Who is Bob Harper?

Bob Harper is a generally known as a fitness guru and is most famous for his appearances on the television show, Biggest Loser, a reality television show where contestants compete to lose the most weight in a given period of time. In addition to Biggest Loser, Bob Harper is a celebrity trainer with clients like Ben Stiller, Selma Blair and Gwyneth Paltrow. As something of a celebrity himself, his sexual orientation and dating status has become a point of interest for many people. Mr. Harper is a proponent for a training regime known as the “Function Training Method” which he developed while working as a trainer in Los Angles.

Personal History

Bob Harper was born on August 18th, 1965 in Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Harper was apparently not active in high school athletics. After graduating from high school, he attended university in Clarkesville, Tennessee at Austin Peay State University. Following his time at college, he received a fitness instructor’s certification from the American Fitness Training of Athletics association as well as from the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America. Mr. Harper worked extensively in Los Angles, where he began instructing several celebrities, initially Jennifer Jason Leigh. Through this connection he was eventually selected to become a judge and cast member for Biggest Loser. After reaching a degree of fame from this program, he went on to produce fitness related materials including books and DVDs.

In addition to his appearances, speaking dates, and writing duties, Mr. Harper still teaches regular classes in Los Angeles and works as a yoga instructor. His client list is a mixture of high profile celebrities, with many of whom he’s maintained a long relationship, as well as regular individuals who have signed up for his classes.

In his personal life, Mr. Harper is naturally very physically active. He claims to be an active snowboarder, as well as a tennis enthusiast. His other fitness-related activities include cycling, running and swimming. Outside of fitness, he is known to be an avid photographer.


Bob Harper was originally a celebrity personal trainer working in Los Angles. His stable of clients included several popular actors and actresses. With the popularity of the Biggest Loser television program, he’s become a legitimate celebrity in his own right.

Bob Harper is best known for his presence on the Biggest Loser program. He joined the cast of trainers in 2004, during the show’s first season. Biggest Loser is a reality television program based around helping overweight and obese individuals become physically fit and lose weight. The program started in 2004 and has run for a total of nine seasons, and Mr. Harper has been a fitness instructor in all nine seasons. In addition to his appearance on the show’s American version, Mr. Harper participated in two season of the Australian version of the show, once in 2006 and again in 2008.

In addition to his part in the Biggest Loser, Mr. Harper has appeared on a number of other television programs, mostly relating to his role as a fitness advisor. These include six episodes of the Ellen Degeneres program, both the Tyra Banks Show and the Today Show, as well as a cameo on Days of Our Lives. He’s also a regular target for reality television recap shows like the Soup and Best Week Ever. Other television appearances include news programs, most notably “Larry King Live” and “CNN Today” as well as the entertainment news programs “Entertainment Tonight” and “Inside Edition.”

While his television appearances have been the primary vehicle for his fame, he has also been involved in a number of different fitness related products. This includes his book Are You Ready!: Take Charge, Lose Weight, Get in Shape, and Change Your Life Forever, and a number of fitness DVDs produced under the Biggest Loser brand.

After his success with Biggest Loser and its related media and his own bestselling book, Mr. Harper has been in increasing demand as a trainer and motivational speaker. His appearances range from lectures and speeches to group training events, and his work has taken him to a number of countries in Europe, North America and Asia.

Fitness Philosophy

Bob Harper’s approach to fitness is based on a holistic approach to both exercise, diet and psychology. He terms this approach the “Function Training Method.” This training philosophy was developed during the ten years he spent working as a Hollywood personal trainer. The Function Training Method is characterized by both a physical fitness component and a mental component similar to a number of self help techniques. Special care is taken to address both portions of the regime in an attempt to adjust habits and behavior patterns to address fitness problems.

The physical element of the exercise system is based around a comprehensive nutritional and exercise method that adjust body shape by controlling caloric intake and food types. It is based on a number of preexisting exercise platforms that combine diet and exercise to address weight and health issues. A great deal of the mechanics of the program are derived from exercise methods with a significant amount of scientific backing and approved by the American Fitness Training of Athletics association and Aerobic and Fitness Association of America. In short they are a combination of several techniques proven to be effective for fitness and weight loss.

The most novel element of his fitness regime is the integration of fitness into daily life. Rather than pursue exercise elements in a manner distinct from regular life, the Function Training Method advises an approach that combines exercise and daily life together. Practically this means small, discrete exercise activities that take between 20 minutes to an hour to perform.

The psychological component of the fitness program is designed to focus on the root causes for poor health habits. These are often habits or psychological conditions which lead to self-defeating behaviors like overeating or the like. Rather than focus exclusively on what not to do, the Functional Training Method provides several example of good behavior to replace negative thought patterns, destructive behaviors and self-reinforcing psychological problems. These include a variety of self-confidence boosting behaviors and tips.

The dietary component of Mr. Harper’s system is based around a full dietary adjustment. Low calorie and high nutrition foods are outlined, along with cooking techniques designed to maximize their value. His book included a number of tips to help deal with dietary issues, focusing on how to deal with eating outside of the home, sample recipes and over 20 sample menus. A central conceit of the dietary plan is the ‘eat more’ diet, a staple of Mr. Harper’s work on Biggest Loser. Essentially it suggests that eating a larger number of smaller meals over the course of the day will increase the dieter’s metabolism. An increased metabolism will lead to a healthy and sustainable weight loss plan.

Effectiveness of the Function Training Method

The Function Training Method is apparently a fairly effective method to improve health and fitness for normal people. The dietary information is within scientific guidelines for healthy eating, especially considering the exotic nature of several competing weight loss diets. Unlike the low-carb or low-calorie diets, the Eat More approach is effectively a restricted-calorie diet coupled with exercise. The novel component of smaller meals has been supported by some research as being closer to the type of eating habits that prehistoric man engaged in, as well as an effective control over blood sugar levels over the course of a day. By monitoring and controlling these levels, larger hunger ‘attacks’ will be prevented, thus reducing overeating. There have been no signs of any health problems cause by this diet.

The exercise component of the Function Training Method is similarly uncontroversial. It focuses on natural exercises using free weights, resistance training and the like rather than exercise machines. There is no particular emphasis on any single fitness component, though cardiovascular and strength training are highlighted as significant elements to proper health. A more esoteric component of the methods advocated by Bob Harper is yoga.

Yoga is a 5,000 year old philosophical tradition that was originally developed as a healing technique in premedical times. The advent of modern yoga in the West is fairly recent, dating to the 19th century. Most of the religious components of yoga have been stripped from modern fitness yoga, which is billed as a flexibility, strength and general health practice. Mr. Harper’s advocacy of yoga stems from its holistic nature, coupling psychological and spiritual components to a physical activity and incorporating elements of this synthesis into the Functional Training Method. By incorporating yoga into his system, Mr. Harper intends to address some of the psychological root causes that can cause behaviors that adversely affect personal health.

The efficacy of yoga has been studied in some depth, though there are no conclusive studies suggesting its benefits versus other health systems like Pilate’s. Most research suggest that yoga is effective for treating some types of back pain, improving posture and increasing the flexibility and lubrication of joints and ligaments.

The Function Training Method combines several established and proven health methods into a holistic fitness approach that seems effective. More novel than its individual components, Bob Harper’s introduction of a matrix of healthy activity, especially the psychological and personal elements that lead to poor health, is the root of the system’s effectiveness.

Related Controversies

No one in the public eye can escape a degree of controversy, and Bob Harper is no exception to this general rule. The controversial elements of Bob Harper’s fame have generally come in both professional and private categories, with the former centering on the portrayal of weight loss in The Biggest Loser and the latter on his private life and sexuality. Though not a particularly divisive figure, Mr. Harper does have a rather favorable public opinion as a result of his generally amiable nature and sympathetic performances on Biggest Loser, and some of this controversy is most likely a combination of professional spite and the tendency for a popular figure to attract negative attention.

The professional issues with Bob Harper are generally split along two general lines of reasoning. The first is the mildly derivative nature of the Function Training Method, which he developed. The argument goes that there is very little new in the training method and that Harper is benefiting off of a set of techniques he didn’t develop. As mentioned above this is most likely a factor of Mr. Harper’s fame rather than a serious critique of the training techniques he advocates. The primary selling point of the Function Training Method is the holistic nature of its implementation, with the unification of a large number of well supported and researched health practices under a single plan. The popularity of the Function Training Method is closely related to the personal charisma and visibility of its proponent, so claims suggesting Harper is benefiting from others work unfairly are most likely unfounded.

The second criticism relates to his participation with the Biggest Loser program, which many dietitians and health professionals believe may be raising unrealistic expectations for individuals attempting to improve their own health. Most commonly, these objections relate to the rapid rate of weight loss and especially restrictive diet. Due to the production constraints of the show and the desire to increase viewer excitement, the regime the contestants are put through is significantly more intense than most recommended by dietitians. Some even go so far as to call it a dangerous system, mitigated only by the presence of extensive support staff and observers. To be fair, most of these criticisms have been aimed at the ‘red’ team, which uses a boot camp style of training, but some criticism for the blue team has also been voiced.

Additional criticisms of the show and its approach to weight loss have been raised as well. As the contestants are literally working 24 hours a day at losing weight in an extremely supervised situation, the results they’ve received have been greater than what regular individuals can expect to achieve. As a result, some have argued that the show has increased the difficulty in maintaining a realistic weight loss program and deterred individuals from continuing to exercise and diet when they cannot match the results seen on Biggest Loser.

Bob Harper has replied to these comments by pointing out the safety constraints on the show, the differing nature of his personal exercise program and approach on the show and the motivational power of the program. The connected media, especially the DVD exercise programs which he hosts, have also been effective in helping individuals lose body weight and maintain their new physiques. Additional criticisms of the ‘eat more’ approach to hunger control have been raised, especially its effectiveness for individuals with metabolic issues, but the more extensive coverage of the diet offered in Mr. Harper’s book has mitigated those criticisms.

There have also been a number of other criticisms of the show, which reputedly pushed contestants past safe limits in order to provide entertaining television. Several minor scandals, mostly dealing with former contestants and their inability to maintain their weight loss have been aired, though Mr. Harper has never been implicated in any of them.

The relatively minor criticisms of Mr. Harper’s professional reputation are joined by a series of personal controversies, generally centering around his relationships and sexual orientation. Much of the controversy over this point stems from Mr. Harper’s personal mannerism, which some consider to be stereotypically effeminate. His single status has also raised people’s curiosity, with a large number of web searches on the search term ‘bob harper’ leading to questions regarding his marital status. Google lists ‘bob harper married’ and ‘bob harper girlfriend’ as the two most searched terms relating to his name. Mr. Harper has not publicly addressed his sexual orientation, either to confirm or deny his status as a potential homosexual, leading some to assume that he is, in fact, gay.

Though his sexual orientation has no bearing on his ability as a personal trainer, it may impact his marketability as a successful speaker and professional motivator, which may be a motivation for his reticence to comment on the subject. Though Mr. Harper has commented on a religious element to his life, saying “I love being a personal trainer…it’s hearing God’s calling for me,” he has steadfastly avoided commented on his sexual preferences.

Additionally, several former contestants have hinted at his status as a gay man, most notably Phillip and Amy Parham who were Blue team contestants on the sixth season of the show, implied that Mr. Harper was homosexual when they responded to questions regarding Mr. Harper’s marital status. Other contestants have mentioned their preference for Mr. Harper to ‘do the interior design’ for their homes as well as several other traits typically associated with gay men. Unsourced comments on several Internet sites have also pointed to Mr. Harper’s homosexuality, saying “he’s been out for years now.” It is worth noting that none of the contestants ever explicit said that Mr. Harper was gay, nor has he commented, making the whole controversy one of gossip and hearsay rather than anything conclusive.