What can we do to improve, Oprah?

 In Uncategorized



What can we do to improve, Oprah?

Tuesday morning found me again on local TV trying to get a word in edgewise about something related to fitness. As usual, a few minutes with chatty talk show hosts usually denies me the opportunity to spew the 40 minute monologue I always have planned. Although I couldn’t even make it through all my talking points, I got to play with bunnies in a previous segment.

This weekend is our Winter Strength Camp, which we have themed What Can We Do To Improve?So why waste a good list on a local morning talk show when I can expound upon it during a 2-day workshop? Although I only got as far as #3 on the tube, here’s the list that we wanted to brainwash America with:

1) Create goals! Real goals. Fitness goals. Attainable goals. Fun goals. Although we can’t totally dis the classic weightloss goal, let’s realize that weightloss is not necessarily a FITNESS goal, and since it is an inevitable outcome of the 3 basics (remember…train hard, eat well, rest hard?), then move it to the B-list and let’s move some actual movement and accomplishment goals in the priority spots.

2) Create opportunity! There’s a big world of movement options. Most gyms only offer a small part of it. Learn what is available and try new things.

3) Create a culture! Have a support structure. Tell the world what you’re doing. Family, friends, coworkers, the baker, the cleaning lady, your accountant… lt everyone know. if they can’t join you, they can at least be part of your support system.

4) Create change! All excuses stem from either fear or laziness. Pinpoint your weaknesses and conquer them.

5) Create empowerment! Conquering physical obstacles helps conquer emotional obstacles. Strength is inspiring. Cultivate it.

Where’s the TV spot? Why just bunnies? It’s here, if ya need a laugh.


Another entry in the TV Can Be a Blessing and a Curse file, Bodytribe Elite Trainer Allyson has a few things to say about Oprah…

Oprah Winfrey had really been letting me down. I don’t watch her on any sort of regular basis, but as a personal trainer I key in to what Americans are seeing on her show because from what I can tell, if Oprah says it people tend to maybe believe it. Sometimes she gets it right, but I have this view that she’s helped perpetuate some not-so-good trends in the health and fitness category, at least from where I’m sitting.

I’ll stick to the things that come up in my profession and that I find I’m constantly battling as facts and fallacies with people I consider otherwise really intelligent folks. Of course it’s not all Oprah’s fault. She does however have an immeasurable amount of influence on popular culture, maybe more than we are aware of as folks view, form opinions, talk, share, etc.

Oprah has said in the past that in order to lose weight one should not eat after a certain hour; I believe with her it was 7pm or so. I remember her saying that when your stomach growls after this deadline, that is when the fat starts to burn off. Not exactly how it happens, Oprah.


The marathon fad she passed through undoubtedly inspired thousands of burgeoning marathon newbies to follow suit. Running is simply not the fat burning staple exercise we like to think it is. On the contrary running can be exceptionally hard on a body, especially bodies who aren’t weight training to strengthen the muscles and joints that running takes a beating on. As a trainer I can think of so many other ways to experience the setting of a goal or a benchmark in one’s life. I just have less common ideas.

The biggest let down for me recently on Oprah’s stage was a personal trainer named Tracy Anderson, who apparently is responsible for the hard bodies of celebrities like Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. Her 2 hour a day work outs involve such specialized fitness ‘tools’ (bands secured to the walls and ceilings of her New York gym) that your average girl certainly could not have access to either the equipment nor the excessive amount of free time it would take to ‘look like Madonna’. The worst insult was this trainer’s rule that women should never work with weights weighing more than 3 pounds in order to avoid getting bulky, a point she felt so important it was strewn across the bottom of the screen in big, bold print so we could really marinate in it. Lift our kids, our groceries…hell, our huge over-the-shoulder handbags all the live long day but when in the gym, a 3 pound limit. I have not stopped bitching about this gross spreading of misinformation since I viewed the episode, especially the getting bulky by lifting weights nonsense.

A quick aside. Some women who lift more than 3 pound dumbbells!
(cleans her bodyweight, can deadlift bodyweight for an easy 10 reps)

(Loses weight while deadlifting 225 for high reps)

(cleans bodyweight, deadlifts about 2X bodyweight)

(competitive powerlifter and soon-to-be weightlifter)

(not a single one of these women gained weight from lifting heavy!)

Yes, let’s keep women weak and while we’re at it let’s develop a skill in them to ignore science, fact, and research in their blind pursuits for a cuter butt in their jeans. Might as well have ’em starving and in really bad moods after 7pm too. To read about Anderson’s sordid past, opportunistic philosophy based on superficial aesthetic goals and see her mug shot go to: http://www.godammit.com/2009/03/15/meet-madonnas-personal-trainer/.

[Tracy’s history is quite interesting and includes closing a gym without telling her clients after happily taking their money, lying about dance school, being arrested and sued for not paying bills, lies about ‘researching’ her ‘method’ of diluted pilates and has been the subject of several articles and news shows about her fraudulent behavior. She turns out to be an unoriginal opportunist who likes being a star without actually having any training talent. Where were Oprah’s researchers here?. – Chip]

Oh, Oprah. You were fooled once by that guy who wrote the really moving autobiography who turned out to be a hoax. I know you can afford a competent research staff that can dig up the facts and even maybe decipher what might be just some utter bullshit before having a guest come on the air and pretty much just say whatever they want.

She’d almost lost me. I’d still tune in just to see what other battles lie ahead with future clients when she caught my ear and eye with January 27th’s episode.

Something had recently struck Miss O as a truth and I could not have been more thrilled to be a witness. She had watched the documentary Food, Inc. and was so impressed with it she made author and activist Michael Pollan her hour-long guest. She was obviously really shaken and stirred by the film and told her producers that she had to have Mr. Pollan on the show so that people would know more about where their food comes from and ultimately make more informed choices. Brilliant.

She learned and appeared to have really processed for the first time from the film how the fat-free trend in food had made people fatter by taking out the fats and adding in the sugar. She showed clips from chicken farms and a chicken farmer so disturbed by modern mass farming protocol that she had to speak out and against her own industry. Michael Pollan made his point about how and why processed and fast foods are so cheap because of certain subsidized crops that quality food is more and more unaffordable, while more money spent on good foods would ultimately have us putting less into a broken medical system because we’d be healthier on the whole.


And there was more. Pollan ran through some of his tips for eating healthier including my favorite: eat food, mostly plants, not a lot. Actress Alicia Silverstone had a small segment discussing her transition to being vegan and how it effected her health so drastically and positively. She discussed the types of foods she eats and offered recipes in her new book entitled ‘The Kind Diet’. Both Winfrey and Silverstone were gentle in their assertions that everyone has a different view and should make personal choices, all while delicious looking animal-product-free food samples were being prepared and enjoyed. Well done.

She sorta won me back with this show. I teach people how to move and lift and push themselves on an almost daily basis. But if I had to choose between having someone change the way they exercise or change the way they eat it would have to be the food they’re eating. And then of course I’d want to give a go at training their bodies too. But what we ingest, where it comes from, and how it effects our entire little personal eco-system from our bones to our muscles to our brains, thought processes and therefore actions is so very important and ultimately could effect our desire and ability to move more, to explore our movement possibilities, and of course so much more. In reality I view the food we eat and movement as wholly interconnected and would never want to choose one over the other. But while I can’t have Oprah telling people to discover the movement philosophy of Bodytribe (until I get us on the show), I’m good with her urging people to be more conscious about what they eat. The rippling effects could be dramatic.


Recent Posts
Showing 6 comments
  • Chris in Arcata

    I saw a TV show like two years ago on Tracy Anderson. She was at Gwyneth Paltrow’s house studio workout space. They had the elaborate band thing set up. I remember Tracy preaching the women not using more then 3 lbs back then as well. Saying that women will bulk up if they use more certainly is misleading. Unfortunately these famous folks with money earn a right to say whatever misleading statements they want to in front of a world wide audience. I don’t think these perceptions will change any time soon within the media. Ya got the money ya say whatever you darn well please.

    I’m just glad that our BT culture can see the light. We have each other, and we know the facts. Clearly body tribe, and other similar groups are in the minority. Let’s be glad we found the inspiration to effective fitness, and just continue to spread the word as you say. My BT image print out in my back car window has faded, and I need to replace it. Waiting for printer ink refills. Ugh…..

    I remember when I went back east. I trained my sister in the gym. Folks were asking her for the next few days who that was that was training her. I just told her just be sure to plug BT in the process of talking to them. Two of those girls caught me to teach them a burpee. The YMCA staff kept giving me the eye like dare I train when I’m not employed their, but I trotted on like a true body triber. ha. So we just need to keep spreading the word.

    While I think body tribe does a marvelous job to promote this proper fitness in your corner of the world. We should all email Oprah once a month to get body tribe on this multi million viewership TV show. Chip why don’t you send her your book. She has that darn book club that she is constantly promoting. Maybe she will want to question your unique view in today’s misguided culture. Let body tribers unite, and tell Oprah body tribe has a right to be heard. Though do you really want that level of national publicity ? Likely you would get a out pour of responses.

    Sorry I have not been around lately. Be by to visit soon enough……..

  • Chris in Arcata

    Ugh. You made me visit Oprah’s site. Thanks Ali. Message sent to Oprah ………Who’s next ?

  • Allyson

    Perfect! Chip and I were just discussing tonight how I think we should form a ‘Get Bodytribe on Oprah’ army. It doesn’t have any sort of cool nickname yet, I mean ‘GeBoO Army’ is just weird so we need suggestions there.. ha.
    But yeah! The grass roots physical subculture could really make a noise in the Oprah camp if we tried. I’d love the addition of Bronwyn Schweigerdt, the only nutritionist we’ve really promoted to date. She’s a Sacto girl, has 2 books out and was the 1st to point out what an amazing forum Oprah’s show could be which had me start peeking in on the topics for a couple of years now.
    Chip and Bronwyn on Oprah? Speaking truths, making sense, and no real criminal records? I dunno, is America ready for this? Hell, America needs this. Let’s do it.

  • LittleSisyphus

    I really like the whole list of “Creates”. Civic engagement, volunteerism, and leadership are to my mind really fading values. To define “fitness” as having aspects of sociability is really important. I think work out groups are great places to practice these skills (leadership and volunteerism) too. As my notion of fitness has changed: growing away from training muscles to training movements, so, my social patterns in the gym have changed too; solo or partner work outs has become commitment to a work out group. Folks in our group still slip into the language of “work out class” but in truth the rolls are inter-changeable.

  • Stephen

    Allyson, if you can demonstrate how to get BodyTribe results (described above) without actually having to actually train or give up potato chips, Oprah will be all over that. Change your name to Ollyson and you’ll be gold. (Oprah, Orman, Oz, Ollyson).

  • maceko

    But…I like bulking up…

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt