I have a confession to make: for several years, I have had this bizarre urge to try The 30-Day Shred.
It’s not what you think, though. I can’t stand The Biggest Loser. I can’t stand the extreme measures they take with people, and the way they pit them against the scale. Forcing people to starvation and injury is NOT a responsible way to train people, regardless of how overweight and out of shape they are.
Then there are the trainers’ personalities. Screaming, yelling, demeaning. Embarrassing.
So when Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred came out, I rolled my eyes. Another celebrity trainer cashing in on their fame at the expense of the public’s health and wellness…sigh. But the popularity has intrigued me – why are people drawn to it? Why do they keep coming back, despite the voracious hatred they spew when they mention it? What’s the catch?
Fast-forward to today. I finally gave in, for two reasons:
- I need some strength training to compliment my running, and I’m too lazy and uncreative to set my own workouts right now…and I need batteries for my Gymboss timer…
- I wanted to do a somewhat professional critique of the actual program.
So here we are. And after two days, here’s what I have to say:
I love the style of the workouts. They are very similar to what I would do with a client – compound exercises, full body workout, minimal equipment (one pair of 5lb dumbbells), etc. It’s circuit training, home-style. Most of my major movement patterns and muscle groups are covered in Level One.
I love the time commitment. If I’m going to do something for 30 days straight, it has to be short. 20 minutes is great. Get in, get done. Because of the exercise choices and combinations, it’s efficient. Plus, I run or walk every day. I don’t want a program that cuts into that time. My time is valuable.
And that’s about it.
Where do I start? Ohhhh, where do I start??
- “I have 400lb clients who can do jumping jacks, so you can too.” Um, no Jillian. You irresponsibly give 400lb clients jumping jacks without modification. That being said, if you are morbidly obese, I would suggest a real-life trainer over a DVD as due diligence to your health. This can be a beginner workout, if you have some level of fitness already. It is NOT a square-one starting point. Bad.
- “The reverse crunch really works your transverse abs.” No, Jillian, it doesn’t. In theory, maybe it does a little. But for most people, it will just be another activation of their rectus abdominis (6-pack), which further exacerbates our hunched-desk posture and causes incontinence. So while it will make your abs look pretty, don’t fool yourself into thinking it will flatten your tummy.
- Jillian, your demonstration form is horrible. From your wobbly lunges, to never fully extending your elbows in your bicep curls. Your models are pretty decent; maybe that’s why you spend more time talking about what they’re doing, instead of demonstrating yourself.
- The corrections come too late. Important alignment cues come during the 2nd set, after we’ve spent the first set doing them dangerously wrong. This alone makes me want to call her up and ask what back alley she got her training from…or ask her producer why they didn’t storyboard a little more before filming…
- The tone. The demeaning, demanding, low-voice, threatening approach made me ECSTATIC…when I muted the video this morning in favour of my iPod. No encouragement – just “do this, or you’ll be fat and lazy forever.” Okay, she doesn’t actually say that…but it seems that way, and I am a confident, educated trainer. If I get that tone but can see past it, what does it do to the self-esteem and self-efficacy of a regular person trying to make a change? It’s going to make them push themselves too hard and get hurt, or it’s going to make them give up because they can’t live up to the expectation in the video.
- The cool down is a joke. First of all, it’s too short. Second, the static stretches aren’t held long enough. Third, they’re done with horrible form, so they lose all purpose and effect. Finally, the only stretches are a wide-leg seated stretch (which is difficult for most people – even Jillian!!), a couple of poorly demonstrated chest/shoulder stretches, and a BADLY demonstrated quad stretch. The big FAIL at the end of it all. I shake my head…
All in all?
Great exercise choices for someone who has a decent level of fitness, some body awareness, and is just looking for some at-home inspiration.
But if this is your first foray into fitness? Do yourself a favour: hire a trainer for even just one session, or head to a fun group exercise class. Go somewhere where you can interact with the trainer, and where you feel comfortable asking for modifications to suit YOUR needs.
That, my friends, is why a huge client roster means NOTHING when you’re looking for a great trainer. Education, approachability, flexibility, and personality are far more important, both for your body and your bank account.
Will I keep doing my 30 days? Absolutely. I can handle it, and it gives me some structure. But I will absolutely keep her on mute, and I will ABSOLUTELY ignore her bad form so I don’t go crazy.