NBC’s “Biggest Loser” is playing a numbers game—and we’re not just talking about what goes up or down on the scale. Tonight’s season premiere introduces a “Battle of the Ages” theme—the first ever in the show’s history—which pairs players against each other, based on their age group. And considering how many older contestants have triumphed in past seasons, don’t you dare underestimate the dog-eat-dog power of Granny Sue and Grandpa Joe!
Besides the digit warfare, the show also brings on new trainers Anna Kournikova and Dolvett Quince to take the place of Biceps Queen, Jillian Michaels.
Check Out The New Trainers In Action:
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In a recent conference call, the fit duo, along with executive producer, Todd Lubin, spoke to reporters on their life-changing experiences and what interesting events to expect this time round.
What are you doing new this season?
Todd: We added two total superstars and then went after incredibly charismatic contestants, including former professional athletes themselves. And then adding to a mix of people in their 60s, and of course, young ones. And there’s even a romance. I hope I didn’t give too much away. There’s even a romance that buds on the show. So the show is just awesome…truly a breakout season.
Why did you chose the Battle of the Ages theme?
Todd: It’s something we’ve wrestled with for a long time. You know, we’ve had a winner who’s a 48-year-old. Last season alone our at-home winner, Denny, was in her 50s. And so we’ve always sort of felt like age was a number. We just thought what a great sort of catchy thing to say that it’s never too late in your life to try to make a difference. It’s never too late to sort of grab your life by the horns. We obviously cast for personalities and people that we love and we think America will love, so the fact that they were really physically incapacitated in some ways did not help.
Anna and Dolvett, what were some of your favorite highlights this season?
Dolvett: Of course watch[ing] the transformation of some of the people. My personal experience has been great because I work with such an amazing crew every single day. And I really, really love going to work every day not just because of the crew but also because there’s a great warmth in the ranch this season where people are getting along great. I get along famously with Anna and Bob and the contestants. The energy is just good, you know.
Anna: Where do I begin? It’s everything. It’s the roller coaster. It’s an emotional journey. I see Bonnie who’s 63 years old with a knee replacement get off the floor. But then there was also sad moments where you see the disappointment on the contestant’s face on some days when she gains weight or something like that. But overall the most important from the beginning for me was that I share with the contestants as many tools and information as I can so they can take all that information, learn all the things they need to learn, and be able to apply and use it in their life after the ranch because obviously everybody is going home.
It’s one thing watching the show as viewers—it’s totally another actually being a trainer right in the thick of it. Anna, can you tell us about your experience?
Anna: Well for me, personally, it’s definitely different. You literally become family with these people. You become so involved and attached where you also have to be careful; there’s a fine balance…you still have to keep a little bit of a distance and a fresh perspective. I love the working out, the spending time with the contestants. What I really don’t like—and it kind of just annoys me because I’d rather be working out—is the camera stuff. I’ve never been on a TV show. It drives me crazy waiting for the cameras to set up because I’d rather just be exercising and burning the calories off.
How did either of you deal with the emotional aspect of the contestants?
Anna: Even being a professional athlete, [there are] certain days you don’t feel like going on the court or certain days you don’t feel like being in front of 20,000 people, but you trick your brain to go out there and perform. And that’s where…I did work with a sports psychologist. I feel like I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and tools to be able to listen and understand and be able to give good advice to the contestants [on] how to kind of manipulate their brain…the accomplishments that they make during their physical activity really makes a huge difference and makes them confident.
Dolvett: I think for me, listening. I think if you’re a great listener and you can listen to what a person is saying, pay attention to body language, what are they not saying…is a certain skill set. I’m not a psychologist by any means, but what I am is I take a lot of pride in just being a good listener and caring enough to want to help someone. One of the hardest things to do is to help someone tap into their emotions and face their demons. But once you get it going, it’s the best breakthrough ever because that hopefully will lead to a person who will never be obese again.
When Jillian Michaels exited the show, did you guys feel any pressure to fill her shoes?
Anna: I didn’t feel any pressure. I mean I was the one that went after this opportunity to be on the “Biggest Loser” to be able to have the opportunity to train with these people and help them become healthier. I’ve worked with the best nutritionists, the best psychologist, the best coaches, trainers—all those things. I’ve stored all of that information. I’ve used my body as a tool my whole life on a tennis court being a professional athlete. I didn’t feel like I was replacing anyone or trying to fill in anybody’s shoes. We all have our own styles.
Dolvett: I don’t feel any added pressure because I’ve been doing this thing for so long, this thing which I call personal training. And I’m very confident with being able to assist people in changing their lives. The heart of me, I love what I do, and I wanted to translate that to these obese people that could use my experience. So I walk into it with that confidence.
The season premiere of “Biggest Loser” airs tonight on NBC at 8/7c.