Biggest Loser Host Bob Harper Says Near-Fatal Heart Attack Changed His Mind About Marriage

Morgan Smith
·3 min read
Biggest Loser Host Bob Harper Says Near-Fatal Heart Attack Changed His Mind About Marriage
Biggest Loser Host Bob Harper Says Near-Fatal Heart Attack Changed His Mind About Marriage

Biggest Loser Host Bob Harper Says Near-Fatal Heart Attack Changed His Mind About Marriage

Harper opens up about getting engaged to Anthony Gutierrez

Bob Harper suffered a heart attack that nearly killed him in 2017 — and it made him question everything, from his career to his relationship with then-boyfriend Anthony Gutierrez.

“People don’t realize, until you are a survivor, the emotional struggles that you go through, the identity crisis,” Harper, 55, tells PEOPLE. “I thought, ‘Who am I if I’m not that guy in the gym that’s throwing up tons of weight and pushing myself to these limits?’ ”

The Biggest Loser host and trainer spent two days in a coma after going into cardiac arrest and then went through a rigorous recovery period that included medication and cardiac rehab.

RELATED: Bob Harper Says He Had an 'Identity Crisis' After His Near-Fatal Heart Attack

Through it all, he says, Gutierrez was by his side.

“I was super afraid of being alone after having my heart attack, because I thought, ‘If I’m alone, I could have another one,’ ” he says. "Anthony was always there for me.”

He continues: “We would take these little ‘heart attack naps’ in the middle of the day, because with the medication, I was really tired, and it was this simple little thing, but it was just really sweet. He was there to help me with everything because everything was new for me … and for me to relinquish control is a really hard thing for me to do.”

Bob Harper/Twitter

Harper credits the experience with not only deepening his relationship with Gutierrez but also inspiring him to reconsider marrying his longtime love.

“Before my heart attack, I'd never really thought about getting married,” Harper reveals. “Of course, I grew up at a time when gay marriage was not allowed, and so in the back of my mind for the longest time, I just thought, ‘You know what? I'm just not supposed to be married.’ ”

Courtesy Bob Harper

He continues: “Then going through my journey and having Anthony be there with me through the toughest time, I came to that realization of, ‘You know what? I do want to be married to him and for us to share a life.’ Why not? We're all equal.' ”

Harper popped the question in June 2019 during a romantic dinner at the couple’s favorite New York restaurant, Via Carota.

“We were sitting at the bar and I had a little ring I was about to give him,” he says. “The people around us were like ‘What’s going on?’ and I looked [at him] and said, ‘Exactly what you think.' ”

As for wedding plans, Harper says he and Gutierrez want to elope. “It’s going to be one of those things where I just drop it like a Beyoncé record, you're going to wake up one day and it'll be a post on my Instagram or something like, ‘Well, we did it!’” he adds.

RELATED: Celebrity Trainer Bob Harper Shares His Routine for Staying Active amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Navigating the road to recovery hasn’t always been easy, but three years after his heart attack, Harper says he’s found a diet and exercise routine that works for him.

The trainer has swapped his high protein, high-fat diet for a more balanced, low-fat diet, and sticks to blood-pumping cardio workouts like cycling and hot yoga. “I’m addicted to sweating, it’s cathartic,” Harper says.

Now, Harper helps other heart attack survivors find community and support with Survivors Have Heart, a program he started three years ago to connect with other survivors and their caregivers.

“It’s been one of the proudest moments of my entire life,” Harper shares. “My job for all these years has always been to help people, and with Survivors With Heart, it’s much more personal.”

Reflecting on his own healing journey, Harper says, “I learned that I am a lot stronger in a completely different way than I thought before.” He adds: “I’m really learning to appreciate every single day.”