Jillian Michaels was at the Midwest Mania fitness conference to demonstrate two Bodyshred Master Classes before certifying professional fitness instructors in her workout. I was invited to take one of her classes, as well as sit in on her Q&A.
Bodyshred is a 30 minute high intensity workout performed in an interval format of three minutes of strength training, two minutes of cardio and one minute of core work. There are over 250 moves instructors can use to create the most effective and interesting session. While there are sure to be new moves introduced (a hand stand into a mule kick was a first for me), many of the exercises (push ups, fast feet, lunges, planks, squats) will feel familiar to regular group fitness participants, even if it’s a variation of what they’re used to.
Michaels and two of her trainers created a fun, energetic atmosphere at Midwest Mania, but while I broke a sweat, I didn’t leave feeling as wiped out as I thought I would. I can only assume Bodyshred is more intense in a smaller setting, where I would be held accountable by a trainer, who wasn’t on stage instructing 300 other people.
Even though I was mainly there for the workout, what Michaels had to say during the Q&A left more of an impression on me. I never watched “The Biggest Loser” or worked out to one of her videos. I only knew her by reputation, which is that of a tough as nails trainer who yells a lot. Therefore, I was surprised when the intense, washboard stomached Michaels came across as funny and relatable while discussing health and fitness.
No Extreme Diet Ideals
Michaels shared that she consumes as many greens as possible and eats meat “sparingly". She believes there’s room for “treat foods” (made with real butter, real sugar, etc.) in every healthy lifestyle. Michaels stated, “I follow that 80/20 rule of 20 percent of my daily calories I make a treat food, 80 percent I try to make a better choice.”
But basically, in order to lose any kind of weight, be it baby weight, menopausal weight or just over-eating weight, “You gotta get rid of the poisonous crap in your life. Detox all those chemicals out as much as you can….You gotta eat things that are really solid with good nutrition and we gotta work out and we gotta sleep and we gotta manage our stress. And it’s a lot harder to do, obviously, than it is to talk about, but that’s the answer. That is the truthful answer.”
Good Enough Is Ok
When asked how she finds a work/family/fitness balance, Michaels laughed and said, “The minute you have kids, any hope of perfection flies out the window,” which was met with thunderous applause. She doesn’t generally like the concept of “good enough,” but allowed that if you can accept that things aren’t going to be perfect and you can get a little bit of energy into everything, that’s okay. “If you can find enough time, four half hours [of exercise a week], and you can kill those half hours and moderate what you’re eating, you can find a good enough balance.”
You Can't Motivate
During a question about how to keep clients motivated, Michaels was reminded of how she walked across “The Biggest Loser” contestants' legs during wall sits. She implored the crowd not to do that and joked, “The show should have come with a disclaimer.”
On a more serious note, she said, “Motivation has to come from within [the client].” Instructors can inspire and help people find their why - “Sex with the lights on, a two piece instead of a one piece, living to be 100. It doesn’t matter how profound or how superficial, as long as it matters to them and they can emotionally connect to it”- but no one else can give them the motivation needed to do the work.
The best way to inspire, Michaels offered, is to lead by example. “You be your happiest, you be your healthiest and they’ll identify with you. Your energy will be infectious.”
Midwest Mania was held September 25 - 27 in Rosemont, IL. To find gyms that teach the workout go to Jillian Michaels Bodyshred.
Photo credit: Jillian Michaels Bodyshred