Review – Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones

Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones I don't really like the use of the phrase "trouble zones". A dimpled arse or a wobbly arm is not on par with Basra or the Gaza Strip.

But you can't blame Jillian Michaels – these products need magical all-promising titles to suck in the crowds. If she gave her DVD a more honest and accurate label, such as I Am Going To Kill You In Forty Minutes Flat, she would never make a living.

No More Trouble Zones, henceforth known as NMTZ like a failed boy band, is a full body resistance workout in a circuit format. There are seven six-minute circuits, each consisting of two sets of five 30-second exercises.

It's less complicated than that sounds. All you need to know is – no matter what torturous exercise Jillian throws at you, you only have to endure it for 30 seconds at a time! Just when you are swearing at the telly and spluttering up your lungs, POW! She moves on to something else. This is the beauty of circuit training – it is brief in its brutality. Unlike say a Body Pump class, where you must perform bicep curls for the duration of an unfortunate Bryan Adams techno remix.

The best part of NMTZ is its simplicity:

  • Easy to follow structure
  • Straightforward moves like squats, lunges and old school floor exercises
  • Minimal space – since it's weight training, not cardio, you don't move around too much. If you can step back and forward into lunges you've got enough room.
  • Minimal equipment – just some light dumbbells, a mat if your floor is hard, and your own body weight.

It's also efficient. Jillian bangs on about maximum calorie burn in minimal time, so she does compound moves like squat with shoulder press and lunges with bicep curls. Your whole body gets involved so your heart rate goes through the roof.

I was skeptical – she uses only three pound dumbbells in NMTZ. How was that going to achieve anything? But the relentless pace and big moves ensure a tough workout. I used 3, 5, and 8 pound dumbbells depending on the muscle group and was pleasantly crippled the next day.

Verdict: NMTZ is a tough and straightforward workout, perfect for those days when you can't be bothered fussing around with lots of dumbbells and barbells.

Jillian explains the moves well but it is worth watching the DVD on the couch first so you know what's coming, as they really fly through the circuits.

NTMZ is aimed at the more experienced exerciser but you can easily modify the moves. For example, I could not for the life of me safely perform a chest fly with a double leg raise, so just raised one leg at a time. Another modification is to just do each circuit once then skipping forward to the next, instead of repeating them. You'll still get a  good sweat going and you can gradually build up to the whole thing. This is also an option if you're pressed for time or a nice compromise for Cannae Be Arsed days.

My heart rate definitely climbed higher than with non-circuit weight training. That said, I've been missing lifting heavier weights like in Cathe Friedrich's DVDs so I'm planning to alternate the two for the next wee while.

Aside to the lads out there: I managed to persuade poor Dr G to give it a go. He can confirm this is not a wussy girl workout! Direct quote: "Hard, but good. I loiked it."

Here's a detailed breakdown of each circuit.

Note: This is just notes I scrawled between circuits so the exercise names may not be entirely accurate.

Warm up
March in place, jump rope, arm circles, skaters, jack jumps.

Circuit 1 – Shoulders and Legs
– squat and shoulder press
– chair squat with anterior raise
– back lunge with shoulder raise – left leg
– back lunge with shoulder raise – left leg
– press out

Circuit 2 – Chest and Core
– chest press with crunch
– chest fly with double leg raise
– bicycle crunch
– squirms
– push ups

Circuit 3 – Biceps and Bum
– deadlift with hammer curl
– static squat with concentration curl
– alternate lunge with wide grip bicep curl
– side lunge with bicep curl

Circuit 4 – Thighs and Triceps
– chair squat with kickback
– sumo squat with French press
– surrenders
– crescent (?)
– lunge & press

Circuit 5 – Core
– double crunches
– twisting plank
– plank with toe tap – left
– plank with toe tap – right
– windshield wipers

Circuit 6 – Upper Body and Core
– evil plank rows with dumbbell
– supermans
– scissors
– hip raise thingy left
– hip raise thingy right

Circuit 7 – Lower Body and Core
– side plank
– side raise
– inner thigh lift
– repeat above on other side
– donkey kicks – left and right

Cool Down
The usual cool down sort of thing.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review; I just liked the DVD and want to convert you to my working-out-at-home-in-your-jammies religion. Cheers to Diana from Soap & Chocolate for first writing about Jillian's new DVDs – I was off to the shops in a flash.

Friday Link Feast #4 – Active Recovery Edition

Mornings are brilliant, if you can get past that having to wake up and get out of your scratcher thing. Mornings mean you get a fresh start every twenty-four hours.

This is painfully bloody obvious now that I think about it, but nevertheless an opportunity I'd been ignoring. Recently I gawked up the ceiling the morning after a particularly rubbish day and thought, I could do something differently today. Doesn't have to be important or perfect or loud or dazzling, but it could be different. It could be better than yesterday. Why the hell why not?

Anyway. Here are some links to things that have lit up my world lately.

  • Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal
    The title is self-explanatory. It's a journal that you systematically dismantle. Every page has a simple instruction – punch holes in this page, set fire to this page, rub dirt on this page, sew this page, scribble on this page, chop out this page and mail it to a friend, etc etc etc. I bought it back in 2007 but was too scared to mark it; I couldn't decide which pen to use, for goodness' sake! But now the time for mindless destruction. It's great.
  • Jazz Apples.
    Not to be confused with jazz mags. I bought a bagful just for the amusing name but they are sweet and crunchy. Normally I fall asleep halfway through eating an apple because they are so bloody boring, but not so the Jazz Apple.
  • The Black Dog Books
    Kylie May, are you out there? I've been trying to hunt you down to say a huge thanks for sending two wonderful books – I Had A Black Dog and Living With A Black Dog.

    They are both picture books, the first about depression and the latter designed for someone who knows a depressed person. If you struggle with depression and can't put the fuzzy bleakness into words, these are the books to shove into a loved ones arms. They take all of ten minutes to read but are funny, insightful, helpful and full of hope.

  • 8 Steps To Conquer The Beast Within
    This Martha Beck article about tackling your demons was in an Oprah magazine I'd bought for purely the cupcake recipes. But months later I felt compelled to read the non-cupcake pages, as I feel the same guilt for an unread magazine that I do for a shriveled carrot in the bottom of the fridge – the object has not fulfilled its destiny because of my laziness and neglect. Turns out every article resonated, and this Beck one mega useful, particularly the Lifeline Graph exercise.
  • My Tiny Plot
    It's been eight whole days and my brand new herb garden is not yet dead! I'm devouring all things gardening and Gillian's blog about her Bath garden is the dogs' bollocks. That's Bath as in the City Of, by the way; not a garden full of bath tubs. Although that could look very cool.

Note: I didn't end up finishing this until Monday, but let's not spoil the alliteration!

Green Tea Blues

Still stuck in the phoneless internetless dark ages since British Telecom cocked up our order again. But I had to sneak on elsewhere to thank everyone who emailed regarding the evil "Sandra" and her "weight loss blog" wherein she claims to have zapped 47 pounds by swilling green tea and snorting acai berries, while bearing an uncanny resemblance to yours truly.

Aye those photo stealers are at it again. Is it wrong to be less huffy about the identity theft than the fact they caption my before and after pics with a piddling 47 pound loss? Boo!

I've been trying to get the photos removed since Gordon first informed me last month and despite the kind advice of Twitter pals I've not been successful thus far. Next tactic is a Google Millennium Copyright Thingo. If anyone out there happens to stumble over the offending site, if you could let me know what search term you used that would be really helpful.

Meanwhile, I miss Internetland! What's been happening with you all? How's tricks?

It's rather quiet at Cow Poo Manor without you – just me and Dr G arguing over who should pick up a dog turd off our front lawn. Yes we now have steamy dog poo out front to complement the giant mountain of cow out back. It might even be fox poo, WHO KNOWS – it is a veritable barnyard. It was ME who ended up disposing of it,  for the record, because Dr G is a wuss and also promised to make me a cuppa if I did it.

Which leads us neatly back to the start of this entry – If It's Green Tea, It Ain't Me. The only tea I endorse is Yorkshire Gold, strong and milky!

UPDATE: I got a response from the purveyors of the product who say "Sandra" is an affiliate seller. They ordered her/him/it to take down the photos. And lo, a miraculous transformation! Sandra Williams remains a mother of two with a 47lb weight loss, but she's now a brunette.

The Bike Shed

We have successfully wedged our worldly possessions into Cow Poo Manor. There's no garage this time so I'm not quite sure how this pantry/bike shed hybrid is going to work out.


I've had Valentino the Bike for three years now and I reckon I still have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times we've been out together. The cost per ride is still about £20! Whoops.

I really want to love cycling, so Gareth and I have something in common… but I never think yay, cycling! the way I instantly thought yay, kickboxing! I'm going to have to work a little harder at this one. I did enjoy the ride from the old house to the new, and didn't run out of gears coming up the little hill… so that's a good start, isn't it?

Meanwhile BT stuffed up yesterday so we're not getting the phone on until next week, and I can't sort out the internet until that's installed. We're stuck in the Dark Ages but it gives me more time to enjoy the view from the window. Aside from the Pile o' Poo there are pheasants, robins and sparrows galore… even a freakin' deer lopes past now and then. It is impossible to hold on to gloom with nature poncing around in your face like that. Life is good.


Cow Poo Manor

We're about 70% moved in to Cow Poo Manor, so named for the eeeenormous pile of manure that graces the otherwise charming rural view out our new back window. Right now I'm sitting in the empty living room in our old place, where the internet connection has miraculously started working again now that we're bloody leaving.

I will miss this house so much. It was a little cold over the winter – you could see your breath in the kitchen, and the olive oil turned white and frosty. But now that spring is here the garden is stunning and the grass is freakishly plush and velvety. I've never known lawn you could cuddle up to! The gardens of my childhood were riddled with bindis – tiny evil thorny weed things that hurt like buggery if you tread on 'em. As I explained to Dr G, in Australia even the lawn wants to kill you.

Cuppa tea and a Violet Crumble in the backyard – best day ever!

Thank you a bazillion all for your kick arse comments and emails last week when I chucked my wobbly! I'm moving into Stop Moping, Start Coping mode now. I hate being a whinge bag on here but by the same token pretending all was well wasn't working too well. I think I said  before, sometimes you need to just spew out the Mope before you can start to Cope. Feeling much better now…

Oh dear… better get back to work as I can hear Dr G very pointedly tidying things up. Hehe.