Jillian Michaels Responds

Earlier this week, I posted an article on Jillian Michaels' affiliate program and how horrified I was at the commission percentages for referrals and what that could mean about the quality of her products.  I am here to admit I was a bit off on my assumptions (thank you to the person in the comment section who wrote to them about this; you can read Jillian's company's response at the end of this post). Despite my gaffe, this is an excellent opportunity to open a dialogue with them.  Raymond Cole, the COO of the company that represents Jillian's products, is doing exactly what he should do by taking an opportunity to clarify.  I was wrong in how I represented the company and he politely and succinctly corrected me.  Thank you Raymond.  In return, what I would like to propose to you is to continue to clarify the confusion that surrounds Jillian's products. This is a great opportunity for you to speak to a bunch of fitness-oriented readers about one of the most well-known trainers on the planet, but who still has quite a bit of controversy around her. I've been a fan of "The Biggest Loser" since its first season in 2004 and have literally watched every episode since.  I have always been inspired by the heart of the contestants as they have struggled heroically to lose the weight.  I was upset when Jillian left the show in the third season because I loved her moxie, and was glad to see her return as a trainer a year later.  I've been a fan of Bob Harper as well. But as the show has gained in the ratings, I've seen lots of things that I consider flat out inappropriate and I've seen the commercialism of the show take off in very questionable directions.  It's one thing to push plastic baggies to store food in; it's another for a trainer to endorse a group of supplements that results in a law suit.  What this does is leave me with questions which I hope you could address.  Even better, if I could have the opportunity to speak directly with Jillian, herself, and have her answer these same questions either for this site or for AOL's That's Fit where I'm also a writer. For the record, I want Jillian to be a high-level trainer because she does have the ability to literally inspire millions.  I want her to be the "Dr. Oz" of trainers with all of the credentials in her industry that he has in his.  I trust what Dr. Oz says (and have even bought his books) because of his impeccable resume.  I would love to have the same respect for Jillian. So here are the questions: What exactly are your credentials for training? The IDEA Fitness article last fall said that you only had two lower level certifications and that one of them was an online only credential.  What do you consider to be adequate training for a personal trainer in a health club setting? Do you have any specific training to work with the morbidly obese population?  What are the challenges of working with this population?  What are the increased risks? How much training have you done with kettlebells?  The people in the kettlebell community were quite upset with the videos that you posted on YouTube that have since been taken down.  Why did you take them down?  What are your qualifications for working with these weights? How much training have you done with yoga?  Most yoga training programs require between 200 to 500 hours of instruction.  Which training program did you take?  What did you like or not like about the program? When did you first start working with clients as a trainer?  Did you work in a gym or did you work in people's homes? You referred to your "chubby" past.  What motivated you to overcome your weight issues and keep them off so successfully? Why do you support a 14-day cleanse and a whey protein drink over just eating regular food?  How are these products more healthy or helpful than eating a simple, proper diet? If you can, would you care to comment on the lawsuits that have been filed about the supplements that you promote? Below is Raymond Cole's unedited response to my prior post (he left a comment on the article).  Let's continue this dialogue.  I am know I am asking difficult questions of Jillian, but if her qualifications and other reports have been misconstrued, this is an excellent opportunity to clear things up in the public's mind. I'd love to know everyone's thoughts, please chime in! Lisa --- Raymond Cole's response to my prior artilce: I’m the COO of Empowered Media, which operates the Jillian Michaels brand. Your blog post was brought to my attention and I wanted to take the opportunity to explain the Jillian Michaels affiliate program. The affiliate program is based on membership subscriptions to the jillianmichaels.com PAID website. Unlike the consumer product-based affiliate programs you referenced, the Jillian Michaels affiliate program is NOT based on the purchase of products. There are no affiliate programs for any Jillian Michaels consumer products. To explain the aforementioned, I’ve copied below how the Jillian Michaels affiliate program works from jillianmichaels.com and also provided the direct link for your reference. We appreciate you noting the richness of the Jillian Michaels affiliate program and welcome you and your followers to join. Respectfully yours, Raymond C. Cole COO Empowered Media, LLC How the program works: 1. Sign up to be a publisher through Linkshare. 2. E-mail our affiliate team. Be sure to include your Linkshare member number and your website’s URL. 3. Follow the instructions on the invite to join our program through. 4. Place banners and text links on your site. 5. We will pay you 70% of the sale price for every paid subscriber. You have the opportunity to earn up to 90% of the sale price per subscription. A win, win situation! http://www.jillianmichaels.com/affiliate_program.aspx

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.


9 Responses to Jillian Michaels Responds

  1. Jessica May 22, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    Hey Lisa!
    I’d like to know a bit more about Jillian’s formal and continuing education as it relates to exercise. Has she taken any college level courses in anatomy? How has she studied anatomy or physiology? Does she consider these courses important in working with clients? Also, does Jillian attend any continuing education courses? These have been invaluable for some trainers who made a career switch and didn’t have the educational background in anatomy, physiology or exercise science. With an average doctor appointment time of 15 minutes, we as trainers spend more time weekly than the average client spends with their physician in a month or two- we have the potential to really help people improve their lives. It is a client’s right and our responsibility to take that seriously.

  2. Lisa Johnson May 22, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Jessica those are all great questions. I know that you can certainly pick up a lot of information by being self-taught and through CECs. I don’t know what Jillian has or hasn’t done … it would be great to know …


  3. Christine May 26, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    Raymond Cole left the same post (word-for-word) on my blog as well. Hmm? *scratches head* http://www.phoenixrevolution.net/about-christine

  4. Lisa Johnson May 26, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    Thanks Christine … very interesting :-) L–

  5. Tess Mickelsen June 2, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    Hi Lisa,

    I’ve just found your site after becoming a 3rd triber (I’m a verrrry new blogger), and am blown away … what a great job you’ve done! The “celebrity arms” workout alone is just so wonderful!

    I too have followed BL, Bob & Jillian almost from the beginning. Although I feel blessed to have no where near the weight to lose as the contestants, I find the show inspirational. I’ve always found Jillian to be awfully gruff, but on the show she seems to get results. I too have not looked with favor on the commercialism, and was appalled when I began seeing Jillian’s name all over the internet advertising supplements to lose weight … I just don’t believe in that. I’m new enough to blogging that the whole “affiliate program” and rules for same aren’t quite translated in my mind yet, but I’d never be interested anyway. You’ve got a long list of questions for her, but I am really upset to hear there’s a question about her actual qualifications to be training people!

    I’d like to continue to follow your thread to see if you are able to uncover some truths about this woman, who you can’t help but describe as interesting!

    Thanks again for a great site!

  6. Julie Gosselin June 17, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    As a degreed, certified (NASM) exercise physiologist and trainer I too have some of the same thoughts/questions. I respect and enjoy Jillian Michael’s method of training. I am an avid fan of BL and the powerful message that comes along with it – YOU can do this.

    What really struck me was the very clear change in the show when product placements began. I also have a Master’s Degree in Marketing so I totally “get” why they did it but find it obnoxious and counterproductive to the true person in need of health and fitness. Oddly enough, in Jillian’s book Master Your Metabolism she flat out says no to many of the products the site pitches – plastic bags, processed foods (Light Yogurt – non organic), fake sweeteners – “Extra Sugar Free gum, and so on. In fact, she even explains the science behind WHY artificial sweeteners have a negative effect on health, metabolism, fitness and weight loss.

    Side note – her book also does provide answers to a few of the questions posed above. While she does not disclose her precise, formal education, I was blown away by her “background”. I had no idea how research, evidence based her background is – she even admits how much she did NOT know up until before landing the gig on TBL. Not trying to sell her nor take away from the questions posed above, simply offering the relevant information I found in the book.

    Anyhow, glad I stumbled on this blog. Glad others wonder the same things I do and hope my comments are taken in the spirit in which they are meant!

    In good health, Julie Gosselin

  7. Lisa Johnson June 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Hi Julie,

    While I am all for doing research on your own to improve your knowledge base and I do it all the time, especially for this blog. I still think a limited certification that doesn’t even require a trainer to be in a gym is inappropriate for someone who has the “ear of America.”

    I also think the packaging of her as a fitness expert has lead her astray from her core knowledge base of personal training. For instance kettle bells really is a separate knowledge base with a lot of dynamics to it that are quite different from straight personal training. The kettle bell community was quite upset when she put videos out showing what they said was very bad form.

    Why didn’t the producers hire someone like you, with a degree and a passion for fitness? You would be a much better spokesperson for the field and you’d make sure people stayed safe :-)

    There are plenty of attractive fitness people out there with much better credentials, I’d like to see someone of a higher caliber as the “leader” of the American fitness industry.


  8. Jennifer Sage October 14, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    And please don’t forget her awful technique, form and coaching with participants in a “Spin” class. Dangerously so. Many people think that “anyone” can teach a Spinning class, that all it takes is turning the pedals and screaming at someone to go harder. But it’s not like that at all. Cycling (and by extension indoor cycling) is an activity that is based on the principles of physics and biomechanics, and on the understanding of how the body adapts to training stresses (aerobic, anaerobic, muscular, neuromuscular, lactate threshold, etc). Like someone teaching Kettlebells, an indoor cycling instructor should know and understand the mechanics of pedaling, the proper application of technique, utilizing intensity safely and properly (and not haphazardly), and optimizing output. They should understand the relationship between cadence and resistance because these two things are the very foundation of the “work” done on a bike. “Work” is related to power output, and it is POWER output that translates to calories burned, not how high your heart rate goes (as everyone thinks). A high cadence at low or no resistance (this is sooooo common in indoor cycling) will give you a high HR, but a power meter would show that power output is very low. Hence, decreased work, meaning decreased caloric burn, meaning you are less likely to reach your goals and lose weight. Knowing the science behind the effort is crucial to help students reach their goals! A good certification program focuses on the science of pedaling a bike, and on the proper technique and body position to optimize output. ANYTHING you do to alter that technique or proper position REDUCES effectiveness and can lead to injury. That includes things like pedaling too fast, squatting, hovering, isolations, holding the handlebars from below (yes JM did that), taking the seat away or lowering it all the way, lifting weights of ANY amount while riding, or many of the other crazy circus tricks you see in so-called “Spin” classes IMPEDE success. Unfortunately these circus tricks are more prevalent than a properly conducted Spinning/Indoor Cycling class. And seeing Jillian do these things on national TV only hurts the industry even more. Students came in to class and asked their instructors to teach like Jillian!

    Jillian never was certified in Spinning (I know because I worked for Spinning for 12 years and even wrote an open letter on my blog offering to certify her for free. The Spinning company lost out on a huge opportunity to increase their own brand’s image by not calling her out officially). The way Jillian led her morbidly obese students on those Spin bikes was horrendous on so many levels, in the technique, in body position and in the intensity – the riders had beet red faces, bad form, she hit them on their legs to pedal faster (at obviously little to no resistance), they were bending over the handlebars further exacerbating their poor form and therefore their ability to properly turn the pedals, and far more.

    There is a science to cycling, just as there is a science to lifting weights properly and to swinging kettlebells safely and effectively. There is a huge body of knowledge available to trainers and instructors from the exercise science world – and trainers like Jillian who go against what is KNOWN to be correct mechanics and application of this science in the name of “fitness” (or $$$) are a danger to our industry.

    I have been labeled as “jealous” because I’ve called Jillian Michaels out on her poor technique. Have you received those comments as well? But it’s funny, those who say that are not trainers, and are not versed in the science. I am not jealous of Jillian’s money or fame, and I am willing to bet neither are you Lisa. I may want abundance in my life, but I could not live with myself if it was obtained from ill-gotten means, lying to the public, potentially injuring people, or selling myself out. I love my industry, I just want people to do it right, and safely! I know you feel the same way Lisa.

    In fitness,
    Jennifer Sage

  9. Lisa Johnson October 14, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Jennifer I definitely feel the same way. I’m a Spin instructor too, have been since 1998. I never get why she slaps at their legs like that it drives me nuts. L–

Leave a Reply