A Look At Fitness Reality Television

As much as we may hate to admit it, we love reality television shows. Every week, millions of people catch up with their favorite Housewives or see what the Kardashians have been up to. However, there is another genre of reality TV that has been evolving for years, and that’s fitness reality television.

A whole new crop of shows are launching/have recently launched, but before we take a look at them, let’s see what some popular fitness reality television shows are (or were) all about.

Current Shows

The Biggest Loser

The Biggest Loser

Contestants compete in teams for a cash prize by losing the highest percentage of body weight. Trainers work with each team to come up with a nutrition and workout plan, but the contestants are individually responsible for implementing what the trainers teach them. Each episode includes various challenges and temptations, workouts with the trainers, a weigh in, and eliminations.

What we like: We enjoy following the competition and supporting our favorite competitors. We also enjoy following their weight loss journey and learning from the contestants.


  • Contestants lose up to 10+ lbs. per week, but safe weight loss is 1-2 lbs. per week. This isn’t realistic.
  • The ways that the contestants lose weight is dangerous. They use severe caloric restriction and strenuously exercise for up to 6 hours a day. This can lead to weakening the heart muscle, irregular heartbeat, and dangerous reductions in potassium and electrolytes.
  • Because the show is a contest that involves elimination, contestants are encouraged to take risks that endanger themselves to stay on the show. Some of these risks are severe dehydration before weigh ins, starvation, and working out in lots of clothes off camera.
  • Some contestants are not able to keep the weight off after the show is over. They gain back some or all of the weight after the show.

Extreme Weight Loss


Individuals volunteer to get training and lifestyle changes from trainer Chris Powell and his wife Heidi Powell. The participants lose massive amounts of weight in one year and even have a chance to receive plastic surgery to remove excess skin to finish their transformation.

What we like: We like that the Powells come to the participants’ homes to help them lose weight. It shows more relatable ways to lose weight in everyday life as compared to other weight loss shows. We are also able to learn about the participants’ backgrounds, follow their weight loss journeys, and connect with them on an emotional level.


  • The Powells force participants to take diet pills, dehydrate themselves, go on detoxes, and not eat carbohydrates for weeks at a time.
  • The Powells have been rumored to guilt participants into doing these harmful things by telling them that the show will get cancelled, and they won’t be able to inspire anyone else if the participants don’t reach their goals
  • One specific participant claimed he had more health issues after losing 300+ lbs. in one year after being on the show.

Cancelled Shows

Work Out

Work Out

This show followed fitness trainers and models in California who work for Jackie Warner. It also follows other aspects of the gym they work at including running the business, the clients, Warner’s other fitness ventures, and her personal life.

What we liked: We were able to get a glimpse of Warner’s business and follow her clients’ weight loss journeys. We were also able to follow her dating life and other aspects of her personal life, which is always entertaining.


  • Warner and her co-worker were heard gossiping negatively about one of her trainer’s clients, Jamie Eason, who had breast cancer. When the trainer tried to talk to Warner about the situation she refused and fired the trainer.
  • Many of her viewers protested, petitioned, and called to have Work Out cancelled because they believed Warner had an inappropriate workplace when she tried to blame others and cover up her part in the situation, and her lack of apology. The show was cancelled shortly after.



This is another show with Jackie Warner. She helps eight clients lose weight in their home environments, with their daily stresses and distractions. She helped them with workouts, going to therapy sessions to get to the root of their weight issues, and getting lessons in nutrition including grocery shopping and surprise raids of the clients’ kitchens. Each week all of the clients gather for group therapy and a weigh in.

What we liked: We can learn about the individuals who are on the show, follow their back stories, and follow their weight loss journeys. We can also learn more practical ways to lose weight in our own home environments, just like Extreme Weight Loss.


  • None, but many people were surprised that Warner was given another chance after what happened with Work Out.
  • The general dislike for Jackie Warner and poor ratings likely led to the cancellation of this series.

Celebrity Fit Club


Eight overweight celebrities are split into two teams. Each week the teams are given different physical challenges and weighed to see if they reach their goal weights. The contestants were able to vote members off of their teams to be traded to the other team.

What we liked: It showed us that celebrities are real people dealing with the same issues as normal people. Many people have issues with their weights, and this show makes celebrities more relatable. It is also entertaining to follow the competition and support our favorite celebs.


  • The show may be scripted. One contestant, Dustin Diamond, claimed that he was forced to play the ‘bad guy’ on the show during his season.

New shows

Hollywood Cycle

Cycle House

This new show that premiered in the beginning of July, follows the lives of instructors who work at Cycle House, an indoor cycling studio, in Los Angeles and trainees who are competing to become an instructor. Viewers can get a look into their spinning classes and their personal training classes, which many celebrities attend, such as Khloe Kardashian and Nicole Kidman. Viewers also follow their personal lives, which are filled with drama.

What we like: We can learn about spinning and what it takes to be an instructor. We also get to follow their daily lives. The trainees are competing with each other to become and instructor, so there’s a lot of drama and romance to keep us interested.


  • Some people believe that spinning and working out is more of a backdrop of the show. Any conversations about the studio or classes are minimal and on the sideline.
  • The show could be about how spinning is a lifestyle, how Cycle House is staying in business with competitors like SoulCycle and Flywheel, but it focuses more on the instructor’s personal lives rather than the studio. 

Work Out New York

Work Out New York

This docuseries follows seven elite New York City personal trainers who work in Barry’s Bootcamp, CrossFit, Flywheel, Equinox, David Barton Gym, and many other gyms in NYC. Viewers get a glimpse of their professional and personal lives. In the season preview alone, nipples, bromances, masturbation, and sex, along with working out, are all discussion topics.

What we like: We will get to see how some of the best personal trainers in NYC, which Bravo claims “is the Mecca of the fitness world” work out, run their businesses and their personal lives.


  • None yet. The show premieres on August 18th, 2015.
  • Hopefully, Work Out New York will not have the same issue as Hollywood Cycle, which focuses more on the instructors’ personal lives and drama rather than spinning and their work outs, or won’t end up like the original Work Out with Jackie Warner.

Sweat Inc with Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels

Michaels and two other health and wellness experts will host the show to find the next fitness craze (the new SoulCyle, Cardio Barre, P90X, etc). They will judge twelve aspiring fitness entrepreneurs who will be competing to create the next fitness phenomenon. The winner of the show will be able to place their program in a national fitness chain and win a cash prize.

What we like: This is a new type of fitness reality show, which focuses more on business rather than weight loss or personal lives, like the other shows. We also enjoy competitions and supporting our favorite competitors. It will be interesting to see new fitness ideas, and maybe try them out in the future.


  • None yet. The show will premiere in Fall 2015.

With three new fitness reality shows out this summer and fall, we are excited to see where fitness reality television is headed. We can’t wait to follow the competitions, drama, romance, and of course, the fitness these shows will bring. Will you be watching?