Town gets toned

If any­one can whip an en­tire Aussie town into shape, it’s The Big­gest Loser trainer Steve Wil­lis. Guy Davis talks big- time weight- loss with the man known as the Com­mando.

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Steve Wil­lis, prob­a­bly bet­ter known to view­ers of Ten’s pop­u­lar weight- loss chal­lenge The Big­gest Loser as “The Com­mando”, knows he can come across as a bit in­tim­i­dat­ing.

“I’d be in­jected in at var­i­ous times to scare the be­je­sus out of the con­tes­tants,” he smiled when asked about his early days on the pro­gram.

But since join­ing The Big­gest Loser full­time four years ago, Wil­lis has soft­ened a lit­tle. Well, as much as a per­son who looks like he’s car­ry­ing zero per cent body fat can soften, that is.

“Back then, it was what the show wanted from me as a trainer, that stone- cold ap­proach,” he said.

“And tran­si­tion­ing out of the army af­ter 10 years, it suited me as well, draw­ing that kind of line.

“But it’s not all about the phys­i­cal realm, where I lived quite a few years of my life. You can’t sur­vive in this world with­out en­gag­ing in the psy­cho­log­i­cal and emo­tional sense.

“In the civil­ian world, if you want to get the best out of peo­ple, you need to tap into all of it.”

Don’t be mis­taken, the Com­mando hasn’t gone all warm and cud­dly. He’ll still do what­ever it takes to whip the over­weight con­tes­tants on The Big­gest Loser into shape. And work­ing along­side fel­low train­ers Shan­nan Pon­ton and Michelle Bridges on the ninth sea­son of the pro­gram, he’s cer­tainly got his work cut out

for him.

This time, it’s not only in­di­vid­u­als shed­ding un­wanted ki­los ... it’s a whole town.

It’s the Vic­to­rian town of Ararat, to be pre­cise, which has been dubbed one of the most over­weight towns in Aus­tralia.

“And we were pre­sented with the chal­lenge of trans­form­ing it into one of the fittest,” Wil­lis Wi said.

A pretty big ask, and Wil­lis isn’t afraid to ad­mit a he and his Big­gest Loser col­leagues c were taken aback by b the idea.

“We’d never neve been to Ararat, we didn’t even know if the towns­peo­ple were w will­ing to en­gage,” he said. sa

“But as soon soo as we ar­rived in town and started st talk­ing with the mayor mayo and the res­i­dents, they were ready to take the chal­lenge challe and run with it. They were w over the moon.”

Once the c chal­lenge had been laid down, the process of se­lect­ing sele 14 “town cham­pi­ons” who w would un­dergo the fu full- on train­ing and nu­tri­tion pro­gram at the Big­gest Loser house h in Syd­ney be­gan.

“This year was the first time we got to se­lect the con­tes­tants we w would work with,” Wil­lis said. sa

“We went through t an au­di­tion process proc where they got to ex­press exp to us the rea­sons why they t should be a con­tes­tant on the show.

“And once we’d cho­sen a num­ber of peo­ple, pe it was time for them to put pu their money where their mouth m was – the phys­i­cal stuff started!”

Putting wo would- be con­tes­tants th through their paces this way en­abled the

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