“One person, one year, one amazing transformation. My name is Chris Powell and this is what I do. PUSH, I WANT TO SEE YOU PUSH YOURSELF. GET UP OFF THE GROUND AND KEEP GOING. THREE, TWO, ONE, GO. TIME TO WAKE UP, TIME TO START LIVING. What you’re about to see will be the most important year in one person’s life.”
Every Tuesday during the summer, I have a perfect routine. I work during the day, go to CrossFit at 6:30, eat dinner with my parents and my sister at 7:30, then rush to turn on the television at 8:00. I tune in to ABC and as soon as I hear those words, I can’t look away. Extreme Weight Loss, formerly called Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, is a show where morbidly obese people are given the chance to receive lifestyle training from Chris Powell, an expert in health and fitness. Unlike The Biggest Loser, this show isn’t a competition. Each episode is devoted to one person undergoing the transformation of his or her life, often losing 50% of their body weight which usually equates to around 150-200 pounds.
I’ve been a big fan of the show since it came out in 2011 and my love for Chris Powell and his family has grown tenfold since then, largely due to their social media presence. Both Chris and his wife, Heidi, are active on Instagram and Twitter. Their posts center around three different topics: the show and their clients, their personal fitness, and their family. First, the Powells became “famous” as a result of Chris’ show. Heidi makes a few appearances each season and plays an active role in helping to train and connect with their clients. Both Chris and Heidi post “before” photos of their clients on Instagram which prompts viewers to tune in to see the “after”. As soon as I see who is going to be on the show each week, I feel personally invested in their success.
Next, Chris and Heidi post pictures and tweet about their workouts, which usually consist of a tough CrossFit WOD, a hike, or a competition. This is helpful to viewers who are trying to follow Chris’ workout plan on their own and it also provides motivation. When I see Heidi post a photo of her 5:00am workout, I decide that I want to work out at 5:00am too (although when my alarm goes off that early, I quickly press snooze and go back to sleep).
Lastly, they use social media to introduce the world to their family, which they’ve dubbed “The Powell Pack”. Not only are their three children blonde and adorable, but they make viewers fall in love with Chris and Heidi even more. The Powells have invited viewers and fans into their lives which creates a deeper connection and an element of trust. Further, it makes them appear more human. Despite their flawless appearances, they aren’t Superman and Superwoman. They’re parents who deal with the struggles of raising three kids (with one more on the way!), just like everyone else. They show viewers how to live in a healthy way while balancing work and family as well.
I’m a loyal follower of Chris and Heidi, always checking in on their social media profiles, watching their show, and reading Heidi’s blog. I even downloaded the Vemma Bod-E app, a fitness program which the Powells are partnered with. This app includes recipes, meal schedules, and daily videos with tips from Chris and Heidi. Following this program prompted me to buy a certain brand of protein powder simply because a picture of Chris is on the label. I feel like I know the Powells on a personal level, especially after being let into their family pictures and stories, so I trust them – of course I would spend an extra $20 to get protein powder that they promise will work best for me.
To top it off, I bought Chris’ first book “Choose More to Lose More” which details his diet and exercise plan. I don’t typically buy books like this – I’m not obese and been pretty active – but as soon as I saw Chris on the cover, it was a done deal. I read it from cover to cover, carefully writing down recipes and making lists of suggested workouts. Would I have even given the book a second glance if I didn’t love the show and follow the Powells’ lives online? Maybe, but not likely.
Although most celebrities are on Twitter and Instagram now, not all of them are using it in a positive way that also serves as a powerful marketing tool. The Powell Pack is portrayed in an influential, positive light that appeals to viewers and encourages them to watch the show and buy the products. Their social media image is part of what makes them such a power couple – looking at their family photos and loving tweets, it’s impossible not to love them. Just watch one of their videos and you’ll fall in love, too.