FITNESS Shannon Ponton’s fitness tips
Biggest Loser star tells QT Magazine what fires him up to stay healthy
SHANNAN Ponton is one of the most respected and popular personal trainers in the country, so who better to approach for tips for the New Year New You issue of QT Magazine?
In a candid chat, Shannan spoke at length about his life as a father, a trainer, the new revamped Biggest Loser TV show, and what it takes to stick to the commitment of making yourself healthier in 2017.
He started his career as a carpenter and after injury put paid to his NRL career, Shannon got introduced to the fitness industry as
the strength and conditioning coach with the North Sydney Bears.
He first appeared on the reality TV show The Biggest Loser in 2005, and has been a part of the program ever since, something he is very proud of.
“I’ve been with the show since November 2005 when I filmed my first scene,” Shannan said. “I’m proud of the consistency, and the awareness that we’ve brought to the Australian public, showing them that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars, on potions or lotions to lead a healthy life. We’ve really dispelled a lot of those myths.”
The new version of the show is called Biggest Loser: Transformed, and features just two trainers, Shannan and Libby Babet, along with returning host Fiona Falkiner. “We are in the middle of filming now, and this is the version of The Biggest Loser I’ve always dreamed of making.
“We’ve finished filming the first part of the show. The first is about losing the weight, then it’s about transforming their bodies. I’m loving it, as for the first time ever I can put actually physical healthy muscle mass on people, plus make them flexible, this show’s not just about losing kilograms on the scales, it’s about transforming lives,” Shannan said.
“I’m 43 years old now, so I realise I’m past my best, and I’ve got the attitude now that it is my role to pass on my knowledge in a total and complete fashion. I get so much of a buzz seeing my clients changing their lives. At my age I don’t exercise to get a washboard stomach, it’s more about being able to skateboard with my kids, riding bikes, or surfing, doing the things we love. It’s all that functional stuff, that is the buzz for me now.”
As a father to two children under five, Shannan admits that fatherhood has changed him, and the way he views the world.
Not surprisingly, he isn’t a fan of the theory of getting a ribbon just for having a go. In fact he thinks as a nation we’ve gotten soft.
“With my kids I don’t tell them to exercise, I don’t tell them what to do, as my son is four and a half, and always racing me to the fence, or seeing who can do the most push-ups, or racing me up the sandhills at the beach. To him it’s just fun, he’s proud and he just does it.
“For me it’s about stepping up and being the role model you want to be. In the end your kids will follow you and make their own minds up,” Shannan said. “Fatherhood has definitely softened me and made me wind my own exploits back. In the past everything was done by the seat of my pants, nothing had much recourse, but now it does have an impact on my family, so it’s made me curtail what I do.
“The other thing I’m proud of was when we had a family, I chatted to my wife and discussed how there was a level of expectancy for me to be in the media, and I wanted to step away from that. She said we might cop a hit in the bank balance with sponsorship and stuff like that, but the opposite has happened. It actually worked the other way. People respect the fact that I’m an everyday bloke who mows his own grass and paints his own fence, and I still go to the pub with the same mates I’ve had for years.”
This is the time of year when people decide to make a change in their lives, but often resolutions fall to the wayside in early February, as statistics show. Shannan believes that the secret to a healthy life is making yourself accountable, and don’t worry what
I’ve been with the show since November 2005 ...
people think, plus just like the title of his last book in 2013, Australia needs to “Hard’n Up”.
“One thing I’ve learned over 25 years as a trainer is not to worry too much about opinions, and on what other people are doing. Let ‘em go. I’ve mellowed my tone on opinions. What frustrates me the most though, is people who say they are going to do something, claiming they want to change and they don’t do anything about it. Nothing.
“They say ‘I’ve got kids’, or ‘I’ve got a fat gene’, or ‘I can’t lose weight’ … I’ve heard them all over the years, I’m tired of people bitching about what they should do or wished they could do, rather than actually doing something about it.
“Our society has become soft, it’s when we started getting medals just for turning up, as it was politically correct to include everyone. We’re not teaching kids to say yes or no any more. You have to be true to yourself and do what’s best for you, not what’s just easy.
“We’re hooked on doing things the easy way. It’s not about ‘cheap and easy’ any more, it’s just the easy way, and it’s why the health of our nation is why it’s the way it is. More than any social, economic or political persuasion, we are just avoiding the hard graft to get results. People pay money for gimmicks, or apps or stuff on infomercials, yet going for a walk doesn’t cost a cent.
“The best exercise you can do is one you enjoy, and we are so absolutely spoilt for choice in this wonderful free country that we
have for ways to exercise,” Shannan said.
“You can try boxing. If that doesn’t work for you, try stand-up paddle boarding. If that doesn’t float your boat walk through a national park, or try Zumba, if that doesn’t work try a pump class, if that doesn’t work try an aerobics class, or a weightlifting class, or dancing, swimming, or bodybuilding.
“There’s something for everybody … you just have search hard enough and be motivated enough to find out what suits you the best.”
Shannan also doesn’t mind the explosion in fitness bands. They are the hot item at the moment and we all know someone wearing a Fitbit, Garmin or even Smart Watch.
“Anything that helps people along has to be a good thing. If that floats your boat to get you moving, and it is going to hold you accountable … then go for it. To be honest I’m happy for anything that gets people moving.
“I get asked things like ‘is it better to train before or after breakfast?’, and the truth is to just train whenever you can, before breakfast or after … don’t worry about it, people get caught up on semantics, it’s all inconsequential,” Shannan said.
“If you can do 30 minutes exercise or three lots of 10 minutes, it’s just as good. I get asked ‘what’s the best fat burning exercise?’ and the answer is there isn’t one, consistency is the key. Get consistent! As long as you’re moving and doing something every day, you’ll be right.”
Finally, it’s using expressions like “whatever floats your boat” that makes Shannan such an Aussie fitness icon.
“Exactly mate, exactly. Whatever floats your boat,” Shannan said.
The Biggest Loser: Transformed will screen later this year on TEN. You can follow Shannan at www.shannanponton.com.au
Personal trainer and star of TV series The Biggest Loser, Shannan Ponton.
At the ripe old age of 43, Shannon Ponton wants to pass on his knowledge of how to change people’s lives.
Shannan Ponton and Libby Babet star in the new TV series The Biggest Loser Transformed.
Shannan Ponton’s Biggest Boot Camp.
Trainer Shannan Ponton in a scene from the TV series The Biggest Loser: Challenge Australia.