Social media drives virtual Biggest Loser

Biggest Loser trainer uses Twitter, Facebook in online PT program
  • Lisa Banks (Computerworld)
  • 19 October, 2010 11:41

Social networking has proved vital to the success of a new exercise program from one trainer of reality television program, The Biggest Loser Australia.

Michelle Bridges told Computerworld Australia social networks such as Facebook and Twitter had helped to create online communities of people trying to lose weight in her 12 Week Body Transformation (12WBT) program.

“Social media plays a massive role in the program, because it is how you stay connected to people and get messages out to your clients,” she said.

12WBT is a 12 week virtual challenge in which participants work together throughout the program to lose weight, communicating online rather than in person to share stories and successes.

Bridges said the inspiration behind developing the program came after she received multiple requests for personal training following the success of The Biggest Loser Australia.

“Wherever I went, people would say ‘can you be my personal trainer?’ and that’s literally impossible. But now, with the internet, it’s possible,” she said. “I’ve got women on farms in the middle of outback South Australia with no gym, no contacts and they are working out with me thanks to the internet.”

Sydney-based 12WBT participant, Katie Hage, recently began her second round of the program, and said social media was the reason behind her decision to take up the challenge.

“I am a ‘fan’ of 12WBT on Facebook, which is great for the weekly weigh in updates as well as sharing photos of 12WBT events,” she said. “In fact it was on Twitter that I found out about the program in the first place.”

Hage said real-world encounters have been forged through the programs’ use of social media.

“The forum is invaluable not only from a posting perspective, but from reading other people’s experience,” she said. “Being able to offer support for members of the program to interact, post questions and provide support…creates a supportive and loving community and allows people to realise that they are not alone in their weight loss goals and obstacles.”

Bridges said other forms of technology used in the 12WBT challenge include the use of videos to mentally prepare participants for the challenges of the program. Each pre-season task uses a pre-recorded video that is live streamed as well as accompanying commitment and fitness test pages before participants begin the program, in order to "tell people about getting their head in the right places".

Hage said her 12WBT experience has been enhanced due to social media, and has lost a significant amount of weight as a result.

“In 16 weeks I have lost 16.1kg or just over 20 per cent of my body mass,” she said. “I am the fittest, healthiest and happiest I have been for a very long time and I now have a network of people I can engage in activities in training and I have made some wonderful friends along the way.”