July 01, 2009

In Which Crabby Takes Her Readers Advice And Checks Out Jillian Michaels

Regular followers of Cranky Fitness may have noticed that I don't always practice what I preach.

(Which is kind of pathetic, actually, given that what I preach is already so mellow and slacky compared to most serious health and fitness blogs).

What is the Most Important Exercise Principle I think you should all follow that I rarely do myself?

That you should mix up your routine every now and then, and try new things!

Of course I've blogged about my reluctance to do this before, and will probably blog about it again and again unless I manage to get a personality transplant and change my name Perky McSmirky or something.

But I'm constantly reading about some exercise thing that sounds promising on someone else's blog, and I think, oh I should definitely try that! And then some minor obstacle or just plain laziness intervenes and I end up not following through.

On the rare occasions when I do add something new to my repertoire? It really does help with motivation! A brand new thing to totally suck at also means a brand new thing to get slightly better at the next time, which is oddly encouraging.

So anyway, a few weeks ago I was wondering about exercise DVD's as an alternative to the gym and... boy howdy did I get a lot of great reader suggestions! For those who are looking for a "reader's choice" compilation of DVD's, definitely check out the comments to the Exercise DVD post.

Or, if you want to just hang here without going back in time, I'll pass along the short list of Reader Favorites, as well as my find out my Shocking Discovery about Jillian Michael's 30 day shred DVD.

There were lots of cool suggestions, both for exercise DVD's and for other non-gym alternatives. But some names kept coming up over and over!

And The Cranky Fitnesss Readers Choice DVD winners were:

(in no particular order):

Jillian's 30 Day Shred;
Zumba DVD's;
Cathe Friedrich;
Biggest Loser DVD's;
Tae-bo; and
Turbo Jam.

So With So Many Promising Suggestions, Did I Run Out and Try A Bunch of Them?

Of course not! I kept meaning to. I've got Netflix, and Comcast, and a library, and I knew at least one or two of these titles was probably available for free... but... the right day never seemed to arrive.

Until finally it did! Sort of. I was gonna go for a run but it was pouring outside. I'd just gone to the gym the day before and done my cardio and all my weights. I really just wanted to do some cardio with a few intervals mixed in, so I thought I'd finally see what Comcast had to offer for free on the In Demand channel.

And they had Day 1 of Jillian Michael's 30 day shred! Which sounded really familiar from the great list you all supplied.

[Note: in a bizarre coincidence, I just discovered that Sagan at Living Healthy in the Real World has a post about the same thing! It may have even been the same day... she was gonna go for a run, got rained out, and ended up doing the 30 Day Shred too! But obviously her post is much more inspirational.]

BTW: Jillian, Love Her or Hate Her?

Now I am one of the few people in the fitness blogging world who doesn't really keep tabs on the whole Biggest Loser thing so I don't know all that much about Jillian Michaels. I have to confess I don't much like the premise of the show (and check out Merry's Biggest Loser post for some actual articulate objections), plus I'm not a big fan of reality TV generally.

And in my brief accidental glimpses of the show? It was scary! I didn't like watching Jillian berating and hounding a bunch of poor sweaty obese people who looked like they were just about to burst into tears, or barf, or die of cardiac arrest right on the set.

And so I thought: why the heck does she have to be so mean? Why make exercise even more painful and miserable than it already is? They're trying, for goodness sake. Is there some sort of nationwide shortage of Slack, preventing you from cutting them any at all? So I thought perhaps I didn't like this Jillian person all that much.

But then I heard her on her radio show once sounding kinda fun and charming and not-mean... and a lot of people whose judgment I trust totally like her. So I was a little confused on the whole Jillian question. (And I'd be curious to hear what you all think). Anyway, about trying her video...

First Rule of DVD Watching: Pick One That Has Some Relation to Your Exercise Goals.

If you want to do Yoga, don't roll out your mat and put on a Kickboxing DVD. Duh.

Likewise, if you want to do intervals with no strength training, it's probably best choose a video that has you doing intervals with no strength training.

But I wanted to check out the 30 Day Shred and I wanted to start at the beginning!

The Second Rule of DVD Watching: You Can Actually Do Whatever the Hell You Want, They Can't See You.

So I'm sure this video is great for its intended purpose, but I had to skip all the strengthening stuff. This is because I've read a million times the rule that you're not supposed to strength train the same muscles two days in a row, and I had just lifted a bunch of big-ass weights the day before at the gym. (Big-ass for me, that is). In my mind, this "no back-to-back strength training" rule is sort of like a biblical injunction. (Maybe not quite in the same league as Thou Shall Not Kill but certainly higher than whatever that graven images one is. I've been known to worship images of Cupcakes so I'm sure I've already blown that one many times over).

Anyway, even though Jillian and her pals were using teeny little weights, I felt completely absolved of any portion of the video that called for strength training. Because it's a Rule, damn it!

So I did my intervals (burpees were my chosen instrument of torture) while the girls were doing their weights, then I sort of followed along for bits and pieces of the regular cardio when I wasn't gasping for breath and wanting to die from the burpees. In other words, I didn't really do Day One of the Thirty Day Shred, I just let it keep me company.

Now Here's The Thing I Found Shocking:

Jillian is really fun to work out to! You don't actually have to do what she's doing, you can just let her chit-chat away and provide inspiration as you do whatever the heck is on your agenda for the day.

It's probably better if you actually follow the program, but Jillian didn't seem to mind that I was doing Burpees--in fact, she seemed to know exactly what I was doing and she even hated the Burpees right along with me! She provided a little bit of tough love every now and then, but it wasn't the Scary Tough Love she does with the Losers, it was more a flirty kind of tough love that was pretty darn motivating.

OK, it is possible I have a slight crush.

And there is also a possibility that I might actually check out the next one, and even try to actually do the thing for real!

This is obviously not an Exercise Video Review

Unless you're allowed to do one without actually doing the exercise video. The moral of the story is something like: Mixing it Up, even in a Half-Assed way, is a Good Thing and can lead to Interesting Discoveries!

So does anyone else struggle to add new forms of exercise to your routine? Any thoughts about Jillian or exercise DVD's?


    it's official.
    I AM THE LAST PERSON ON EARTH TO NEVER HAVE TOUCHED A JM DVD let alone shoved it into the dvd player.

    **cue confetti shaped like Ms.Michaels not giving a cr*p as she's already converted 99.98% of the masses*


    (I love when your new posts are up BEFORE Im gone from computer for the day!)

  2. Yep, Miz, if the Crab has now tried a JM dvd you must officially be the last person on earth because I was sure I was.

    And I used to get posts up earlier by pre-publishing but there were too many freakin' formatting mistakes!

  3. I heart Jillian. I have the biggest girl crush on her. There really is a reason behind how hard she is on her players. I try to listen to her podcast she's so cute. I have a serious girl crush on her.

    I don't have the shred but I do have a 4 pack dvd of hers I can't remember now what it is, but WOO! comes to mind on how sweaty you get doing them.

  4. I've never seen Loser and I've only seen JM on Oprah. So I can't form an opinion. I do struggle with switching up my routine. I've tried working out at home but, for me, it's just not as effective as the gym. I don't know why.

  5. Loved the post! I am one of the few readers that likes Biggest Loser.. sorry to all out there that don't! Jillian & Bob are both great to pick up new moves too! I work out like a crazy person I would not mind having Jillian train me!!!!

    I have never used a DVD to work out to. I am a gym type person but will keep all your very "important points" in mind like the one how they can't see if you are doing anything different!!!! :-)

    Crabby, as you know, I am all about changing it up & I do!!! Keeps the bod guessing & I like to feel that! Only prob is my memory ain't great so remembering what new things I wanted to do for that workout can be a challenge!!! ;-)

  6. Not much to contribute here, but I'm all for the Half-Assed Way. It's my guiding principle.

  7. woohoo for kinda mixing it up, Crabby!

    Miz.. there are two of us left!

  8. I'm doing my first JMichaels today. I'm hoping it'll snap me out of the triggered "I hate food I'm fat No one loves me" state I'm in. (and I'm taking it as a sign that my word verification is "ended")

    Then I'm doing yoga, for the same reason.

  9. I haven't used JM dvds either but, I did try my own version of mixing it up:

    I took a pole dancing lesson. I did a review on yelp but let me put it simply: it.is.hard.

    Later today I'm going belly dancing - variety can be fun and healthy too!

  10. I invoked the no-back-to-back weights injunction just yesterday, lol!

    Anyhow, I loved your review. The whole point is that you tried something different, even if it was just "keeping company" with JM and the crew. Glad you liked it!

  11. LOL! I love your blog, you always crack me up! I've been trying a million different yoga dvd's lately and I've come to the realization that I'm to hyper for yoga. So back to Turbo Jam it is. Now that DVD kicks your but AND gives you plenty of laughs. The people are so hilarious! You should really try it if only to entertain yourself sometime!

  12. I've always been a fan of Jillian. I find her inspirational (especially if you read her book Master Your Metabolism) which is in of itself a great approach to taking it off and keeping it off, and cleansing your lifestyle as a whole.

    I have the 30 Day Shred and her Biggest Winner workout series. She's very upbeat, positive and yes.. can be a chatterbox, but that for me makes the workouts move along faster, because you don't realize what you're doing or how much you've done!! lol

    I think she gets a bad rap, because her workouts on the dvd's are not this brutual workout nazi like she's shown on TBL. I think that's mostly an act for the camera and ratings.

  13. I love Jillian. I may even have a girl crush on her. :)

    The Shred is great. It pushes me past my comfort zone and really gets some good muscle definition fast.

    I need tough love when it comes to exercise. I don't need someone saying "if this is too hard just do what you can." I need Jill to threaten to rip my throat out if I don't do one more jumping jack.

    The Burn Fat Boost Metabolism (I think that's what it's called) is like The Shred on acid. It's 40 minutes of the toughest exercises I've ever done on a DVD.

    So put me in the "Love Jillian" camp. :) She's hot, tough, and gets results.

  14. You guys are definitely tempting me to actually DO the dang thing, and check out some of the other ones you mention too! Maybe next time, it will be more intentional and less half-assed.

    Well, I suppose I should be realistic here... I'm pretty much always half-assed.

  15. I did my first day of the Shred this morning when I also discovered it on my On Demand. I have a had a really bad strong of luck with workout DVDs so I am so glad that I enjoyed the 30 Day Shred.

    From watching TBL, I used to think Jm was ridiculous and scary. I think JM may be showcased as the over the top trainer on TBK, but from listening to her on the radio and other places, I think she might actually be one of the most reasonable in-the-public-eye trainers out there. She's pretty no-nonsense, which is refreshing.

  16. Welcome to the cult Crabby!

    I have to second Kelly on Banish Fat Boost Metabolism (it's way better than the title suggests).

    "Banish" requires no weights, just body weight- but don't be fooled by the slow start, it will kick your ass by the time you get to standing mountain climbers - I know that it says that it's 40 minutes, but it is actually longer from start to finish.

  17. Miz? Move over a bit on that podium: there are two of us to share the award of never touching a JM dvd. :)

    I liked Gigi's idea of putting the DVD in the machine, then lying on the couch and throwing raisins at the screen whenever Jillian raises her voice. Apparently you can get a good arm workout that way ;)

    Crabby, this was a /great/ review in my opinion. So many exercise reviews focus solely on the DVD and neglect to take into account the mood of the reviewer, which obviously influences the tone of the review greatly.

  18. I've never done a JM dvd...it sounds interesting, and a lot of bloggers love her, but really, I'm too lazy to exercise at home - I need the gym, my trainers and other people around me to keep me not only motivated, but also for me to really push myself.

  19. I've had my say about Jillian and think she'd be an excellent edition to the wussies down at Parris Island. She'd slap them into shape for sure.

    "A brand new thing to totally suck at" made me practically fall off my chair laughing. It's so true. Right now I'm trying to work up the courage to get in on the Silver Sneakers aerobics class at the gym. Aim low and you'll never be disappointed. That's my motto and I'm sticking to it.

    Merry, I have a bag of Raisinets with your name on it. Commence firing!

  20. Dear Crabby,

    You are THE FIRST PERSON to say what I have recently learned:

    The Second Rule of DVD Watching: You Can Actually Do Whatever . . . You Want, They Can't See You.

    I am much better at exercise since I figured this out!


  21. LOL. You crack me up NO END. NOT DO WHAT the DVD does? Are you KIDDING?? I have to say I gasped out loud when I read that. Because if I let myself veer off the DVD path even one iota, I would find myself SITTING on the couch eating PRINGLES instead of doing the exercise! So that is MY rule.

    Coincidentally, *I* just began the 30 day shred DVD last week. And I pretty much loved it. I was psyched that a 30 minute video could make me SO sore for days. (it really did) AND I also happen to have a MAD crush on Jillian, and I also love her on BL because when she isn't yelling at people she is actually giving them good love and support for underlying issues like self esteem, etc. I think she pretty much rocks.

    ANYway, I was going to do the Shred again today, but ended up getting distracted by Twitter and blogland, UNTIL I SAW YOUR POST so as soon as I finish this comment I am going to run and do my 30 day shred. I might even try the level 2 and see what happens.

    PS. I hate Burpees more than I hate bananas (which is saying a LOT) so I am very impressed that you did them of your own accord.

  22. Lol, i heart ur blog!!
    It's awesome, been doing it for bout 10 days now and it works! Jillian's tough love is really motivating. She really pushes u to ur potential.I look and feel so much better. My body is getting toned and i love it!! Am on level 2 now, have 2 weeks more left...can't wait to reach my goal!

  23. That dvd is killer. And yeah I'm with you on the love/hate Jillian thing. I love her dvd's, and plan on getting a few more eventually, but am still not that sold on Biggest Looser.

    Someday I'll actually make it to level three of that dvd...someday...

  24. LOVE The Shred! I also have her 2 newest ones, and they they are TOUGH!!!!
    I also like that Jillian isn't as mean on her DVDs as she is on the show. She's actually very fun and cute.
    Yes. I'm in the cult. The Cult of Jillian.

  25. I have tried the 30 Day Shred also(and it wasn't even a rainy day)! You just can't beat trying a workout for free on the telly courtesy of the cable company (I take my freebies when I can). It was definately worth it. :)

  26. Alright - I think I'm #5 on the list of "never touched a JM DVD". I've only really heard/seen her on Biggest Loser, and blech. Really, what I think I need? A DVD that offers me some competition. As in, watch this, I bet you can't... Does anybody make those? (Vs the "come on you can do it! Cheerleader rah rah" type.)

    I'm horrible at changing up my routine. *sigh* And being preggo is sure not helping my motivation. Well, except the motivation to have some more watermelon and another rootbeer float...

  27. I heart Jillian. She's complained that The Biggest Loser editing elves pick out only the most aggressive moments from her training sessions to show on TV, and that she's really not as bad as it makes her look. She admits to being tough on the contestants, especially in the beginning, but it's to shock their systems and, by forcing these people who have never worked out in their lives to just freaking DO the workout, make them realize that they are capable of much more physically than they ever thought. And then she gets all "Dr. Phillian" on them and talks about their feelings. hahaha.

  28. What the @*&% is a burpee?

  29. Count me in as another who has never tried a JM workout. It's mostly because I'm afraid they'll be too hard and Jillian will pop through my TV and yell at me in person for being a wuss. Since you assure me that won't happen I just might search through my Demand listings to see if it's available here.

    I don't know whether to hope it is or not.

  30. I loved your post...so informative. I've actually never heard of "JM" before this...and never seen "BL"...not a tv person, I guess. But, I'm very encouraged about trying the shred-thing sometime soon. First on my list is to find out what a burpee is...do you exercise with it or eat it?

  31. LOVE Jillian! And, LOVE this video. It's about $7 on Amazon, and delivers 3 amazing workouts that all make you sore for days and whip you in amazing shape. LEVEL 3 is my most favorite DVD workout ever!! Best money I ever I spent on any DVD, and that includes movies too. I would pay $50 for this video - it's that good.

  32. I actually prefer Jillian's older DVD, Banish Fat - way more fun than 30-day Shred.

    As far as mixing my workouts, I have a treadmill at home I use, about 20 exercise dvd's (both cardio and pilates) and I have a gym membership that I actually used to use. I also sometimes chase the kids around or will bring in the groceries myself and call it my exercise for the day :)

  33. Congrats on sort of trying this workout, lol! I tried all three levels of this workout about a year ago (pre-blog) and didn't click with it. But, I know what kind of exercise I like, and 30 Day Shred is made up of pretty much everything I don't like, heh. Last week I really enjoyed Cathe's "easier" strength training workouts, and this week I'm looking forward to more from Tracey Staehle, as I really liked her "functional" fitness style workout on Sunday.

    As far as adding new forms of exercise to my routine, I plan my workout "themes" ahead of time - sometimes by the week, sometimes by the month(s). I try to rotate through heavy weights, light weights, and circuits - and also try to fit in a little bit of other stuff - heavy bag, kettlebell, etc - when I can. :)

  34. Mizfit and Crabby, I have also not done Jillian. That didn't sound right, did it? I mean, I haven't done a JM DVD. Not that I have anything against her, but I don't have space in the TV room for doing exercise...

  35. I've never tried a JM workout but I thought the 30 Day Shred looked pretty good. I went out and bought it like 2 weeks ago and haven't been able to worked up the courage to try it yet. I'll have to try it one day soon.

  36. You know, I remember asking what a burpee was a while back, I think right on this very site, and already I've forgotten.

    And I have no idea who Jillian Michaels even IS. Well, I guess after reading this I have some idea... I don't watch that much TV. Except for Rachel Maddow, whom I DO have a girl crush on.

  37. (And the baby came this morning!!! yay! He's so adorable.)

  38. I think it's great that these DVDs are usually made by people that really are trying to be helpful. You know, I can lead my horse to water, and sometimes he is thirsty!

  39. So even straight girls have crushes on Jillian? Good to know!

    And congrats Melissa! He's so cute!

    Re Burpees: I'm definitely gonna have to do another post on these little f*ckers, because they're awesome and horrible in the exact right combination.

    OMG, giant thunderstorm here... I think perhaps I should get off the computer? I know I read that somewhere...

  40. For me, personality is everything. Which is why I avoid Richard Simmons videos not matter how effective his workouts may be.

    So, I'm intrigued by what you had to say about this video. And, uh, she's kinda hot.

  41. Okay, I googled "burpee." I figured they weren't a seed manufacturing company or rags you put around a baby's neck for spitting up. I did find this, and it looks brutal.


    Crabby, what's the date of your past burpee post?

  42. Oh, good. I'm not the only one who had to Goole "Burpees".

    I'm kinda digging the idea of the 100 Burpee challenge. Does that make me weird?

  43. OK, am TOTALLY going to do another burpee post.

    Gina: The previous one was April 6th, lets see if I can get a working link in the comment:

    Here's the Burpee post, does that work?

  44. Thanks for the info. I just checked your April Burpee post. Funny. Great. It must have been right before I began following Cranky Fitness.

    I'm tempted to start my own burpee challenge...this being the first of July. However, I just recently graduated from doing push-ups off the wall to now doing them from the floor. Maybe I'll just do one every-other-day for 100 days. Does that count? :-D

  45. Thanks to YOU, I did the level two of Jillian's 30day Shred this morning and it was so so so so awesome. I loved it. I love plank-jacks! OMG. I also loved oblique twists, which I had never heard of or done before. In many ways it is so much harder than Level 1 but I also enjoyed it more. I was psyched that I was able to do Natalie (hard girl) level. I LOVED IT. And I have you to thank, Crabby!!

  46. So Foodie & Gina, now you guys are motivating ME to go further with the Shred and the burpees!

    But wait, this is Cranky Fitness! How is that motivation is happening here?

    Too many inspiring commenters, dang it.

  47. Yeah, Jillian has definitely stolen the title of "sexiest ugly woman" from Angelina Jolie.

    I like her, but I'd never take her on as a trainer because I know I wouldn't put up with her carp. And there's no point in paying all that money for a personal trainer if you're not going to get with their program.

    Color me stubborn.

    My wife bought 30 day shred awhile back (interestingly, also as a substitute for running on rainy days as opposed to actually doing the program for the program's sake). T is a biiiiig biggest loser fan.

    But, yeah, I watched the video and her principles are sound as any other interval/mix-it-up routine. And it's easy enough to follow, quick, and to the point.

    Plus I think it ran my wife like 15 bucks as opposed to the $100+ I dropped on my cumbersome multi-DVD P90X (Though, for the money I think P90X is a more versatile and long-range tool).

  48. I don't watch Biggest Loser either. I did try the 30 Day Shred workout (Level 1) and I wasn't crazy about it. Then again, I was trying it out just after I had hurt my foot and I probably had no business to be doing that DVD at that point, so I'll probably give it another try eventually.

  49. OK, but I still don't know why they call them "burpees".

    Unless I drink a bunch of diet ginger ale before I start them.

    Come to think of it, I might want to mke sure nobody else is around when I do these.

    But hey! I did Day 1 this morning. This isn't so bad...is it?

  50. Nope, still haven't tried her. After Tony Horton (P90, P90x) and Charlene what-ever-her-name-is (Turbo Jam) of the over-caffeinated, dorky spastastic type of personalities, JM did appeal. In fact, when I checked out some of her reviews on Amazon, she looked like a scary *b to me so I have passed on her DVDs. However, if you liked the workout, I may see if I can borrow someone's disc and check her out.
    (I am also one of the rare 0.05% of the population who has never seen her either on TV (cos I don't have one) or DVD.

  51. :) I might have to check it out! :)

  52. Thanks for the shout out :) JM date next time it rains! Hehe.

    I like that the instructors can't actually see us when we're working out with their dvds. You can just start doing your own thing :D

  53. While I've enjoyed the 30 Day Shred DVD (er, if "enjoyed" is the right word...maybe "appreciate" might be a better one?) and like JM on that one, I think I'm the last person on earth to never have watched BL. I probably would have avoided the 30 Day Shred DVD if I'd seen JM yelling at people.

    Oh, and I always end up only doing level 1, because level 2 has those evil burpees. So I have yet to do level 3. Maybe I'll do what the rest of the class is suggesting and either do other stuff or fling raisins at the TV while it's on....

  54. Bdaiss, try "Squeeze Stronger" by Tracey Effinger. It's VERY tough, and I think you'll like it!

  55. I totally, TOTALLY wish Jillian would put out a DVD for people whose knees are totally shot. Surely there is a huge need for it. I know I need it. I am forbidden by my ortho from doing any sort of lunge or squat. But I love Jillian. The only reason I haven't bought the Shred is because it would literally shred my knees and put me in the hospital.

  56. I hate Jillian. I think she has a potty mouth and cannot control her anger. It's like she's on steroids. If she ever talked to me the way she talks to the people on Biggest Loser I'd taze her.


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