Weight off his mind
Shannan Ponton has had a long, hard look at himself, writes Erin McWhirter
THE Biggest Loser personal trainer Shannan Ponton never envisaged that gaining a public profile by helping others would leave him feeling exposed and hurt.
When the celebrity trainer read accusations made by his former girlfriend in a newspaper last November that he’d verbally and emotionally abused the model during their six-month relationship, Ponton was shell-shocked.
Though the claims stung, Ponton says he has a clear conscience.
‘‘It was probably the toughest three weeks I’ve had in my adult life,’’ Ponton says. ‘‘I never saw it coming and in a philosophical way it made me realise what pressure can come with being on TV.
‘‘I had to take a good hard look at myself and I didn’t really need to change anything because there’s nothing I’d done that I would change.’’
Ponton wasn’t the only Biggest Loser star to have his name up in lights for all the wrong reasons. Host Ajay Rochester was given a 12-month good-behaviour bond last month for welfare fraud.
In a bid to get on with their lives, Ponton and Rochester have thrown themselves into their passion — The Biggest Loser and the show’s overweight contestants.
‘‘Every year the contestants blow me away and this year we have record results to prove the show is just getting better,’’ Ponton says.
In a twist, season four follows the plight of couples. From father and daughter to best friends and The Biggest Loser, PG Channel 10, Sunday 6.30pm, weeknights 7pm Fighting the flab Duration: varies husband-and-wife teams, the contestants began their weight-loss challenge on Fitzroy Island in far north Queensland before going to Sydney’s North Head Sanctuary for 12 weeks.
Under the guidance of Ponton and rival trainer Michelle Bridges (both right), contestants compete for a $200,000 cash prize, which can double with the introduction of a ‘‘double’’ bracelet.
But flip the coin and competitors could lose everything if they end up with the ‘‘nothing’’ bracelet at the end of the series.
The stakes are high, but as Ponton explains, the cash is a bonus. Their main motivation is beating depression, anxiety and self-esteem issues and ultimately shedding the weight most have been carrying for years.
‘‘Being a personal trainer is being able to figure out someone psychologically and get the best out of them,’’ he says.
‘‘With couples in this competition you can have them standing next to each other and say, ‘Get on the ground, I’m going to kick your a--to kingdom come’, and one person will get on with it and the other person will turn away crying. The skill of a personal trainer is being able to understand people and unlock their potential.’’