In Which Crabby Takes Her Readers Advice And Checks Out Jillian Michaels


Regular followers of Cranky Fitness may have noticed that I don't always practice what I preach.

(Which is kind of pathetic, actually, given that what I preach is already so mellow and slacky compared to most serious health and fitness blogs).

What is the Most Important Exercise Principle I think you should all follow that I rarely do myself?

That you should mix up your routine every now and then, and try new things!

Of course I've blogged about my reluctance to do this before, and will probably blog about it again and again unless I manage to get a personality transplant and change my name Perky McSmirky or something.

But I'm constantly reading about some exercise thing that sounds promising on someone else's blog, and I think, oh I should definitely try that! And then some minor obstacle or just plain laziness intervenes and I end up not following through.

On the rare occasions when I do add something new to my repertoire? It really does help with motivation! A brand new thing to totally suck at also means a brand new thing to get slightly better at the next time, which is oddly encouraging.

So anyway, a few weeks ago I was wondering about exercise DVD's as an alternative to the gym and... boy howdy did I get a lot of great reader suggestions! For those who are looking for a "reader's choice" compilation of DVD's, definitely check out the comments to the Exercise DVD post.

Or, if you want to just hang here without going back in time, I'll pass along the short list of Reader Favorites, as well as my find out my Shocking Discovery about Jillian Michael's 30 day shred DVD.


There were lots of cool suggestions, both for exercise DVD's and for other non-gym alternatives. But some names kept coming up over and over!

And The Cranky Fitnesss Readers Choice DVD winners were:

(in no particular order):

P90X;
Jillian's 30 Day Shred;
Zumba DVD's;
Cathe Friedrich;
Biggest Loser DVD's;
Gilad;
Tae-bo; and
Turbo Jam.


So With So Many Promising Suggestions, Did I Run Out and Try A Bunch of Them?

Of course not! I kept meaning to. I've got Netflix, and Comcast, and a library, and I knew at least one or two of these titles was probably available for free... but... the right day never seemed to arrive.

Until finally it did! Sort of. I was gonna go for a run but it was pouring outside. I'd just gone to the gym the day before and done my cardio and all my weights. I really just wanted to do some cardio with a few intervals mixed in, so I thought I'd finally see what Comcast had to offer for free on the In Demand channel.

And they had Day 1 of Jillian Michael's 30 day shred! Which sounded really familiar from the great list you all supplied.

[Note: in a bizarre coincidence, I just discovered that Sagan at Living Healthy in the Real World has a post about the same thing! It may have even been the same day... she was gonna go for a run, got rained out, and ended up doing the 30 Day Shred too! But obviously her post is much more inspirational.]

BTW: Jillian, Love Her or Hate Her?

Now I am one of the few people in the fitness blogging world who doesn't really keep tabs on the whole Biggest Loser thing so I don't know all that much about Jillian Michaels. I have to confess I don't much like the premise of the show (and check out Merry's Biggest Loser post for some actual articulate objections), plus I'm not a big fan of reality TV generally.

And in my brief accidental glimpses of the show? It was scary! I didn't like watching Jillian berating and hounding a bunch of poor sweaty obese people who looked like they were just about to burst into tears, or barf, or die of cardiac arrest right on the set.

And so I thought: why the heck does she have to be so mean? Why make exercise even more painful and miserable than it already is? They're trying, for goodness sake. Is there some sort of nationwide shortage of Slack, preventing you from cutting them any at all? So I thought perhaps I didn't like this Jillian person all that much.

But then I heard her on her radio show once sounding kinda fun and charming and not-mean... and a lot of people whose judgment I trust totally like her. So I was a little confused on the whole Jillian question. (And I'd be curious to hear what you all think). Anyway, about trying her video...

First Rule of DVD Watching: Pick One That Has Some Relation to Your Exercise Goals.

If you want to do Yoga, don't roll out your mat and put on a Kickboxing DVD. Duh.

Likewise, if you want to do intervals with no strength training, it's probably best choose a video that has you doing intervals with no strength training.

But I wanted to check out the 30 Day Shred and I wanted to start at the beginning!

The Second Rule of DVD Watching: You Can Actually Do Whatever the Hell You Want, They Can't See You.

So I'm sure this video is great for its intended purpose, but I had to skip all the strengthening stuff. This is because I've read a million times the rule that you're not supposed to strength train the same muscles two days in a row, and I had just lifted a bunch of big-ass weights the day before at the gym. (Big-ass for me, that is). In my mind, this "no back-to-back strength training" rule is sort of like a biblical injunction. (Maybe not quite in the same league as Thou Shall Not Kill but certainly higher than whatever that graven images one is. I've been known to worship images of Cupcakes so I'm sure I've already blown that one many times over).

Anyway, even though Jillian and her pals were using teeny little weights, I felt completely absolved of any portion of the video that called for strength training. Because it's a Rule, damn it!

So I did my intervals (burpees were my chosen instrument of torture) while the girls were doing their weights, then I sort of followed along for bits and pieces of the regular cardio when I wasn't gasping for breath and wanting to die from the burpees. In other words, I didn't really do Day One of the Thirty Day Shred, I just let it keep me company.

Now Here's The Thing I Found Shocking:

Jillian is really fun to work out to! You don't actually have to do what she's doing, you can just let her chit-chat away and provide inspiration as you do whatever the heck is on your agenda for the day.

It's probably better if you actually follow the program, but Jillian didn't seem to mind that I was doing Burpees--in fact, she seemed to know exactly what I was doing and she even hated the Burpees right along with me! She provided a little bit of tough love every now and then, but it wasn't the Scary Tough Love she does with the Losers, it was more a flirty kind of tough love that was pretty darn motivating.

OK, it is possible I have a slight crush.

And there is also a possibility that I might actually check out the next one, and even try to actually do the thing for real!


This is obviously not an Exercise Video Review

Unless you're allowed to do one without actually doing the exercise video. The moral of the story is something like: Mixing it Up, even in a Half-Assed way, is a Good Thing and can lead to Interesting Discoveries!

So does anyone else struggle to add new forms of exercise to your routine? Any thoughts about Jillian or exercise DVD's?

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