When season 11 of The Biggest Loser begins on NBC Jan. 4, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper will still be pushing contestants during last-chance workouts, and they will be joined by two new trainers, a former Golden Gloves boxing champion and a martial arts expert from New York City.
But as they come in, Michaels is ready to head out.
“It’s my last season,” Michaels tells PEOPLE. “The role I plan on taking is passing the baton. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I remember when I was first starting and I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. But the show is established now and there is a program that the contestants go on so they won’t be lost.”
Adds Michaels, 36, “It’s time to move on.”
In fact, she says she’s ready to make changes professionally and personally. “When I look at the platform I was able to have because of the show, I wonder what else I could be doing with it or should be doing with it,” she says. “I want to be a part of getting PE back in our schools. I want to be a part of getting organic farms subsidized. I want to be a part of these solutions. It’s where my heart is at and where my head it at.”
In her own life, “I love Biggest Loser,” Michaels says, “but it’s a seven-day-a-week job. I’m 36. I want to start thinking about a family. I want to be a mom I need to be able to find a way to incorporate that in my life.”
While her Biggest Loser family supports her, they say it will be hard to see Michaels go.
“Jillian is my best friend,” says Harper, “and I’ve loved working with her since the very beginning. Now she wants to focus on family. I get it, but she’s going to leave a big hole in my heart and a big hole in the show.”
Host Alison Sweeney adds: “Jillian has motivated me and inspired me and I’m so in awe of the woman I see today and what she sets her mind to.”
Michaels did, however, leave for one season of the Biggest Loser – only to return again. So, could she have a second comeback?
“I’ve been on a soap opera for 18 years,” Sweeney says, “so I know not to talk about the future too much because I know that anything can happen!”
• Reporting by MARK GRAY