ARARAT - With anticipation building ahead of the premiere of The Biggest Loser this Sunday night on Network Ten at 6.30pm Ararat Advertiser journalist SAM SHALDERS spoke with the program's host and five-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Hayley Lewis about the series which is set to whip Ararat into shape...
Sam Shalders: How are you feeling ahead of series nine of The Biggest Loser going to air?
Hayley Lewis: It has been a long time coming, that's for sure. It is quite strange because for the first time we haven't been filming the series when it goes to air.
Usually we are about halfway though filming when it starts, so it just feels like it was so long ago.
I'm really looking forward to watching and having my family and friends see it. This is the fifth season I have hosted, so I'm not too nervous compared to previous years.
Back when I first started I was more unsure as a TV person because I hadn't done anything like it before, but I feel very comfortable now.
Already there has been plenty of interest about this year's series on social media, what do you think people are most looking forward to?
How they are going to strip an entire town of its weight. Since the promos have been running I have had people stop me and ask how it is done? How are they going to change the tag of one of Australia's most obese towns?
It is actually really difficult not to give too much away.
It is not just 14 or 15 contestants that go back to Sydney to The Biggest Loser house this year, we are helping the entire town change its health and fitness and that is something we have never seen before.
It will hopefully inspire communities and towns that are similar in size to Ararat to come together and do the same.
You've been involved in the program now since 2010, how do this year's contestants compare to previous seasons?
It is obviously different on many levels to what we have done in the past, but I think one of the most unique things was that each of the contestants already knew each other.
That was very strange, especially when it came to competing in a challenge. Some people didn't want to win because they were so good friends with one another.
In other series it hasn't been a problem getting the contestants to go head-to-head.
It is hard for me to compare seasons or contestants though, because they are all different people and I do get attached to them all.
I have to say though I got very attached to the contestants from Ararat especially, and I know I made a difference to their time on The Biggest Loser.
Not being a trainer, the contestants don't see me as trying to pit them against each other to win because I'm not in charge of a team, so I am seen as being very neutral.
Do you plan on visiting Ararat in 2014?
I hope so. One of my sons got the chance to come with me during one of the filming sessions in town, so I would love to be able to bring my other son and husband down.
I made some really great friends in Ararat and so I would love to go back and catch up with everyone, but being from Brisbane it is a fair hike.
There were plenty of fun times when we were filming, so away from the cameras there will be lots of funny stories to tell when we do all catch up.
Why should people be tuning in to Network Ten on Sunday night?
As host I would encourage everyone to watch because there are some very positive messages about weight loss.
I'd like to see everyone get behind the show because, having said that, it is more than just about weight loss and everyone who watches will see the hard work that has been put in by the people of Ararat.