The Rise and Rise of Weight Loss TV continues unabated but do you remember the Jane Fonda workout? Yes, she was the first real global fitness phenomenon. The actress took the exercise fad of aerobics and helped to spin it into a multimillion dollar industry while making millions for herself.   In fact it was 30 years ago in 1981 when Jane Fonda’s Workout Book, written by actress Jane Fonda, was published and it resulted in the now famous workout video being made from it.

Fonda’s video spawned an aerobic exercise craze with a number of celebrities, both male and female, creating their own copycat videos. Richard Simmons, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins we some of those 80’s stars, and gay icons, who were more than happy to jump right onto the exercise video juggernaut that was aerobics. There was even an aerobic championship!

As aerobics moved on to the television, its popularity continued well into the 2000’s but then the rise of reality competition television caught up with the exercise genre and a new breed of exercise TV took over and everything changed.

All Change

In 2004 The Biggest Loser aired on US TV. The premise was a simple one: Your are really fat but you want to be slim. You will exercise and diet to lose the most weight possible with the aid of two fitness trainers, eliminating other contestants as you go along. Oh, and your incentive to lose the weight is… MONEY!


The first Biggest Loser winner of the $250,000 grand prize was Ryan Benson, with a total weight loss of 122 pounds which was 37% of his body weight. The show was a huge success and is now is produced in many different countries around the world.

biggest ryan

The popularity of this show had seen many new versions of the same them theme pop-up over the past few years. Some more successful than others but the premise remains the same: huge weight loss!

Celebrity Fit Club

I’m not sure why the show wasn’t called Non-Celebrity Fat Club but there you go. Celebrity Fit Club is a reality television series that follows eight overweight celebrities as they try to lose weight for charity. Split into two competing teams of four, each week teams are given different physical challenges, and weighed to see if they reached their target weights. They are monitored and supervised by a team that includes a nutritionist, a psychologist, and a physical trainer, the latter of which is former U.S. Marine Harvey Walden IV.  As much as the show purported to be about weight-loss but essentially it is just an ego trip for failed personalities to earn a bit of money and revive their 15 minutes of fame.

Extreme Weight Loss

Extreme Weight Loss (previously Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition) is a television program  in which individuals volunteer to receive training and lifestyle changes from trainer Chris Powell and his wife, Heidi Powell. The show focuses primarily on participants losing massive amounts of weight over one year and having a chance to receive plastic surgery to remove the excess skin from their bodies to finish their transformations.

So far in 2016

2016 has already showcased three new weight loss TV competition programmes. Each adding their own “original” twist to the weight loss genre.


Created by Drew Manning, this TV show sets out a unique proposal, “What if the trainer gains an extreme amount of weight then works together with his client so they both lose weight together?” That is pretty much it. The idea is to give the fitness professional an insight to the difficulties that overweight people endure to get to their goal weight. There is no prize money involved but I have to say that I enjoyed the idea and philosophy behind this concept.

My Diet Is Better Than Yours

From an idea that relies on empathy to get you to view the programme to the ridiculousness of the diet gimmick. The title of the show pretty much tells you what you need to know. Yes, contestants follow the diet of different “experts” to see which diet is the best for weight loss. Diets such as “The Wild Diet”, “The No Diet Plan” and “The cLean Momma Plan” are followed and you see the challenges and results that the contestants have. It’s a shame that Shaun T is linked to this awful, awful show.


“It’s more than a game. It’s a life changer” says Executive Producer Sylvester Stallone. This”revolutionary” new competition series has 10 regular women work with some of the fitness industry’s best instructors help them to become strong. Again, emotions run high and drama is the real name of the game. The one difference here is that we are not looking at obese people who want that body beautiful, these are woman who want to get fit more than anything else.

So, there you have it. Let’s sit back on the sofa, grab the popcorn and watch these guys get fit. But, does the weight stay off? The jury is out on that one.