Olympic Winners, Biggest Losers

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I started watching The Biggest Loser on television a few weeks ago because the Winter Olympics hadn’t started yet.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.

Really, it's the Biggest Loser trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels whom I find so compelling. Bob is vanilla pudding to Jillian’s chocolate torte, but a sweat session with either one could leave you crying in the corner. And I’ve missed them.

For the past 14 days, I’ve been watching the Olympics, peppered with commercials about how The Biggest Loser would return Tuesday, March 2. Hooray! Just when I thought I was about to have a seizure from winter sports withdrawal, reality TV arrives with a quick infusion of pseudo-reality escapism and the ironic juxtaposition of elite athletes against obese folks learning to exercise.

While The Biggest Loser offers inspiration for some and entertainment for many, its lack of practicality is beginning to irritate me. I think it’s time for an overhaul—a specialty variation, if you will. (After all, where once we had only Law and Order, now we have Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent. Same goes for various renderings of CSI).

Here’s my pitch: The Biggest Loser: Practical Tasks. The concept is as self-explanatory as the name suggests. Instead of performing amusing but circus-monkey-like tricks in the name of burning calories, these 300-400 hundred pound individuals would accomplish constructive projects in addition to losing weight.

For example, rather than engage in crossing a balance beam suspended above a swimming pool while carrying beach balls (the final immunity challenge in a recent episode), the husky-yet-capable contestants could have a race to see who can mow the greatest number of lawns in a two-hour time span. And after that, well, I’ve got a cord of wood in my driveway that needs to be chopped and stacked.

Remember ESPN’s late evening coverage of The World’s Strongest Man competitions? In a nutshell, guys with names like Magnus Von Magnuson and Sven Larsen were hefting VW bugs, felling conifers 4-feet in diameter and stacking monster truck tires, all in record time. My point is that anyone can go to Gold’s Gym and crank out X number of reps for Y number of sets with Z pounds on either end of the barbell. But the World’s Strongest Man? Well, now there’s a guy who can brace the I-beam if your roof caves in.

The Biggest Loser: Practical Tasks would capitalize on the idea of torching calories through ... ta-dah... practical tasks. And your host? I'm available right away.

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