Marissa Jaret Winokur Marissa Jaret Winokur

Dancing and weight loss are two popular reality show themes these days, so why not combine them?

That's the idea behind Oxygen's Dance Your Ass Off [Mondays, 10 pm/ET], a competition show in which 12 plus-size players will compete on the dance floor for a $100,000 prize while also shedding pounds. Host (and former Dancing with the Stars contestant) Marissa Jaret Winokur and producer Sally-Ann Salsano spoke to about why dancing peels off the pounds. Is Dance Your Ass Off more about the dance or the weight loss?
Sally Ann Salsano:
It's a complete combination, [which] makes it fun. People that love a straight stage-competition show are going to love it, but then the weight-loss element gives it a total amount of heart. It is literally the perfect mix of both, and I think one inspires the other — the dancing becomes more important to the weight loss and the weight loss becomes more important because of the dancing. What makes this workout regimen so successful?
Marissa Jaret Winokur:
It worked for me because... you're learning how to do a dance, you're using your heart, you're using your soul, you're sweating and you don't care. When you're working out, there's a reason you don't want to work out anymore — it's boring. [With dancing], when you get out of breath, you're like, "Well, I want to learn it again." How important will the diet component be?
It's definitely there. All of these contestants sat down with a nutritionist, kept a journal of what they ate, and genuinely made changes. In the end, these contestants probably cut their caloric intake in half. And there are a lot of takeaway tips for people at home. Tell me about the "cheat pantry."
[It] would've done the contestants a disservice by not having it because these people are leaving here and going back to the real world. The goal was to tell them it's all here, like it's in a 7-Eleven, like it's in your cabinets at home, like it's in your kids' lunchbox. You don't have to make that choice. There was a lot of discussion about the cheat cabinet when people were like, "I just want to have this." Then [they] talked about it and either decided "Yes, I need to eat that" or not.

Winokur: And one of the contestants [said], "This is exactly what my cupboard looks like." You don't realize, [but] there were things in there that I wouldn't think would be in a cheat cupboard. But by seeing it there it's more of a wake-up call. Maybe when you go home you [say], "Wait — that was in the cheat cupboard. Let me look at different iced teas and [compare] the calorie counts. Is this the next Biggest Loser?
Definitely. It's got everything that Biggest Loser has... so much heart.

Salsano: It's also a double accomplishment. "Not only did I come here not knowing how to do the samba, but now I lost six pounds." You have the excitement of the performance, and you have the emotion of the weight loss.