Paul Plakas has seen a lot of laziness in his 18 years as a personal trainer and TV fitness expert. But nothing quite prepared him for the families he helped out on the fourth season of the series X-Weighted.
“I’ve seen a few things that shocked me over the years, but every once and awhile … wow,” says Plakas, from his Edmonton home.
“There was this 15- or 16-year-old girl who sent out something like a thousand text messages a month. She’d text message her mom in the kitchen to see if dinner was ready. And her mom enabled her by texting back.”
That’s just one example of the 13 families on board for the fourth season of X-Weighted, which turns its focus from individuals to families and the epidemic of fat kids in this country.
According to Statistics Canada, there are three times as many overweight children in Canada as 25 years ago. And while Plakas says things like stress and the rise of prepackaged foods have played a small role in that increase, he places much of the blame on the parents.
“Mostly it’s the parents fault their kids are overweight. It’s the parents who ultimately allow it to happen and create the lifestyle. You don’t find many fit kids living with fat parents.”
The surprising thing that comes out of the new season of X-Weighted is the emotional toll that body image has on kids — some of whom are as young as eleven.
Though ultimately, the families get back on the road to healthy living, it can be a rough journey to watch.
“It’s a tough season. It feels at times like an hour of crying. And when you see a kid distraught, it makes you distraught.”
Plakas, who previously dispensed fitness advice on the Gemini-winning series Taking It Off, says he himself must be constantly vigilant about what he eats — especially in public.
“I get recognized all the time. So I’m very conscious of what I order in public. I remember someone caught me in a chocolate shop once and asked if I really should be eating that. I had to agree — probably not.”
• X-Weighted: Families airs Thursday night on Slice.