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:
- Jamie Atlas at Fitness Insights laments Jillian’s squandered opportunity to make kettlebells famous by showing how they’re properly used.
- Sarah Rippel (aka fitprosarah) becomes aghast after watching Jillian’s “Trainer Tips” demonstration.
- Sandy Sommer at Charm City Kettlebells just flat-out says “Jillian Michaels is bad for kettlebells.”
- Josh Hillis critiques a segment from Jillian’s Shred-It with Weights DVD (shown below) with a WTF moment.
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.)