's, and any potential controversy or ongoing feuds associated with that. Every series has villain, even though I can't name one right now!
Early ratings have been described as 'dreadful' but to answer the question of will people watch in the long run - we will need to wait and see.
Controversy: Is 78kg 'Too Light' To Be On The Show?
Yes. No. Maybe. Who decides that anyway?
One of this year's contestants weighed in at 78kg, which lead to criticism that she was not heavy enough to be on the show.
The idea that anyone could determine that someone else's weight is 'too anything' does not resonate with me.
The number that determines if you are at your ideal weight, underweight, or overweight, is highly individualised and depends on a number of factors.
Gender, height and muscle mass play an important role in determining this, but so does bone mineral density and fluid retention.
In my opinion, to give a general 'x weight is too heavy/light for anything' is foolish, narrow-minded and lacks real-world experience or empathy. If someone feels uncomfortable about their weight and is prepared to do something about it, they should be applauded, not criticised.
Measure Body Fat Percentage, Not Weight Loss.
One of the fundamental components of body recomposition is the emphasis on adding strength, work capacity, fitness, and muscle to your body and it's capabilities, as oppose to simply losing weight.
Using a weight loss percentage makes comparisons fair between lighter (78kg) and heavier (130kg) contestants, but it still does not focus on composition.
By measuring body fat percentage, increases in muscle and strength could be beneficial the contestant's performance, not detrimental. This would make resistance training more favourable to the contestants, which I think would carry over more to the general population who are watching the show.
Most people will spend their time exercising in a gym filled with cardio machines and resistance training equipment. By having the contestants spend the majority of time in these facilities and using training methods that harness what is available to a typical person, their relatability will improve.
I realise that the show is entertainment first and any is education second or third, but I think it would fly. When you combine entertainment and education - just as I do in my articles, right? - the results can be phenomenal (again, just like my articles, right?).
And I don't mean education as in Trainer's lecturing an audience on healthy eating and exercise. Instead, I mean a Trainer correcting poor form and then showing the client's improving throughout the session and the rest of the series.
So many people don't realise how strong they are, and how strong they can be in a relatively short period of time. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate exactly that!
Show the contestant progressing from a bodyweight box squat, to a goblet squat, and then to a barbell back squat. Social media tends to follow the advanced lifters moving heavy weights, so TBL could fill in the gym and empower people with applicable knowledge they could implement tomorrow.
Maybe I am out of touch and this is just the TV show I want people to want to watch, but I think it could have value.
The Biggest Loser: Transformed has made some changes for the good.
Will I be watching again? Probably not, but that is because I spent most of my day either in a gym or writing programs for others for when they are. Much like a painter doesn't pain their house when they get home, there are only so many squats I can watch and so many times I can count to ten.
I hope the show does well. I think it is brave move to become more relatable to the general population, instead of relying on the demonstrated entertainment-value of rapid weight loss from morbidly obese contestants.
However, the proof will be in the pudding. If people want to see the new format, they will vote with their remotes (or downloads these days).
Let's see if they can transform the game!
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