Jillian Michaels is without a doubt riding the crest of a wave. As one of the most popular and recognizable personal trainers in the country due in large part to her participation on “The Biggest Loser,” (it just wrapped up its ninth season on NBC). As the tough as nails, in your face, “Do it again!” powerhouse fitness guru; add to that her own ratings hit, “Losing It With Jillian,” (also on NBC) it’s easy to see why the country is usually glued to the couch on Tuesday nights. Though it’s a great metaphor, being a ‘couch potato,’ may or may not sit well with Ms. Michaels, depending on the circumstances. She has taken her personal philosophy to America’s conciseness and made many of us take a good hard look in the mirror. With obesity at an all time high not only among adults but children, it seems Jillian is single-handily determined to change the entire scope around herself one person at a time.
Since I myself have been working out for years and am studying to become a personal trainer Jillian is someone I have followed and watched on television since the inception of “Loser.” So in regards to our similarities let’s compare notes: we both stand 5’2, though she is a little smaller than me in body mass (not by much thank you!), we both have ‘guns’ (biceps – she’s got a bit more definition than I, not by much thank you!) I still get this ominous feeling the woman could bench press me given the chance. Whereas, I may be able to lift her myself off the ground maybe an inch or two. Okay, there are huge physical differences between us, happy now that I admit it? All of that being said, the impression Jillian gives in interviews is somewhat different than her television persona. She is very down to earth woman with an infectious laugh, wicked sense of humor (she is very funny) and a smile that could light up any room that seldom leaves her face. So much for the ‘tough as nails’ myth, though I’m sure working out with her in the gym would turn out to be a completely different story. She would probably either kill me or have me in tears. Sorry Jill, I love you but you’re not riding piggy back while I attempt to do pushups. Unless of course you want to land flat on your face on the floor. In all, I’m sure we’d have a few good laughs while I’m icing my body afterwards.
Jillian’s personal message about health and nutrition is a serious topic. And though she takes it to heart 100% and hopes others will embrace it and do the same, don’t think for a minute she takes herself too seriously. She is able to poke fun at herself and genuinely is having the time of her life. I hope you enjoy this interview. I had a great time putting it together even though it was a long distance one. So as they say nothing to it but to do it..
TM: Do you find that most people’s perception of you is you’re a tough hard trainer with the perfect body and has never been overweight? When in fact you were an overweight teen. What made you decide to change your life and how did if effect your adolescence?
JM: Honestly people have ALL kinds of perceptions about me good and bad. Those perceptions stem from within them and in actuality aren’t about me at all.
If your asking me about being an overweight teen – it sucked. Being heavy in general is tough on self esteem, buy being a heavy kid is a soul crusher. I was fortunate to have many people help me get and keep my life on track from my mother to my martial arts instructor. Finding a healthy physical outlet as a kid was a huge confidence builder and helped me appreciate fitness as a means to transform your life.
TM: For someone who has an overweight child, what is the best approach they should take to get their kid healthy and more active?
JM: The key is to always be positive, supportive, and lead by example. Never make an issue of their weight. Kids can interpret this as conditional love and rebel. Get them into a sport they enjoy like soccer, dance, martial arts etc. Be healthy as a whole family. Don’t restrict junk food for your overweight kid, clear it out of the house and avoid it as a family that’s in it together.
TM: I’ve worked out for years and have finally gotten to a point when I look in the mirror and think, “Okay not bad, but.” Is there ever a point when working out can be too much, baring an injury of course? Is there a line where you’re stagnant and the body settles and says, ‘Okay, this is as good as we’re going to get?” (plateau mode)
JM: Sure and that’s when you need to change things up with your fitness regimen. With diet, make sure your not eating too much (eating more cals than you burn in a day) or too little (under 1200 cals).
TM: What is the biggest difference, if there is one, between training men and women? Besides the obvious that women have this notion that their body is going to get muscular like a man’s.
JM: None really. People ARE different, but it’s on an individual basis that has nothing to do with gender.
TM: If you had to choice only one form of exercise, strength or cardio, which would you choose and why?
JM: Martial arts. It’s a great combination of strength and cardio that works every muscle in the body.
TM: You’re new show “Losing It with Jillian,” I have to say, I’ve shed a tear or two watching it. You get me every week. Personally I think you’re a big softy. (laughing) What is the hardest part of that show for you and how does it differ from “Loser?”
JM: The hardest part is going on this emotional journey with the families. I also think it takes a strong viewer to watch it. The show hits hard and touches off many intense feelings in people. However, if you can take that ride the pay off is one of true inspiration and hope. As for ‘The Biggest Loser,’ I think that both shows are transformational at their core. The main difference is that ‘The Biggest Loser,’ is a game show. ‘Losing It,’ is real life.
TM: I have to say I would love to workout with you. But honestly I think you would turn me into a puddle on the floor. (laughing) Does your ‘no holds barred’ technique of training come into play with everyone or would you actually take it easy on me?
JM: Not at all. Only when people give up and their health is so poor it becomes a life or death intervention.
TM: What would everyone be surprised to know about you as a person?
JM: I’m obsessed with shows and documentaries on space. My new favorite is “Into The Wormhole,” on the Science Channel.
TM: When you’re in Jillian’s relaxation mode, what do you like to do and what does a ‘fun day’ consist of?
JM: I relax by riding my motorcycle or my horse with friends. I also love writing. I am happiest when working on my next book.
TM: Here’s my Barbra Walters question: If you were stranded on a desert island what five things couldn’t you live without?
JM: My razor. I’m Greek and Italian. A few days of not shaving isn’t cute.
My iPad. It’s a portable office, I can get unlimited books on it’s a media player.
My family, significant other and pets included. Yes, I know that’s sorta cheating cause it’s more than one thing but too bad. Sunblock. Let’s be practical. Skin cancer and pre-mature aging are no fun for anyone. My surfboard. I wanted to say motorcycle but then I realized there are probably no roads on this island so I guess my board.
TM: Okay, I lied, one more Barbra question: what is the best thing and worst about being you?
JM: The best thing is being able to do what I love every day for work. The worst thing is being short. I’m seriously pint sized. It’s so annoying.