Visiting Biggest Loser 12 Open Casting Call: "Wicked Good!"

Saturday was bitter cold in Boston but that did not deter the 400+ hopefuls who showed up at the Boston Seaport Hotel to try out for the next season of The Biggest Loser!  It was so inspiring to me to see so many people, of many shapes and sizes, waiting patiently in line for their chance to change their lives!  Young and old, alike, turned out in force to be interviewed by the Biggest Loser Casting Team and given their opportunity to tell their story to one of the three casting directors.

I'm blessed to be able to say that since I've lost over 100 pounds in the past (nearly) two years, I no longer qualify to be a contestant on the show so I wasn't there to audition.  I was there, I suppose, to root for those who were and - honestly - to get a 'behind the scenes' glance for all of us who are faithful Biggest Loser lovers!  So here we go, my take on Saturday's auditions...

Holland Striplan listening to a hopeful contestant's
story. (Please note the Mr. Potato Head! lol)
I was wearing a Healthy Loser Gal t-shirt which helped me be recognized and welcomed by Holland Striplan (she's the Biggest Loser casting wiz!) and introduced to the other two members of the casting team.  Holland gave me the okay to take photos and poke around to my heart's content!  I've been a reporter in a past life, so this was second nature to me and - camera and notebook in hand - off I went to see what the skinny was! ; ) 
I first met Jay Kruger - from Season 5 - who with his brother, Mark, were fan favorites.  Mark is still being kidded about his crying continually on the show that season!  Jay is local to the Boston area, living in New Bedford, Mass.

Jay is a friendly, great guy and told me that he's just begun training for his second Boston Marathon.  We chatted about shin splints and his tendinitis and how his body balked at him running back to back marathons last year and the months of recovery it took afterward.  Now three years away from his time on the ranch, Jay looks amazingly fit and gained back only a few pounds (I'm guessing muscle, not fat, because he looks great) since he had the final weigh-in for Biggest Loser.  I asked him if he looks back at his 'old self' and is amazed at the difference that three years can make?  "Everything is so much better. Life is good!" he smiled back in reply to that question!

Jay chatted with potential contestants easily in line, taking photos with them and laughing about stories, encouraging every one of the folks to - whether they were chosen for the show or not - continue their goal of being fit and losing the weight.  I'm happy to report that he's agreed to guest blog sometime soon here, too!

Elizabeth Ruiz, Season 10, chatting with hopefuls...
One of the finalists from last season, Elizabeth Ruiz, was also on hand to meet and greet the hopeful Biggest Loser contestants as they waited through the lines.  Elizabeth is a beautiful young woman who lost over 70 pounds from the day she walked onto the ranch, June 1st, 2010 to her final weigh in. 

Since I have asthma, I was interested to find out from Elizabeth how she is doing now with her exercise since it seemed to be a major impact on her during the show.  Elizabeth reports that her asthma is much better and that she is able to control it far better now that she's lost weight and is working out regularly.  "I really pay attention to my breathing now," she said, "and when I have a problem, I get my breathing in control and can go on."  I understood from personal experience completely what she meant! ; )

Elizabeth explained that her time on the ranch was very isolated from the real world... the three months of last summer, from June 1st to August 29th... were spent with no 'real world' worries of paying bills, going to work, dealing with day to day family and real life issues.  "We were in a bubble," Elizabeth explained to me, "completely isolated".  And coming back into the real world, revisiting old problems, isn't easy for anyone. 

But Elizabeth, to me, seems to have come into her own.  She explained that she believes that everything happens for a reason and talked about how both Brendan and Frado of Season 10 took on 'big brother' roles once they'd auditioned with her last April in Boston and saw her collapse from an asthma attack while doing step-ups.  Having big brothers in her real life, Elizabeth was comfortable in that role with them and their support helped her get into the final contestants of Season 10. And yes, she keeps in touch with them both now, too. 

Elizabeth's time on Biggest Loser taught her important life lessons, aside from the weight loss. I asked her what the biggest lesson from the ranch that she came away with was: "It is okay to be selfish sometimes. No one is going to take care of me, but me."  And she's right! No one can lose the weight or get your body fit besides ourselves.  We have to take responsibility for our own well being, our own goals... whether we have friends acting as big brothers for us or not, in the end - we only can get healthy on our own. 
As shown on The Biggest Loser, Elizabeth hopes to encourage children in the schools of Lawrence, Mass. how to stay healthy and fit.  Her next goal includes getting her personal training certification and helping others at the Sculpture at Strength fitness club in Chelmsford, Mass.   
A group from late afternoon
waiting before meeting casting directors...
Finally, the people that I met who were auditioning were amazing! I admire them for giving it a shot to get on the show and wait in hours of lines to meet with the casting teams.  Here is how I saw what the process worked like:
1) you show up and fill out forms... 
Bonnie from Brockton was trying out a 2nd time...
fingers crossed for her!
2) You wait (for three or four hours average, it seemed) in different rooms to go onto casting
Finally outside of the casting team rooms... what will you say?
The guy in the hat was a 'fish monger' and had an incredible story!

Anxious to see what is going on
in the casting room, two hopefuls
couldn't help but peek!
3) You then file into the casting rooms and meet the casting team and they explain to you what it is The Biggest Loser is looking for in contestants and that this moment is your chance to tell your story, what makes YOU unique, why they should decide to cast you...
Three tables of auditioners telling stories to the casting team
I'm hoping the husband and wife in the red were cast! :)

4) That's it! After you've spoken with the casting directors and everyone at your table has told their story, you're encouraged to also send in a video to the show if you haven't. 
5) That very evening, the decisions were made on who would be called and would wouldn't.  By midnight I saw tweets and Facebook posts from Holland Striplan and @BLCastingTeam that they'd finished with calls.  
Holland Striplan explains the
casting process...
What impressed me about the hopefuls most of all was that they took a first step to realize they need help, they need to change where they are now and become healthier people.  And that - in my way of thinking - already has them a step ahead soooo many others who refuse to look at their health problems.  To me, the people who showed on Saturday and tried... they're not losers, they're going to win in this battle!

PS:  HUGE thanks to Holland Striplan and The Biggest Loser Casting Team for letting me attend on Saturday and listen in on the casting calls and take photos. I had a great time and am so thankful to have been given the opportunity! Thanks, too, to Jay and Elizabeth for their interviews!   :)


MOLLY GALLER February 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM  

Great post, Jan! What a cool opportunity. I am so jealous you got to meet Jay! I loved him and Mark. Look forward to seeing who makes the cut for season 12!

Princess J February 21, 2011 at 5:57 PM  

What a fun experience!

Thanks for the tip on adding the follow me box on my blog via twitter. I am still learning and appreciate the help!

Shabby Chic Mom February 21, 2011 at 6:36 PM  

Wow how exciting. Thank you for bringing us. Behind the scenes. I am a huge BL fan.

Bookgoddess February 21, 2011 at 7:47 PM  

Great writing, made me feel like I was there! It IS inspirational to meet/see people on the beginning of the journey, so true that the first step is the hardest. Each of these hopefuls made that first step!

Parry Peach February 23, 2011 at 11:35 PM  

BL is one of my favorite shows - except for the contrived "drama." I love seeing the incredible results in such a short time. Your reporter skills are still finely tuned. Reading this post, I felt like I was almost there, in person, picking up all the energy and excitement. What a fun experience. Thank you for "reporting" the latest. = )


Diana Kelly February 24, 2011 at 3:01 PM  

Sounds like fun! It would be so hard to be the casting director because I'd want to help everyone who came out get on the show!

Kat February 27, 2011 at 1:48 PM  

Great post Jan. This looks like a super fun day....:-)

Unknown March 13, 2011 at 4:55 PM  

This is so awesome!! Way to go out and support!! Can't wait for season 12!