Hi Again, Jillian!
When Lady Aravan and I started working out, we started with Jillian Michaels. She’d always been an inspiration to both of us, ever since we first saw the Biggest Loser, and we own all of her DVDs. We worked our way through the 30 Day Shred, then the Biggest Winner Series, and then Banish Fat & Boost Metabolism, No More Trouble Zones, and Yoga Meltdown (the only one of her DVDs that ever disappointed us, but maybe I’ll talk about that another time). We were alternating the last 3 as our workouts for a few weeks when we saw Bob Harper’s DVDs, which I’ve written about once or twice.
We loved Bob’s DVDs, and said that it was OK, we weren’t exactly “cheating” on Jillian since it was Bob, same show, you know. Then we did the workout plan, and loved it as well, and saw incredible gains across the board. Once we “completed” it, we wondered what to do. Keep going with Bob? Mix in other things? Go back to Jillian? Since Lady Aravan had tweaked her shoulder earlier and it was taking time to get better (especially since she never stopped pushing it, which is so like exactly what I do that I really couldn’t tell her not to, and it wouldn’t have mattered what I said anyway), we decided to do an all-cardio week. Yesterday we stuck with Bob. Today, we went back to Jillian after nearly three weeks.
Banish Fat & Boost Metabolism is a good workout, influenced by Jillian’s background with kickboxing. It had always kicked our butts good, especially doing things like jump squats and 180 jumps and moguls (stupid moguls) and the like. The one thing that has always bothered me about the DVD was the standard exercise class trope of the pair of vacantly smiling women doing the demonstrations. They are the “pretty girls” Bob refers to at the end of his cardio section of Bob’s Workout, the ones that stay pretty throughout the workout. His belief is that they can get pretty after the workout’s done, and he’d rather see them sweat and grimace while working out.
Saleema and Kristin don’t do either. The camera focuses on them, and they smile on cue. I’m not smiling, and neither is Lady Aravan. We’re 35 minutes into an intense workout, and they aren’t visibly sweating or breathing hard. There is one brutal sequence that leads into the start of the final sequence, where we’re expected to do moguls (basically, face forward, then jump and twist your feet and hips to one side and then the other over and over again). They start right up, still smiling, even though the last 5 minutes had been seriously intense. They are in great shape, I’m sure. It’s obvious. But NO ONE is in that good a shape, that you don’t even start breathing hard. Each has a tiny dot of sweat on the fronts of their shirts. I don’t sweat much, and it is coursing in rivulets down my back and dripping off the ends of my hair. They each have maybe a light sheen. It makes me believe strongly that there is serious editing going on here, which after Bob’s mostly non-edited series feels very jarring to me. I am amazed how much better I feel seeing people struggling just like I am instead of smiling like it’s all no big deal. Grumble grumble.
Anyways, Lady Aravan and I surprised ourselves today. We hoped that we’d be able to tell an improvement in our ability to do the exercises. Well, actually, we were hoping we’d be able to breeze through like it was nothing at all, but that’s not exactly realistic. What did happen, though, was that we really pushed it. We did several of the exercises faster than the “girls” did (Jillian’s name for them, not mine), and definitely used more power and intensity in the kicks and punches. We did almost all the 180 jumps for the first time ever, and only missed a couple because of dizziness from spinning around rapidly and losing our balance. I used to be DYING through the more intense calisthenics, but instead I merely struggled to do them, which is a hell of an improvement, although standing mountain climbers are still horrible, horrible things.
It was a nice change of pace, and very helpful to see where we’ve come since we last did it. I hope Jillian’s next DVDs take some cues from Bob’s in the art and production department; Bob’s looks like it’s filmed in a remote corner of a crumbling boxing gym somewhere, grey and industrial and nicely gritty, while Jillian’s take place in a brightly-lit typical aerobics room, where any second Brittany is going to pop out in her leotard and perkily ask if I’m ready to do some grapevines. I hate grapevines. I hate anything that reminds me of grapevines. So these, Jillian, are my requests: Get gritty, get some people who are willing to sweat and drop onto their knees midway through just like me, and add a guy so that I at least feel somewhat included and can stop being referred to as one of the “girls”. I hate that.