The show we decided to observe is called The Biggest Loser, season 9, episode 9. In this episode the team members were split up in two groups, the Black group and the Blue group. The Black group had a majority of women, with only one male. And The Blue group had a majority of men, with only one female. We as a group decided to observe the Black Team. Their objectives are mainly the same; both teams are there to lose weight and to become the Biggest Loser in six-month time. Individually each member is trying to lose weight for different reasons. One of the main reasons is that no one wants to lose the weigh-in at the end of the week. This is because the losing team will have to send one of their members home. Quite some members are here because they have promised the people in their hometown to lose weight. Also, there are some that are there for medical and health reasons. Then there are those that want to gain self-respect and confidence. Others are here to make themselves and their families proud. Both the Black team and the Blue team are trying to lose the most weight for the weigh-in and in order to stay another week at the ranch. All this is taking place at a ranch, isolated from family, friends and society.
As we individually observed each group we still had a similar impression of the team and that was that we all thought the black team was not motivated enough to continue, they were getting discouraged and losing hope because they already lost one of their members last week and they had also lost a challenge. They didn’t think they could pull it off.
We also had similar impressions of each member of the group. Ashley didn’t think she could do better, because she was always worried about her mom and due to focusing on her mom’s problems and never on her own life and problems, she wasn’t giving it her all. Stephanie was also getting discouraged because she wasn’t losing that much weight and they were on the losing side so she was scared that she would be sent home. Andrea was also discouraged and not motivated because of her team member’s lack of motivation. Sherry we thought was very positive and still motivated to lose weight and trying to motivate her daughter Ashley as well, she stayed positive because she knew that she was the only mother/daughter group that managed to stay on the biggest loser, and she is not planning on going home just yet, so she is really determined to lose weight. As for Sam, he was the only guy in the group and was the one who always stayed motivated and tried to motivate his team members as well. We also had similar answers when we had to decide what made these members a group. We all wrote down that there were 5 members, who all want to lose weight for different reasons, and even though they differ in gender, age, weight, color, race, knowledge, skills and ability. They are all here because they are overweight and want to lose as much weight as possible.
Because of the group members commonalities they can encourage each other because every member has one goal in common and that is to lose weight. And Sam being the only male in the group has its advantages, because he is the one who motivates the women to not give up and encourages them by telling them how strong they are as women and how proud they should be of themselves.
Our impressions did differ when we had to answer the question; if reaching its team objectives is the only factor that is motivating each of the team members. Two of our teammates wrote down the grand prize is what motivated most of them to lose weight. But the others wrote that other team members are not only motivated by just the prize, but also by each other, seeing a member of the team lose weight encourages them to lose more weight. Also they know that their hometown and friends and family are counting on them. Also some of the team members motivation is being a healthy individual again. Although there were also quite some prizes that they could win such as a spa-treatment in a luxury hotel and of course the grand prize of $250.000 or $100.000, this was not the most important factor. We also disagreed on the some of the strengths and weaknesses of the group. While one mentioned that the fact that they have been losing was discouraging, another felt that losing actually motivated them to work harder and better in order to win the next challenge.
The evidence my team members used to form their initial impressions of the group, its members and its dynamics were their actions and facial expressions, for example the black team was clearly unhappy about losing and that could be seen by their faces and the way they behaved. They acted as if it was the end for them whereas the winning blue team looked very happy and enthusiastic.
When observing the black team we noticed that there was evidence of stereotyping in this episode. The first time was when the Black and Blue team had to compete with each other in a Nutrition Health Pop Quiz. And the black team was pretty sure they would win this challenge, because their team had a majority of women while the blue team was mostly made up of men. One of the girl’s exact mentioned: “We were competing against a bunch of boys, a bunch of guys that always muscle it out, but when it comes to a pop quiz I think the girls are going to take it!” This was really good form of stereotyping, judging someone on the basis of one’s perception of the group to which that person belongs and ironically the black team, with all the girls lost the quiz. The second time we noticed evidence of stereotyping was when the black team lost the challenge and had to clean the kitchen and the gym, and the only guy member of the team made a comment of how much of a stereotype this looks like now with the women(majority of the black team) cleaning right now. Stereotyping could have also been a reason for why the black team lost the weigh-in, they had the feeling that no matter the guys will always lose more weight than the women. They felt that it was inevitable.
The strengths of the group are that they are a team that trust, motivate, support and empower each other. They share one common goal and have to go through great lengths to accomplish this goal. They have one of the best personal trainers, Jillian, who motivates them and encourages them when they want to give up. Another strength the Black team had is that they won the 3 course menu challenge, so they were rewarded a 5 pounds advantage at their weigh-in at the end of the week, which made them stronger. As for the weaknesses we’ve seen are that the majority of the team members are woman, who become discouraged very quickly because they feel that men will always lose more weight. Furthermore, having one member less than the blue team, due to losing the previous weigh-in, has made it harder for them. The last weakness we noticed as a team was that when the black team won the last challenge, they became to self-confident because they knew they had a 5-pound advantage at the weigh-in, which caused them to not perform nor give it their all at the last-chance workout in the gym, and led to losing another member at the weigh-in.
Based on what we have learned from the course so far and on our observations we can argue that the Black team’s biggest weakness/problem was that they lacked motivation, which caused them to lose the weigh-in two weeks in a row. Our conclusion is based on the fact that the Black Team wasn’t performing at their best. If they were truly motivated from the start they would have given it their all at the last-chance workout in the gym, but what we saw was that the black team wasn’t really fighting to lose more weight at the last-chance workout. The black team really thought they would win this weigh in given the fact that they had received a 5-pound weight advantage over the Blue team. This is also why we concluded that this team was only motivated to some degree. Because if they were truly motivated they wouldn’t let a one challenge win stand in their way of becoming the Biggest Loser.
If we were called in to improve the performance of the Black team, the strategies that we would suggest to improve their performance are that we would apply motivational strategy to achieve individual and team goals. This means that they never should take anything for granted just because everything seems to be going well at that moment. It is important that they continue to work hard no matter what. This can be done by continually commending them for their efforts but also to help them not focus on the other team but on themselves. It would be good to set specific goals for them, for example losing a certain amount of weight each week. What is also very important is to get the stereotype that women can’t win out of their head. Women might lose less weight but they are not as heavy as males and since everything is calculated by the percentage of weight loss, there is no need to become discouraged because men have the chances as women.
The most important strategy is to really focus on themselves and to forget the prizes and the other team. Doing this will make them more motivated and less discouraged when they lose. Also when they do win something, they will see it as something extra not as the most important.