Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thank you, Jillian Michaels ...

for your genius demonstration of why you should not attempt to learn kettlebells from someone who is not a certified kettlebell instructor!

That photo of Jillian on the DVD kinda tells you everything you need to know about her "kettlebell" workout right there.

First, that thing she's holding in her hand is not a kettlebell. It's a handle with plates. With all the plates inserted it may indeed act like a kettlebell. I haven't played with it or even seen it in person, so I can't really give an informed opinion on that score. When not fully loaded, however, I don't see how it possibly could act like a kettlebell. The shape would be different, which would affect the center of gravity and hence the way the kettlebell moves through space. You might be able to do some safe and effective exercises with it Ior not!), but they wouldn't be kettlebell exercises per se.

Second, Jillian apparently still hasn't learned what a proper rack position looks like. Check out the way her wrist is bent backward. This is a common issue for kettlebellers, and something that must be overcome for safety's sake. I totally get that it's not easy, and I don't blame Jillian for struggling with it. I did and still do when I'm using anything heavier than 8 kg. It takes constant vigilance to keep my wrist straight, and when I can't do it any more that's when I need to end my session. Thing is, I'm not hawking DVDs on QVC, and Jillian is. She owes it to her fans to model perfect form, and if she can't do it she shouldn't be making kettlebell DVDs or using kettlebells with her victims on "The Biggest Loser."

The bent-back wrist is only part of what's wrong with Jillian's rack, but I'm not going to get into it because I don't have sufficient knowledge to presume to instruct anyone on the finer points of the rack position. Go to and you'll find plenty of articles on the subject, written by people who know more about it than I ever will.

I'd stop here, but as it happens I caught a clip of Jillian on QVC promoting her product, and, well, it was probably the scariest thing I've seen on TV since Dick Cheney last made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows. Jillian, it has been months since your original "Biggest Loser" kettlebell fiasco. If at this point you still think that a swing consists of a squat and a lift, there is absolutely no hope for you. You obviously are too arrogant to seek instruction from people who actually know what to do with a kettlebell. Too arrogant, or maybe you just don't care enough about the safety of the people who look to you for instruction. Either way, it sucks.

I can't even make fun of what I saw on QVC because it was too upsetting. People will get hurt doing "hero swings" (swings with a pivot or jump at the midpoint) and cleans ending in what Pavel calls "the broken arm position" instead of the rack position, with cushy crosstrainers on their feet instead of something flat that'll allow for proper recruitment of the posterior chain.

People will get hurt. I hate that.