Jillian Michaels has fired back at a scathing LA Times op-ed by an experienced personal trainer who critiques her education, her techniques and her claim that people can lose five pounds a week with her fitness DVDs. The entire LA Times piece is here, and it’s worth a read if you’ve purchased any of Michaels’ DVDs and especially if you’re considering doing her kettle bell workout. The author quotes several other personal trainers who take issue with her form on her new kettle bell DVD, calling it both difficult to follow and potentially dangerous. It’s not a measured critique and gets pretty nasty and personal at times. Here’s some of the article:
I don’t know much about proper kettle bell techniques. Neither does Jillian Michaels.
I have an internationally respected fitness certification and 17 years’ experience with free weights, yet I lack the audacity to pretend I am qualified to teach kettle bells.
Jillian Michaels, on the other hand, is lacking in shame. At least that’s what I thought until I realized Michaels is not actually a real fitness trainer — she’s an actress playing the role of fitness trainer on TV and in a line of popular DVDs.
It’s analogous to Jesse Ventura’s choice of a Gatling-style minigun to mow down guerrillas in the 1987 movie “Predator.” Most viewers thought it was way cool, but real soldiers shook their heads in disbelief that anyone would schlep such an ungainly weapon through the jungle.
Same thing with Jillian Michaels. Typical viewers think she’s great, yet the collective jaws of professional trainers hit the floor after witnessing her regular displays of poor technique and unsafe training practices.
Michaels obtained some introductory fitness certifications (National Exercise & Sports Trainers Assn. and Aerobics and Fitness Assn. of America) 17 years ago and does not seem to ever have recertified. The biography on her website goes on and on about her multimedia endeavors, but there is not a single mention of any health-and-fitness education or credentials.
And now, seemingly without any qualifications, Michaels is teaching amateurs how to use kettle bells in her latest DVD, “Shred-It With Weights.” Her toned, tanned and possibly Photoshopped physique stands proudly on the cover holding a kettle bell, while a bubble on the cover exclaims, “Lose up to 5 pounds a week!”
Lose 5 pounds a week? Sure, if you start off weighing more than a Smart Car.
It’s not the first time she’s made such a claim. Even though it takes hundreds of hours for a serious professional to become certified as a yoga instructor, Michaels made a yoga DVD that also promises you can lose up to 5 pounds a week, which is about as likely as Paris Hilton winning the Nobel Prize in physics…
I asked Mark Cheng, chief instructor at Kettlebells Los Angeles, to critique her form for me.
“Her technique is appalling,” Cheng told me. “What she says in the video and what she demonstrates are two different things. She doesn’t break things down into manageable pieces that prompt people to get the correct form, so instead she is enabling bad form… I would not recommend this from a safety perspective.”
Cheng also added that he thought Michaels “is simply trying to capitalize on the popularity of kettle bells without going through her due diligence.”…
If you dismiss Cheng’s comments as those of someone jealous of Michaels’ fame and riches, consider that he is far from the only certified kettle bell instructor disconcerted with her technique. Denver-based instructor Josh Hillis had this to say in a blog post regarding her technique: “It’s just wrong … in every way. All of it. Every single thing she does is wrong.”
Austin, Texas, trainer Jude Howe was so disgusted with Michaels’ kettle bell movements that he posted a YouTube video showing how they really should be done. “Her technique and approach was so off the mark,” he told me. “It couldn’t have been more dangerous, and I felt the need to show people proper form.”
[From The LA Times]
The article goes on to slam Michaels’ claim that you can lose five pounds a week with her workout, and explains the many ways this is both unhealthy and unrealistic.
Here’s a link to the YouTube kettle bell demonstration (mentioned in the article above) showing how to properly train with kettle bells. The trainer in that video, Jude Howe, says Michaels’ technique is poor and relatively unsafe, and discusses the technical reasons why you shouldn’t do the workout the way she shows it. And here’s a link to the blog mentioned in the article that discusses how Michaels’ kettle bell workout puts people at high risk for back injury. I’ve never worked out with kettle bells but they seem really dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. These are very heavy weights you’re swinging around and you have to maintain proper form in order to avoid hurting yourself. After watching these videos I definitely want to give them a try, though.
In response to this article, Jillian says that of course she’s well trained and keeps up with her continuing education classes. She also threatened to sue the LA Times for publishing that piece. She said it’s “libel” and “defamation. “Shame on the Los Angeles Times for saying I’m a fraud and not a trainer. I currently own two certifications, one of which doesn’t expire. I developed my own continuing education program for trainers, with sports medicine doctors. I’ve been a trainer since I was 17-years old for 19 years.”
That article had a lot of very specific critiques of Michaels’ form while teaching kettlebells and it wasn’t about her lack of training in general, although it did take some cheap shots in that direction. Is she going to sue all the trainers who gave quotes saying she’s doing it wrong? It seems like they’re on to something. She may not exactly be acting the part of a personal trainer and she’s surely experienced in that field. If she doesn’t know how to teach kettlebells properly she shouldn’t be making DVDs with dangerous moves that could potentially injure people, is all.
Michaels is currently facing several lawsuits over false claims on her dietary supplements, weight loss pills, and “detox” powders.
Photo below via Joshs’ garage