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.shan­nan­pon­


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.

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