Home > Health > Jillian Michaels pisses off the kettlebell community

Jillian Michaels pisses off the kettlebell community

So The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels has all certified kettlebell instructors up in arms ever since she decided that kettlebells would be her new favorite toy to show off to America. She has a new DVD out called Shred-It with Weights (which is getting great reviews on Amazon so far) and she was featured using a kettlebell on a 2009 episode of The Biggest Loser’s “Trainer Tips.” (video below)

The reason the people begin laughing at the end of the video is that Jillian makes it clear to the kettlebell community that she has NO idea what she’s doing.

Over at Philly Burbs, Jen Wielgus introduces her readers to a Los Angeles Times article bashing Jillian’s improper kettlebell form and her audacity to show the world how to do something that she really doesn’t know how to do.  James Fell, the author of the LA Times article and a certified fitness instructor in Canada, goes so far to say this:

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.


But the statement leads to a good point. When people look for a personal trainer, they look for someone who is certified with active credentials.

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.

If this were Zoe Schmuck who had qualifications like that, she’d never be given a second thought by a gym. But TV viewers don’t care about little things like that.

UPDATE: After I wrote this post, Jillian posted the following on her Facebook:

Never thought LA times would resort to liable & defamation to sell papers. Guess I’m canceling my subscription. I hold 2 current certifications. NESTA & AFFA. I’ve also developed a continuing education program for trainers with AFFA. I’ve been a trainer for 19 years. I OWNED a sports medicine facility & worked as a tra…iner & PT aid for the physiatrists, PT’s, & chiro’s I employed. AND i’m a black belt.

Fell admits that even he doesn’t know anything about kettlebells—so he asks people who do to critique Jillian’s instruction and form.

I asked Dave Cheng, chief instructor at Kettle Bells 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.”

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.”

Part of me couldn’t help but wonder if Fell specifically got disgruntled kettlebell instructors to comment for his article so I did a quick Google search and discovered that he wouldn’t have had a hard time finding certified kettlebell instructors who were more than dissatisfied with Jillian’s (improper) techniques:

I am normally a Jillian fan but even I could see that her form looked a little odd. I can’t imagine that constantly locking your knees like that can be any good, her hip movement looks strange, and I sure would knock myself out by trying to bring a kettlebell over my head the first time I tried to work out with it. (Jude Howe in the video above, doesn’t even show the move that brings the kettlebell above the head since he says it’s too advanced for beginners.)

So is Ms. Michaels nothing more than “an actress playing the role of fitness trainer”? Perhaps. Jillian has been the only person in the world who has made exercise look halfway appealing to me (and I assume many Americans since she’s so popular), but discovering Jillian’s lack of knowledge on the kettlebell issue has made me a little leery about her expert authority on fitness. (And I’m starting to wonder if that’s why the 30-Day Shred never fails to tear up my knees whenever I do it.)

  1. October 14, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    Thought you may have interest in JM recent Facebook/Tweet Jillian Michaels posted “People have been asking who the Kettlebell expert I worked with on Shred It with weights is. Her name is Lisa Wheeler. She has choreographed for Kettlebell Concepts. (1 of the KB certification programs) In addition Lisa has a BA in Dance and Theater, is certified by NASM, ACSM, ACE, AFAA, and is trained in Pilates by The Physical Mind Institute. Any more questions?”

    • Kass
      October 14, 2010 at 6:38 PM

      She’s got an update addressing the certifications issue as well:

      “Never thought LA times would resort to liable & defamation to sell papers. Guess I’m canceling my subscription. I hold 2 current certifications. NESTA & AFFA. I’ve also developed a continuing education program for trainers with AFFA. I’ve been a trainer for 19 years. I OWNED a sports medicine facility & worked as a tra…iner & PT aid for the physiatrists, PT’s, & chiro’s I employed. AND i’m a black belt.”

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. November 7, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    Jillian Michaels has the KB community up in arms! Oh my god! You mean “The WHOLE KB” industry! Holy crap! What is that a whole whopping 10 – 20 people! Get over yourselves. Ohh certified kb trainers are blasting her form. “Certified”, you people make it sound like its a 4 year doctors degree you need to swing a cannon ball with a handle on it. For the love of god get over it!
    Anytime a person reaches any level of success they become a target. She’s at the top of her field right now so she’s got a big x on her back. I’m willing to bet half of those “certified” kb instructors (ohhhhh I’m so impressed) don’t look anywhere near the shape she’s in. And if she did give some bad tech advice, like she would be the first professional to make a mistake. Have you ever heard of doctors? Thats the problem with the internet. Anybody can make fancy web page and start a blog and make it look like a legit place for info. When in reality, its just people who aren’t as good and never will be to try have their moment. You go Jillian!
    Seems to me these people are the real biggest losers!

    • Red
      February 7, 2011 at 12:09 AM

      It isn’t so much her success that has people worried. It’s the fact that she is using techniques that could ultimately hurt someone.

      It’s also not a matter of her ‘making a mistake’. It’s a matter of her making a mistake and NOT OWNING UP TO IT. She is NOT taking responsibility for her actions and while there are people who claim they feel fine, there are many others who are not fine and may be doing damage to their bodies and not realize it. And the problem with using doctors as a comparison is, that if a doctor makes a mistake, he could kill his patient.

      The kettleball trainers are upset because the kettle ball is a tool and used improperly, could cause serious harm. Are you suggesting that it’s acceptable when Jillian does it, but when an entire community of experts tell her she’s doing it wrong, that’s bad? Are you saying if someone is popular and famous, we should never call someone out when they’re doing something wrong?

    • Trattore
      April 25, 2018 at 9:00 AM

      Her technique is horrible, this is out of question. She should have taken serious kettlebell coaching before ever thinking of making videos like that, and being in shape does not justify teaching something in a potential dangerous way.

  3. Mickey Garces
    January 2, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Right on Roger! I have been in the fitness industry for 32 years now (do have a degree and national certifications). When I was in college all you coulds get is a Physical education degree. Now you have exercise physiologist and kinesiology degrees and all kinds of certifications and experts. Yet, as a nation we are as out of shape as ever before! Some corrletion is missing? Everybody want to make money from it instead of really helping people. Kettle balls have been around forever! What is really needed are people that will motivate others through behavior motification techniques to achieve their goals! It’s not rocket science. Some of the best trainers I have seen have no formal training and lots of experience and people skills. Some of the worst have been excercise physiologist with no people skills! Also, visa versa

    • Red
      February 7, 2011 at 12:14 AM

      So you’re saying that, as fitness trainer, you would trust a virtual novice with a tool like the kettle ball, even if they ARE doing it wrong and run the risk of personal injury or injury to others?

      People trust Jillian because they ASSUME that she knows what she’s doing. Since it’s clear that she doesn’t, why should this be allowed to slide? Personally, I would take someone with actual experience under their belt before I listened to someone who, while they may be good ‘people wise’, they know next to zilch about what they’re teaching. Are you saying you would go to a doctor who had no certification and was half-assing his way through an exam?

  4. Lorraine Hyde
    January 16, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    I agree with Mickey and Roger, not that it makes any difference whether I agree or not ……but geez people sure are mean spirited.

    I have done Jillian’s DVD on fit TV a couple of times with a weight (since I don’t have a KB) and I am 63 years old and did not keel over dead – nor did I end up with joint or muscle pain (although I will say I could feel some minor muscle sorness in my inner thigh and that is a good thing!) But my back, arms and shoulders are fine. Regardless of her technique – she is very clear that your legs should be doing the work!

    You KB experts put your “green” noses back in shape and get over the fact that you are not making millions with your “expertise” and Jillian is!

    Lorraine Hyde

    • Red
      February 6, 2011 at 11:59 PM

      So because she’s ‘making millions’ means that’s okay for her to put out incorrect information that can be dangerous for those undertaking it?

      • Lorraine Hyde
        February 7, 2011 at 10:07 AM

        Of course not – but here is the question- has anyone gotten hurt? I am sure the lawsuits would be flying if that were the case. It just seems that a few “experts” who didn’t cash in on their expertise are out of sorts.

        • Konrad
          February 7, 2011 at 10:08 PM

          Until someone gets seriously hurt it’s ok? This isn’t stuff that might hurt right away, this is stuff that can put stress on your body and hurt you in the future. Is it only WRONG if lawsuits are flying? I dont think so. Waiting for someone to get injured before her cash-grab is corrected is not the right way to go about it. As a fitness ROLE MODEL, she shouldn’t be cashing in on kettlebell knowledge if she has none.

        • Trattore
          April 25, 2018 at 9:05 AM

          I don’t think someone will ever do some statistics for checking the % of people getting hurt after watching her video. Anyway I don’t see why people are defending a person that is showing an exercise in a wrong way, this is also very disrespectful towards client. And about your “You KB experts put your “green” noses back in shape” well, come competing in kettlebell sport and show me how far you can go with what you learnt from Jill 🙂

  5. Snarfn
    February 13, 2011 at 9:14 PM

    I love the video. No one is perfect and most people are smart enough to make the minor corrections needed to do the two workouts safely. I don’t think passing 5 or 10 lbs around one’s head is too dangerous. It might be different if she were using all the weights in her stack while doing it (20 lbs), but she’s not. Not even one.

    This isn’t aimed at “hardcore” KB “trainers”. It’s aimed at housewives who use light kettlebells to get in better shape at home doing something new and fun. Are us wives and moms not allowed to use the lighter, commercial versions while doing a KB/cardio circuit type of workout?

    I mean, I appreciate all the concern for my safety, but I’m not an idiot. Heh…

    Her personality motivates me.

    • gettinfit
      April 4, 2011 at 9:49 PM

      I totally agree. I find JM to be motivational and her workouts are tough,yet fun. The BL video that the KB community is so up in arms about was not meant to be an exercise video and it was from 09. I love JMs kB workout and have not been hurt. I feel better than ever since starting it. I have watched Fitprosara (who did the Youtube video) and find her to be monotonous and boring. I also tried the KB workout that came with the Dancekin KB and that was very weird. JMs form is much different on on her video that I couldn’t understand what anyone was talking about until I saw the clip from ’09. Trainers should all be thankful that she JM is so motivational…it gets more people in their own gyms to workout.

  6. Serious Troll
    May 15, 2012 at 5:20 AM

    Teaching bad technique is downright irresponsible. Motivational or not, successful or not, one should always promote safety and correct form. I would give her credit for her skill in sales. But fitness and health are personal choices. If you need to listen to an ignorant woozy to be “inspired” to be healthy, that’s just pathetic. And if you find being motivated to play around with bad form is better than not exercising, maybe you should start saving up to see the doctor for a bad back and concussion.

    On a side note, kettlebell or not, the “clean and jerk” Jillian demonstrated is in no way a legit jerk. Looks more like a press with a butt wiggle.

  7. Smarty Pants
    July 10, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    If she knew much of anything, she’d know that the correct spelling is “libel” and not “liable”. They are two totally different words.

  8. Proud to b me
    December 18, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Jillian ROCKS!!! I’m so glad i picked her DVD’s its changed my life forever.

  9. Melissa Beattie
    April 26, 2015 at 10:32 PM

    I don’t give a hoot about what credentials Jillian Michaels has/had/never had… She motivates the hell out of me. THAT is the most important factor in fitness longevity. Jillian Michaels helps me be consistent. Kudos to her and everything she IS!!!

  10. Pelin
    August 18, 2017 at 9:04 AM

    Whatever! She is the best.

  1. October 13, 2010 at 3:05 PM
  2. January 26, 2013 at 3:50 PM
  3. September 20, 2014 at 5:30 PM
  4. September 20, 2014 at 10:48 PM
  5. September 21, 2014 at 3:27 AM
  6. December 3, 2014 at 2:13 PM

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