The Unknown Side Of Bob Harper

Whether you find yourself living in the realm of fitness and healthy-living, or just enjoy watching others sweat, cry and puke from the comfort of your own couch, we all know Bob Harper as the tough-yet-lovable trainer (and as of season 17, the host) of The Biggest Loser, but there is more to one of America's favorite trainers and fitness experts, so we dug in deep to get to know the man behind the reality TV weight loss show, and some of the things we have learned might surprise you.

He grew up in the south

Harper grew up on a cattle farm in Tennessee and believe it or not, healthy living and fitness were not his top priority. It was not until after college that Harper started the journey down his current career path when he got his fitness instructor certification from the American Fitness Training of Athletics Association and the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America and moved to Los Angeles, California where he began training celebrity clients such as Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ben Stiller before joining The Biggest Loser in 2004 for the very first season. He has now been training and involved in the fitness industry for over 20 years!

He's an avid CrossFitter

Harper started CrossFit in 2011 after hearing numerous people talk about what a great workout they were getting from CrossFit, so he gave it a try and, as he put it in an interview with Shawn Woodland, "it kicked my ass; I absolutely loved it. It was like love at first sight." Harper has been heavily involved in the CrossFit community since and even stepped in as a celebrity judge for the Live Open Announcement for the 2016 CrossFit Open workout 16.1 at NorCal CrossFit in Santa Clara, California. You can even see Harper including CrossFit style workouts for the contestants in some of the more recent seasons of The Biggest Loser. "Greg Glassman made me look at fitness in a completely different way," he told Julie Foucher on the Pursuing Health podcast.

He's a published author

While we can see Bob Harper on current seasons of The Biggest Loser and other various TV talk show appearances sharing his health and fitness tips and tricks, over the years, Harper has also released several books and workout DVDs, including Jumpstart to Skinny. You can even become a member of Harper's website, gaining access to his database of personal training workouts, lifestyle tips, recipe ideas and message board to connect with others in the community who are on the same path to a healthier lifestyle.

You can workout with Bob Harper at home

Another option — aside from the numerous books and DVDs Harper has released or his website membership — is working out with Harper at home and his Black Fire 60-day full-body workout program with Daily Burn, a program designed to "give you the results you've always dreamed of," which Harper says in his motivational intro video on the site. The program incorporates a scoring system to easily monitor progress as the user works their way through his program and is scalable for all fitness levels, making it approachable even for beginners. Within each workout, the actual training portion will never exceed 20 minutes and includes a variety of body weight and weight-training movements.

He was vegan for awhile

After reading 'Skinny Bitch' in 2010, Harper became vegetarian and then continued the plant-based lifestyle by going entirely vegan. He was even named "Sexiest Male Vegetarian of the Year" by PETA in 2010. He has since incorporated more animal proteins back into his diet but believes there are tremendous benefits to plant based foods.

"I was a vegan for a long time [...]. I really approached it full force 'cause that's what I do [...]. It wasn't until I started doing CrossFit that I was just like 'woah,' [...] and when I personally started incorporating more animal protein back into my diet it was beneficial for me [...]. As the years go by and as we learn, getting more healthy fats into my diet has helped me even more," Harper explained in an interview.

He is a fan of intermittent fasting

Now that Harper has left behind the days of veganism and has incorporated more animal based proteins back into his diet, he has also started trying out intermittent fasting, as he tells Julie Foucher in this interview, and loves it. Intermittent fasting can include everything from skipping a meal or two on particular days of the week, to periodic multi-day fasts.

"You're working so hard in the gym, you can't just think oh, I'm just going to eat whatever I want and it's going to be beneficial for me, because it's not. You have got to find a diet that really works for you," says Harper.

He came out publicly on The Biggest Loser

While Harper has been involved in The Biggest Loser since season one, it was not until season 15 that he publicly revealed to a contestant that he is gay. While in a conversation with contestant, Bobby Saleem, who was struggling with the conversation of coming out to his family, Harper shared his story about when he was 17 and came out to his family.

"Being gay doesn't mean being weak and being gay doesn't mean you're less than anybody else," Harper said on the show. "It's just who you are."

He's an animal lover

While Harper may no longer be a vegetarian or vegan, he is still an animal lover and continues to live in Los Angeles with his dog, Karl, a black and white mixed-breed he rescued from a local shelter.

"I've always loved animals, but there is something about this dog. He's in the gym with me when I'm dropping 100-pound weights. He's so calm, chill, doesn't get skittish at all. As long as he can just be with me, he's fine," Harper explains in an interview with Life & Dog.

When it comes to fitness and making a healthy lifestyle approachable, Bob Harper is definitely one of our go-to experts!

He had a heart attack

In late February 2017, fans were shocked when Harper posted a photo in his hospital gown on his Instagram stating, "Well I guess you all heard what happened. Two weeks ago yesterday I had a heart attack..." Turns out, while working out in a NYC gym, Harper suffered from a severe heart attack collapsing in the gym. He was administered CPR by a doctor who also happened to be working out, which kept him alive; he awoke two days later.

Harper is the spitting image of health and fitness, and would be the last person anyone would expect to have a heart attack, but according to the World Heart Federation, "studies have shown a genetic component for both hypertension and abnormal blood lipids — factors related to the development of cardiovascular disease." Turns out, Harper's mother passed away from a heart attack.

Harper has been very open with fans, sharing his recovery on Instagram. One of the changes he's had to make was to his diet. "Since my heart attack, I've been seriously having to look at my diet and what I can tweak," he said "my doctors have suggested more of a Mediterranean Diet so tonight's dinner is branzino with Brussels sprouts and I started with a salad."

As expected, getting back into fitness has been slow for Harper. "Today was my first day doing my #cardiacrehab which involved 15 min on this bike, 15 min of treadmill and 15min of the ergometer. I felt good and the doctors were happy with all of my readings. It just felt good to get a little bit of a sweat," he posted. "Well while all of my @crossfitfamily is getting ready for 17.3, I'm walking on a treadmill doing a stress test. Talk about starting back at SQUARE ONE. I plan on being the BEST STUDENT," he shared.