The Biggest Loser: A commentary by Sal Marinello

Sal (whom Ive been lucky enough to connect with via Twitter) has been a professional strength coach and personal trainer for 20 years.

He worked in New York City’s premier personal training gym and was trained by and worked with the people who are responsible for creating personal training as a viable career choice.

Since 1989 he’s trained celebrities, socialites, power brokers, elite college and high school athletes, state champions and kids of all ability levels, as well as every kind of regular folk imaginable.

He doesn’t believe in hype, gimmicks or gadgets and knows there is no substitute for smart, hard work.


(musical interlude which indicates wild & utterly random switch in topics)

I also wanted to let you know about a giveaway I was able to wrangle for the Bumbling Band something a friend of mine is launching that has lots of potential.

(I get to be one of his first reviewers so Ill letcha know if it gets the MizFit Seal of Approval orΒ  not.)

He’s conducting an internet wide survey for his new venture (oooh, vague & enticing) & I convinced him to do a separate survey for MizFit readers with a separate (waitforit) prize for your time.

All you need to do to be entered to win is take his fastquick survey (I took it already & it ate up about 3 minutes of my day).

It all kinda goes back to Tuesday’s video where I yammered about doing unto others.

If you can spare the minutes please to do unto Ben.


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  1. says

    Miz– whoa. thanks for introducing us to Sal!!!

    Sal– amen. I hate to say it but recently more than ever, personal training to be has become this huge industry of bogus (insert explicative here). This is not to say that I feel this way about all personal trainers (or that I don’t think they add value to the fitness arena), however, it seems that the growing trend is people getting into the field to make money and that to me SCREAMS danger!!! It’s refreshing to hear you speak about your personal philosophies on training. It is all about the client and their individual needs, and the truth FOR ME is that fabulous results can be demonstrated through exercises which are not designed to kill you!!! so, THANKS! and I’m excited to be introduced to your blog!

  2. says

    Yeah, saw @LisaJohnson raised similar concerns a while back about the abusive training practices, the overuse of plyometrics, and the downright dangerous practice of jumping on the contestants to add weight to their machine or exercise.

    The whole premise of the show is revolting – to put people struggling with the whole range of health problems, self-esteem issues and every unresolved issue that goes along with the complex factors that go into morbid obesity onscreen for entertainment in a modern freak show.

    “Yes, look, you too can become ‘normal’/one of us if you just put up with more horrible abuse like the kind that drove you into having self-esteem issues in the first place”

    Bah. There’s a fundamental lack of respect for the people they’re dealing with on display in the whole concept.

  3. says

    Sal, you speak my language! We don’t get that show here, but I’ve been reading about it online for years and the whole concept just horrifies me.

    Thanks for introducing us to Sal, Mizfit!

  4. says

    Thanks Sal! I have always thought the Biggest Loser was only for entertainment purposes. Most of these people gain the weight back quickly, the workouts seems unrealistic for someone that has been obese for a while. Plus contestants themselves have revealed how they lose the last “20lbs” for the show-unhealthy methods.

  5. says

    While I understand that The Biggest Loser has inspired a lot of people, I totally agree with Sal that the “freak show” aspect and the way they seem to like to humiliate contestants is extremely counterproductive.

    Sounds like Sal really knows his stuff!

  6. says

    ok it was a bit hard to swallow, as i am a fan of the show. I ‘ll play it again AFTER my coffee and see how i feel. In the meantime I did take the survey and am looking forward to what this program has to offer!


    p.s. the prize is for U.S. residents only, but the quiz only takes 30 seconds!

  7. says

    I think that the scene where one of the yellow team was made to do box jumps despite wincing and doing her best not to put any weight on one leg, only to find out that she had a stress fracture should discredit that show.

    Especially as Jillian was telling her “one more”.

  8. says

    Hey Miz, thanks for the introduction to Sal! :)

    Hi Sal, I agree with you! I watched TBL the first season and loved it. The show has changed a lot since then. I attempted to watch it again recently, but quickly changed channels after I witnessed all the contestants being allowed to experiment with the equipment and exercises on their own while Jillian and Bob watched on hidden camera and basically made fun of them. That really turned me off. I absolutely do not like the cruel manner in which Jillian talks, really shouts, at the contestants. I admire her as a strong fit woman, but I have to say I abhor her personal training techniques!

    It’s all about the ratings! That’s what it all boils down to and as long as people are willing to take the abuse and people are willing to watch it, the show will continue to deteriorate into a mixture of drama and tears!

  9. says

    Boy do I ever agree with Sal. This was my first season watching Biggest Loser. I had it flagged on my DVR to tape it every week. I just went into the DVR menu and deleted it yesterday. I will never watch it again. BL is the biggest loser for health that I’ve ever seen. I complained all season but still stuck with it to see what all the hype was about.

    It was intertaining at times but I was very disappointed with the lack of nutritional information available on the show, except for the product endorsements. Those of us that have struggled throgh losing a lot of weight knows it’s not all about the grueling exercising they show on the program…it’s about healthy living and therefore eating correctly along with the right amount of exercise for our bodies.

    Took the survey! Sure hope I win the EA Sports thing!

  10. says

    Hey MizFit, thanks for the shout out. you drive a hard bargin, but your readers definitely deserve the extra prize!

    I also wanted to let everyone know that I will be putting together a few other cool things over the next week or so like a 5-part mini-course and a couple of other freebies running up to the grand opening… so stay tuned!

    In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my role as member of the super loyal and highly energetic Bumbling Band!


  11. Eve says

    I wanted to say what sal said for a while now I just was too ‘is it me? Everyone else loves the show!’

    I did the study. Took me 2 minutes.

  12. says

    Great stuff Miz! And thanks for the intro to Sal.

    Sal – awesome! I used to watch the biggest loser – when it first came out – drawn in my the sensationalism of losing so much weight. And then…I began to realize – this is not how I train. This is not how I want to train. And it’s not just about losing weight – there’s so much more to it. And this led me on my own journey to where I’m at today – doing what works for me – having fun, and enjoying life. And that’s not what I get when I see the biggest loser…

    Great to hear you philosophy on all of this!

  13. says

    nice “sal-time” :) i agree with some of the things that were mentioned, and I think something more useful would be working with “contestants” in their own environment, and showing more of the aspects I *think* go on behind the scenes sometimes eluded to (the mental game, self-confidence issues). imagine a show that tackles that!

  14. says

    I have to agree with everyone else on this – I just really have never been able to get into TBL. I also would like to see them train the contestants in their own environment. Great Facetime Sal!!

    I took the survey for Ben – super quick and if I win the wii game, I guess that means I’ll have to break down and buy a Wii. My son would be so happy! :)

  15. says

    Amen. I decided after this season that I won’t be watching TBL any more. I found myself fast forwarding through the dramatic crap just to see the challenges/weigh-ins. And I’ve always thought it did a disservice to folks at home trying to lose weight/get healthy, because it portrayed an unrealistic model of attainable weight loss, with often questionable methods.

  16. says

    I never “got” TBL, and Sal has put into words why. I wonder if there will come a day when a healthy diet, enjoyable activity, and moderate weight loss will be enough. Might not make for riveting TV, but maybe it will make for a healthier happier community.

  17. says

    I’m always suprised that people are so into this show. Especially when bloggers talk about it. Like it’s something to be followed. It seems to create eating disorders and a whole lot of negative self esteem.

  18. Nan says

    I have to say that I disagreed with you Miz when you first criticized the show.
    Then I let go of my weightloss obsession/admiration and watched it with fresh eyes.

    I totally agree.

  19. says

    This is why I have never watched BL. One, because I hate the idea of competition for weight loss, which give the feeling of failure if you don’t win. 2 – because it is so unrealistic in terms of how to apply it to your daily life.

    Interesting to note how most of the contestants do not succeed after being on the show.

  20. says

    Great post! Inspiring before and after images aside, who can workout like a hampster on a wheel for 8 hours a day, every day to get to that point? And it is a relief to hear a professional trainer say how over the top the BL people are in terms of how they treat their clients. Nuclear weapons keeping us safe from rogue nations and radicals? That is so old school. Now it’s Jillian.

  21. says

    I watched TBL once and it made me feel so dirty. Those are people, probably very nice people, and I really hope they are well rewarded for joining the zoo.

  22. says

    I’m a big fan of TBL because of how hard work pays off. I do understand what Sal is saying though.

    Completing the survey is next, but first…has Sal or Ben Jyze’d yet? Are they Jzyers? πŸ˜‰

  23. says

    Presenting a slightly different perspective….
    I didn’t watch the first two seasons of TBL when they were aired but caught them in re-runs later on the Style Network. At the time, I weighed 100 pounds more than I do now (or perhaps 98 pounds as I’m just coming back from vacation), and it completely changed my approach to getting fit(-ter). I had no idea people my size could exercise that strenuously. As each episode aired, I started upping the speed on my treadmill. That was great, but I wanted more. So checked out the personal training market and found a studio that worked for me. I learned *how* to exercise efficiently, how to use food for fuel, and how to motivate myself to do both consistently. My trainers were encouraging and motivating, and no one ever screamed at me or jumped on my back. (I would’ve slugged him/her if they had) And I lost 100 pounds.

    The last several seasons of TBL have been disappointing–too many dramas, too much commercialism, too much focus on pounds. But I’m still thankful that the show was there, because it was inspirational to me at a time I really needed it.

  24. says

    At work so I can’t watch the video – but I did the survey! :) In regards to TBL, I am unnaturally sucked in by reality shows and this is no exception. I remember watching at 265 lbs thinking “I wish someone would give me that chance to just be skinny so I could just work on maintaining” (later of course I learned a lot about putting in the work to really appreciate it, etc). I think it’s unrealistic, but also inspiring. I mean, last season they had the contestants run a half marathon. The lightest girl at the time was probably a good 25 lbs heavier than me and I think one of the guys was in the 300s. They all finished, except for one dude with knee problems. THAT inspired me – if they could do it, I could, at a healthy weight, do it too.

  25. says


    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! Thank you and mizfit for addressing this issue, I wholeheartedly agree.

    The Biggest Loser (and most television shows) feature everything cringe-worthy about the fitness industry:

    Questionable psychological approaches
    Fad eating
    Gross overtraining of deconditioned people
    The embarrassing existence of the “celebrity trainer”
    A false environment not replicable in the real world
    A negative focus on aesthetics over fitness

    This show, and others like “Workout,” don’t advance the fitness industry and the importance of health at all but perpetuate stereotypes and false approaches that render the industry a punch line.

    Thanks for speaking out.

  26. Alyssa says

    Can only agree wholeheartedly with what Sal says. The fact that the majority of contestants re-gain some or all (or MORE) of the weight back is pretty good proof that it doesn’t work.
    For years, reputable trainers have been saying that fast weight loss doesn’t usually last.
    I also have to wonder about a show that awards a woman for quitting her job in order to work out 6 hours a day (and get dangerously thin, IMHO) over a woman who may not have lost as much weight, but found her physical and mental strength and improved her actual fitness level.
    Rewarding people for dangerous behaviors is ridiculous.

  27. Alyssa says

    Can I just add that I’d like to see a show that doesn’t focus on appearance or weight loss, but on people getting healthy and strong. I realize it’s not as “sexy,” but ultimately it’s much more inspiring.
    When people realize what they are capable of, it only helps the rest of us.

  28. Helen says

    I can’t figure out the popularity though.
    I guess we all want to lose the weight no matter the vehicle?

    I am not a Jillian fan at all.

    She seems cruel to me.

  29. says

    Agreed, Sal. Would like HEALTH to be the focus of the show, and for people watching to feel empowered to make their own changes toward a healthy LIFE.
    Filled out the survey!

  30. Miz says

    hectic day up in herre but wanted to say, Cammy, you make a really good point.
    I’d not thought of it in that fashion!

  31. says

    I’ll admit, I’m a fan of most reality shows…Biggest Loser probably close to tops on the list. I do take it for what it’s worth and know for sure it’s not too realistic.

  32. says

    Hey fellow “bandmates,” I wanted to stop back in and thank you all for your help. The response has been great, and you are really going to help make the Fat Loss Academy a great, GREAT success. Based on your thoughts and feedback, I have several new lessons outlined, and am adding content to others. Thanks again, and if you haven’t taken the survey and entered the contest yet, you still have time!

    Thanks again!


  33. Kellie says

    I’m a big fan of the show but I also adore reality tv.
    I don’t think it has any more credibility than Real Housewives but you are correct Sal in saying that it can be more harmful.

    Thanks for bringing us Sal, MizFit!

  34. says

    I was always amused when BL contestants return to the finally announcing that they have become certified personal trainers. While I am sure you can find places to certify you, I can hardly believe that you could learn to be a quality trainer with 6 months experience.

  35. says

    I agree with Sal. It’s a shame to think they could use that outlet to teach others how to really knock off the pounds and live the healthy lifestyle.

  36. Anna says

    I have to say I agree with Cammy above.
    For me BL finally brought out into the open my fears and helped me get my rear to the gym.

  37. says

    Great to meet you, Sal. Thank you for saying this.

    I can tell you that if Biggest Loser was on when I started my pursuit in fitness, it would have had me running the other way. I don’t want to cry and I don’t want to get sick. I don’t consider that a healthy message on working out smartly.

    Their weekly weight loss totals are unrealistic, too. Over 1/3 of that is bone, muscle and other lean tissue loss. It’s not just fat.

    Slower is healthier. You keep more muscle. Muscle is your calorie burner.

    I could go on about the Biggest Blubbers [cause all they do is cry], but I’ll quit here … :)

  38. says

    Survey? Consider it done unto.

    I’m not a big fan of reality TV, and I’ve never watched the show. But from what I’ve read about BL in blogdom, its methods sound like they fly in the face of most of the sound advice out there. Heavens, I was wondering if doing 30-Day Shred daily allowed for sufficient muscle recovery! πŸ˜‰

    I can see, though, how the show can inspire people. There’s something very empowering about seeing the possibility. However, it’s not the only place for inspiration. There are so many great blogs out there with everyday people achieving amazing health goals without all of the resources given to contestants on the show.

  39. Heather says

    Yay! Love Sal. Totally agree with you about the Biggest Loser.

    Going to do the survey now.

  40. Myra says

    I loved tbl until this season. It never helped me lose. I’m battling with myself this time. I hope the new equipment comes my way, because I can use all the help and support I can get. My secret desire is to lose my extra and become the personal trainer for those like me…I want to do anything and everything to get going.
    I meant what I said when I gave my opinion to Ben…I think you have to change, and be brave. Let go…don’t hold on to what worked before….work hard….

  41. says

    Yay, Sal! I’m not at all a fan of The Biggest Loser. It may help get some people off their couch and doing something about their weight and health, but I think it set a completely unrealistic standard for them to try to reach. Makes for average folks beating themselves up for losing ony 2 pounds per week, when they should be feeling great about everything they’ve begun in improving their health.

    I’m bookmarking Sal’s website, in hopes that following the kettlebell videos will round out the little routine I’ve been doing for a while now.

    And, have taken Ben’s survey. I’m looking forward to seeing what he sends out over the next couple weeks.

  42. says

    clearly Sal has never watched an entire season of TBL. behind the scenes contestants are taught nutrition, fitness and are given the tools to go home and do things the right way and live a healthy lifestyle.

    yes the show is extreme, which is what it was meant to be, it’s a friggin contest for petesake and a lot is done for the camera, just like any other reality show. at the end of the day, Sal’s rant to me is nothing more than someone jealous of others successes in the health and fitness industry.

  43. says

    I would like to thank MizFit for the opportunity to appear on her site, and thank all of her readers for taking the time to watch my Vlog entry and commenting. I’m very happy that my message has resonated with so many people.

  44. says

    Late to the party…as usual. But I wanted to say thanks to Sal for putting it all in perspective and reminding me to beat myself up a little less when my weight loss doesn’t compare to the BL

  45. Clint says

    While I’m sure BL is an affront to a personal trainer, I also have first-hand knowledge of people who were inspired by the show to wonder into a gym for the first time in their lives because of it. THAT is a positive no matter how you spin it. Sure, they could yell less, but hey…. it’s TV. They want you to be emotionally attached to the contestants and feel sorry for them.
    Just like with most things: There is good and bad parts.
    Thanks for the viewpoint from someone in the profession.

  46. says

    While I understand what you are saying TBL has inspired me and given me hope that I can do things that I never thought possible before. It was from watching some clips of TBL last summer that made me get up and start moving and losing some weight.

    It is not realistic and I’ve heard the trainers say that it’s not realistic for people to do at home. But the contestants themselves talk about how it has changed their lives for the better.

    I don’t like all of the drama. And I really don’t like the “game show” aspect of it. I do enjoy seeing people pushed to do things that they never thought was possible. Overcoming the mental block is a huge obstacle. Once they get over that you can see a change in their personalities where it becomes a “I can do anything” mode instead of defeated and downcast.

    So, I’m still a fan though there are some things I would love to see changed. I think the game show part brings out the ugly side in people. I’m looking forward to the next season. :)