Fitness is an interesting thing-we all know that we need to be in good shape-for health and vanity reasons among other things, but many of us will look for any excuse not to exercise-lack of sleep, long working hours, family commitments…. I am no exception and do have a ‘lazy’ layer, but by the same token I know that when I exercise, even if it’s for 20 minutes a day, I feel better, my mood is lighter, I can allow myself to indulge a little without the fear of it going straight to my waist-line but the problem for me, is that being an Aries, I just get bored and need to change pace or workout.
I have tried going to the gym-never liked it, especially having to look at guys who pump iron and grunt like no self-respecting woman will even during labour. I tried exercising with a personal trainer ( a lovely indulgence if you can afford it because it doesn’t come cheap) because I know that when I have someone telling me what to do in the private gym setting, I am more likely to stick with it. I also have a few DVDs at home, be it yoga or aerobics ones but on most occasions I lose interest and either take a break from exercising all together or start looking for something new and the previous DVD just rests on the shelf until I go back to it a few months later-I call it DVD rotation .)
Having done Jillian Michaels’s (she is a very well-known fitness trainer & life-coach in the US, in part due to her work on the show ‘The biggest loser USA’ where she helps seriously overweight people get back to healthy fitness levels) ‘6 weeks six-pack’ workout this year, I have to say that I still use that DVD but hand on my heart, I felt a little intimidated by her. She knows her staff and her fitness jargon but she sounded a little too driven, a little too self-assured for me to fall under her spell, until I got an advanced copy of her latest DVD release called ‘Ripped in 30’.
On this DVD you have four workouts (each lasting about 25 minutes), one for each week of the month. The workouts themselves are based on Jillian’s 3-2-1 formula: three minutes of strength, two minutes of cardioand one minute of abs-you will do three sets of exercise blocks that are modified, depending whether you are a beginner or a little more advanced. Each workout starts with a stretch and then you just start kicking, moving and sweating-the first week I started trialling this DVD, sweat pore off me, and as soon as I was done, I rushed to the shower and came out feeling…no, not tired, but fresh and revitalised, if a little achy. Consider the fact that I work out in late afternoon, when we all experience the energy slump after a busy day and you will be tempted to try it. Add to that the fact that Jillian can be quite hard core, compared to many British trainers who are more subtle in their approach-that woman can kick ass, but she also motivates you and sets the correct targets. She explains the moves, so you actually understand why you are doing a certain exercise or why a specific move needs to be done precisely the way it is shown.
To be fair, I actually stuck to each of the four routines, but I gave it a go with changing the level, i.e. moving up, not after a week, but after two and it worked for me. While I might not have sweatedas much the second week round, I enjoyed the routine as much and made sure that I did everything with precision, which gave me even more satisfaction.
As you progress from workout to workout, it gets tougher (but when you can do the whole week four routine, you will feel like a bad-ass superwoman who can take on the world, let alone a man in a business discussion) but if you follow Jillian’s instructions, I promise you that not only your body will look way better than before you started, you also won’t sustain an injury because Jillian almost drums into you that technique is important and she doesn’t want you to trip or to pull a muscle, so she explains and toughens you up at the same time.
Some instructors, while having lots of experience, do exercise tapes and you end up being bewildered by pace or they don’t stress the importance of positioning when doing each exercise, which might make sense to you, until you actually sustain an injury or end up feeling sore not after the workout but for days after at best and limping or having to stop exercising for a little while-no names would be mentioned, but this workout covers all the bases, it pushes you, but makes sure you do it safely and correctly, thus giving you an overall increase in stamina and your fitness level. It is a fast-paced and fun workout, so you have to give it a 100%. You also might need to make adjustments to you diet ( a 30 days eating plan can be found on Jillian’s Internet site) and to me, that’s the essence of fitness-a routine that is interesting, challenging, one that can be done anywhere-be it home or a hotel room and you really don’t have any excuse not to allocate 25 minutes plus shower time to yourself on a daily basis-some well-known role models can pretend that their amazing bodies are down to genetics and them eating whatever they like and not exercising, but if you listen to the likes of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or Miranda Kerr, you will hear the actual truth that in order to look as amazing as they do, genetics alone aren’t enough and it does take a steely character, discipline and incorporating time for fitness into your life-this beats going under the knife and is way safer and more gratifying long-term.
I also started doing this routine before the festive season-let’s be honest, we all have ‘come January ambitions’ to rev up our exercise routine, yet lots of us fail, as winter months are gloomy, bleak and dark. There is no set time when you will be more successful in sticking to your fitness goals, but the fact that I upped my exercising in late autumn makes it an almost sure bet that I will be sticking to it in the new year.
Jillian looks so fit it’s almost intimidating, but as days went by, I realised that I really enjoyed the banter that she has with her two exercise assistants and I have never actually enjoyed the workout and the sweat poring off me as much as I do during those routines-I feel empowered by this workout and still get this great rush of achievement post-workout, the same you get after doing a great run or a lengthy swim.
As Jillian herself says ‘boredom sucks’, so if you do ‘Ripped in 30’ for five weeks, then you can move on to doing her ‘Killer buns & Thighs’, which comprises three 30 minute workouts to help you create firm bum and thighs on which you can make the coin dance. Jillian isn’t ‘reinventing the wheel’ as she says and you will start with an easier version, workout 1, which has two modifications-for beginners and modifiers or ‘maniacs’ as Jillian calls her assistant Natalie. Again, Jillian stresses the importance of form and explains which muscles you are working in each move. An interesting twist here is that some yoga moves, like ‘crescent’ are combined with aerobics, so you get a workout and a stretch thus leading to more streamlined not bulky muscles.
Luckily for me, I also had an opportunity to ask Jillian some questions, having done her DVD and she was very generous to give me insightful answers, so enjoy her wisdom and try the DVD-if it doesn’t work for you, I will give you a refund myself !
Questions and Answers with fitness expert and life coach Jillian Michaels:
Would you say that approach to fitness in the US is more ‘full on’ than in the UK in terms of training?
I don’t think so. An athlete is an athlete. I have met some pretty bad ass Brits. My grandmother was from Manchester – I know how hardcore the UK can get!
How did you get into fitness and why? Why is fitness important to you-is it more health or vanity driven?
I was an overweight kid. At around the age of 13 I got into martial arts and I began to understand that fitness was transcendent. When you feel strong physically you feel stronger in every facet of your life. That is the origin of my passion to utilize fitness in order to help people live a happier healthier life.
For me, fitness is both. When I am fit, strong and healthy it transcends into all facets of my life. I want to lead a long and full life, enjoying my family and friends and being healthy plays a crucial part in that. But let’s face it… I also love fitting into a great pair of skinny jeans.
Do you need to take supplements to help your workout be more effective? Why don’t you take water breaks in your ‘Ripped in 30’ DVD?
I am a big believer in supplementation. I take a multivitamin, a pro biotic and a B complex every day. Sometimes I take an antioxidant and sometimes I take Maca powder for my adrenals as well.
Hydration is extremely important in both fitness and for good health in general. The workouts in RIPPED in 30 are designed to get maximum results in a limited amount of time. This means there is a short window to get that heart rate up, really strengthen the body and blast fat. With such a short workout it is key to keep that heart rate going to get results. As I say in my DVDs, it is possible to get results in a short amount of time, but you have to go hard for that short window. If you are healthy, hydrating before the workout and then making sure to replace fluids after, will allow you to reap the maximum results possible with the DVD.
How long did it take you to develop ‘Ripped in 30’? What drives and makes you create new workouts?
I wrote the Ripped in 30 workouts over the course of about two days. It just flowed out of me. I knew I wanted to do a new and improved version of 30 Days Shred. Something that took all the pieces of the original program that worked, but updated and improved upon them. I added a 4th level and a meal plan. Plus the exercises are more current and state of the art.
Why is warming up so important before starting the workout?
It’s important to get your muscles warmed up and ready to go prior to any physical training. THAT said, many people make the mistake of doing static stretches prior to a workout. This is wrong and could actually lead to injury. Do a dynamic warm up prior to your workout (like you see me do in the DVD), then follow the work out with your static stretching when the muscles are nice and warm.
You seem to use lots of motivation techniques during ‘Ripped in 30’ workouts-do you find this approach gets better results? If so, why?
Working out is hard. It’s work. I talk all the time about the importance of finding your “why”. Why do you want to get fit? Is it to be more healthy, so you can live to see your daughter get married? Is it so you have the energy to play with your niece and nephew? Is it so you can fit into those killer skinny jeans? Motivation is key when it comes to doing things that are difficult. My passion is to help others recognize and achieve their ultimate potential – in all aspects of their life. In the DVDs I am there to help guide and get you through what I know is a difficult workout, so you can achieve the goals you have set for yourself. So motivation is definitely key.
How do you keep your clients motivated and prevented boredom from setting in? After doing ‘Ripped in 30’ for four or five weeks, what’s the next step?
As I mentioned before, it is important to find your “why.” When you have that “why” in mind you can do anything. As for fitness, I have created numerous DVDs just for that reason. They give you the ability to change things up and keep it interesting. With fitness I am a big believer in trying new things and keeping it fun. Variety is key. Sign up for a Mixed Martial Arts class or try spinning or power yoga. Do things that you find challenging, but have always wanted to try. This is what I do! I’m always looking for new, unique ways to exercise. Right now I’m loving MMA, Kettlebells and Vinyasa Flow Yoga.
What makes you/your working out approach different from other instructors, like David Kirsch for example?
A few factors. The first is that I have been overweight. I have spent 20 years studying fitness and nutrition. I have applied the culmination of my knowledge to myself and the people I have worked with, so I have seen first hand what works and what doesn’t. Plus, I don’t think there is another trainer who has helped shed hundreds and thousands pounds of weight of millions of people, other than my counterpart Bob Harper. The hands on experience Bob and I have simply can’t be matched by another trainer. Plus, the science behind my metabolic training methods takes fitness to the next level. I have taken all of the most cutting edge fitness techniques used by world class athletes and integrated them into a training system that gets people results.
Do you think it’s a good idea to combine your workouts with yoga or Pilates sessions on alternate days?
I believe there is room for any fitness modality you love. Yoga and pilates have value for many reasons, not the least of which are core strength and flexibility. A comprehensive workout regimen has variety, so the body is trained in a well rounded fashion.
How do you make sure that your female clients don’t bulk up-I am an apple shape and it’s an important for me to ‘balance’ my body shape.
It is actually a myththat women bulk up if they strength train. The key is a balanced fitness regime of both strength and cardio. Try incorporating yoga into the mix as well. It’s great for creating long, lean muscle and also helping to reduce stress at the same time.
Do you exercise daily as there is pressure in your line of work to look fit? How important is the diet?
I think there is pressure to be fit around the world, no matter who you are. That said, I certainly do feel a responsibility to stay in shape, given the line of work that I am in. It’s how I earn my living. But really, it’s about so much more than that. Fitness transcends into all aspects of life and when I am strong physically I feel strong in other ways. I want to live a long healthy life to watch my children grow and play with my grandchildren. This motivates me to stay healthy and fit.
Diet is CRUCIAL! Food can act as medicine or it can literally poison us. And I have seen people work extraordinarily hard in a workout only to go and eat that workout away. Diet is as much, if not more, important to fitness than working out is (which isn’t to say people should stop hitting the gym). It is a key element in leading a long, fit, healthy lifestyle.
Can you tell me about your tattoos on the shoulder and your ankle?
The tattoo on my shoulder is such an embarrassing story. It means friend. It wasn’t supposed to. It was supposed to be my black belt name in kanji, but the tattoo artist didn’t know the symbol and since I showed up with a good buddy, he secretly put that on my back. I found out years later and needless to say I was not happy about it. The angel on my ankle is a picture of my grandmother (the one from Manchester). She died when I was 10. I was very close to her and her deathdevastated me, so I like to think she is with me to this day.
Describe yourself, as a fitness instructor, in three words.
Passionate, knowledgable, determined
Can you give me some fitness tips that you ‘swear’ by?
Count calories. Get Your Sleep. Workout HARD. As hard as you can manage without injuring yourself. Go organic and eat whole food whenever you have the access and the funds.
Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs, 135 mins approximately, Acacia, £15.99
Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30, 135 mins, Acacia, &15.99