I hate to be negative and usually hesitate to call someone out.
In this case I really feel that I have no choice. The reason? Because Jillian Michaels has such a large number of devotees on the Biggest Loser and is considered an expert every time she opens her mouth .
Consider this. Mary Smith watches the Biggest Loser and thinks if she sees Jillian doing an arm front raise with a squat and calling it a Kettlebell Swing then it just a be a kettlebell swing. Mary contacts a certified kettlebell instructor and that person tries to correct her form only to hear that “I watched Jillian Michaels do swings and this is what she did.” Mary thinks since Jillian is a TV trainer that she must be an expert on each and every subject related to physical activity. That’s best case scenario. Worst case is that Mary gets hurt before she can contact someone that actually knows what they are doing.
Kettlebells are dynamic and injury is a real possibility if done without proper instruction. This is worse than if a tennis pro decided that since golf is so “Hot,” that they need to start teaching golf instead.
Being a trainer, in no way gives Jillian Michaels the expertise to teach kettlebells. Look I’m not a personal trainer and I don’t try to train folks except in my area of expertise. Jillian says at one point during the QVC piece, “I know you are thinking…you don’t know how to use it (the kettlebell)” Well I can assure you she doesn’t know how to use it either, unfortunately.
Now, let me also acknowledge that I haven’t seen Jilliam Michaels complete kettlebell workout video. I saw her do 5 of the 25 movements she incorporates on the video for sale and 5 was quite enough. None of the movements were close to what I would teach a client of mine. I saw her on the Biggest Loser last year and then on the QVC piece recently where she is selling a video and something that looks a bit like a kettlebell. That’s all I can say about it. I don’t think it’s a real kettlebell though. I saw her and the MC, as well as a model, doing some movements with this piece of equipment that they called a kettlebell. Here’s a real kettlebell by the way.
As Jillian says, the kettlebell is the hottest thing out there right now and this is both good and bad. Good because it is such an amazing tool as she points out, and bad because the fact that it is hot means that a lot of “non pros” sense a business opportunity. And that is all they happen to care about. Do you really think Michaels would be exploiting kettlebells if they weren’t the “new” hot thing? She says that this Biggest Loser season she is ONLY using kettlebells, bodyweight exercise and aerobic work. Someone is going to wish kettlebells weren’t part of the mix and it will be a contestant. Kettlebells done well are safe, effective and life changing. Done poorly they are a recipe for disaster and almost a guarantee for injury.
Typically, kettlebell exercises require face time with a certified kettlebell instructor to learn. I’ve encountered only one self-taught person who was using safe and adequate form when I first met with them. I’ve talked to more than a few who thought they had better skills then they did and that’s just the way it is.
First off, her kettlebell isn’t big enough for anyone but a beginning female. And even a beginning female will quickly graduate from this once they learn to use their hips properly as they kettlebell train.
Hips you say? Well I don’t hear Jillian refer to hips even once. And folks, if you don’t have hip drive to the point of near violence, then you aren’t going to do any kettlebell exercise all that safely. Hip mobility and power are the keys to Russian kettlebell work. Watch the QVC video and you will see no hip action of note. You will see arms and squatting. The model comes closest to a true swing. Additionally, there is no squat in a swing. Someone needs to let Jilliam Michaels know that. Each rep she squats into it. Correctly, she would hinge at the hip and move back ,not down. Bad for the back and this usually happens because the hips aren’t moving at all and the movement is coming from the waist. Quite a big difference in the movement pattern. The bottom of the swing puts you into what I call the “ready” position. I can’t think of a land sport where the “ready” position, or some near semblance of it, aren’t used. It’s a position from which you can really move well . That is the bottom of the swing.
Here is the correct way to do a Russian Swing by the way. I do my best to imitate Jillian not easy to do for me.
Please comment on this post and let me know what you think? I’m here to help anyone I can. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll get it for you.
Sandy Sommer, RKC
PS Here is a real kettlebell workout for women who are new to kettlebells!
PPS If you are a man and new to it check this out!