Today is National Fitness Day, or so social media tells me. I’m late to the party. I rarely know about these things until I go on Twitter and see that ‘National XYZ Day’ is trending.
I was late to the party when it comes to exercise in general, too. I was the chubby kid who was very bad at sport and I dreaded PE lessons with every fibre of my being. I was in my 20s before I ever came to enjoy exercise.
It was Jillian Michaels who got me into fitness, and I fondly remember the pain of trying to walk upstairs the day after doing 30 Day Shred for the first time. Wow!
Not only did 30 Day Shred teach me that I’m stronger than I ever thought and that once you find the right exercise it can actually be fun, I also learned that it’s never too late to get into fitness.
Last year, in response to growing requests from fans, Jillian released Beginner Shred. At the time, I was just getting back into fitness after a long break, and had injured myself. Discovering Beginner Shred was great; it really helped get me back on track and working out regularly.
So, in the spirit of National Fitness Day, I’d like to share with you the review that I wrote for Lizitivity‘s blog.
Jillian Michaels – Beginner Shred
Following a knee injury last year (I’m apparently the clumsy kind of person who can hurt themselves just by getting out of bed), I found that my favourite Jillian Michaels workouts had too much impact and too many moves that aggravated it. I started looking for modifications that would allow me to keep going, and stumbled across Beginner Shred. It’s aimed not just at beginners, but people who may have taken time off exercising and are looking to get back into it gently, and people who may have had injuries and need a lower impact workout. Perfect!
Beginner Shred is, as Jillian says in the intro to the DVD, something that many people have requested. The structure is similar to the 30 Day Shred. It’s a series of three 20-minute workouts (25 minutes including the warmup and cooldown) that progress in difficulty. Each workout is broken down into three circuits, and you go through each circuit twice. You do each workout for 10 days, then move to the next level of difficulty. I had planned to have a rest day every 3 days, but I ended up taking more. To be honest, having more rest days isn’t a bad thing. Especially if you’re a beginner, it will allow your muscles to recover and grow stronger. I notice that after a 3-day break I’m stronger than after just one rest day.
For those of you who’ve done 30DS, you’ll recognise Natalie and Anita – they’re back to demonstrate the moves in Beginner Shred. If you’re looking to do the easier version, follow Natalie. If you want a harder modification, follow Anita. I wasn’t in the greatest shape, having only returned to working out a few weeks before my injury, but also not a beginner, so for most exercises I did the modified versions. Whichever you choose to do, this is still a tough workout. Because it’s only 20 minutes, Jillian works you hard. No rest, no giving up.
‘…everyone must start somewhere and there is no shame in doing the easier versions of the exercises, but the way we improve and get stronger is to try the harder modifications.’
Throughout the workouts, Jillian explains the moves, which muscles you’re working and what you’re going to achieve. She seems to know when things are getting tough and she encourages you to think about why you started, what you want from your workout, and why you matter. If you’re familiar with other Jillian Michaels DVDs, you may find that she’s shockingly gentle and nice when you start this. Don’t worry – by Workout 3 she’s promising to jump through the TV and kick your butt.
The other thing I love about Beginner Shred is that Jillian encourages you to try the harder modifications, even for one or two reps, or a few seconds at a time. She stresses that everyone must start somewhere and there is no shame in doing the easier versions of the exercises, but that the way we improve and get stronger is to try the harder modifications. ‘You are not fragile.’ It’s a great message and very motivational.
You don’t need a huge amount of space to work out in, and the moves themselves are not complicated. Amongst others you’ll do squats with shoulder presses, push-ups, donkey kicks, deadlifts with rows, mountain climbers… And yes, burpees make an appearance. You didn’t think you’d get away without doing some burpees, did you? Some of the moves require more balance than others. Anyone watching me try to do a backward lunge with a shoulder press would probably have wet themselves laughing. I’ve no balance. But after doing it for a few days I didn’t wobble as much and didn’t fall as often.
Workouts 1 and 2 are more strength-focused, with only a little cardio to keep your heart rate up. If you were looking for a modified jumping jack when you did 30DS, look no further. Jillian gives you step-out jacks in Workout 1. I preferred the moves in Workout 2 (with the exception of those backward lunges) and by the time the more cardio-intense Workout 3 arrived I felt considerably stronger. Not once did any of the moves aggravate my knee, and if I felt there was any chance of that happening I swapped to the easier version.
In all, I think this is an excellent DVD for just about anyone. Jillian is a great motivator; the moves are demonstrated and explained well. You can modify this to make it as easy or difficult as you need, and if you take your time, stick with it and push through the discomfort, it’ll have you feeling strong and energised in no time.
What did I do for National Fitness Day? Well, it was my day off so, as I usually do on days off, I took my borrowed dog for a walk. We ended up getting a little lost and finding a couple more hills than usual, and I cut the walk short because we were both getting hot and bothered. I took him home and we played football for a while.
Later in the day I jumped on the exercise bike, which has been my main form of exercise lately, since it doesn’t aggravate any of the pains and health problems I’ve been having. I’d hoped to do a little yoga session as well, but my body was having none of it.
Did you do anything special for National Fitness Day, or just stick with your usual routine?
Have you tried any Jillian Michaels workouts? What’s your favourite?