“The Biggest Loser” returns for Season 14 tonight, January 6, on NBC. Teenagers have participated on previous “Biggest Loser” installments, but the new “Challenge America” season emphasizes the opportunity to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic. The children won’t be competing, won’t be weighed publicly, and won’t be eliminated. They’re participating in the program from home, and serving as inspiration for the trainers and for the competing contestants.
Trainer Jillian Michaels, a new mother, returned to the show this season for several reasons, and the children were a major part of it. As fans of the show know, Michaels was overweight as a child. “I was about 75 overweight at my heaviest, and I’m joking about it now, but of course it was soul-crushing,” she told the press. “You get bullied, you feel insecure, you’re uncomfortable participating. It takes all the innocence and all the joy out of being a child.” Michaels’ enthusiasm for fitness began with martial arts as a child.
“Their courage is so refreshing and so inspiring,” Michaels says of the younger participants. “It breathes a whole new life into the show.”
Michaels has worked with the Clinton Foundation to combat childhood obesity, and saw this season as another avenue for that. “Having a vehicle like ‘The Biggest Loser,’ the resources and the
exposure, to be able to exploit that, is very exciting,” she says.
The children weren’t the only reason she returned, however. She says she missed fellow trainer Bob Harper and was excited to meet Dolvett Quince, who replaced her when she left. She also was looking forward to working with new executive produce Lisa
Hennessy. “I feel safe with her professionally and personally,” says Michaels.
She tells an amusing story about attending a Madonna concert with Harper, and enjoying her new hits but hoping she’d play her old songs, like “Holiday.”
“The Biggest Loser is my version of ‘Holiday,'” Michaels jokes, noting that she has no intention of making another exit. “I will stay on, at this point, as long as you’ll have me.”
And it seems they hope she’ll stay for a while. “A member of ‘The Biggest Loser’ family is home,” says executive producer David Broome, “and we love the fact that you’re here.”