Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels dish about 'The Biggest Loser: Couples'
By John Bracchitta, 12/23/2008
To many, Bob Harper is seen as The Biggest Loser's level-headed trainer who rarely loses his cool with his contestants.
However, according to Harper himself, that reputation may change after the second edition of The Biggest Loser: Couples, which premieres Tuesday, January 6 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC.
"Let me tell you, I actually just saw this episode and this one girl tested me to - tested me more than I've ever been tested on the show," Harper told Reality TV World in a recent media conference call. "I mean you're going to see me on this show have a nervous breakdown on this girl. I watch and it was like, 'Is that me? Did I do that? Was I yelling that much?' It was definitely a challenge, man, let me tell you."
"You're going to see me at my wits end this season. You're going to see me just... [Jillian Michaels] always likes to joke about me because I always make this comment about, 'It's not about the push-up, it's about changing your life," Harper added later to reporters. "But sometimes, you know what, it's just a push-up. Just do it and quit thinking about it so much. That's the point - I just kind of got to that point."
Harper was joined on the call by fellow trainer Jillian Michaels and The Biggest Loser: Couples producer Mark Koops, who both also had their own challenges and anecdotes regarding the show's record-setting cast, which includes the show's two oldest players ever, its youngest male contestant ever, its heaviest female contestant ever, and the heaviest contestant in the show's history.
Koops told Reality TV World that the show had gone to such a length to include so many different types of people in the show in an attempt to inspire each of the show audience's different demographics that it was possible to change their lives if they wanted to.
"I think that's what hopefully the show is about: inspiring different communities. Whether that be people who are, like, 'Oh, I'm retired. I can't do it. It's too late,' or, 'I'm too young. I don't need to worry about it now,' or 'My culture says it's okay,'" Koops told Reality TV World. "I think we're looking to try and inspire every aspect of American society that it's not too late to make a change.
Harper said that the inclusion of two teenage contestants -- Mike Morelli, an 18-year-old student from South Lyon, MI who arrived at the ranch weighing 385 pounds, and Daniel Wright, a 19-year-old student from Willow Spring, NC who arrived at 454 pounds -- were also evidence of the increase of teenage obesity in America.
"It just shows you that we are living in an epidemic, and we at [The Biggest Loser] really want to put a light on this situation and try to do our part in helping that community of people," Harper told reporters. "There's a young generation out there that really does need our help and I think that the inspiration that we give to adults we really want to focus on kids in that way, or teenagers in that way, in this season."
Both Harper and Michaels told reporters that the show's diverse cast had also presented a new set of challenges for them as they attempted to get their contestants into a regular workout regimen. While Michaels admitted that she hadn't had much trouble with some of her heavier, but younger contestants, she told reporters that working with her older contestants had been more difficult.
"I think where I have run into some snags are with the contestants who are significantly older, and their body is showing true wear and tear of abuse - you know, 63, 66 years of abuse," Michaels told reporters. "That's really when you're in trouble and that's when you've got oxygen masks on the treadmill and limitations with regard to duration of exercising. It's very, very difficult to train those older contestants."
"You'll see one contestant on Season 7 that is 54-years-old, 430 pounds, and this is a man that had his stomach stapled, had his jaws wired shut, and... he's been living in a war zone and his body really shows it," Harper added.
However, Harper said that despite the challenges that the contestants had faced upon arriving at The Biggest Loser ranch and immediately going from "zero to 100 miles an hour" for their workouts, the results had "inspired" everyone on the show.
"What you really see, and which I love so much about our show, is triumphs of the spirit," Harper told Reality TV World. "These people overcome the obstacle of carrying all this weight. They're going to push themselves to new limits. And I mean, some of the stuff that they weren't even aware that they were able to do - just inspired us all."
Koops added that viewers have to look no further than this fall's The Biggest Loser: Families season to see how contestants could overcome unlikely odds and drop their excess weight.
"I think the results we saw on [The Biggest Loser: Families finale], from people like [Jerry Skeabeck] who is 50-years-old [shows] there is no excuse. You can make a change today if you make the right choices. And I think, Bob and Jillian... are laying out the roadmap for all of America of how to make the right choices on a day-and-day level to really, you know, affect change, and I think the inspiration they provide is something that they should be incredibly proud of."