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[ # ] Five ways The Biggest Loser is different on USA
February 11th, 2020 under USA Network

The Biggest Loser did 17 seasons on NBC, and then it was canceled. After a nearly four-year break, it is back on its new home, USA Network every Tuesday at 9p, with more people who want to lose weight to get healthier.

The only familiar face on the show is trainer Bob Harper who is now the host. There are a lot of other changes. A few weeks ago, he, new trainers, Erica Lugo and Steve Cook, and Heather Olander, SVP, Alternative Series Development & Production, USA, talked about them at the NBC Winter Press Day at the TCAs.

Here are five takeaways from that panel:

How is The Biggest Loser different on USA as compared to NBC.
When we brought this show back, one of the biggest things was, we had 17 years of success on NBC. It was a beloved show, and it did a lot of positive transformations for a lot of the contestants.

But we did want to take a look at the format and make sure that it was reflective of health and fitness today. 2020 is very different than what it was more than a decade ago when this show first came on on the air. And one of the things we did look at is the competition element. What we decided is that the competition is only part of the storytelling in the show. It’s a motivating factor for the contestants, but we found it’s part of their story and their transformation as well, sort of the failures and the successes both. And we saw it impacted who they were from the start of the show to the end.

What is the biggest change?
One of the big changes we made this season, is making sure that the aftercare package was enhanced versus what it was in past seasons, because we wanted to give those people who did maybe go home early on in the process the best chance possible to continue a healthy lifestyle. So we gave them a gym membership, and fitness is a part of it, but also, a nutritionist, because what you eat and to your point, every body is different, and every nutrition plan is different and needs to be specific to each individual. So we gave them that as well as one very important piece, guiding them towards a support group.

These guys can tell you from their experience that doing it with other people, this journey is much better when you can do it with someone else versus when you do it alone.

In our show, in fact, one of the big pieces is a support group where everybody gets to share their stories and feels sort of a part of something, feels like they’re not alone. So that was another part of the aftercare package that we made sure we put in place to do what you said. To your point, listen. From a human level, these people, you fall in love with them, every single one of them, so to see them go, you just want to make sure that maybe they don’t win the money, but they still have the chance at a great life and a healthy life.

There are not just exercising on The Biggest Loser.
From the format standpoint, and we want to make sure they’re losing the weight but also they’re in the healthiest environment they can be, so though not shown on the series, behind the scenes we did have a nutritionist who provided individualized meal plans for each of the contestants. We had two doctors on set and a set of trainers that vetted the nutrition plans, but the trainers also vetted all of the challenges and the workouts that they did, and they were constantly monitored to make sure that all of their vitals were where they needed to be and they were losing weight at a healthy rate.

The Biggest Loser is not just about looking good after losing the weight.
To that end, thinking about that when we were developing the show, we did want to make better connection or bigger connection between weight loss and health.

And for these contestants on the show, they primarily came to the show because they wanted to live a longer life. They unanimously talked about health issues that they are having because of the weight, and just beyond that — the message in the show is, yes, being thin and fitting into skinny jeans; if that’s what you want, fabulous. But that’s not the end all, be all. It’s not about getting thin at all costs. It’s about getting healthy and setting these contestants on a healthy lifestyle path.

Giving them information about nutrition that a lot of them didn’t have. They didn’t even know where to start, and talking about, also, the mental piece of that. What got them mentally and emotionally to the place that they are?

So we touched on the mental part of it, the food part of it, and the fitness part of it, all of the holistic approach to say to everyone, viewers and the contestants, it’s not about a short term diet get thin, because it’s not sustainable, and you’re right. That’s not the right message to send. It’s about getting healthy and whatever that means for you and whatever body type that is for you.

What does Erica Lugo, who lost 160 pounds five years ago, bring to the show?
I can say, just from my own journey, that’s what I love bringing to the show is I can bring my own experience, and like he said, it’s something that we have to make that choice day in and day out, and I really feel like we teach them those tools to be able to keep it off long-term.


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