When Does 'The Biggest Loser' Return and What Does it Have to Live Up To?

The athletes of The Biggest Loser: Glory Days finally played their championship game, and it was former soccer star, Toma Dobrosavljevic, who came out on top. Of course, almost everyone who competes on The Biggest Loser is a winner simply because they came out tried to enhance their lives. This show has seen 16 seasons, spanned 11 years, employed nine different trainers (remember Anna Kournikova?), and gone through an innumerable number of vomit buckets. But its 16th season just may have been it's finest, working all the right angles — competition, weight loss, and heart strings — by bringing together all former athletes to head-to-head.

Season 17 will certainly have a lot to live up to when it rolls around; that should be some time in September 2015. Most former seasons of The Biggest Loser premiered in either January or September, and as casting for Season 17 was already going down in mid-January, a Fall 2015 premiere is almost certain. And those casting rooms are surely full: almost all former contestants seem to consider the show a hugely positive experience. The Biggest Loser is all about pushing the body to the extreme in order to win and the most recent Glory Days season personified that theme more than any other. Seasons with professional athletes mixed in have always been more interesting, so to make a season entirely of former athletes was genius. All 20 contestants this past season weren't necessarily professional athletes, but professional, collegiate, or just athletically gifted, they all had a unique drive that's giving Season 17 particularly compelling and athletic shoes to fill.

The Hunger to Win

The biggest tie that these contestants all share is that of people who have experienced success — especially a physical variant of it — and lost it. These are people who aren't afraid to say that their "glory days" are behind them and they want them back. But this season was their search for a new kind of glory because it's hard to win two more Super Bowls or get three more Olympic gold medals after a certain age. Everyone's sports careers end at some point, but there lives don't end with it, and watching these contestants redefine themselves outside of the realms of the arenas they've played in is quite moving.

Comeback Canyon

I'll be honest: I didn't really love the Comeback Canyon breaks in the middle of these Glory Days episodes...I wish Bob had been training everyone who was kicked off to for one final weigh-in in the end to see who would return. But I did like that it kept Bob Harper on the show and offered the chance to bring someone back. It was a much better version of last year's "second chances" gimmick that always resulted in the trainers immediately using their save, because how could they not?

New Trainers

And I was surprisingly OK with having Bob hanging out on his own like the patriarch of The Biggest Loser that he is because the new kids to the family totally knew how to hold down the fort along with Dolvett. Jennifer Widerstrom with her sensitive spirit but killer attack fit the bill for a Biggest Loser with particular ease, and Jessie Pavelka (cousin of Jake Pavelka, never forget), was a laid back presence who was always tuned in to his trainees. I will welcome them back with open (and in their case, toned) arms in Season 17.

The Transformations

Is it just me, or did these athletes lose weight especially efficiently? Maybe it's just that their bodies know how to build muscle, or they already knew how to work out better than many former contestants, but these people were dropping 15 pounds in Week 16 — that's crazy. The Season 16 finale required many a tissue box, watching the way Toma, Rob, Sonya, and the rest had changed their lives: not just from obese to healthy, but from defeated to winning...again!

Image: Brandon Hickman/NBC