Posted February 18, 2010

Jillian Michales: TV's Toughest Trainer?? Too bad I'm not on TV…yet.

I’ve begun watching The Biggest Loser lately. I have to admit they do a good job of presenting a serious problem that can help motivate people to make a positive change in their lives. What I can’t stand is the amount of time people spend crying, the dissapointment at only losing 6 pounds in a week (heaven forbid!!), and the trainers yelling at the participants for no real reason at all. A lot of attention has been paid lately to the unhealthy method of weight loss used by a number of participants to get such dramatic changes, as well as the emotional damage of such an “in your face” style of training. Specifically, look at Jillian. She can be seen screaming at people inches from their face, telling them they are bad parents and that their kids will end up like them, then making them do rediculous exercises that commonly result in injury. One episode a few seasons ago she had the participants sprint across a field. Let’s do the math here: morbidly obese people with minimal mobility, strength and under a low calorie diet sprinting on an uneven surface with minimal ability to sprint. What happened? Yup, one of the participants tore their ACL. Good job, genious, way to think that one through. Top it off with a recent law suit around some diet pills she’s been selling, and you have a superstar trainer!!

Tough trainers don’t necessarily qualify as good trainers. Here’s a fun game to play, search Jillian Michaels for any information you can find about her education. Try it, it really is fun!! After spending a few minutes looking at the most common sites (including her own), I found out that her credentials include previously being obese as a child, training in martial arts (which ones or to which level, I couldn’t find out), and as for actual schooling…..nope. So a previously heavy person who lost weight is now considered a fitness guru. True, her book has a lot of biochemistry and exercise physiology in it that certainly sounds impressive. What is more impressive is the qualifications of the ghost writers that put that together for her (MSc and PhD educated individuals). This isn’t a new trick, writers have been using ghost writers with a specialized base of knowledge to fill in gaps in their own books for decades (probably centuries), so it shouldn’t shock people to find out about the fact that it still happens. Don’t get me wrong, the information is accurate and quite relevant, so at least she found good writers to help her out.

As for her being the “Toughest Trainer on TV,” that’s something I can’t really refute, because to look at the current batch of television trainers, she has a pretty easy time of it by simply smirking and rolling her eyes. Look ing at her bio, she’s 5 foot 2, weighs 120 pounds. When she starts yelling, doesn’t this seem like the yappy little cocker spaniel that isn’t really dangerous but makes a lot of noise? I’m sure that if I decided to start yelling at my clients the way she does, I would have more than a few of them start crying as well (many would probably piss themselves, too!!). I’m 6 foot 2, 235 pounds, and as one of my clients told me, “a goddamn intimidating man,” and typically have at least one client a week wind up throwing up while trying to be nice to them!! The downside is most trainers have to try to make their clients come back. She has the luxury of being blatantly rude, arrogant and aggressive to people who have no choice but to come back the next day.

I will give her credit, she is inspiring people to become active, and helping to change the way the nation views their health and level of activity. But America, let’s try to find someone who actually is tough to name as “TV’s Toughest Trainer,” not the one who’s most annoying.