My Trainer, Bob.


The Biggest Loser.

I am a Biggest Loser fan. Since day one, actually.

My mention of the show probably won’t sit well with everyone: it usually doesn’t. I’ve participated in many debates over the years–in real life and on Facebook–about whether the show and the people behind it are “right” or “wrong”. It seems to me that there are just a few types of people, where viewing the show is concerned:

1. I have seen it and think it’s amazing and inspiring.
2. I have seen it and think it’s not only ridiculous but sends the wrong message.
3. I haven’t seen it.

I am, of course, part of the first group. Actively participating in the fitness industry for many, many years (and being a certified group fitness instructor for the last eight), I have strong and positive feelings about this show. I believe that though maintaining a perfectly–or at least acceptably–healthy lifestyle is easy for lots and lots of people, some of us only get it partly right (myself included: though I love to exercise, I don’t do so well when it comes to making good food choices), and some just can’t get on board for a variety of reasons. I think this show, though many argue it’s “not a realistic portrayal of weight loss” and should be off the air (I’ll save my counter for another post), is extremely informative and makes people want to get off of their couch, get moving, and make better choices.

The show, which is coming up on Season 12, has made some changes over the years, but the one constant is Bob Harper. Bob has been a personal trainer on the show since Day One.

Every time I watch the show, I declare that I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to work out with Bob (and Jillian too: even though people have strong feelings about her methods, I would love the chance to get my butt whooped by one of her workouts, up close and personal). Though I am the proud owner of their workout DVDs, throughout each season on a weekly basis I lament my “bad luck” in not having real-life access to these fantastic trainers. Until recently.

It was announced that Bob would be appearing (sponsored by Quaker) at the BlogHer conference in San Diego. He would host a breakfast for 300 lucky attendees, but before that there would be a workout for 50. The sign up was first-come, first-served. I have an awesome friend who knows I love working out, and as soon as Bob’s events were posted on the BlogHer site, she sent me a tweet in order to alert me that if this was something I wanted to do, I should shake a tail feather and get over there. In fact, she had no idea how much attending these events would mean to me in regards to Bob being there.

I was thrilled to be among the first fifty to sign up (along with two of my friends!), and got myself on the list for both the workout and the breakfast.

My excitement was over the top. I even made a plan for personal interaction, by deciding that I would “dog it” (i.e. not work hard) during one part of the workout so that Bob would come over and correct me, at which time I would whisper, “I LOVE YOU, BOB.” I thought it was a great idea at the time.

Workout Weekend finally arrived, and I was ready. I was also tired, due to the fact that I was up until nearly 2:00 a.m. after dancing at the Sparklecorn party for more than three hours and then giggling with my roommates. I got up at 6:30 to get dressed and head downstairs for the workout, feeling energized even after only four and a half hours of restless sleep because of this extra-special workout.

I had heard it would probably be a yoga workout, which made sense because it was early in the day, and we also were given yoga mats from Quaker. Wrong. More on that in a minute.

Bob arrived to squeals and cheers from the adoring crowd. It was beyond surreal, seeing him right in front of me. He was all smiles and spent a few minutes chatting while he got his microphone and music set up. He admonished a few girls for not wearing sneakers, because we were going to “really be moving around”. He didn’t seem to care that the majority of ladies in the crowd were snapping photos left and right. We were all hanging on his every word. It was during his pre-class prep when I decided that my strategy to not work hard just to get his attention was a silly idea. Why would I waste any moment of a workout I never thought I’d get to enjoy in a million years, to get a word of correction from him? Forget that. I decided to just do my best and let what was supposed to happen, happen.

And then, the workout began. It was not yoga: it was legs and abs. I was psyched. I have been extremely lax in doing strength workouts for the last year or so (Read: I have not really done more than a handful of strength workouts in the last year or so) and I was pumped up to get things going again.

Naturally, the workout did not disappoint. Bob is at his level of success for a reason. I found the workout to be difficult, but pleasantly so, as in “I’m doing it! It’s difficult, but I’m doing it!”

Remember how I ditched my strategy to “fail” so Bob would notice me? I was rewarded for making a new plan. As he stepped carefully around everyone’s mats, teaching as he walked, he approached my side of the group. I was in the middle of doing my best, when he appeared right in front of me. He made eye contact, smiled, and nodded. That little acknowledgment powered my moves for the remainder of class, and when we were stretching at the end and he gently put his hand on my back, I had enough adrenaline to continue working out under his tutelage for another hour or two. Or maybe three.

As a group fitness instructor, I am well aware that sometimes an encouraging word, a nod, or sometimes a soft touch can mean the world to someone in the studio. Connecting with those who take my class is special. It helps them feel like they’re doing the right thing; it gives them motivation to try harder. Being on the other side of that, especially with someone I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d share the same space with, was an experience I won’t soon forget.

After the workout, we took a group picture and a few lucky ladies got their picture taken with Bob. I had to settle for getting a picture of Bob from a few feet away because the crowd was swarming…but it wasn’t so bad!

Bob was super-friendly and expressed how happy he was to be there with us. What a guy, right???

After just a couple of minutes, Bob was notified that he needed to get over to the breakfast. I motioned to my friend Lisa to lean in, and we got this priceless gem:

Not sure if this is technically a photobomb, since Bob wasn't posing. Still...hilarious.

I’ve looked at it a million times since then, and it makes me giggle every single time.

At the breakfast, Bob answered countless questions (including one I wanted to ask but someone beat me to it: “What are some of your favorite songs to use in class?” Answer: “Heaven” by Emeli Sande’ and “Down with the Trumpets” by Rizzle Kicks) while we enjoyed some oatmeal and fruit, and he was just fantastic. He spoke extensively about changing your attitude, focusing on your successes instead of your perceived failures, making good choices, and much more. When it was all over I figured we had one more shot at a picture, so Lisa and I made a beeline to him, and were rewarded.

Me and Lisa with our dear friend, Bob Harper. 🙂

I wish I could do it all over again. But I can’t, so I will just look at my pictures and remember our morning fondly. Oh, and I’ll watch this video I recorded, of Bob speaking about the importance of being a good role model for your kids.

Maybe I’ll watch it a few times.


  • Paula @ Frosted Fingers

    Very cool! I didn’t hear about the breakfast and workout until it was too late. I did snag a photo with him in the Expo, though. I posted it as my Wordless Wednesday last week. He has a great smile 🙂

  • Christina

    I wish I could have made it onto the list for the workout, but I’m thrilled I still got to join in for the breakfast. Bob is a pretty amazing guy – wonder if we can get him to come back next year?

  • Jenn

    I am still looking for the words to sum this up for myself. It clicked. Finally. With Bob it clicked.

    I love that semi-photobomb picture! Thanks for sharing the video. Still on the hunt for mine. 😉

  • Lisa

    Right ON, Sister!!!! I loved reliving this just now. Such a great morning. If only the workout could have lasted through the last week. You know, since I haven’t worked out since. Tomorrow I start again, and I’ll think of you and Bob when I do. Mostly Bob, though. 😉

    • Melisa

      Thanks! It was everything I had hoped it would be! Especially because I got to share the experience w/ Jenn and Lisa.

  • Tara R.

    How cool that you got to meet Harper. Your ‘fail’ plan made me laugh, but I’m glad you got the ‘atta girl’ nod from him for a job well done.

  • Patty

    I’m so glad you posted this…I will be staring at Bob on this page from now on! Thanks for posting the eye candy. I love you picture with his and Lisa’s pic still cracks me up…a week or so later! Love it!

  • Michelle

    Awesome! Why didn’t I hear all the details on this before your workout? I LOVE your non-plan plan. *snort* And I didn’t get the post workout detail either. You just ignored me for all of BlogHer ;P

    Love the photo of Lisa! 🙂