Behind the Scenes on The Today Show

Life moves fast when you are busy. Each new day is an opportunity. When you are on TV, your opportunity may come in the form of three-minute segments.

For the first day of summer, I was on To help set the scene, The Today Show has multiple studios in its stacked, vertical offices. Kathie Lee and Hoda have frequent wardrobe changes. Assistants help them as they go up and down stairs between studios—taking off their jewelry for one segment and putting on lab coats for another. People were everywhere.

While on set, I saw LaToya Jackson, Donny Deutsch and Natalie Morales amid the staff and producers, who were prepping me for my upcoming segment.  After they whisked me away to the Green Room, I thought about these takeaways from behind the scenes:

Be prepared to get creative. Producers of the show told me ahead of time they wanted some original moves—not exercises everyone knows. I showed them some unique moves—like shoulder flies where you lift hand weights like you are opening a newspaper, and a move where you look like you are stirring a pot with hand weights while doing a ballerina plié.

Be organized. Producers, camera men, featured guests and show hosts, are all in studios not much bigger than an averagebedroom. (Studios look bigger on TV!) The hosts have producers in their ears saying “10 more seconds” or “Wrap it up.” Everything is so well organized; there’s no time for anyone who is daydreaming. If you get an opportunity on TV, be on your toes. You have to get your most important message across in the first 10 seconds. From my years on various TV shows and regular appearances on QVC, that’s one thing I learned: Be succinct. Get to your point quickly. There’s no time for a fancy lead-up.

Have a great attitude. Kathie Lee and Hoda—who are always up for anything—attempted the circuit moves in their dresses and high heels. I kept worrying they would twist an ankle, but they were troopers and did the moves with finesse! Their on-air assistant, Sara Haines, is hilarious. Always a good sport, she put on her workout gear and did all the moves with me.

Be spontaneous and have some fun. Kathie Lee and Hoda are friendly, energetic, and smart. Their show is less newsy and more about the banter between the two of them. They fly by the seat of their pants, make fun of each other, smile and laugh a lot. They do have a long-standing tradition of having a cocktail every morning, but it’s all for the amusement of viewers. While having fun, they get important messages across—like there’s always time to exercise!


Chris Freytag has dedicated her adult life to motivating people to lead healthier lives. A contributing editor to Prevention magazine, she's also written two books, Shortcuts to Big Weight Loss, and her latest, 2-Week Total Body Turnaround. She also has appeared on NBC's Today show and MSNBC's Weekend Update.

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