Welcome to my weekly round-up of Channel 10’s The Biggest Loser, Challenge Australia.
During late March/early April 2013, the Biggest Loser team came to Ararat to entice the community to change the label we had been given as one of Australia’s Fattest Towns, to one of Australia’s Fittest Towns.
They inspired us, motivated us and provided some fun opportunities to develop our fitness levels and to shed some kilos for just under 6 months.
Finally, after a long wait while the program was pieced together, it has hit television screens across Australia, showcasing the efforts of our town champions and the Ararat community in general.
The first episodes of Challenge Australia saw Biggest Loser Trainers, Shannan Ponton and Steve ‘Commando’ Willis arrive in Ararat with no idea of the reception they would get from the community. They were apprehensive of how the town would react, knowing that many were unhappy with the ‘Fattest Town’ label.
They held a ‘town meeting’, where those in attendance were witness to the shocking stats that were read out about Ararat’s food consumption, declining health and so on.
Community members were told they needed to shed a whopping 26,000kgs and were witness to an entire trucks worth of fat dumped in front of the town hall, simply to highlight the amount of fat Ararat consume in just one month.
Auditions were held and it’s here we are introduced to many of our town champions. It’s the first time in Australian Biggest Loser history that the actual trainers have had any say in the selection of the final contestants.
The auditions were emotional as contestants plead their cases to the trainers in an effort to earn a pass to the selection boot camp. Once Shannan and Commando had selected 24 people, they were all told to present the following morning for a ‘Boot Camp’ training session, to earn their way into The Biggest Loser house.
Boot Camp started off with a walk up the Grampian’s ‘Mount William’, which is the highest peak in the Grampian’s National Park, with a 20% gradient. Once the contestants finally made it to the top of the mountain, they were then told that boot camp had officially started and there were only 14 shirts/spaces in The Biggest Loser house.
One by one Shannan and Commando selected people by handing them a grey shirt as a pass into the house.
As only 14 could be selected there were some devastated faces amongst the 24, but the trainers were convinced that the most deserving people were chosen to represent Ararat…
Alongside the 14 selected contestants, 500 town members were given the opportunity to represent Ararat in a weight-loss challenge while the others were away at The Biggest Loser House. These community members would be known as The Pebble People!
For me, the highlights of this week were:
* Mary’s story about how she came to be so big and how she had missed out on having her own children due to her weight.
* Sharon’s story about wanting to be treated like a woman and not just be one of the blokes.
* Katrina’s story about devoting her life to her family and how she hates her own reflection in the mirror.
* “This is my shot, I’ve gotta do it” – Mary Reid. Watching Mary tackle Mount William stirred up many emotions within myself. I just have to think about how many times I have quit because things hurt too much or they were too hard. Her efforts were nothing short of inspiring.
* My heart just about flipped out and melted when Gary (Spanner) charged his way up that mountain to reach the top first, only to turn around, walk back down until he found his wife Katrina, and the re-walked the rest of the mountain again with her, spurring her on and supporting her all the way. Just beautiful.
To watch episode 1, click HERE.
To watch episode 2, click HERE.
WHAT WE WERE DOING IN ARARAT THAT WEEK:
For the 500 Ararat town members that had put their hand up to be a part of the community challenge, this first week saw the start of our ‘Pebble’ challenge commence.
What’s a pebble you ask? Well it’s a little black thing we clipped onto our shoe, that looks like a little river pebble, but it’s actually a pedometer, that links up with your home computer, and also syncs with the weigh in stations at our local YMCA gym.
With this device attached, we were able to track our daily steps, calories burned and weight lost (once you weighed in).
It’s amazing how one little ‘pebble’ can motivate you, especially when you’re walking, running, stepping with 500 others!
It was also around this time that the Pebble People heard some rumors that there would be a town challenge coming our way. The thought of that was a whole lot of excitement mixed with pure fear! We had no idea what we were in for…..
THE BIG QUESTIONS…
I cannot stress the point enough that this is a television show. It is filmed and put together to create episodes that attract viewers and entice us in to watching it all season long.
I have heard so may people arguing and questioning some of the things they see and hear on the show, ranting about how they just lie to get ratings. There are some big questions floating around Ararat now that the show is on air, that I simply don’t have all the answers for.
* “They’re a bunch of liars because they didn’t set up a gym in the old church”…. I have heard this one heaps, and it’s true, they didn’t set up a gym from scratch in a church like it was portrayed on screen, however, they DID in fact basically double the amount of exercise equipment in our local YMCA gym. The reason they said “Church” instead of YMCA is because there are branding and legal reasons why they cannot use the YMCA’s name & logo. I’m not 100% on this one, but I have also heard along the gossip line that the YMCA was originally an old church many many many years ago…..?
To me, little details like this are minor, there’s usually a good reason for it and it wont stop me watching the show.
* “We live on a major highway, do their junk food stats include all travelers that stop in at Macca’s and KFC too?”… This one I have no idea about. There’s much debate around town about how legitimate the stats are that they’ve come up with. It is my assumption that to get their numbers, they’ve collated sales figures from appropriate stores and divided it by the number of residents in the town. All I know is the stat’s man lived here for 3 months prior to anything happening, and surely in that time he must have been doing some kind of research…… we hope!
I really am a fence sitter on this one. To be honest, I don’t really care what the stats say and the truth of the matter is that we were given the label of one of ‘Australia’s Fattest Towns’ long before The Biggest Loser came to ‘save us’. The shock value tactics work for me, whether the stats and numbers are 100% accurate or not.
Seeing all that fat dumped in a pile frightened the crap out of me.
Hearing about how much more at risk I could be of a stroke (my mum had one at 49) and cancer (my dad died of cancer at 66) was just the kick in the pants I needed.
There are so many more big questions, and perhaps one day the producers will shed some light on it all for us, but for now, I am totally excited about watching our town members kick butt and lose their excess weight!
It is important to always remember though that it is made for TV, and these are real people with real thoughts and feelings on the show.
Want to know more? Stay tuned for my weekly wrap-ups of The Biggest Loser Challenge Australia!