Bob Harper

Bob Harper Biography

Writer, Reality Television Star (1965–)
Bob Harper came to fame as a coach on the televised weight-loss competition The Biggest Loser.


Born on August 18, 1965, in Nashville, Tennessee, Bob Harper was raised on a cattle farm before he discovered his passion for fitness after college, and moved to Los Angeles. There, Harper trained such celebrities as Ben Stiller and Ellen DeGeneres. In 2004, he started working on the television weight-loss competition The Biggest Loser. The hit show has made Harper one of the country's most famous fitness experts.

Early Life

Television personality, fitness trainer and author Robert "Bob" Harper was born on August 18, 1965, in Nashville, Tennessee. One of America's most famous fitness experts, Harper has been the coach for countless contestants on the hit reality competition The Biggest Loser, which began in 2004. While he's now known for his expertise in health and exercise, Harper wasn't always interested in physical fitness. As a child, Harper grew up on a cattle farm in Nashville. He found his current career path after college, becoming a certified fitness instructor.

Trainer to the Stars

Moving to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, Harper soon developed a celebrity clientele. Actress Jennifer Jason Leigh was one of his first famous clients. He met comedienne Ellen DeGeneres at a party, and began working with her as well. Harper was then asked to audition for a makeover show called The Swan (2004), but he refused, saying later that he didn't like its emphasis on plastic surgery as a means of personal transformation.

'The Biggest Loser'

In 2004, Harper became a national fitness personality after landing a job on a new show called The Biggest Loser. He and Jillian Michaels served as coaches for a group of extremely overweight individuals seeking to turn their lives around. While Michaels took more of a hard-line approach with her trainees, Harper had a gentler demeanor with his contestants.

Harper kept his enthusiasm for what he does as a trainer, even after spending more than 15 seasons on the reality series. "Every single season... is ever changing. Contestants are coming in for the very first time and you're embarking on this journey." The show's contestants respond well to his friendly manner and his "inside-out" exercise philosophy, with Harper striving to help each trainee achieve mind, body and spiritual fitness.

Other Endeavors

Through his work on The Biggest Loser, Harper has become a celebrity in his own right. He has written several books, including 2008's Are You Ready!: Take Charge, Lose Weight, Get in Shape, and Change, and produced numerous work-out DVDs. In 2011, Harper also launched a line of nutritional supplements. He released his second book, The Skinny Rules, in 2012, followed by Jumpstart to Skinny in 2013.

Personal Life

In 2013, during season 15 of The Biggest Loser, Harper revealed to contestant Bobby Saleem that he was gay, the first mention of his sexual orientation to the public. The conversation was prompted by Saleem's struggle with coming out to his family, particularly his father. Harper opened up to the participant, sharing his experience of coming out to his family when he was 17 years old. "Being gay doesn't mean being weak and being gay doesn't mean you're less than anybody else," Harper said. "It's just who you are."

In February 2017, Harper revealed that he had suffered a heart attack while working out. He was hospitalized for eight days, and told heart issues run in his family. 

Harper lives in Los Angeles with his dog Karl. Despite his hectic schedule, he still finds time to teach exercise classes in the area.

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