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January 1, 2005

More TV Losers

The documentary series "Keeping It Off", which was on Life Networks, showcased six people who were to attempt to continue to lose weight through changing their lifestyles.

Each one of the six persons gained more fat over the six months they were followed. Prior to this six month period, each of them lost some weight in another six month lose-fat regimen show called, "Taking It Off". In the sequel Keeping It Off, people were "documented" living in denial and participating in totally stupid exercise and diet regimens in an attempt to lose fat. As usual, people initially lose some weight on ridiculous crash diets and goofy exercise programs, only to gain the weight back because the diet and exercise they engaged in was not sustainable.

The show Taking it off is another prime example of stupidity. In this show, overweight out of shape people are "tested" via a two kilometer running test. After a battery of other tests such as body composition and weight, the contestants begin ridiculous diet and exercise programs.

In fact, no legitimate trainer or doctor would ever believe that an all out two kilometer run is a safe or even relevant initial fitness assessment. In one show, a contestant collapsed during the running test, requiring medical attention. How could this happen? Turns out the man has a heart condition. Hmm, so how does a man with a heart condition get cleared to perform an all out two kilometer running test? Were these people examined by a physician before participating?

This "documentary" actually received a Gemini Award. I guess showing the reality of a stupid production is worth rewarding.

Like in the NBC show, "The Biggest Loser", Keeping It Off, and Taking It Off, ridicule people during weigh in and girth measurements by lining them up like cattle in front of a scale.

In the second season of Taking It Off, contestants had their fitness "tested" by measuring how far they could swim in 10 minutes. Again this is a nonstandard totally irrelevant test of a persons fitness. In fact, it is well known that swimming is so technique dominant that a fit person who is a poor swimmer will not be able to swim quickly despite their fitness.

A person may have an increase in fitness that is not revealed by a swim performance comparison test. If the persons swimming technique has not improved, fitness gains made outside the pool will not be accurately reflected in a swim test.

One contestant developed a leg cramp during the swim test. Another was terrified of the water. Hello? What fool would use a swimming test on a person who is terrified of the water? These shows are all about sensationalizing emotional extremes and peoples personal pain. They are not about what it takes to get healthy and fit. One man was completely exhausted at the end of the swim and the trainer remarked, "everything is OK, his heart rate is just a little high". Ugh huh, I didn't see the trainer measure the mans heart rate, nor did I see a heart rate monitor worn by the man. The fact is, if you have an obese person painfully gasping for air, there certainly is something to worry about. The man should not have been pushed to this limit in the first place.

Throughout the entire show, clinically obese people are always cracking jokes at their weight and what it may take to get fit and lean. Aside from sparse 20 second fitness tips, there is no serious effort to educate either the participants or the viewer on what changing to healthy living or losing weight really entails.

I have been asked by people what I think of these "reality" fitness shows, and I tell them exactly what I have written here. They are almost always surprised, as they perceived that the shows accurately depicted what a real weight loss program entails, which they do not. Weight loss scams have now made a bridge from books and supplement retailers to TV "reality shows", and non are worth paying attention to.

- Cris LaBossiere

2005 Rhino Fitness/ Cris LaBossiere

Copyright 2004 Rhino Fitness. All rights reserved.
For more information contact: clabossiere@rhinofitness.ca