“I’ll be whatever my fans want to call me,” said Ruben Studdard about his Velvet Teddy Bear persona. Will the trimmed down star still use the name after his stint on this season of Biggest Loser? He won’t mind if you do!
Ruben checks in to the ranch at 462 pounds, making him the heaviest contestant this season, but that’s one title he’ll happily part ways with.
Once a well-known vegan, Ruben told us he no longer follows a meatless lifestyle. Because of his high protein needs on the ranch, he’s following the diet prescribed there by Cheryl Forberg, RD, the show’s dietitian who co-created its award-winning nutrition plan.
In recent years, the former American Idol has not been able to consistently manage a healthy weight. “The show gives me a second chance to live a healthy lifestyle. It gives me the opportunity to put me first, not put my career ahead of my health.”
For the past eleven years, he says his life has been an open book and available to the public eye, with the exception of his struggle with weight loss. He knew it would be a difficult decision to open himself up in this way, and admits the process was “a lot to think about.” So he looked at the opportunity in a different way – not to see it as a reality show, but instead for how it would impact his life in a positive way.
One of those takeaways is having trainer Dolvett Quince by his side. Ruben went to the ranch without any preconceived desire to workout with one particular trainer, saying, “I just wanted to get my life together and get healthy.” But when he landed on Dolvett’s team, he called the experience of working with the trainer both a blessing and an opportunity. “He’s a wonderful trainer and motivator,” he told us.
As for the trainer’s perspective, Dolvett said he really enjoyed training Ruben, even though they “definitely ran in to some obstacles.” One of the new twists in this season of second chances was allowing the trainers to participate in the cast selection. For Dolvett, choosing Ruben was “a no brainer.” Our sources close to the ranch have told us that the relationship between this trainer and contestant is remarkable and one worth watching.
But what about those who say Ruben stole a spot they could have had, where Ruben has the financial means that most Americans don’t? Both Dolvett and the show’s executive producer Lisa Hennessy say his appearance on the show is completely fair.
“Ruben’s on due to the fact that he needs to be there,” defended Hennessy. “We choose people for many different reasons. By Ruben having a celebrity fan base, think of all the people he will inspire and pay it forward.”
Dolvett also defended the show’s decision, suggesting that “just because someone wants to be part of the show doesn’t mean they will qualify or that they are ready.” He pointed to the lengthy hoops Biggest Loser hopefuls must jump through before being cast, including passing medical, psychological, and physical examinations.
Whether in Ruben or the other 14 contestants living on the ranch this season, Dolvett said he looked for authentic and people who actually wanted to move and make a difference. He wanted people with a compelling story. They no doubt found that in the singing sensation who plans to record his sixth album after the ranch.
The Biggest Loser season 15 premiere is Tuesday, October 8 on NBC at 7:00 p.m. CST.