step away from the kettlebell jillian, and no one will get hurt

I’ve not posted on this before, though I have been known to drone about it in person, on my facebook wall and in comments on other blogs.

I have a strong distaste for and aversion to television programs which feed on misery.  These programs abound mostly because, for some unfathomable reason, people watch.

Why is that?  I am always baffled by this draw to make entertainment out of the tribulations of others.

Appealing to our baser selves — because how can you not find entertainment value in the plights of these people? — this genre of television has been coined reality tv but would more aptly be called misery tv.  Someone else’s misery always seems to be of some relief and worth watching and discussing.

Take, for example, Dr. Phil.  Made into a megalomaniac by Oprah (don’t get me started on her) and akin to a current day Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil takes raw wounded people and, for the sake his own pocket, pokes and prods their lives into a pathetic side show.

And, people watch!

I have had the most unfortunate experience of being exposed to Dr. Phil in all his pustule-squeezing stomach-turning glory while working in a gym where caloric expenditure was fueled by this man’s abuse and misuse of the misfortune of people like you and me.  Repulsive.  Truly repulsive.

The Biggest Loser.  Another case in point and where I am landing today.  Desperate unhealthy people who see, as their best option, a humiliating stint on national television as their last-ditch effort at health and wellness. Combine this with professionals, and I use that word in a loosely applied way, who should know better but who are willing to sell their souls for the glory of The Biggest Dollar, and you’ve got a toxic mix as well as a total besmirchment of fitness professionals.

Any number of fitness professionals have turned their hand to expressing their personal objections to this program.  Mark Sisson, writing at and author of  The Primal Blueprint, has riffed on The Biggest Loser in the past and deconstructed the show a while back.  I liked what Mark had to say and would suggest it as a post worthy of your attention.

Now, I have to admit to never having seen The Biggest Loser, though I did see part of one episode some years ago in a hotel room, I think.  However, I see enough media coverage and hear from enough folks to know there isn’t anything healthy about the nutritional, physical or pyschological tactics offered on this program.   This program is not about people’s health but it is about the amount of money they can make from YOU, the audience, when you tune in.  This program is not about providing adequate information, resource access and services to a society whose health status is in chaos but it is about selling a time slot to YOU, the audience.

For me, as a health and fitness specialist, the likes of Jillian Michaels sits at the intersection of where misery tv meets morbid audience fascination.  It is within this context that Jillian Michaels shines.  Not as a glittering example of a great personal trainer.  Oh, no.  But surely as an example of greed gone wild.

As a kettlebell afficionado, as a person who has taken the time to learn how to use kettlebells properly, safely and effectively, I am offended, yet again by her disingenuous use of kettlebells. She has a large following (why?) and she perpetrates against them unsafe, unsound exercises and workout regimes.  She touches kettlebells and wields them as injurious weapons, not as the tools of amazing transformation which they truly are.

Will she just put down the kettlebells and step away from them!

First there was her unpracticed, totally uninformed use of them on The Biggest Loser in 2009.  If you have any kettlebell training at all, you would understand what a diservice she perpetrated against the contestants on the show, people seeking health, kettlebell trainers, and the general viewing audience when she arrogantly looked into a camera and ‘instructed’ the world on the use of a kettlebell.

FitproSarah has, for posterity, allowed us to wince time and again when we view this debacle.

And, Josh Hillis offered Jillian some professional courtesy when he felt that strong urge to say something about her misuse of her position of trust as a fitness professional.  Thank you Josh.

Unfortunately, Ms. Michaels has been at it again — or maybe she never stopped.  A number of other ‘instructional’ videos are getting hits on Youtube and are being derided on blogs and twitter by those with common sense and appropriate training.  This ‘new’ fitness tool, as she calls it, has become whim to her odd, idiosyncratic waiting-for-an-injury-to-happen knowledge of human biomechanics.

This is a clear case of DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME:

Thankfully, Josh Hillis has been moved yet again to respond to this video too.  I like his pithy account, so check it out.

Here is my CALL TO ACTION:

Say NO to The Biggest Loser.

Say NO to Jillian Michaels.

Say NO to fitness professionals who are more interested in bank accounts than health accounts.

Say YES to fitness professionals who are willing to expose exploitive television shows and charlatan trainers.

Say YES to your lasting health and wellbeing.

Say YES to your safety in finding health and wellbeing.

Say YES to fabulous trainers who are duly certified and busting their butts to stay on top of best practice.

Kettlebells rock, but not in the hands of arrogance.