When The Biggest Loser heads back to the
gym TV this January on USA Network, in addition to the return of trainer-turned-host Bob Harper, you’ll see two fresh faces on the team. Say hello to Erica Lugo and Steve Cook, the new trainers responsible for coaching and supporting the 12 contestants on their weight-loss and wellness journeys during the 10-episode reboot of the popular reality show.
Both trainers will start the season working with a team of six and, if the show’s history is any indication, will be putting them through some pretty grueling workouts. (Although, in response to previous criticism of the show, this time around, contestants will also learn more about how to change their lifestyles, including participating in group therapy.)
Taking over the positions originally held by Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels way back in 2004, when the show first premiered, you can imagine it would take two powerhouses willing to run that extra mile. And that they are. Here, learn everything you need to know about the new trainers on The Biggest Loser, Erica and Steve.
Before she was a nationally recognized trainer, Erica Lugo was on her own fitness journey —and lost 160 pounds.
At her peak weight, Erica weighed more than 300 pounds, she told Men’s Health. When she realized she didn’t have the energy to play with her 3-year-old son, she knew that it was time to make a change. She joined a gym and started working out, working up to five hours a week of cardio, she told Women’s Health. A couple of months later, a trainer showed her some high-intensity interval training drills (a.k.a. HIIT) to help her build muscle, and it was then that she “learned what feeling ‘good tired’ meant,” she said.
She was also named a Women’s Health Next Fitness Star Finalist in 2016.
Forty-five pounds into her eventual two-year fitness journey (in which she lost a seriously commendable 160 pounds), Erica launched an Instagram to help track her progress. She named the account Erica FitLove, and the positive feedback she received inspired her to launch her own in-person and online coaching and training program.
“Comparing yourself to others won’t get you far,” she told Women’s Health in her Next Fitness Star profile. “It’s a work in progress, especially on Instagram, where it’s so easy to get caught up in filtered versions of people’s lives. But fitness isn’t an image, or a size. It’s a mindset. I try to capture that mindset, not just selfies.”
If that wasn’t inspiring enough, Erica is also a cancer survivor.
In November of 2018, Erica was diagnosed with stage 2 thyroid cancer. Not being able to work out and dealing with the symptoms of treatment were tough, she wrote in Women’s Health last June, and she said her cancer treatment, in general, was highly emotional. She wrote she had flashbacks of confidence issues that she’d dealt with before and after treatment, and had to redefine what “enough” meant when her body was still recovering and she wasn’t able to work as much as she previously could.
“But the thing about the cancer is, you have no choice but to allow the body time to heal and not worry about how your illness might set you back or affect your health or weight-loss progress,” she wrote. “And in that sense, cancer humbled me, to say the least.”
She believes her own story will only help her as a trainer on The Biggest Loser.
Not only, she told Men’s Health, does she feels like she knows every excuse in the book, Erica told People that she also felt like her team on the show was able to immediately connect with her because she had been in their shoes. “They just trust me because I was there,” she said. “I know when they’re crying during a burpee; I’ve been there. I’ve cried the same tears.”
Now meet Steve Cook, a former a bodybuilding champion.
From Boise, Steve grew up in a fitness-focused family. He told Men’s Health that when he was little and he wanted to watch TV, he had to do pushups during commercials. According to Bodybuilding.com, he played football at Dixie State College, where he learned the importance of physical training and nutrition. He participated (and won!) several bodybuilding competitions, including Bodybuilding.com Fit Body Competition and Mr. Olympia, ultimately building himself a fanbase he called “Swoldier Nation.”
He translated that fanbase into a huge social media following—and his own online coaching business.
With more than 2.4 million Instagram followers and 1.2 million YouTube subscribers, Steve is one hot commodity. According to USA, through his social media and website (Steve Cook Health), Steve’s fitness and lifestyle content has been viewed over half a billion times. He also founded his own online coaching site and app called Fitness Culture, which offers training, mobility, and nutrition programs. If you’re looking for some IRL training, Fitness Culture also has a gym location in St. George, Utah.
His fitness-model career has landed him on multiple magazine covers.
Steve is one of the most well-known male fitness models in the industry. He has been featured on the covers of magazines including Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Fitness, and Iron Man, and he’s traveled the world as an ambassador for athletic-wear company GymShark.
But Steve does say that all that time he’s spent in the spotlight has affected his body image. He told Men’s Health that he’s gone through periods where he didn’t feel “perfect” and would binge-eat until he couldn’t move. “I know what it’s like to not be happy with who I am,” he told the magazine. “If you put your own self-worth on how you look, you’re always going to be unhappy.”
Tune in January 28th to see Erica and Steve’s teams go head-to-head on the new season of The Biggest Loser, on USA Network.
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