Many people tune in on weeknights for the guilty pleasure of reality TV. Over time, reality television has evolved so that there is a show for everyone—partiers, outdoorsmen, artists, and even fitness enthusiasts.
Viewers across the country root for their favorite contestant to lose the most weight. You feel their pain and celebrate their victories. You may even use their successes as motivation to get your own life in order. But while watching your favorite reality fitness show, here are a few things to remember:
The reality behind these shows is that the producers’ ultimate concern is what is captured on camera. The safety and health of contestants often go to the wayside.
Often, contestants will not be asked to engage in proper stretching, their meal plans are not catered to their specific needs, and overall they will not have their bodies taken care of properly unless it ends up on the camera. Producers know that viewers are there for drama and they will cater to that desire—even if they have to orchestrate it.
Imagine never exercising in your adult life and being asked to run a marathon. That’s the pain and risk of physical injury contestants face every day of filming.
Many of the practices depicted on these shows are downright dangerous. Contestants have often seen vomiting or collapsing from exhaustion while doing intense exercises for five to eight hours straight. In addition, their diets are often restricted to less than 1,000 calories today. To put that number into perspective, most people need to consume about 2,000-2,500 calories a day to remain healthy.
When someone is not used to exercising (much less for hours at a time for weeks on end) contestants will lose weight, but not in a healthy manner. Contestants lose an average of 30 pounds per week and to remain healthy, you should only lose about a pound or two a week.
After another season wraps up, many contestants on numerous fitness television shows claimed that they suffered long-lasting effects of being on their respective show. Problems include:
Even viewers are affected. A study revealed that viewers who watched reality fitness TV were less likely to exercise because of the intense way exercise was depicted. Reality fitness also casts personal trainers in a negative light and perpetuates the myths surrounding them, making people less likely to seek a professional’s service to get fit.
Remember, exercise isn’t just about losing weight. Though we may feel triumph with our favorite fitness reality contestants, those feelings fade as the show rolls the ending credits. The best way to feel proud of your progress is to start and stick to our own fitness journey. Each person on those shows has their own personal story. Though your story isn’t documented, that doesn’t make it any less personal or inspiring.