Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dear Jillian Michaels, Follow up letter to the Biggest Loser

Dear Jillian Michaels,

OK, so maybe I was a little harsh in my letter of yesterday about your episode of The Biggest Loser on Tuesday night.  Please forgive me.  It's just that we work so hard to teach instructors the proper and safe way to teach Spinning (and any indoor cycling for that matter), that when something like this comes along, it sets this industry back light years.  My Master Instructor peers and I have to beat our heads against the wall when we encounter more and more students and instructors teaching unsafe moves and techniques, because they saw it on TV from a so-called fitness guru! So I hope you understand where I was coming from.

You see, you have such a visible role in our country, and if you wanted to, you could really do wonderful things for the personal training and group fitness/indoor cycling instructor industry by setting an example. So many people love that show, and love to watch you work. Think about the effect you currently have on them. Can you imagine how great it would be if you could show them how important it is to employ safe and truly effective training techniques? 

You're working with an unfit, unhealthy population, not marine recruits Jillian. They need your skill in balancing a tough workout with safe and effective methods. I understand the drill sergeant role you feel you have to keep up, or perhaps the network feels it must keep up - because hey, that's what sells, right? But does there have to be a total disregard for safety? I mean, I'm sure the network has those participants sign a liability waiver several inches thick, but a good lawyer could get right through that if someone got injured from something you had them do if it can be proven that it is unsafe, or even dangerous. Movements that are not advisable for a healthy fit person, much less an unhealthy, very overweight person who has no reason to be doing those things on a stationary bicycle! 

I have an idea. I will forego my own pay if you have me come out to teach you and Bob the correct way to teach Spinning! We could do a certification with the two of you, and then you can show the world that you truly are concerned for the health, safety and ultimate fitness of your participants. 

Maybe you can have me lead a class or two with your participants. It doesn't have to be an "easy" or wimpy class, but just a safe and relevant training session, using heart rate monitors in order to train them within their own individualized training zones, appropriate for their level of fitness. We can teach them how to set up the bike correctly, how to sit in the saddle properly, how not to lean on their forearms, allowing them to pedal in an efficient and safe manner at proper and relevant cadences (and not super high crazy leg speeds). And of course, we'd never take away the saddles. On the contrary - we need to teach them how important it is to stay in the saddle for as long as possible!

This will be something they can take with them long after they leave your show. You will be raised up in the eyes of the viewing public! You are more likely to see success with your participants! You will be even more of a fitness goddess Jillian!

How about it?

You can contact me at jennifer@vivatravels.com.

In fitness,

Jennifer Sage

21 comments:

TInk said...

Jennifer we are all behind you on this one. For those of us who are certified Spin Instructors AND Fans of the Biggest Loser the techniques being showcased on that show for a while have been questionable at best! What happened on 11/19/08 on the show was downright ridiculous and extremely dangerous!

Thanks for speaking out!!!!

Anonymous said...

So funny... I walked into class yesterday having watched it the night before. Guess what was on the floor?? A seat!! Needless to say, I mounted up my soapbox and gave an EXTENDED sermon about this. I have been watching Biggest Loser and I am very disappointed that they never show any consequences from their workouts. No one ever says they are sore (from say 12 hours of hiking up and down a mountain as many times as possible) or injured... they seem to be missing a big element of fitness! Where is the recovery?? Heidi

Steph Habif said...

Keep Spinning Safe!!!!!

Patrick said...

Jenn,

You know you have my support in this. Personal trainers on television for far too long have played to the camera at the detriment of their clients.

Justice is served,

Patrick

Shannon said...

I hope they take your deal on! I'm behind you 100%...

BTW, I didn't think your letter was that harsh.

Judy said...

I think your letter is a great response! I think it will be interesting to hear if you get a response. You have to teach a class that is first and foremost safe!!

lamspin said...

Wow, what did I miss in the last few days? Couldn't watch the show anyway, working in the evening.
I taught 2 classes on Wed morning and nobody mentioned anything to me. I guess my regular participants knew what is right already, I hope.
Jennifer, I loooove your idea to Jillian, it was very clever and sharp--not harsh!!! Please let us know ahead of time if they invite you to the show, I don't want to miss it ever. I will take a day off work if I have to or tape the show :>)
What can we do without you?
Le

Robert said...

Those who think (from the previous post) that basic fitness principles must be thrown out of the window for the sake of ratings, I suggest they check out the UK version - Angie Dowds is truly an inspiration, tough on people when needed and there for them when they crack. She makes them into stronger people, not just leaner or fitter. She's addictive viewing without the need for stupidity and many people's eyes (inc instructors') have been opened up to the life-changing possibilities of exercise and good diet. Hard work, discipline, strength and courage.

Maybe there should be a Jillian vs Angie fitness test... Angie'd kick her butt all the way back to Jillian's make-up truck!

Kala said...

Jennifer. I applaud both of your emails. The first for showing your true passion for spinning that we, as instructors, all share. The second for your humbleness (if that's a word) and generous offer. We are all behind you.

Virginia said...

Thank you Jennifer for doing such a great classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays nights, and thank you for not doing those awful things that they were doing in the show! We all enjoy your knowledge and admire you.

sandy said...

I hope they take you up on your offer. IMO they'd be crazy not to.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is ROCK AND ROLL JENNIFER! Unbelieveable and insane sums up that show...your letter was not harsh (I don't think I could have exercised as much self control!) - it was frank and necessary. I back you up 100% to go on the show and knock some sense into them. Geez.....Luciana Marcial-Vincion, Spinning MI Team Manager

MJ said...

Jenn,
I am so proud of you for standing up for what we all believe in, teach and preach to all of our students. As Master Instructors we all uphold to the guidelines set forth by Spinning. If we allow something like to go unchecked, it sends the message that we do not truly believe in what we do, and therefore, do not back up our role as Master Instructors. I am honored to be one of your colleagues. MJ

Jennifer Sage said...

Thanks everyone! I'm not holding my breath to hear from the Biggest Loser! Or for them to ever consider getting certified! Oh well, as long as some people who have read this udnerstand, and that this can get viral at some point. Spread the word to every instructor you know!

Thanks MJ! Great to have you commenting here - perhaps you can write a guest post!

Kloba said...

J--
I think you should keep the passion in--the first letter is fine.
She is a TV performer and she needs to realize that she might hurt people. She HAS to know better.

People on Pedal-on are way too nice.

my two cents....

Jennifer Sage said...

Kloba, I did edit my first letter just a bit (I guess I bought into the idea that I was too harsh) because I originally did say "Shit" and "Crap" instead of "junk" and "stuff" and at the end I removed a sarcastic statement.

I'm still trying to get the nerve to send her the letter. I'll let you know this week if i do...

j

Sam said...

Seriously.... the show showed us what not to do in a spin class. I would walk out of a class like that! Good for you for writing about it.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer - Send the letter! To see indoor cycling performed correctly and safety on national TV might inspire and encourage people intimidated by the relentlessly fast and furious pace promoted by some class instructors. Thanks for keeping me safely spinning and injury free for 6 years. You’re the best! Brenda

Lauren said...

I took her class for the first time last week and had a great time and a great workout. I love the show but i agree that they should promote safe fitness since millions are watching it.

Jennifer Sage said...

Lauren,

tell me more! Where did you take her class? It's entirely possible that in "real life" she teaches a safe and effective class, but on TV is caught up by - or required by - the producers' desire for melodrama (and buys into it, even if it means compromising safety).

But I'd be very curious to hear more about her classes. Where, when and how to take one!

Still, she should let me certify her!! ;-)

Jennifer

Teresa said...

Great letter Jennifer. I can't believe all the ridiculous things they do on a Spin bike just for ratings. I hope Jillian has the sense to take you up on your offer. Why not learn from the best.