We Tried This: Jillian Michaels’ Bodyshred Workout

As Healthland's resident fitness-trend guinea pig, my mat was front and center at a recent Bodyshred class — a new workout routine created by TV personality and trainer Jillian Michaels

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JILLIAN MICHAELS BODYSHRED

If you’re a fan of the reality show The Biggest Loser, you’ll recognize the fiercely fit TV personality and trainer Jillian Michaels. Just last month, Michaels partnered with Crunch gyms to bring her brand of fitness to the masses, with a class called Bodyshred.

The class is based on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a popular, exhilarating training method used in many group fitness classes, including a few I’ve sampled in the past. The goal of HIIT is to work at your highest intensity during each short interval — it’s a highly efficient way to get in shape, if you’re willing to push yourself that hard.

Michaels designed Bodyshred around her 3-2-1 interval workout method, which consists of three minutes of strength training, two minutes of cardio and one minute of core work. Each exercise within each category lasts 30 seconds, and the full circuit is repeated until you hit 30 minutes. There are no recovery breaks, and my water bottle didn’t get any love until the very end of the sweat session.

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There’s also a learning curve for first-timers. By the end of the class, I was panting and sweaty, but also utterly confused. Prior to the workout, I sat through a 15-minute introductory period during which my instructor, Zuta Gilchriest, demonstrated the moves to come. These ranged from simple squats to slightly uncomfortable donkey-kicks (or at least my attempts were awkward). But even with the early instruction, I wasn’t fully prepared for the rapid transitions from biceps curls to side planks — or was it side planks to lunges? Just when I got the hang of one move, the music was interrupted with a “beep,” indicating we had 10 seconds before moving on to the next one. Gilchriest told me I looked great during class, but the woman whose toes I smashed sideways would probably give you a different story.

 

Still, even though the class was confusing for a beginner, a few Bodyshred veterans told me it’s easy to get the hang of eventually, and that they feel proud whenever they finish a session.

Be warned, though, that the exercises differ from one Bodyshred class to the next, and from instructor to instructor. “The body will adapt quickly, so to keep the class challenging, fresh and fun I like to switch up the exercises and music every week or so,” says Gilchriest.

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For the full lowdown on how Bodyshred works, I spoke with its creator, Jillian Michaels:

For newbies trying the class for the first time, what should they expect?
They should expect 30 minutes of extremely high-intensity exercise. This program is designed to get the job done in 30 minutes, so you will be working hard, dripping with sweat and gargling your heart throughout the class. I have designed it with my 3-2-1 interval system to get maximum results in a shorter amount of time, but you have to work. It’s not a class for relaxing.

Why is each six-minute series separated into three minutes strength, two minutes cardio and one minute abs?
There are many reasons for this, but I’ll try to limit my answer to the two key points. First off, this allows me to train with holistic equality. Meaning it conditions the body cardiovascularly, builds function, core strength, power, speed, agility and flexibility because we train within all modalities. Second, it allows me the ability create the ultimate HIIT interval. I gradually ramp heart rate up through strength, peak it in cardio, then give an active recovery with core and repeat.

The class is only 30 minutes long. Can I really scorch calories in that amount of time?
Absolutely! This is an extremely high-intensity program. You are blasting your heart rate, working multiple muscle groups at a time, and going from one circuit to the next. The class offers a holistic equality fitness regime that covers all modalities, from balance to speed to power to flexibility to strength and so on. Working out this way torches calories. In addition, Bodyshred isn’t a pre-programmed class, so it changes every time you take it which means your body will never adapt.

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Who can take this class?
As with any fitness program, it is always important to check with your doctor before getting started. The Bodyshred program has three levels of difficulty: “basic,” “athletic” and “full throttle,” so there is something for all fitness levels. I’d recommend starting with the basic to test your fitness level, and then progressing from there.

How do you recommend I recover after the workout?
The workout wraps up with a dynamic stretch for cool down. Studies have shown that a whey protein shake is good for recovery to replace aminos, glucose and electrolytes. If you’ve got the nerve, an ice bath or cold shower will significantly speed recovery and reduce soreness. [Note: This reporter did not have the nerve for an ice bath.]

(MORE: We Tried This: Fast And Furious Tabata)

What common mistakes do you see people making at the gym?
They waste their time. Lifting small muscle groups solo, like doing bicep curls alone. Wasting time between sets. Falling into a routine. I could go on for days on this one, but those are a few to think about.

What are the common misconceptions people have about fitness and weight loss overall?
People buy into the scamsters out there who prey on peoples’ apathy with false messages like, You don’t have to count calories. Utter crap.

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If you’re up for the challenge, Bodyshred is offered at select Crunch locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco.

6 comments
Fatesrider
Fatesrider

One of the biggest issues I have with workouts is the lack of personalization.  People are unique beings.  What works well for one person will not work at all for another, and can actually kill them.  

In my case, for example, I'm not one of the lucky people who get a "high" from working out.  I don't get an endorphin "rush".  The pain I feel all the way through a workout is what stays with me for hours and days.  I get no tangible "reward" for that work out.  What I always get is pain.  When one gets far more pain than they do gain, it becomes a huge disincentive to exercising.

What I have yet to see is some bright-boy (or girl) come up with an exercise plan that offers some kind of reward for a single session of exercising.  A tangible accomplishment from that particular session that at least somewhat offsets the pain one experiences.  Long-term benefits aren't what one sees after one session (or even a dozen).  An example of a tangible reward would be walking to the store and carrying back one's groceries.  If you lug back twelve two liter bottles of diet soda (About 52 pounds), you have definitely exercised, and have gotten a reward for it - soda. Do this kind of thing right, and it's less than a gym membership and certainly less than these classes cost.

But what is needed is an exercise program that rewards the participant after each session with something tangible - a sense of accomplishment that one can look at and see how that particular session helped them.

"Body shredding" isn't my idea of fun, nor does it sound rewarding.  It sounds like an invitation to inflamed joints, pulled muscles and cardiovascular collapse (at least for me).  As I said, some things work for some people and don't for others.  But it would be nice to see someone come up with an inexpensive (as in no gym membership/classes needed) exercise program that scales and can be done by anyone with tangible rewards of some kind after each session.

And if they do, I want 10% for the idea.

NoExcuses
NoExcuses

The obvious reward after each session is getting stronger/building endurance/seeing results... as long as you push yourself to *your* maximum and be very careful with your nutrition. 

You're right - what works well for one person may not work for another.  That's why there are so many options.

BodyShred may not be right for you, but it works the body efficiently and effectively - and THAT'S the motivation for those of us who want to challenge our bodies and not get stuck in a fitness-rut.  If you have issues with "inflamed joints, pulled muscles and cardiovascular collapse", then you are not in good-enough shape to be attemting this high-intensity class and ought to be doing more tame workouts.

theveeve
theveeve

@CrunchGym @jillianmichaels Ironically just joined LA's Crunch today. If my doc lets me Bodyshred preggo, damn right I'm there!!!

Personal Trainers London
Personal Trainers London

HIIT and Tabata are awesome for burning fat and improving the calorie burn both during and following exercise. You don't even have to do this is a class but in a group setting you will probably enjoy the extra motivation.  You can do these kind of workouts at home if you have a stopwatch to time your routines. Work on 20 sesconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds rest for 5 sets of each exercise.

Personal Training London
Personal Training London

Tabata and HIIT are by far the best ways to get in shape and burn fat quickly. The effects on fat burning both during and even "after" exercise and quite remarkable. I base most of my workouts on Tabata Circuits and anyone can do them. You an join a class like Alexandra but you can even exercise on your own at home - you don't even need any special equipment. Just choose your exercises (eg lunges, squats, jumping jacks etc) and work on a 20 seconds on/10 seconds off routine for 5 sets each exercise. Trust me you will feel it working! When you can build up to a 20 or 30 minute session you know you're really in good shape!