'Biggest Loser': Meet the mystery trainers!

biggest-loser-new-trainersImage Credit: Trae Patton/NBCTuesday’s episode of The Biggest Loser brought an end to the silhouettes and creative camera angles: Yes, at last we were introduced to the two new taskmasters, er, trainers. (SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading unless you’ve already watched this week’s installment.) Brett Hoebel, a celebrity trainer whose areas of expertise include martial arts, and Cara Castronuova, who made a name for herself as a professional boxer, have joined Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels in their daunting challenge to help overweight contestants lose pounds and emotional baggage. Let’s get to know the Unknowns’ fitness gurus.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Finally, you two can come out from the shadows. Did you keep the secret from your family and friends?
CARA CASTRONUOVA:
I kept it from the majority of people in my life, which was crazy because they were wondering where I was. All of the sudden I was in L.A., and I live in N.Y. — all my family and friends are there. I told the people closest to me, but I didn’t share it with my extended family, who were all big fans of the show, because I wanted them to watch the show and be completely surprised. And now I’m just starting to get all the calls, and everyone’s like, “How could you hold this from me?” I wanted to see who’d recognize me from my voice, from my silhouette, from the back of my head, and I’m shocked at some of the people from high school who have actually recognized me without seeing my face.
BRETT HOEBEL: I’ve been working so hard to get into a position like this, of being with such an amazing crew of trainers and being a part of a movement for America that I really value, and then not to be able to share that success with your friends and family has been very difficult. I just wanted to give a huge fist pump — I’m from Jersey! — and I couldn’t do it. It’s been extremely tough, but I did tell my closest of family. But come [tonight], the fists will be pumping, brother!

Trae Patton/NBC

How long have you been watching the show? Cara, is it true you don’t even own a TV?
CC:
Yeah, I don’t have a TV back in New York. [laughs] I didn’t watch the show, so when I found out I was going to be interviewed to be a trainer on the show, I went online, downloaded the episodes and watched them all on a friend’s computer, and I was just spellbound. It was love at first sight.
BH: I knew Jillian before I got cast on it…. She came to New York, and I was showing her and some of her friends capoeira. Once I met her, I started watching the show and was a big fan.

How will your training techniques differ from Bob’s and Jillian’s?
BH: All I can say is I’m trying to pave my [own] way. I have a pre-med background. I really and truly believe that training is a science. You either know anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, or you don’t. And there’s also a martial arts part of it, which is the capoeira, the muy thai…. Cara’s an amazing fighter. We both bring that aspect to it.  We’re both from New York City. You’re gonna get NYC in the hizzouse! It’s like, in your face, it’s the real deal. There is no BS. I refer to us as “the dynamic duo.”
CC: You can’t compare us to Bob and Jillian. My background is that of a competitive athlete and a fighter, and I’m bringing something totally different to The Biggest Loser that wasn’t there before. And Brett is bringing something totally different. And the contestants love it, because they’re able to learn from four people who all have something totally different to bring to them.

How aggressive will you be in making contestants see the light? And which of you made someone cry first?
BH: I don’t know if aggressive is the word. I think our style has been motivational. We have set the Biggest Loser record of the most weight [lost] in the first week, and the fastest person to get to 100 lbs. Those are the two biggest records we’ve beat and proven with our methods. The other thing is: We’ve both made ‘em cry day one, brother!  It was a tie!
CC: Puke and cry, day one. Everyone has a different training style and being a female, sometimes you find you have to get really aggressive. Some people respond really well to aggression, some people don’t. I’m the type of person who can get a feel for what you need and what I need to do to push you to get you to a breaking point, where you realize that you can’t go on this way anymore, that the reason you’re heavy is because you’re ignoring all the stuff that’s going on inside.
BH: Part of my approach is to lead by example. I fully believe you gotta walk your talk. If you want someone to do something, you can yell at them, you can blow a whistle at them, you can punch them, but I’d rather get in the trenches, do the exercise right in front of them, with them. I don’t have to open my mouth. They will do it at that point. And you’re going to see that this season, that’s different. You’re going to see us training alongside these contestants.

Which contestant has posed the biggest challenge so far?
CC: Hands down, it’s been Rulon [Gardner, Olympic gold medalist]. He’s an enigma and a puzzle to me because he’s so guarded. He’s achieved great things in his life, but he’s also a human being just like everybody else on the show. He’s someone who I can identify with, coming from an athletic background and being someone who has to figure out what it takes to win. So I get him in certain ways, but at the same time, because he’s such an established athlete and he’s so on everybody’s radar, he has more of a guard up than everybody else.
BH: Rulon’s the toughest nut to crack. He’s done a lot of motivational speaking, so he knows when to turn it on and when to turn it off. It’s about the moments off-camera. That’s when the light goes on. Sometimes we have breakthroughs when the cameras aren’t there…. Rulon is a very smart and extremely hard-working individual, but that’s the easy part for this guy. The physical weight is easy to lose. The emotional weight is the most difficult. How does an Olympic gold medalist who wrestled in the 200s get to 474 pounds, basically double his weight? Those answers are very difficult for him to unfold. To get to the middle of an Olympic champion is not easy. But [we] had a really good heart-to-heart, and starting to peel the layers off of this champion has been one of the most gratifying experiences.

Cara, you’ve been the No. 2-ranked boxer in the nation and won two Golden Gloves championships.  In what ways does your boxing background inform how you train these contestants?
CC: It’s not just the physical aspect of boxing, it’s the whole fighter mentality that has been ingrained in me through the years as a competitive athlete. One of the hardest things you’ll ever do is to box — to get into the ring and to face off with somebody whose whole goal is to knock you out, to hurt you, and to be able to fight back. Winning titles made me find out that I have what it takes to do certain things that I didn’t think I was capable of. But also, the losing and getting knocked down and getting back up…. What [contestants] are doing here is comparable to what a boxer does in the ring. They’re fighting tooth and nail to get their lives back.  And they’re going to get knocked down and the most important thing is they keep getting up, keep getting up.

Brett, you battled weight issues as a kid. How much does that help you relate to what these contestants are going through?
BH: Look, part of it is we’re the underdogs. A lot of them chose to be with us because of the immunity, not because they know who we are. When they’re used to two superstar trainers, part of the way to build their trust and respect is your relatability. Have you gone what they’ve gone through? I was not born with a six-pack. I was 50 lbs. overweight. I made it and came out on the other side through changing my attitude, my diet and my training, and [going through] a lot of emotional struggles. I didn’t date. I got called fatso. I got teased about the way I looked…. If you haven’t been overweight, and you haven’t gone through that, it’s not something you can teach someone. I’m not saying you can’t be an effective trainer without going through it, but I’m just saying there’s something about having gone through that and being ostracized for that that you just can’t replicate.

Cara, your father, who was obese, passed away when you were a teenager. How did that impact you and the career path you’ve chosen?
CC: I’ve never really had a weight problem personally, but I come from a very obese family that struggled with their weight and through a lot of obesity-related diseases. One of those people was my dad. As a kid, [having] an obese dad who wasn’t able to do everything he wanted to do with his kids was really hard for me because I knew instinctively it was because he was overweight; I just couldn’t do anything to help him.  He passed away when I was 14, and that was really hard for me — his passing away had a big impact on my life because I knew in my heart that if he had lost weight, he probably wouldn’t be dead. So as an adult now, 16 years later, and I’m training these contestants and seeing how I’m helping people lose weight, I’ll lay in bed sometimes and I’m like, “I wish I could go back in time when my dad was heavy and train him.” So it’s redemption for me to help the contestants.

This show has a lot of serious moments. What was the most lighthearted one you’ve experienced so far?
CC: It was off-camera, back at the Ridge. We organized this Halloween party where everyone had to come dressed up as different people. Some of them dressed up as each other, I dressed up as Brett, Brett dressed up as me, and it was hysterical. We all did a skit, we had a big dance, and everyone was at their heaviest, so it was like dancing was a workout, just moving on the dance floor.
BH: I remember coming in as V for Vendetta and Cara twisting my arm and being like, “You have to dress like me!” I was like, “Oh my god, are you really going to put those extensions in my hair?”
CC: Funny as hell.


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  • Ann

    Not digging the new trainers at all. I turned the episode off after 20 minutes. Reading this interview just confirmed my dislike of them. I have been losing interest in BL the last season or two, but I think these two sealed the deal for me. I really like Bob and Jillian so hoepefully they escape and try something new.

    • BruceMpls

      With Jillian leaving the show at the end of this season and according to her they already have her replacement, I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to be one of these two new people?

  • lol

    lol pre-med background. So he took a few bio and chem classes in college?

    • Jess

      LOL. So did I! So I guess this means I can add pre-med to my resume. sweet!.

    • Kristi

      ha! yeah, that comment about pre med was super funny. it doesn’t mean crap.

    • Kate

      That was one of the biggest laughs. I’m sure the other trainers have taken just as much physiology and anatomy. I’m fairly certain it is required to be a certified trainer. I also thought the girl trainer’s sob story was weird. She isn’t a contestant so I’m not sure how her “hard life” was relevant.

    • LostMom

      I know, he’s mentioned his “Pre-Med” studies about four times already on the show. Enough already. I was already finding him super-annoying before reading the interview, not I dislike him even more. Example: “You’re gonna get NYC in the hizzouse!” Ugh.

  • Greg

    This is like when the Dukes of Hazard were replaced by two Duke cousins. Don’t worry, Luke and Bo come back in the end and no one remembers those random cousins anyway.

    • Rs

      Haha, great analogy! This just proved that the show is going to suck without Jillian.

    • DeniseF

      Perfect analogy! Thanks for the laugh! That was great…

    • Beth

      LOVE the analogy!

    • Wendy

      ROFLMAO…too funny!

    • Vonzo1974

      Coy and Vance. That was a traumatic experience for me. Hey, I was only 9.

  • T

    They could’ve revealed their faces in week one and they still would have been the unknown “Mystery Trainers” since no one has any idea who these two are. I love this show but that gimmick quickly got on my nerves. 4 WEEKS of immunity for choosing them is so unfair to the other team, even if some of them wanted Bob and Jillian. Part of the appeal, actually MOST of the appeal of the show is getting emotionally invested in the contestants but with this set up it’s really hard to.

    • Brea

      Agreed. And the dragging out of the reveal, makes me like these two even less. I knew I would have absolutely no idea who they were anyway, so the gimmick was more way annoying than suspenseful. And, unfortunately for some reason, it makes me not care for that team as a whole…through no fault of their own. I love Bob and, especially, Jillian and will root for their team. Not sure I’ll be able to stick with BL when Jill leaves.

    • Al

      I agree with this. There was no point in keeping them secret. As for the four weeks immunity. I hope that the twiast is that the first weigh in for the “unknowns” will be a double or triple elimination and the other team will have immunity.

    • Former BL Fan

      ITA – What was the point of the manufactured suspense when no one knows who the heck these people are, anyway. Can’t deal with the stupid gimmicks of this show anymore. Why not just focus on the contestants and their weight loss? That’d be a better show and they could do it in a single hour.

  • CMD

    Who cares about the new trainers! Those dudes gained 9 pounds in a week. Do you know how difficult that is, for anyone, let alone someone on the biggest loser campus. Where did they even get the food to gain nine pounds?

    • B

      They usually do it through water loading. Lot of salt and water and you bloat right up. Also they know when they will be weighed so they drink a ton before they go. I’ve said many times the trainers should be able to re-weigh the contestants on the spot since the contestants actually weigh in earlier in the day.

      • argo

        Who really cares? If they want to throw the weigh in to go home … why try to keep them there? (And send someone truly worthy home in their place)

      • Al

        It was obvious that they threw it by the way they acted and the fact that both gained a significant amount. It was never explained why. I guess they just wanted to go home. Shameful.

      • Callie

        I think it was because the one wanted to go home to his daughter.

    • levelheaded

      It’s actually not that hard to gain 9 lbs in a week.

    • RK

      Bob and Jillian should’ve ripped into them.

    • holmes

      Its called water.

  • Javadude54

    Another victory for public humiliation. We made the fat kids cry… we ROCK! I’ll pass.

  • Sharon

    I love the new trainers!! I am so excited to see someone other than Bob and Jillian.

    I didn’t know who Brett was, but I did know who Cara was! They are both amazing and it is going to make for a great season.

    • VSeaton

      I love the new trainers–especially Brett! Yay! I’m glad to have some new blood on the show. I think it’s ridiculous how everyone’s whining bout not knowing them. So what? Most people didn’t know Bob and Jillian when they started out. But, I actually did recognize Brett. He’s been very succesful as a trainer. I’ve seen him on several morning news shows and seen his ABs workout. If I were into boxing, I’m sure I would’ve recognized Cara. Either way, it’s just interesting to see the different way they train.

      I do hate how BL seems to not tell us as much about what’s going on with half the contestants. I also don’t like how they’re almost trying to portray them as villains. It’s not right. They’re on the show to make a change just like everyone else.

  • bootsycolumbia

    I’m not loving this new season, but it isn’t the new trainers’ faults. I don’t hate the new trainers, because the way the new season is set up, I don’t even know them. I also don’t know “the Other” contestants, which makes it hard for me to get excited about their weight losses, which sound significant. What really ticked me off last night is why the producers of the show didn’t send BOTH of those brothers home. Nine pound weight gains for each of them? After Bob and Jillian both tried to work with them? What a complete insult to the other contestants and to all the people at home who applied to the show and didn’t get on. Props to that girl who had to lose 100 lbs just to get on that show. She’s becoming my favorite contestant so far.

  • I.D. Crisis

    I’m from Jersey!
    We’re both from New York.
    Now he’s also from L.A. Bet he knows so much about the place (any minute now) to anyone from back east or elsewhere who asks….
    Slip and move. Slip and stick. Get me a mirror, yo?!

    • I.D. Crisis

      Fist pump!!!

  • 1twinsfan

    Nine pounds?!? Both of them? So shameful given how hard the other contestants work and to those who don’t get on the show.

  • Cici217

    I had to sort of laugh. Even after reading past the Spoiler Alert, I still didn’t know who these two were. Talk about a total yawn moment

    • Rolo Tomasi

      I thought the same thing…lol

  • Jethro

    Glad to see the new trainers and enjoyed them. Many of us didn’t know Jillian & Bob when the show first aired, but liked their training style. Brett was innovative & Cara was interesting.

    Both appeared cool and the change was needed, BL was getting a bit boring and needed a face lift, [no pun intented].

    • tina

      I liked the new trainers as well. They bring something new to training. And I love Jillian, but it was nice to see a female trainer be tough without the all the yelling and cursing and the annoying voice of Kim Lyons.

      • Kate

        Thank goodness no Kim Lyons. Horrible seasons.

  • Ali

    I do not like the way they are handling this season at all. They have been focusing so much on the “mystery trainer” angle that now we have ended up with a “mystery team.” How is that fair? How are we supposed to root for the other guys when we have not had a chance to get to know them? When the teams finally do join up again, there is going to be major alliances, split right down the middle. Ugh, I hate that!

  • Diane

    It’s not the “unknown trainers” fault that the show decided to keep them under cover. I love BL and Bob and Jillian but am a little tired of their screaming and cussing. I’m ready for something new. And as for the “unknown team”, I hope we get to see a little more of them now. I hate that someone who wanted to get on the show was passed up for the twin who didn’t want to be there.

  • RP

    They’re bragging about making the contestants vomit? If they’re supposed to be good trainers then shouldn’t they be able to help people lose weight without hurting them? I guess it’s not good TV.

    • juicius

      Working out hurts. No one likes to get hurt so a lot of people slow down before it starts to hurt too bad. Trainers can push you past that point.

      If you want painless, you can be like those people I see at the gym year after year, slowly ambling along on the treadmill leaning on the bars. A year later — if they stick around that long — they look exactly the same.

    • Cara

      Coddling them will get them nowhere. They have absolutely no idea what their bodies are capable of. They need to see that they CAN push themselves past the point of comfort and not die. Sometimes that involves some vomit.

    • Blame Leno!!

      how is vomiting hurting them? It’s uncomfortable in the moment and then you move on. I am overweight and I have had workouts that pushed me too that point shoot I almost vomitted during one of Jillians work DVDs. I know skinny people who vomit after day one of the Insanity workout. It’s not that bad. I don’t want to sound cold but sometimes that’s just part of the process. They’ll survive if they are fighters. It’s about hitting that wall and pushing through it.

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