When The Biggest Loser returns to TV after a four-year hiatus, it brings with it two new trainers, Erika Lugo and Steve Cook. We got a chance to sit down with Cook to talk about his background, how he got involved with the popular weight-loss reality competition show and if he’d be up for more seasons if the USA Network revival is successful.
Here’s what you need to know about this new trainer, who is looking to whip the blue team into shape this season on The Biggest Loser.
Steve’s Motivation for Doing the Show Starts With His Dad
Cook tells us that he liked how good it made him feel to help his dad lose weight and that was a big factor in his decision to join The Biggest Loser.
“I think the best I ever felt training someone was helping my dad lose weight, helping someone go from really overweight to in a place now where his health markers are looking a lot better and he’s able to do things that he wasn’t able to do before,” says Cook. “So when this opportunity presented itself, even for selfish reasons, I was like, I love the way that makes me feel to train people and really make an impact in their lives.”
His Background Is In Athletics and Bodybuilding
It isn’t hard to see that Cook has a background in some serious training. He played D-II college football at Dixie State College, then went on to compete in fitness and bodybuilding competitions. But he tells us “all that became a little bit shallow” for him.
But he definitely called on his sports background when he was trying to motivate his team. At one point, he yells at them about how the other team has people throwing up, that’s how hard they’re working. We asked him about that and he said that’s definitively a holdover from his football days.
“I come from that athletic background and it was more of a motivation, like hey, check in — are you working hard enough? These guys over here are pushing themselves to that point, are you pushing yourself hard enough?” says Cook.
Cook’s Own Struggles With Being Unhealthy Let Him Connect With His Team
On the show, Cook talks about how he has had times in his life when he had an unhealthy relationship with food. Even though he hasn’t ever been overweight, he knows he was very unhealthy and he wants the contestants to know that a lot of people experience that.
“When I was competing, I felt the need to look a certain way. It was one of those things that I was more concerned about what I looked like rather than how healthy I was. And the minute I got back to more performance goals or more health-driven goals, the changed my whole way of thinking,” says Cook. “I think so many of the contestants have been shamed in their life for eating a certain way and I can identify with that. I can remember working at a restaurant and eating ice cream in the closet because I didn’t want anyone to see me.”
He continues, “So I wanted to just make sure people felt like this was a safe place to be open and talk about things. Sharing my background and the struggles that I’ve been through with feeling inadequate, I felt like it really kind of opened them up to allow them to do the same. And then when you do that, all of a sudden you open yourself up, you hear other people with similar stories.”
Cook Says The Number on the Scale and Your Actual Health Are Two Different Things
Former Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels came under fire recently for a flippant remark about Grammy-winning singer Lizzo’s body, saying, “Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause it isn’t gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes.”
When asked about this, Cook was quick to say that you cannot tell just by looking at a person how healthy they actually are.
“Honestly, the most unhealthy I was was when I was 4 percent body fat. I was restricting so many of my foods that I would then binge eat. And so I was thin, I was fit by anyone’s standards, but I was carb sensitive, I was insulin sensitive, leading to this yo-yo dieting effect,” says Cook, “My health markers were probably some of the worst they’ve ever been. So the idea that we could look at someone and say this person’s not healthy, I really struggle with that.”
He goes on to say that what he really liked about The Biggest Loser was how often the contestants were being checked for health markers.
“We had a doctor there, we had a dietician there and we’re going to look at health markers and we’re going to try to improve each of those every single week,” says Cook. “That’s one of the things I really liked on the show that we did. I was really happy that each and every week the doctor was talking to us about bloodwork. It’s cool to see weight coming off, that’s great, but when you see someone who is diabetic and then is not, that’s an on-paper tangible thing. We always look at weight loss as a health marker, but it’s not as important as some of the other ones that we still make sure we tackle on the show.”
He also teases that as the season airs, you will start to see real test results.
“It’s amazing in 10 weeks what you see change,” says Cook.
Cook Is Ready for More Biggest Loser
If this show is successful on USA, Cook tells us he “would be up for more seasons,” because he was surprised at how emotional it was for him.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster. There were ups and downs and there are some very raw moments that left me exhausted,” says Cook, adding, “What surprised me the most is how invested you get into people so quickly. When you’re there with them for hours and hours, you get to know people on such a deeper level that you feel like — it was really hard to see people go home, not just on my team, on the other team too. I think that was the hardest thing because all of a sudden you realize someone’s going to go home this week.
He also teases that Kyle and Kim are the team members that jump out to him as having had the most emotional journey.
“Kyle was the guy that just came out and that was really powerful because you see, you really see Kyle find his own as the show goes on, he really steps into this person that I feel was really confident in who he was.”
He adds, “And then I think Kim is going to be a fan-favorite. She has the most infectious personality and everyone on the show just loved her. She’d make us laugh, she’s such a funny person, but at the end of the day, you know how much she cares about people. Each and every single week she’d probably laugh the most and cry the most, she just wore a heart on her sleeve and I think that really endeared her to people.”
The Biggest Loser airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on USA.