STUDIED APPROACH: Personal trainer Mark Gunther doesn’t believe in yelling at clients. He says Biggest Loser has ruined the concept of boot camp.
STUDIED APPROACH: Personal trainer Mark Gunther doesn’t believe in yelling at clients. He says Biggest Loser has ruined the concept of boot camp. John Mccutcheon

Give all that screaming the boot

YELLING at a client isn't the way personal trainer Mark Gunther gets the best out of them.

But he says it's something a lot of people have come to expect when they hear the words "boot camp", and the finger is being pointed at reality weight-loss show The Biggest Loser.

The long-running Channel 10 program, now in its seventh season, has its most vocal scenes when trainers Shannan Ponton, Michelle Bridges, Steve Willis AKA The Commando and Tiffiny Hall yell at the top of their lungs at contestants as a way of motivating and pushing them.

Mr Gunther, of Maroochydore's International Fitness Studio, says the Biggest Loser trainers, in particular the Commando, have ruined the perception of boot camp training.

"He's destroyed the meaning of the word," Mr Gunther said.

"I try not to call my outdoor training sessions 'boot camp', because no one wants to get yelled at like you're the Commando.

"When people think of boot camp, they think that you're going to kill them with words."

Mr Gunther said yelling at clients was not the way to go.

"Initially you get people who are expecting you to yell at them because of what they've seen on TV," he said.

"They're relieved when they realise I don't do that.

"You've got to inspire people by showing them how to do things they believe they can't do. You can't imagine their excitement when they can beat their own expectations."

Personal trainer, Olympian, former reality TV star, and self-confessed Biggest Loser fan Lisa Curry said she did not yell at her clients either.

"For these people who are obese and seriously struggling with emotions is so difficult. Yelling is not the way," she said.

"But it's TV, it's entertainment and it's a game. If it's not entertaining, then people won't watch it.

"I understand that it's for entertainment and I'm confident none of those trainers in everyday life would scream at their clients like that."

Ms Curry said it was hard to concentrate while being yelled at.

She referred to a scene from this week's Biggest Loser, when contestant Kasey was being bombarded with words by trainer Shannan on the beach for being unable to hold a plank position for 10 seconds.

"Yelling just makes your whole head spin. You should be encouraging them, tell them how to do it and what to focus on," she said.

"It all comes down to knowing your clients, knowing your athletes and knowing how far you can push them."

She said her role as a personal trainer was to encourage people to make the correct decisions when they were on their own.

"We can only take them so far," she said.

University of the Sunshine Coast School of Health and Sports Sciences head, Professor John Lowe, said yelling at a participant in a boot camp could be good for some but only for the short term.

"For people who need that push, it might be good," Prof Lowe said.

"Over time though, unless they're getting positive feedback or seeing results, it will diminish their ability to continue."

Prof Lowe said yelling stemmed from the military model, which was that if you were constantly badgering someone you would get more out of them.

"I'm not sure that's true for most of us," he said.



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