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Fitness Finesse

Fitness talk with Jillian Michaels

Sweat savant, trainer Jillian Michaels

Since her debut on NBC’s you-can-do-it hit series The Biggest Loser in 2004, no-nonsense trainer Jillian Michaels has turned that reality TV gig into a full-blown empire, with workout DVDs, a line of gym equipment and speaking engagements all over the country. “I’m not just passionate about fitness,” Michaels told us at the recent SweatUSA convention in Miami Beach, “I am passionate about giving people a better life.” As we begin to ante up on those New Year’s resolutions, here are Michael’s words of wisdom for fitness done right.

We all kind of know what we need to do to fight weight gain, but what’s your own personal approach? Balance. People ask me all the time if I have a cheat day, but there isn’t one day a week when I just lose all control. It’s a lot like money management. If you earn more, you can spend a little more. If you’re going to play, you’ve got to pay.

We play a lot here in Miami. Yes, you do, but you still take care of yourselves. People think I’m perfect—all work, no play. That’s not the case. Last night I had a drink... or two, with my meal.

So what’s a drink or two for Jillian Michaels? [laughs] I have the occasional glass of wine, but usually it’s just tequila on the rocks with lime. My rule is to keep it clear.

And what’s your eating regimen like? I am a creature of habit. This morning, for instance, it was whole grain toast with two eggs over easy. Last night it was salmon. I drink and have chocolate at least once a week. I don’t deprive then binge.

So the golden question this time of year is how do we stick to our New Year’s fitness resolutions? The answer seems really simple, but it takes a tremendous amount of soul searching. It comes down to finding your ‘why.’ It’s different for everyone. Listen, I don’t love broccoli, chicken and the gym, but what I do love is feeling strong and confident. A great deal of your videos are half-hour routines.

Can you really get fit in 30 minutes? It’s all about the way that you train. If you work out the right way and maximize those 30 minutes, that’s all you need. But you can’t work out for 30 minutes and then go eat a pizza.

How did your own workouts change after becoming a mom? Then they really became 30-minute workouts [laughs]. I remember the days of the 90-minute yoga class—that’s over. Now it’s popping in a DVD or going for a run.

You’ve parlayed your TV gig into a very successful business. Did you ever think you’d be here? Every trainer builds on the hard work of someone that came before them. I look at people like Jack LaLanne who encouraged women to sweat when that just wasn’t something women were doing at the time. And thank God for Jane Fonda!