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Ex-Michigan wrestler Sulaver now on ABC reality series

Rob Sulaver, former University of Michigan wrestler and theater major, will be stepping into a new role as he makes his debut as a trainer on the new ABC-TV reality series, "My Diet is Better Than Yours" this Thursday, Jan. 21.

Rob Sulaver
Here's how Sulaver, a walk-on wrestler who competed at 157 pounds for the Wolverines and now a personal trainer in New York City, described the show at his website: "Star experts, nutritionists, and trainers will coach overweight Americans on how to lose weight on their unique diet and fitness plans. "My Diet is Better Than Yours" features celebrity trainers including Rob "Tank Top" Sulaver (founder and CEO of Bandana Training) ... Unlike NBC's "The Biggest Loser", contestants on ABC's "My Diet is Better Than Yours" will be following their expert's unique diets from their home. There's no 'weight loss camp' -- only real people working real jobs with real families -- doing the best they can to lose weight."

Sulaver goes on quote Shaun T., host of "My Diet is Better than Yours", "'Unlike other diet shows, this is real life. They're going to work, they're coming home and they have to make their own food." To measure each contestant's fitness progress, contestants will be evaluated in challenges created by celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser, whose clients include Kelly Ripa, Shakira, and Sarah Jessica Parker. In order to qualify for the final weigh-in and be eligible for the $50,000 grand prize, contestants must finish the final milestone challenge -- a half marathon.

"To be able to bring my background in aggressive training, sports nutrition, and exercise science to the national conversation on health and fitness is my dream," said Sulaver. "Helping people rediscover their health, their strength, and their general sense of badassery is what I love to do and I can't wait to share it with the world."

Rob Sulaver (Photo/Michigan Sports Information)
Sulaver has his work cut out for him. He's stepping in to work with La'Tasha Givens, who dropped trainer Carolyn Barnes. According to People magazine, Barnes' original plan focused on ways for Givens to burn calories with everyday tasks. The former Michigan matman shook things up by taking Givens to the gym for an intense workout.

"My background is in sports performance, so it's like how professional athletes train, which is no joke," Sulaver told People. "It was a big wake-up call and a dramatic shift in terms of what La'Tasha had been doing."

One possibility that looms large over Sulaver: Givens could give him the boot, much like she did to her first personal trainer.

"In an interesting twist, the competitors hold the power of elimination," Sulaver said. "Just like real life, trainers can be sent packing if tempers flare or goals go unachieved. The stakes are high and the struggle is real."

Sulaver is not afraid of the spotlight. As a walk-on freshman during the 2002-03 season, he was third on the depth chart at 157 pounds behind a pair of Michigan NCAA All-Americans -- Ryan Bertin and Mike Kulczycki. When both veterans were taken out of the lineup because of injuries, Sulaver -- son of a University of Illinois wrestler -- stepped in, making an auspicious debut at Cliff Keen Arena by immediately taking down and pinning his first opponent. After stepping away from the mat to concentrate on academics his sophomore year, Sulaver returned to action. As a fifth-year senior, Sulaver placed eighth at 157 at the 2007 Big Ten conference championships.

Further evidence of Sulaver's fearlessness ... he was a theater major while at Ann Arbor. In an interview with Michigan MGoBlue.com's "Off The Mat" feature, Sulaver connected the two endeavors, saying, "I have found so many parallels between athletics and theater. The more you learn about one, the more it helps you learn about the other. I think they really do complement each other more than one would ever assume. What is also nice for me is when sometimes wrestling isn't the greatest, I have theater, and when the opportunities aren't there in theater, I have wrestling to focus on."

Sulaver steps into his new role on "My Diet is Better than Yours" -- a temporary, midseason replacement for the ABC hit drama "How to Get Away with Murder" -- this Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/8 CT.

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