Editor's Note: This review has been updated to reflect the fact that Jillian Michaels does offer a free trial period.
If you want to really jump-start your weight loss regimen and the tough-love approach works for you, you should consider the online fitness service from celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels. Michaels, who has honed a tough-as-nails persona on television programs like "The Biggest Loser," offers an extensive array of tools and information for exercising, improving your eating habits and enhancing your overall health. Her online fitness service's workout programs aren't as varied and specific as the selections on other sites, however.
Despite the tough online personal trainer approach, Michaels' online fitness service offers several fun ways to get motivated. It has mobile apps, 12 interactive online tools, access to talk to Michaels personally when you have questions, and additional print and DVD resources for purchase to help you get and stay in shape.
This exercise site provides you with daily workout plans that are customized according to the information you enter into your profile. Your workout plan takes into account what days you want to do cardio, for example, combined with your activity level and your fitness level. This is an ideal approach for an online fitness trainer who wants to help you progress.
Michaels' site contains a wide variety of exercises with a heavy emphasis on interval cardio training and toning workouts. These involve weightlifting, kickboxing, Pilates, calisthenics and martial arts. Unlike our top pick, iBodyFit, it doesn't have specific programs, like sports or event preparation. You can't choose a program specifically designed to help you fit into your wedding dress, for example. The step-by-step exercise videos that make up the online workout programs include adaptations for intermediate or advanced levels. Michaels also offers videos with advice about fitness issues.
This online fitness program covers diet and nutrition as well, with meal plans and healthy recipes, some of which you can access for free to try out. The site also has a meal planner and shopping list generator to assist with your dietary needs.
In addition to letting you send Jillian Michaels questions, the site offers numerous support groups and clubs where you can get together virtually with others. The challenge groups reward you with badges and a sense of accomplishment. On the message boards, you can cheer others on, get kudos yourself or ask questions. The moderators are listed on the website, with bios and photos, so you don't need to feel like a stranger in the virtual gathering.
Although the site answers questions promptly, they are not always the most thorough or helpful responses. Going through the support line is best if you have a technical issue, as most personal questions you have will result in a disappointing response.
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The site does offer a trial period and you have access to sample videos to give you an idea of how the program works. As with most online personal trainers, you can cancel your membership at any time, so you don't have to worry about getting stuck with difficult contracts like you may experience with traditional gym memberships. Jillian Michaels is one of the few sites, however, to include phone support, which is convenient when you have technical issues.
The Jillian Michaels site is great at helping you drop pounds while getting toned and strong. This fitness site offers some great features and useful exercise resources. It doesn't have as many workout programs as the other services we reviewed, nor as much face time with an online personal trainer, but it still knows how to make you sweat and burn those calories.
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