Encouragement: Michelle Bridges on The Biggest Loser.
Behind the scenes of The Biggest Loser recently, there was almost as much drama as in the series itself.
Since the reality weight-loss program aired last year trainer Michelle Bridges - as countless news stories revealed - divorced her husband of nine years, started a relationship with series co-star, Steve ''The Commando'' Willis, subsequently split then reunited with him, before their relationship status, whatever it may currently be, quietly became their own business.
I know I'm making a difference.
It was all a bit melodramatic but through it all, Bridges remained focused on what was most important to her and The Biggest Loser - helping people lose weight.
Turbulence : The Biggest Loser's Michelle Bridges. Photo: Sean Izzard
She's at the helm of three companies and has a fitness empire - including books, DVDs, workout gear and her phenomenally successful online program 12 Week Body Transformation - worth an estimated $67 million. She's also about to make headway into America.
Sitting around letting the gossip get her down? Not likely.
"I feel like [the last year] has been great, actually," Bridges says. "I had a great year. I learnt a lot about business, about myself, my health, my wellness, and I'm ready to take on 2014."
Which is a good thing, considering what she's got going on now. Case in point: The Biggest Loser.
Most years, Bridges shoots the series for five months. This time, production went back-to-back, wrapping series eight before taking a quick two-week break and heading straight into the next.
"We just went cracking straight through from one to another," Bridges says. "You always go, 'What am I doing this for?' when you're in the thick of it, but we all love it.
"We know we're making reality TV that has a bit of backbone …
"These are real people who are transforming themselves, doing it in front of the whole nation, and if you ever watch a series back to back, you can see why it's the longest-running reality series on Australian TV. It's great."
This year Loser and Bridges are taking on the show's biggest transformation, an entire town.
"Put it this way, there were several moments along the way where the production team, the crew, the trainers - everyone - were all looking at each other going, 'What were we thinking? Did we really think we could do this?'
"I know when they told me about the concept for the show, I was like 'Holy moly. This is crazy town'. But we had some phenomenal results.''
Their chosen makeover town is Ararat in Victoria - one of the country's most overweight towns.
They've set themselves the goal of overhauling the population's health and fitness habits, with a lucky few given the chance to enter the Biggest Loser house up in Sydney to continue their journey.
"We're talking about a Victorian town that's one of the most overweight ever - that does enormous damage to the psyche of a town," she says.
But, by all accounts, it seems her message sank in.
"Every time I'd go there and get up in the morning for a run, there were more people on the streets at 6 o'clock; more people in the gym; more people in the swimming pool. Everyone was noticing it.
"Once it caught on and we got the town moving and involved, they were spruiking it from the rooftops.''
It's that enthusiasm, Bridges says, that keeps her going.
"People stop me in the street, in cafes, in the supermarket.
''The second thing they want is a photograph, but the first thing is to tell me their story …
"I'm a pretty inspired person, but I listen to these girls, and I think, 'Holy shit, I have to go to the gym, or I have to go for a run' - because if they can do it, then I can too."
Bridges knows how lucky she was to have landed Loser six years ago, and says it's helped enormously in getting her evangelical health and fitness message out.
"I was extremely well known in the fitness world, but as far as the general public went, no one knew who I was until I started Loser," she says.
"All the things I had in the making, that I was trying to get going, it gave me this amazing platform to really get it all up."
And if there's a bit of press intrusion along the way, then so be it.
"I know I'm making a difference," she says emphatically.
"I know people are now sitting up and paying attention, and that's cool.
"I couldn't be happier."
Biggest Loser, Ten, Sunday, 6.30pm* (corrected).