‘Biggest Loser’ winner teaches the ‘workout from hell’
THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Pete Thomas, right encourages an exhausted Brian Steinberg during a workout at the Health and Fitness Center.
The plan was to meet Pete Thomas, the season two At-Home Winner of TV’s “The Bigger Loser,” in the Washtenaw Community College Health and Fitness Center for an interview. My idea was to bring my gym clothes and do some photos with Thomas to make it look like we had worked out. After our “staged exercise,” the plan was to then have a relaxing sit-down chat in the cafe over coffee.
What I got was a workout from hell!
Thomas, 42, of Superior Township, is an impressive guy. He’s a 6-foot-5-inch with a fit, muscular body. There was a light humorous air about him, but he did not go for excuses. He successfully lost 185 pounds in nine months to win on “The Biggest Loser.” And even more impressive, Thomas has managed to keep it off for six years.
He has been teaching strategies for weight loss for years, including locally through Ann Arbor Recreation and Education programs, so he has heard it all. When he realized that I had brought my gym clothes, it was game on.
There was no getting out of this – I was screwed.
Thomas first brought me over to the stair machine, which looks like a mini escalator. He set it for level eight and I started climbing. Within minutes, I started to feel nauseous. I told him, “I feel sick,” and he told me, “Keep going. If you need to throw up, there is a trash can right there.”
Thomas was working out on a stair machine, too. There were three in the gym lined up in a row. Someone was on the one in the middle, so he and I were on opposite sides. This meant that he could not see it when I lowered my level. But even on the slowest level, this machine created an all uphill workout.
My plan of going easy backfired, however. Thomas saw me working out on a lower level and made me do extra minutes.
Next were push-ups. I tried to sit and rest, but Thomas was on me telling me to get on the ground.
“OK, 15 push-ups,” said Thomas.
THE WASHTENAW VOICE
‘Biggest Loser’ Pete Thomas encourages Brian Steinberg to push his physical limits with a little shove from behind.
I managed to get through them. Then it was up on my feet for lunges.
Thomas and I were lunging side by side and doing them in a kind of slow march. We did about 15 in one direction and turned to lunge back from where we started.
“OK. Now do two laps around the gym,” said Thomas.
“Jogging,” I thought in dismay. But there was no time to think. Off we went for two laps. I still felt sick and all I thought about was how sore my legs would be tomorrow from the lunges.
I was ready to call it quits after the jog, but this was only round one. There were two more rounds of push-ups, lunges and laps in this circuit.
The second round of push-ups did not go as well. I asked Thomas if I could do “girl push-ups” with my knees on the ground.
THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Pete Thomas and Brian Steinberg do lunges together at the Health and Fitness Center. Steinberg might have been praying that it would soon be over.
“Are you a girl?” said Thomas.
“I am today,” I joked while trying to catch my breath. He gave me a pass and let me do the knee push-ups.
By the last lap around the gym I was beat. Thomas was jogging behind me and pushing on my back to make me jog faster.
This was only the warm-up. We got some water, and then it was over to the weights to do a circuit of bench presses and a step work out.
Thomas set up two weight benches and handed me two 20-pound dumbbells for bench presses. We started with 15 reps, then quickly starting stepping up on the bench for step jump-ups.
The bench was tall, about the height of two to three steps. With my overweight, 5-foot-5-inch body that is 70 pounds overweight, each step-up was a challenge and I had to do about 100 for each round of this circuit.
By the last round of steps, I was slowing down. Thomas was doing them three times faster than I.
“Speed up,” he said.
I was done. Finished. Dead.
I rushed to the water cooler for a drink and attempted to linger for an extended break.
Greg Hanby, the manager of the Fitness Center, came by. He told Thomas that it was against the policy of the gym to have outside trainers train members. This meant that our workout was over, thank God.
Curiously, I asked Thomas what part of the circuit we skipped.
“We were going to run stairs and jog around the track,” said Thomas.
I wanted to pass out just thinking about it. We only did 20 minutes.
Thomas said that contestants would have to work out for four hours a day when he was on “The Biggest Loser,” Which explains how he lost all that weight.