I’ve been a fan of Jillian Michaels since I first started my weight loss journey. I used to watch The Biggest Loser as a reward for a night-time workout and I always loved her tough, take-no-crap attitude. I’ve since purchased and used several of her workout DVDs and I’ve enjoyed them all. I can not handle a blonde, pony-tailed instructor smiling at me, saying things like “Isn’t this great? 15 more reps! He-he-he-he.” I’ve worked out to those DVDs and I usually want to punch the TV. Not such a healthy response. I can, however, handle Jillian saying things like “There’s a badass living inside of you.” Yes, yes there is. Or, better yet, “You see the finish line? You race to the finish line!”
In honor of summer, swim suit season and the need to be able to lift my 40 pound kayak on to the top of my car, I decided to start some regular weight training. My weight training has been sporadic at best this winter, taking the back seat to marathon training. I wanted to start the summer (and triathlon/marathon training) in better shape. Cue endless amazon.com searching for the right DVD to use. I don’t belong to a gym, but we own a good bit of fitness equipment at home. I’ve tried weight training with a book or magazine before, and it just doesn’t suit me. I need a voice, a visual example, someone guiding me through the process. I found Jillian’s 30 Day Shred and the reviews were positive. The workout was roughly 25 minutes long, which meant I could squeeze it in before or after triathlon training, and before work in the morning.
The workout is broken down in to 3 levels. You can start at Level 1 and work your way up to Level 3 over the course of the 30 days. Each workout follows Michaels’ 3-2-1 system, which is 3 minutes of weights, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs. That sequence is repeated 3 times during each workout, with a short warmup and cool down. I made the commitment that I would follow the program for 30 days, attempting to do each level for 10 days. The results of that commitment? Pretty solid. Here’s what the calendar of my workouts looked like:
Level 1: I began this level on May 29th and only completed it 7 times. I found this level to be relatively easy, but still a good workout. If you are new to fitness DVDs, you may find this level to be more challenging and may need to stay here longer. Be prepared to sweat and to move quickly from one move to the next. Thumbs Up-no time for getting bored and plenty of ways to modify exercises for the beginner. Thumbs Down-less of a challenge for the regular exerciser.
Level 2: I began this level on June 6th and completed it 9 times. I took a full rest day during this period, but otherwise stayed with this workout for the full 10 days. In this level, you are moving more, combining upper body moves with lower body moves such as lunges. Thumbs Up-tons of time in plank. Plank twists, plank jacks, plank everything. Thumbs Down-Jillian’s outfit. Someone in the wardrobe department should have been a friend to her and advised that her sports bra was not working out.
Level 3: I began this level on June 17th and completed it 9 times. I took another full rest day during this period. This level is an all out sweat fest. Cardio moves get combined with weights, so you’re doing jumping jacks and shoulder lifts at the same time. Holy bananas. Thumbs Up-non stop motivation. Jillian seems to know just what to say to keep me moving the whole time. Thumbs Down-tons of plyometrics. You are jumping non-stop. Plyo is great for burning calories, not so awesome for those of us nursing the occasional knee or joint pain. But, the modified plyo moves are still tough and get the heart rate up.
So, the results? I completed this work in 29 days. For most workouts, diets, challenges, etc., I measure my success in pounds. I didn’t step on the scale for this one, but I did take my own before and after photos, hoping to show myself that I was successful (No, I can’t post them here. Being a teacher in 2013 means your students could stumble across anything. Sweet Jesus, imagine the embarrassment). And I’m thrilled with the results. I lost INCHES. I don’t think that has ever happened to me before. My pants fit better. In fact, I bought new running capris in a smaller size. I bought, um, new….underclothing?…in a smaller size too. I have a bathing suit (no bikinis here!) that I’m proud to wear in public now. And I feel stronger. My triathlon training is going well. I started marathon training with 3 of the best runs I’ve had in months.
Should you do this workout? Yes. By all means. Grab a set of weights, a mat and towel, pop in that DVD and find your inner badass!