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.

44 thoughts on “Review – Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones

  1. Sounds good! I already like the 30 day shred and this sounds really fun, I like the circuit format, it’s never boring πŸ™‚

  2. Just discovered circuits this year and really liked it (just erased “love” in capital letters – let’s not get carried way). Shall get this. Thank you.

  3. After I finish the half marathon I want to get back into more weights and want to change up what I do a little – so I might have to check this out. Thanks for the review!

  4. I have that DVD as well as her “Burn Fat Boost Metabolism” and “30-Day Shred” DVDs, and I love them. I so wish she could be my trainer for real, but then again, I like being able to stop and catch my breath or drink some water without being screamed at or cussed out. lol

  5. Thanks for the review! I just picked up one of her books yesterday (still waiting for yours) and I have been dying to try one of her videos. Have you tried the 30 Day Shred too? If so, do you have a preference?

  6. Thanks for that, Sweets! Sounds right up my alley, a workout for those with a short attention span.

    I like my cardio brief and brutal. Fast and furious. Short and sharp. Hasty and HOLY SHIT.


  7. LOL at Dr G’s comment.
    The dvd sounds great. I don’t watch TBL but I’m quite taken with Jillian for being so SCARY

  8. I’ve also got the 30 day shred, which I enjoyed. I’ve typed out the whole workout if you’d like a copy

    Might have to go and check this one out too.

  9. Do you really work out in your jammies? I feel kinda guilty like I am doing something illegal when I do that! But if Dietgirl does it, well, then, it must be right!

  10. ooooooh love it – thanks Shauna! Ive been getting a bit annoyed with Jillian michaels coz she keeps emailing me and I had never heard of her – bloody spam email! But now my American bloggy pals have clued me in and I am intrigued…realy like the idea of this dvd – though it knackers me out just reading your list! I am SUCH A FAN of PJ workouts! (Though I have to add PJ + sports bra to keep the gals in check πŸ™‚

    *trots off to amazon to buy dvd*

  11. Are they thumpy exercises? I live in a flat and most exercise tapes are just plain unfair on the downstairs neighbours (think the elephants in Fantasia…)

  12. cheers guys πŸ™‚

    @debby – i do work out in my jammies! pretty much coz my home workout clothes and jammies are the same thing – crappy old trackpants and crappy old t-shirts. although if i work out in the evening, i generally put on clean ones before falling into bed, hehe.

    @Tina – I have 30 Day Shred too but don’t really have a preference, they’re different types of workouts so i like them for different reasons. 30DS is cardio and resistance training, where as NMTZ is just resistance training. I tend to go for 30DS when I’m too lazy to commit to a longer workout!

  13. @Peridot – I worry about that too coz we’ve got dodgy wooden floors! Not thumpy as they’re resistance exercises as opposed to cardio. Only potential thump is the warmup (see list in entry) but you could do more marching in place instead of the jumping jacks πŸ™‚

  14. I shall put this on my Netflix queue, where it will probably appear in a year or so (that’s OK, I’ve got at least a year of workouts lined up).

    It sounds great – I like the quick-changing circuit workouts too; as you say, you can stand anything for 30 seconds. And I like a workout where someone tells me what to do, and I don’t have to figure it out for myself. I’ve got lots of WRITTEN circuit workouts available, but I never do them!

    I’m glad to hear someone else has the same workout/jammies situation that I do.

  15. I’ve just had a great dvd and was all chuffed with myself and sat down to read your post and am all deflated now!! So the soap opera stars dvd isn’t much cop then!!???!? Tee hee..each to their own xx

  16. I almost got that DVD last week but chickened out and got Bob Harper’s Weight Loss Yoga DVD instead. Jillian scares me but maybe that would be a good thing. Thanks for the review. Maybe I’ll suck it up and get Jillian’s afterall – she can’t jump out of the box and make me cry, right?

  17. Aha! A DVD that you can BOTH work out to??? Cool. Apart from the thump factor, which I was going to ask about, how about space? Does it require a lot of space to do the exercises?? I’m sorry if that is such a rubbish question but…kind of essential!

    I keep meaning to say that Yorkshire Tea absolutely rocks BUT have you tried Barry’s Tea? From the Emerald Isle? It’s fabulous!

    Great to have you back! It really is! : )

  18. @Mrs L – Howdy m’dear! Barry’s Tea? I’ve not tried that but I will add it to my list!

    You don’t need a lot of space at all (see para 5). Since it’s a resistance training you don’t move around a lot! The warmup is just done on the spot πŸ™‚

    (actually I will tweak the review to make that info clearer later on… thanks for your comments guys, helps to understand what is useful in a review!)

    @Alison – i’ve not tried any soap opera star DVDs! Maybe it’s just coz i don’t really follow UK soaps, if it was someone from Neighbours i might bite πŸ˜› No no, hang on! Roisin from River City… that’d be ace.

    @MB – You’re safe – she doesn’t jump out of the telly, i watched all the way to the end credits just to make sure πŸ™‚

  19. Nice review Shauna – wish all exercise DVD reviews were as informative as this.

    My friends and I once watched a Charlie Brooks (Janine from Eastenders) DVD. We just watched it whilst enjoying a glass of wine – not much of a workout there! Actually in the end I did give it a go on my own, and it was quite good…

  20. Oooh…thanks for the share. I have the 2 new Jillian DVD’s at home, waiting to be used. I haven’t gotten away from my 30DS yet, but I plan on bringing the other two into the mix…and now that opera season is pretty much calmed down, I have no excuse. Oh and the Maestro loves doing the 30DS with me…says it kicks his @$$!!!

  21. HEY! Thanks for the shout-out! So glad you got to try this workout! I totally dread it, but in a good way, haha – the feeling afterward is not to be missed. I am a full believer in not needing a gym to be fit and consider myself an example, so major props to you for recommending a worthy workout!

  22. great review! do you need a lot of floor space? i’m the type who’s relegated the only tv to a tiny bedroom…

  23. @Christine – hiya! see comment 18 above

    have tweaked review slightly so the FAQ’s are answered πŸ™‚

  24. Hey Shauna, thanks for the review, I have been wanting to buy one of her DVD’s but not sure what I was getting for my money. This one sounds pretty good, think I will check it out today.

    Had to laugh about the pjs, I do the same thing, my husband thinks its hilarious, but I figure the less I have to do between getting out of bed and exercising, the more likely I am to acually exercise lol. you know no distractions I have a very short attention span πŸ˜‰

  25. I’ve thought about getting that book, but I skimmed it in a bookstore, and realized that there was no way that I had the energy to do that with all the other stuff I’ve got going.

    Does she ever mention anything about cardio, though?

  26. Oooh, I’ll have to buy this one, it sounds like it will be a great way to exercise this chilly winter! I have 30 minute shred and I love love love Jillian’s radio show podcasts on KFI640AM.

  27. Anything I can do in my pj’s and sweat in just has to be good. Where do I sign to join your religion πŸ™‚

  28. Sounds like my kind of dvd! Only 30 seconds? That’s good stuff (though I bet 30 seconds feels like 30 minutes…)

  29. Thanks for the review Shauna. I really like JM, I listen to her radio podcast and have met her in person, but I sort’ve gave up on her DVDs after I doled out cash for her Back in Action and Full Frontal workouts and felt like she’s was sort of scatterbrained-it’s been a few years since those came out and may be time for me to give her videos a shot again. Thanks!

  30. Confession: I just spent almost 30 seconds trying to work out how *anybody* could do a double leg raise until I realised that you would have to lie down to do a chest fly….!!

    TA x

  31. Looks great. I have 30 day shred, which should be called “kick your butt in just over 20 minutes”. Therefore I fear NMTZ, but really want to buy it for the days that I want 40 minutes. Thanks for the review.

  32. Can someone puh-lease tell me where I can buy region 2 Jillian Michaels DVD’S?! I am itching to try these!

  33. Great review. Ive just got her 30 day shred and am yet to start it. Need some help with it though as to how to go bout doin that i.e. fr how many days do i do part 1 then when do i switch to the next part etc…thanx

  34. i have had this video for a while and it kicks my butt everytime! but how many calories do you actualy burn during this workout?

  35. @PL – This depends entirely on the individual… it would vary depending on your height and weight and how hard you worked. you'd have to wear a heart rate monitor or estimate with a website like

  36. Hi Justine – check out comment #38 above yours – it depends on your own height/weight/intensity of workout.

  37. I have this workout, I did three cycles of 30 Day Shred and now I’ve done 10 days of Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism (BFBM). I love your description of the workout, I always preview my DVD workouts prior to starting and it looks pretty extreme! I’m a true believer, Jillian scares the crap out of me, but I know that after I start her workout I always finish. But I guess I’m a brave soul because I take her on 6 days out of 7 in a week! Today I’m starting NMTZ wish me luck! I will however have to switch between BFBM and NMTZ (3 and 3)I do need my cardio! Thanks 4 the review it was really helpful.

  38. I did nmtz last night for the first time… I wasn’t sure whether I should cry or puke….but I felt great when I finished.

  39. Ive been doing NMTZ for about 3 weeks now. I wear a HR monitor every time and I’ve found that I burn roughly 680-720 calories (female 5’11 177)

  40. i have this dvd its incredible, it really pushes you to the limit. i thought Jillian would be a scary instructor but throughout the dvd she really motivates you to push harder!

    i used t this dvd once a week mixing between it and other dvds, but for the last two weeks i did it 6 of 7 days and lost 1.3 kg a week! its the quickest results ive had and the more i push through it the less it hurts the next day. can totally feel and see the muscles forming and strengthening!!

    Definately reccomend it to anyone motivated to get in shape!!

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