Trainer Bob Harper Comes Out as Gay On ‘The Biggest Loser’

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The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper came out of the closet as a gay man for the first time on his show to help out a contestant struggling with his own sexuality.

“I haven’t talked about my sexuality on this show ever. And now, meeting Bobby, I really do believe this is the right time. I want to show Bobby that he doesn’t have to live in shame. When I came out, when I was 17 years old, it was one of those things where I realized that there was going to be so many obstacles, but being gay doesn’t mean being weak. And being gay doesn’t mean that you are less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.”

Harper later went on Twitter to thank his followers:

“THANK YOU to everyone that supported my decision to talk about being gay w/ Bobby. I felt like it was appropriate & necessary. LOVE Y’ALL!!”

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We had the pleasure to feature Bob Harper in a recent issue of BELLO Mag. Here is the editorial along with the interview:

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You may recognize Bob Harper’s name, or face, as one of the trainers and coaches from NBC’s weight loss reality show, The Biggest Loser (currently filming its fifteenth season), but Bob has a few other things up his sleeves, aside from just tattoos. Bob is the author of two New York Times best­selling books: The Skinny Rules and Jumpstart to Skinny, he has developed multiple series of fitness DVDs, created a line of kettlebells and supplements, and even runs an online gym – and you thought your schedule was busy. But despite all of this, Bob remains committed to his daily CrossFit challenge and mental disconnect by immersing himself into his side passion of photography. Sometimes the goals we set and achieve internally, lead to new goals being achieved externally. In Bob’s case, his name will forever be synonymous with fitness, not only for what he’s accomplished inside the gym ­ but for what he continues to accomplish outside of it.

Photography Karl Simone
Styling Warren Alfie Baker
Grooming Ally George
Words by John Cullen

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YOUR PATH TO TELEVISION WASN’T SOMETHING YOU NECESSARILY PLANNED, HOW’D THAT COME ABOUT?

It was definitely not planned. I was living in Los Angeles for several years and came out here to be a personal trainer ­ I had no interest in being on television. My clientele was very celebrity based, so my name got thrown into the mix of potential trainers for the (new) reality show The Biggest Loser. I remember being very skeptical in the beginning. I had heard of the show, but remembered other weight loss shows that had come out that were very extreme and thought I’d have no interest in this, but I went on the audition and ended up having a great amount of interest because they were going to handle weight loss from the perspective of diet and nutrition, which is the only way to really sustain it. I went through the audition process, and it took about 6­weeks for them to make a decision, and the rest is history. It completely changed my life, and I’ve been working on the show since the beginning. I’m shooting season 15 right now. It was definitely a life changing experience for me.

YOU WERE ONCE A VEGETARIAN/VEGAN, BUT OPTED TO RETURN TO AN ANIMAL DIET, EXPLAIN YOUR REASONS.

I’m always reading and learning, because I think whatever business you’re in, you need to constantly evolve. I had touched upon vegan and vegetarianism for a while, for several years, and I really liked many aspects of it. However, I felt like at one point I was losing a lot of my physical strength, and, for me personally, it just wasn’t working for me anymore ­ I had to start incorporating animal proteins back into my diet. I have several books out that talk about the benefits of making sure you’re getting plenty of vegetables. A lot of diets out there don’t focus on the importance of eating vegetables. I still eat a lot of vegetarian style foods, however, I had to incorporate meat. I noticed such a change in my body physically, a change in my performance in the gym, so it was important for me to do that.

HOW IMPORTANT OF A ROLE DO YOU FEEL BALANCE (IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE) PLAYS IN ATTINING GREATER SUCCESS IN YOUR WORKOUT/EXERCISE PROGRAM?

I look at the full circle of a balanced life, and you’ve got to incorporate proper nutrition, being active, managing stress, and getting proper sleep. When you start putting these pillars in place in your life, that’s when you’re going to have that overall quality of life change. When you only focus on one aspect, you can’t get a full circle unless you really attack all angles of it.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ON­THE­GO HEALTHY SNACK?

I always have beef/turkey jerky with a whole fruit in my bag. It’s hard to eat wisely at an airport or throughout your day. I tell people all the time, you have to plan ahead. If you were to ask someone (whose body you admire), they’ll tell you that they’re not leaving it up to chance when they’re traveling. They make sure they’re going to make sure they have food to eat and not have to pull up to a fast food place when they’re starving to death.

WE NEVER SEEM TO HAVE ENOUGH TIME IN OUR DAY, SO OF ALL TRENDING EXERCISES (PILATES, YOGA, CROSSFIT, FUNCTIONAL FITNESS, KETTLEBELLS, ETC) WHICH, IN YOUR OPINION, YIELDS THE GREATEST EXURTION OR RESULTS IN THE SHORTEST AMOUNT OF TIME?

Hands down, no question, CrossFit has changed the landscape of fitness. It’s not a trend; it’s something that’s going to be around for a long time. I’ve been doing it for a couple years now, and it has completely changed my body and mind. I use it on the show all the time. When you’re working with time constraints, there are CrossFit workouts that you can get done in 20 minutes or less and you’re going to get the same kind of results that you did by trying to wear and tear your body in a gym for 60 minutes. It’s the best.

HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH THE FIRST LADY, MICHELLE OBAMA, AND HER LET’S MOVE INITIATIVE?

I’ve been very fortunate to work with the First Lady for a couple of years now. It’s been such a great experience ­ to see this powerful woman that has really put forth so much effort and care with childhood obesity [has] been a real honor and a lot of fun to work with her. I was just at an event awhile back in an arena where we had thousands and thousands of kids dancing and jumping around exercising, and at one point, I’m there with Michelle Obama on my left and Serena Williams on my right and I was like, well this is kind of cool. I grew up on a small farm in Tennessee ­ who would have thought I would have been working with [two] of the most powerful people in the world.

IN THIS VERY VISUAL WORLD WE LIVE IN, YOUR INSIDE OUT BELIEF OR METHOD COULDN’T BE MORE IMPORTANT. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

I always tell people, especially in the day and age that we live in where people compare themselves to everyone they see on television or on magazines and in the movies, to get focus on what they’ve got to work with, don’t setup unrealistic goals. I’m never going to look like The Rock, but I know what I can do with the body I have, and I try to get people to do the exact same thing with their body because that’s how you’re going to feel really good about yourself, when you can be the best you, you can possibly be and not compare yourself to the person beside you.

EVERYONE HAS (OR SHOULD HAVE) AN OUTLET OUTSIDE OF HIS OR HER DAY­TO­DAY; TELL US ABOUT YOUR ESCAPE FROM THE GYM.

I’m also a photographer and spend a lot of my time, when I’m not working or working out with CrossFit, behind the camera. I did a lot of traveling in the past couple of months and spent some time in Paris and London working on my photography. It’s very cathartic for me. It relaxes me, puts my brain in a whole other arena, which I think is really important.

YOU NOT ONLY INSPIRE THOSE ON A JOURNEY FOR WEIGHTLOSS AND A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE, BUT YOU JUST PLAIN AND SIMPLY INSPIRE PEOPLE, HOW’S IT FEEL BEING A ROLE MODEL IN TODAY’S WORLD?

I take it very seriously. I’ve been given a huge platform, and I treat it with respect and care. I know that a lot of people look to me for inspiration or advice and that’s why I’m constantly challenging myself and put myself in situations that aren’t comfortable for me. When I first started doing CrossFit, I got my ass handed to me – it was the hardest thing I had ever done, and I knew I had to continuing doing it. I tell people all the time, you’ve gotta get outside of your comfort zone. Life can be good, but it doesn’t have to be easy.

THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF THINGS ON YOUR PLATE (TV, BOOKS, DVD’S SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS), BUT WHAT DO YOU SEE YOURSELF DOING ONCE YOUR TIME WITH THE BIGGEST LOSER COMES TO AN END.

I’ve always been a trainer and always loved being one, so nothing would make me happier than to have a little (public) CrossFit gym where I could spend my days working people out, and myself, and travel the world doing my photography.

WHAT IS THE MOST SATISFYING PART OF WHAT YOU DO?

I get to have a part in people’s transformations. Being able to work on The Biggest Loser as long as I have and work with all the people I have – we’ve been able to create these lifelong memories. We’re always going to remember the times we had and people will be able to look to me to say that Bob had a part in changing my life for the better. I know that sounds like a Miss America answer, but I got to be a part of a lot of transformations and that’s very fulfilling for me, very satisfying for me, it keeps me going and keeps me motivated. Just the other day I was doing a really hard workout, and I had to call my team from this current season (The Biggest Loser, season 15) and tell them how much they inspired me to keep me going through such a brutal workout.

WHAT IS SEXY TO YOU?

Sexy is a swagger, it’s that attitude that somebody carries themselves with. I always see that person that’s walking through their day and they don’t have to look over their shoulder, they’re very confident within, and I find that to be really really hot.

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Fashion List:

Saint Laurent
Cartier
Dunhill
American Apparel
Tom Wood
Boris Bidjan Saberi
Yang Li
Christian Paul
Dioniso
Chrome Hearts

This fashion story + Interview from Bello Mag Issue #5o with Bob Harper is available to purchase worldwide on iTunes Newsstand for iPad and iPhone.

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