Why Does Jillian Michaels Yell At Biggest Loser Contestants?
Here is how things used to be way back on Season 2. Jillian was on the ranch almost daily and as Bill Germanakos says “We could not get her to go home!” While there, she spent time training us contestants in groups of 2 for a couple hours each group. So at the very least she was there for approximately 6 hours each day training. However on most days she was there much longer for filming and challenges etc. A reality show can be very boring behind the scenes.
It was during this extra time that she built a relationship with us contestants. At the dinner table and down time was when she got to know us and our lives and what made us tick and what motivated us and eventually when we were slacking off. It was during these extra times that she even gave us special instruction on nutrition and exercise. We also got to know her and would talk about everything from relationships to her house hunting to her motorcycles. We even developed nicknames for each other (I wont reveal those here since people just wouldn’t understand
It was during one of these down times that she even tried to cut my hair! She tried to have the other guys hold me down so she could clip my air. As soon as she flicked on the clippers I bucked her off onto the floor and threw three fellas off me as well. She got a tidy bruise on her rear end for that one!
At one point during Season Two NBC was consecutively filming Season Two and The Biggest Loser Special Edition (Military Wives, Engaged Couples etc). We were under strict orders not to use the gym while the special edition contestants were in there with cameras and not to interfere with the filming of the other show. It was during this time that Matt Hoover found out that his Uncle had died. It was an especially emotional time for him as you might imagine and our immediate response was to yell out the balcony window for Jillian to come quickly because one of us needed her – right while she was filming the other show. Jillian’s immediate response was to cut her lines short and literally run from the other set and comfort Matt during one of his worst times on the ranch. The cameras who were not filming our show that day were diverted to come over to the balcony and catch part of the scene. But it was not something contrived for the cameras. It was a moment when someone needed help and Jillian was immediately there. Because she had a relationship with us. You see we knew Jillian cared for us. Because she cared for us she earned the right to challenge and say certain things to you that the average trainer has not earned.
Then in the gym Jillian was a genius. You learned this the longer you stayed around her. The gym was her territory and her knowledge was far superior to nearly eveyone else in her field.
But again her knowledge alone is not enough for her yell at us. As my Pastor says, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. She could yell because she had proven herself outside of the gym by spending that time to develop that relationship with us. She earned the right to yell at you because you knew this was not out of meanness but because deep down this psycho lady must be seing something you don’t see.
And it is because we knew Jillian and that she knew her subject that we would do whatever she asked us to do in the gym. If Jillian had asked me to jump off of the roof of the gym I would have trusted her that I could do it. That type of trust comes from time outside of the gym building relationship. If Jillian had asked me to jump off the roof it would have only been because she knew that I could do. That only comes from one on one time with us in the gym observing and pushing each of us.
One day I remember Jillian getting pissed off that we were ‘slacking’ in the gym and she immediately knew from our effort that we had been eating poorly (we did not want to admit to it at first but it was true). She threw a cursing tirade and canceled the workout and made us go eat and walked out of the gym. We valued our workouts with her so much that there was never a problem ‘fueling the machine’ after that. I later learned that working out in that state would have been conter prodcutive. If Jillian was just a psycho then she would have pushed us even though it would have been ineffective. Instead she did what a pro does, the right thing, by cancelling the workout.
In some regards Jillian was the producers enemy and in conflict with the show itself – The producers would constantly try to interrupt the workouts with interviews and other show related ‘stuff’. Jillian would vehemently oppose these interruptions when they were during her time to train us. She would even yell and curse the poor production assistant that tried in vain to drag us away from the gym. We were all that mattered to her. Now I am not a fool either and our success leads to her success but the equation has to start somewhere.
So in the gym it was all about focus and effort. If you were slacking you got yelled at for slacking. Point Blank. And rightly so. Normal trainers have to build relationships during the actual training sessions on many occasions. That is super hard!
But does she have to yell? To understand this a little more think of the relationship that a Sports Coach has with his players or how much time a Drill Sargent spends with his troops and you get the picture of why we allowed the yelling. Literally peoples lives were on the line. Yours and your teammates. Think about this. If you slacked off in the gym then your team could drop below the line and someone would go home. Had the person voted to go home learned enough to make a lifelong change? Remember, prior to the ranch we were literally eating oursleves to death. This is not normal behavior. If we were voted off would we keep up the effort or go back to our old selves and die early from obesity? Who knows? Better not to be up for elimination at all. The only way for that to happen is not to slack off in the first place.
When a 29 year old 470+ lb woman wants to quit in the middle of a workout at Fat Loss University or Weight Loss Heaven, there are really only two choices, 1 – Do like everyone else and feel sorry for her and let her go, or 2 – try right then, to get through to her in a way no one else would. You might have to scream or yell at her to try to stimulate something deep within her. A buried sense of self-pride maybe, a sense of competition maybe, a sense of determiniation maybe. But in that moment the worst possible thing that Jillian or anyone else could do is let her have her way. Everyone else in her life already does that. And it is killing you as you eat yourself to death. I know because I have been there.
Now I will admit that over time things have changed. The show has grown exponentially and the demands on everyone have changed. Contracts get renegotiated and now some things are handled in front of the camera that normally would be handled at the dinner table. The trainers dont mess with the production like they use to etc. As I watched the premier I was even thinking that Bob and Jillian are way more dramatic than normal. But in my day the contestants really did not notice the yelling or the nicknames etc. Nowadays Jillian and Bob have a track record of results that speak volumes for them so they are granted more leeway from the contestants and may not spend as time on relationships as they did in our day. And as the show has grown contestants sort of know what is coming so Bob and Jillian have to adapt as well. And yes it is a tv show.
At the end of the day you probably need someone to get you out of your comfort zone more than allow you to stay in it. Especially if it is a matter of life and death.
Talk To You Soon and Remember,
There’s A Winner Within You!