A trainer becomes a student on rebooted ‘Biggest Loser’

‘The Biggest Loser’ – USA reimagines weight-loss series

Erica Lugo serves as a trainer in “The Biggest Loser,” premiering Tuesday on USA Network.

It seems fitting that Ohio fitness coach Erica Lugo would be a trainer on USA Network’s rebooted version of “The Biggest Loser.” At one point not long ago, she was a loser herself.

Six years ago, the 32-year-old single mom weighed 322 pounds and found she was too exhausted to get off the couch to play with her young son. That was what she calls her “lightbulb moment,” at which point she started exercising and tracking her calories. A 160-pound weight loss followed over the next 13 months and a new life and career were born.

Now, she serves as a trainer on the reimagined version of the iconic NBC unscripted series when it returns on USA on Tuesday, Jan. 28. Over 10 episodes, the series follows the journeys of 12 contestants as they attempt to change their lives, focusing on losing weight and getting healthy, helped by Lugo, fellow trainer Steve Cook and host Bob Harper.

Needless to say, Lugo’s life experiences made her relatable to the contestants.

“We had people who were divorced and learning after a divorce how to find yourself,” she says. “And I learned that, wow, when I went through my divorce there were things that I kind of put off to the side and I had to go through that with her. Or being a mom and putting yourself last, I had to go through that with them. And each one of these people on my team were going through something that I had previously gone through during my weight loss journey and we just learned together versus me teaching them.”

And for Lugo, the lessons learned were many.

“When I got on this show,” she says, “I had to relive all those experiences with my teammates because everyone on the team went through some kind of life situation or I could relate to them on some kind of level with what they’re going through and how it makes them struggle with their weight.

“And I kind of had to like rip off a band aid … and pour salt in the wound for me to really be like, ‘Oh, this is how I should have changed. And this is what I thought I learned but I didn’t.’ And I just learned I slapped a band aid on so many things and this kind of forced me to take it off and really, truly heal versus just put a band aid on things.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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