LA Times calls trainer Jillian Michaels’ techniques and weight loss claims ‘appalling’

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 17: TV Personality Jillian Michaels arrives at the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 17, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
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

kettlebell

PASADENA, CA - APRIL 26: Executive producer and star Jillian Michaels talks with reporters at the NBC Universal Summer Press Day on April 26, 2010 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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56 Responses to “LA Times calls trainer Jillian Michaels’ techniques and weight loss claims ‘appalling’”

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  1. mln says:

    the huge ad for her workout DVD next to this article made me laugh my ass off Jillian and her TV show are dangerous

  2. gillie says:

    I have to agree with their critiscm. her technique is so seriously off that if you perform the motion the way shes demonstrated, you WILL ruin your back. Its a matter of WHEN, not IF. Wanna learn really good technique? Go to crossfit.com, where the crossfit gurus post instructionals. WAAAY better, and free.

    she’s little more than a mouthpiece, really.

    a really, really loud and annoying mouthpiece.

  3. Oi says:

    Aren’t most fad diets, pills, detox and workout vids unsafe somehow? This seems like nothing new.

  4. Trillion says:

    I agree that 5 pounds a week is unhealthy and it’s the claim on all her DVD’s. On the other hand, I love her workouts and I did lose 12 pounds of post preg weight in one month with her 30 Day Shred in conjunction with her Master Your Metabolism book. I just started doing her kettlebell workout and I think it’s just OK. Not for beginners though, because she doesn’t take much time to explain form although she often repeats, “Kettlebells are ALL ABOUT FORM!” during the workout. If you are serious about kb’s, you can’t do better than Lauren Brooke’s (I got it from Amazon). She’s not as glamourous and styled as Jillian and the set is just a rooftop, but her form is perfection. KB’s kinda rule, by the way, and I highly recommend trying them if you like a hard workout.

  5. jen says:

    My hubby always screams “MAN FACE” when he sees her on TV, so that’s all I can think about now. LOL.

  6. devilgirl says:

    Can’t stand this woman.

  7. Kitten says:

    At my gym the Kettlebell classes are offered separately from the classes included with membership (with additional costs) by certified personal trainers ONLY. In fact, the kettlebells are kept in a separate studio to be used only under trainers’ supervision. It is SO easy to misuse them and hurt yourself.

  8. Hollz says:

    I really want to try kettlebells now…after watching both videos, I”m not going to be using hers!

  9. hellen says:

    She’s a total fraud, not to mention a danger to people who will believe whatever she tells them. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

  10. KJ says:

    HA! That’s an awesome image of Jillian fucking up the kettlebells with “WTF?!” right by it. Brilliant.

    That screen cap alone was worth clicking on this post. She reminds me of that Tracy Anderson woman (I think that’s her name, whoever trained Madonna to look like beef jerky and supposedly advocated the “baby food” diet). I’m glad that LA Times called her out, because she does seem more concerned with being a lucrative fitness personality and entity than actually training people properly and safely. There have been a few contestants from the biggest loser that have said she pushes people entirely too hard in ways that produce immediate, fleeting results, but long term damage. These kinds of trainers really should be held accountable. People come to them looking to improve their bodies, and it looks like they’re taking advantage with little to no regard to actual health, fitness and science.

  11. PsychicEyes says:

    Kudos for LA Times for writing this article. You only have one body and if you seriously injure your back how exactly are you going to function?

    I would rather consider a trainer with a kinesiology background before taking the advice from a famewhore. You cannot put a price tag on your health.

    The thought of tearing liagement, tendon or muscles is just scary. No thanks.

  12. aenflex says:

    If someone is stupid enough to buy a detox powder and think it will solve their weight issues-than they deserve whatever ill consequences they get for beiing stupid.

  13. Lem says:

    I have so much to say about her I shouldn’t even start. but…
    she shouldn’t be marketing cleanses
    she shouldn’t fudge her certifications
    she shouldn’t be promoting such drastic pound #’s to the general population
    she is effective as a trainer in her role on the ranch

    it is appalling to me what passes for form on the ranch. I’ll throw my expert quotes against her in many ways.
    -she can however get people to move- and that is her best skill

  14. Malice says:

    I’ve tried out a few of her DVDs (fortunately I did not buy them) and she is poor at several things:

    -she is often off counts for reps.
    -She isn’t mindful of people with lower back or knee problems. Usually, there are modifications in place on most exercise videos.
    -She goes really fast and therefore form goes out the window. Injuries happen because of this.
    -Finally, she instructs doing the same DVD everyday for a month. Now the body needs recovery time and cross training is preferred. So, one day weight training, the next could be cardio.

    Anyway, I’m not surprised by this article as I’ve had concerns about her work out vids.

  15. Laurie says:

    I watched Jillians video on You Tube and she LOOKS unsure of herself when demonstrating the kettlebell. She should not grow her fitness empire at the expense of her customers safety!!!

  16. Lynn says:

    @ aenflex..

    That’s a pretty stupid and cruel thing to say. A lot of people lack the proper education surrounding detoxification products to determine what they are actually meant to do.

    They are not being ( or as you spelled it, beiing ) stupid, they are trying to do their bodies some good. Yes, taking a pill to lose weight will not work, but there are obvious medical advantages to detoxing. You may want to reserch a little before making blanket statements.

  17. lucy2 says:

    A couple of years ago, I used to download her radio show, and there were a lot of good tips and concepts she’d discuss- she was much more realistic and fact based on that, compared to the stuff she’s shilling these days and her claims. She’s gotten a taste of product endorsement $ and has a big audience, and I think it’s become more about selling her product than doing things properly.
    I think she’s good at motivating people, but the stuff they do on that show always seems dangerous.

    As someone who already has a messed up back, I’ve never even attempted kettle bells, but seeing that makes me hurt just looking at it!

  18. Nanea says:

    If people want to lose weight in a healthy way that stays off, one pound per week is the way to go, no fad diet, especially no low carb (the brain needs carbs to function properly)- just portion control and no refined foods.

    And get moving, no matter how, supervised by someone who doesn’t sell something that sounds to good to be true.

    Jillian Michaels should have her certification revoked.

  19. filthycute says:

    I injured my left foot last year using her 30 Day Shred. I realized too late she’s a b1tch, a bully, and not interested in actual form and healthy pursuits.

    My foot still hurts when I do certain activities.

  20. lucy2 says:

    @Nanea – that’s how she used to be – it was all about quality food not junk, portion control, and the basic math of calories in vs. calories burned. It’s really a shame she’s changed her tune so much.

  21. PsychicEyes says:

    Any qualified medical doctor would tell you that detox diets are bogus. Our body is designed to efficiently and effectively remove toxins.

    Eating a healthy and balanced diet, incorporating an exercise regimen (i.e. Yoga or Tai-Chi emphasize proper form and precise movements), and resolving stress-related issues will work wonders. It’s not MAGIC folks it’s called common sense.

    Discern the truth and identify the key motivation of these famewhores before deciding to shell out your hard-earned dollars on their diet programs, supplements or exercise DVDs.

  22. OXA says:

    I will change channels if she is on tv. I can not watch her bullying & yelling so will tune out.

  23. D says:

    I like Jillian but I agree with the technique & weight loss claims.

  24. Karen says:

    @Jen; I am no fan of Gillian Michaels, but your husband sounds like a d-bag!

  25. original kate says:

    another fad to try and lose weight – of course it won’t work. detoxes are bullshit, so are all these diets and work-out videos. here is how to lose weight and keep it off: eat less, move more, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, don’t snack in between mealsand don’t blame your fat on “genetics.” it isn’t rocket science.

  26. Laura says:

    What is particularly HIGH-larious is the advert on the right hand side of the page while reading this post. It’s an advert for Jillian Michael’s site, “how big is your weight loss goal?”

  27. Tia C says:

    This is going to expose me for the sedentary slacker that I am, but WTF is a kettle bell?!! That doesn’t sound like anything I’d want to mess with, lol.

    (Side note regarding the ads people are talking about: If you use a different browser, like Firefox, you can get rid of all or most of the ads by using their Adblock Plus add-on. I surf blissfully ad-free.)

  28. sara says:

    She is a perfect example of the legal deficiencies in regulating this field. It can’t call be called a profession because it is is still the wild, wild west in terms of independent, careful monitoring and regulation.

    Almost anyone can set themselves up as a “fitness trainer”, and the certifying bodies are still so uncoordinated that you don’t know who has real, scientifically valid credentials or not.

    The same is true of self styled “nutritionists.” In the US there is no meaningful regulation of these people in most states. Legitimate nutritionists hold the ND degree.

    There needs to be much more aggressive monitoring of these scam artists. Tracy Anderson is a good example–clearly an ignorant and very potentially harmful scammer who has no training whatsoever and has scammed many people throughout the US.

    Celebrities often have no education whatsoever and are completely scientifically ignorant. Their recommendations about health care, diet, and lifestyle are a stupid joke.

    Do your own research and think for yourself.

  29. PunkA says:

    What you posters fail to realize is that Jillian is marketing to the obese in America, not the fit. The obese simply need to start and move–and she gets them to do that. Is she perfect–no?? But she gets people off their asses and moving–all credit to her. The haters in the industry are just jealous they have fewer clients, less of a name, and much less $$$. Haters take cheap shots–and that Op-Ed was a cheap shot by someone with a clear axe to grind..

  30. Catherine says:

    I tired her dvds before out of curiosity. I am nowhere near overweight but toning up would be nice, but unless you are an athlete or used to doing serious workouts, her techniques leave you in pain for days afterwards. They are hard to even keep up with, kill your knees (yes, I am young) and back. Who wants to continue at that pace?
    Kudos to those who stick with her plan.

  31. Jen says:

    She looka lika man

  32. jc126 says:

    I don’t think she’s a man, but she certainly has a mannish voice. I seriously have wondered if she’s used steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.
    I get that she’s marketed towards really heavy people, but those are the people who are quite likely to hurt themselves and therefore stop training especially if they overtrain or go beyond their limits, then stop training.
    And while overall I think TBL helps its contestants, it sets up very unrealistic expectations for many viewers, who may quit when they don’t lose 11 pounds in a week. I did notice the losses seem less drastic this year.

  33. dread pirate cuervo says:

    I’m looking at that screencap & “WTF?” is right. I CrossFit & we frequently use kettlebells. They are heavy & can be slippery & therefore dangerous. I never use them without chalk. & I would NEVER use one inside my damn house while trying to follow a dvd! I don’t know what she’s doing, but being doubled over like that makes her look like she lacks control. Your head should be up even when the KB is low.

  34. bridget says:

    i have been practicing kettle bell for the past 3 months. i have an excellent teacher who knows what he is doing. the critics are correct her form is horrible and dangerous. i think she is just capitalizing on the newest craze in fitness.

    kettlebell is a lot of fun and worth the challenge!

  35. james says:

    kettlebells are great if you do them properly. for me, i really hurt my back.form and technique are everything w/them. it’s best if you want to try go to a class and be there w/someone really on top of your form.

  36. Feebee says:

    @ PunkA, you’re joking right? Do you think an obese person should be using a kettlebell in the way she is shown demonstrating in the clip above?

    She’s a hack. “Been a trainer since she was 17″. Unless she’d been an athlete all her life, which she hadn’t – all part of her “story” she uses to promote herself – there’s no way a 17 year old would be qualified to train someone with just the barest of recognised qualifications. And since she hasn’t worked for any quals since then I don’t know if she’s worth paying for. She’s popular in the way Dr Phil is popular. I wouldn’t take professional help from him either.

  37. ! says:

    Notice, her little rebuttal didn’t say anything about her KB technique. Homegirl knows she’s been caught, thinking she can just teach something she hasn’t even learned.

  38. Stubbylove says:

    She looks like a man.

  39. Tess says:

    I’m torn between distrusting her methods and disliking the chorus of screeching “experts” who condemn anybody with the balls to disagree with their approach to just about everything under the sun.

    We’re adults. We can think for ourselves and figure out what’s a sham and what’s not. Jeebus protect me from the LAT and their roster of “Board Certified” this and “Board Certified” that, politically correct do-gooders.

  40. Trillion says:

    Agree with Tess totally. Tons of people who have been doing their own research and practice know a lot more than others who simply paid the money to get the piece of paper.

  41. fizXgirl314 says:

    If you have been sedentary for a long time, why would you start out with something as advanced as kettle bells? This is so ridiculous, and probably the primary reason people don’t stick with their exercise routine… how about something a bit less intimidating and more approachable…. like walking or hiking or a light jog with some simple resisitance training? So stupid…

  42. Ruffian9 says:

    Sorry, but personal trainers should have univeristy degrees in Human Physiology, or the like. Way way way too many ‘trainers’ walking around with half-assed degrees/diplomas putting people’s health at risk. Oh, and on top of a degree and professional certification, you should need to re-certify anually. A buff bod and the ability to ‘motivate’ is not close to being adequate.
    /rant

  43. M says:

    “I developed my own continuing education program for trainers…” I have to take continuing education classes each year for a different profession and would lose my license if I “developed my own” program. What a joke!

  44. Jag says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. She’s the reason I never auditioned for The Biggest Loser; I would’ve been filmed refusing to do most of the exercises she has them do, the way she does them. (Incredibly surprised no one has seriously hurt themselves on the show; although, I haven’t watched it for years,so maybe they have.) She’s so bad that I avoid anything with her name on it.

  45. P.M. says:

    What concerns me is that she says to lock your legs & it’s obvious she’s snapping her knees back. Plus that last move? Oh hell no.

  46. chasingadalia says:

    How many dude do you think have knocked their nuts with a KB trying to mimick her poor form?

  47. Bobbie DeGroot says:

    I’m glad I read this article. I am/was a huge fan of Jillian’s- I do at least two if not three of her videos every week. I do like those videos, but I have also noticed the things people are saying. I guess I just didn’t trust myself enough to think maybe there’s a problem with what she’s saying. I was ready to move unto other forms of weight lifting anyway, but now I definately will.

  48. Will says:

    First (and NOT to defend her at all), a lot of nutritional supplements are ineffective…they enjoy a loophole in that they are not tested by the FDA.

    Second, she may want to keep her mouth shut regarding libel and defamation. Such charges are only valid if the claims are untrue, and I doubt that she would want to have her haphazard techniques closely examined.

    Third, a lot of people out there are stupid and will buy anything advertised on TV, even from a mannish bully. I can’t see how anyone would want to look like her.

  49. Mandhy says:

    i bought one of her videos. it sucks and i never use it. I prefer Wii

  50. Mike Navin says:

    lol. she has a training certification that doesn’t expire? Let me guess…she got it by taking a 10 question test on the internet….Any training certification that is worth anything has you renew and requires you to complete continuing education credits. and her second certification is…one she made up herself….nice…..glad it’s finally coming out how she’s really just a celebrity first, and not a trainer at all.

  51. sally smith says:

    Nothing but a bunch of haters really

  52. sally smith says:

    I find her to be a good trainer, who has helped alot of people to shed alot of weight sometimes you have to be tuff to be effective. She is no 1 in my books and millions of others.

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  55. noplayerhater says:

    At the hating on JM. She is awesome and even if all her credentials were the lives she has changed both on and off the show she would still be one of the greatest trainers ever. So keep pounding away at your keyboards and hating on Jillian, but know that she’ll be somewhere working out and motivating someone to achieve their fitness goals.

  56. Red says:

    @Sally, calling someone out on their inappropriate and even dangerous methods is not being a ‘hater’. It is calling a Spade a Spade.

    @noplayerhater, what exactly makes her a ‘great trainer’? There are far better and more qualified one out there. Are you saying that it’s perfectly acceptable that she doesn’t have the credentials needed? Would you say that abotu a doctor performing surgery on you or a loved one?

    Motivating is fine, but NOT with Jillian’s methods. Maybe you aren’t aware of this, but most reputable trainers would NEVER do what she has been doing or act as she has.

    FedUpFemale does a video explaining why ‘The Biggest Loser’ is the biggest lie.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFkE9oV4ztc&feature=player_embedded