Jillian Michaels, The Trainer Who Always Speaks Her Mind

Most people recognize Jillian Michaels from her role as a fitness trainer on The Biggest Loser beginning in 2004 but she’s grown her career to become much more than a reality TV star. Since leaving The Biggest Loser, Michaels has created a fitness empire. She’s sold over 100 million copies of her fitness DVDs, and her fitness app is one of the most successful in the world. Michaels inspired millions of people to prioritize their health and get fit. Part of her personality and brand is a whole lot of yelling and speaking her mind. This isn’t just limited to the gym. Michaels is 100% authentic 100% of the time, and sometimes that ruffles some feathers.

She Wasn’t Always Into Fitness

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Instagram/jillianmichaels
Instagram/jillianmichaels

Today she’s a fitness icon but Michaels wasn’t always trim and fit. In January 2020 she shared an image of her young self on Instagram to show the community where she started her journey, stating, “Here’s me at 5’0″ tall and 175 lbs. If I can do it- anyone can.”

This image was taken when she was in eighth grade, around age 13, when she was bullied for her weight. She told Women’s Health, “I used food as comfort, but I also used it as a way to relate to my dad— he was overweight too, so we bonded over food a lot.”

She Began To Lose Weight As Her Parents Went Through Their Divorce

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Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images
Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

Stress can often lead to weight gain, but the opposite happened for Jillian Michaels when her parents went through a divorce in her teens. Michaels told Women’s Health, “My mom enrolled me into martial arts classes– not for weight loss, but as an emotional outlet to help me through that time of my life.”

That’s when she says her fitness journey started. Michaels put down the junk food (after her martial arts trainer berated her for bringing a bag of Cheetos into the gym) and spent her time after school training in martial arts. Feeling stronger physically also led her to become mentally stronger. The bullies no longer brought her down.

She Has A Black Belt In Martial Arts

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Jason Kempin/Getty Images for PETA
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for PETA

As a teenager, Michaels worked her way up to earning a black belt status in martial arts. Michaels told Black Belt Mag that martial arts training “gave me a sense of self and strength, but also a philosophy on how to live my life. It taught me about taking action and being aggressive in life and going after what you want.”

She notes that she began thinking differently of herself after she was able to break two boards with a side kick to earn her second-degree blue belt. Others in the gym noticed her confidence and asked how much she charged as a personal trainer. Michaels was flattered, but didn’t consider training anyone at the time.

Losing Her Job Sent Her Down A Different Path

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Donald Kravitz/Getty Images
Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Although she was extremely passionate about health and exercise, surprisingly, it wasn’t until she was 27 years old that Michaels considered fitness as a career. That’s when she was fired from her desk job at a talent agency. Rather than sulk, she switched gears.

Michaels began to earn fitness training certifications. She now has four certificates from the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA), The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), Kettlebell Concepts, and CanFitPro. In 2002, she opened her own sports medicine facility, Sky Sport & Spa Beverly Hills.

She Gained Quite The Reputation On The Biggest Loser

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NBC
NBC

After she was cast as a fitness trainer on The Biggest Loser, debuting in October 2004, Michaels became a household name. She’s internationally recognized as the tough-love trainer who screams and pushes her clients to their breaking point. Members of her team also lost a lot of weight and with Michaels’ help, realized that their eating habits were triggered by emotions.

Michaels was featured as one of the trainers on the show for several seasons, before leaving in 2014. Later, it was revealed that she didn’t leave the show to move on, rather, she was fired after butting heads with Biggest Loser producers.

She Suggested The Show Make Changes… They Didn’t Agree

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NBC
NBC

In Season 15 of Biggest Loser, one of Michaels’ clients who won the contest, Rachel Frederickson, lost 155 pounds during filming. Rather than simply count it as a ‘win,’ Michaels showed her concern for her client, deeming that it was an unhealthy amount of weight for her to lose and she could have done a better job monitoring healthy weight loss rather than focusing on the fitness side.

Afterward, she approached the show’s producers to come to an agreement on making some changes to the show that would be in the best interest of the contestants’ health. But the producers didn’t agree with Jillian.

The Producers And Jillian Couldn’t Come To An Agreement

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NBC
NBC

Michaels wanted to make sure that none of her clients were put in danger while working toward meeting their weight loss goals on the show. She approached the producers and stated her suggested changes. But the producers weren’t interested in altering any aspect of the hit TV show.

Michaels told Huffington Post, “I went to them, and said I’d like to see these changes and they said no. So, I did not quit; they basically said, ‘No, we’re not interested in changing x,y, and z, so we will part ways.'” Michaels agreed. She continued, “In all fairness. it was their show, so I said if we can’t do this and this, I’d like to be released. And they said ‘you’re released.'”

Jillian Michaels Is Incredibly Successful

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Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

After she ended her contract with The Biggest Loser, Michaels continued to grow her career. She filmed a spin-off of Loser, called Losing it With Jillian, and also appeared on the panel discussion show The Doctors.

Aside from TV, fans are watching her fitness DVDs and downloading her app. Michaels has released 20 fitness DVDs, selling over 100 million copies worldwide. Her Jillian Michaels My Fitness App is also one of the most popular fitness apps in the world.

She Said Lizzo Was “Glorifying Obesity”

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John Lamparski/Getty Images
John Lamparski/Getty Images

On January 8, 2020, Michaels’ comments in an interview with BuzzFeed’s AM to DM series didn’t sit right with fans of Lizzo. The topic was celebrities who promote self-acceptance and the interviewer brought up how positive it was that artists like Lizzo are celebrating their body type.

Michaels then replied, “Why are we celebrating her body? ‘Cause it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes… I’m just being honest.” Twitter users quickly jumped on the platform to respond, accusing Michaels of body-shaming. Michaels’ video interview was viewed by over 3.52 million people.

Later That Night, She Clarified Her Stance On Instagram

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Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

After Michaels’ BuzzFeed interview, the Twittersphere imploded with people on both sides of the argument — some backing Michaels, saying we shouldn’t normalize obesity, and others accusing the trainer of fat-shaming Lizzo. Michaels had more to say, and shared a post on Instagram that night.

She shared, “As I’ve stated repeatedly, we are all beautiful, worthy, and equally deserving. I also feel strongly that we love ourselves enough to acknowledge there are serious health consequences that come with obesity- heart disease, diabetes, cancer to name only a few. I would never wish these for ANYONE and I would hope we prioritize our health because we LOVE ourselves and our bodies.”

She Thought Al Roker Was A “Lovely” Guy…

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John Lamparski/Getty Images
John Lamparski/Getty Images

An unlikely feud formed between Jillian Michaels and Today weatherman Al Roker in January 2020. It caught Michaels off guard because the two had worked together for many years and had gotten along just fine.

Jillian said, “The weird thing about Al Roker is that I’ve been doing segments with this guy on the Today show for over a decade and he has never been anything but the nicest guy.” So what happened?

The Feud Started When Jillian Said Keto Was “A Bad Plan For A Million Reasons”

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Chris Sorensen for the Washington Post
Chris Sorensen for the Washington Post

It was Michaels’ comments about the Keto diet that lit a fire for Roker. The diet became widely popular in 2019, but the fitness guru doesn’t approve of it. Michaels told Women’s Health “Your cells, your macromolecules, are literally made up of protein, fat, carbohydrates, nucleic acids. When you do not eat one of the three macronutrients — those three things I just mentioned — you’re starving yourselves.”

Al Roker then went on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. On the show, Cohen called Michaels a “Jackhole” for her opinion on Keto. Roker defended the Keto diet and later threw some fire in a Tweet tagging the health trainer.

Roker Tweeted His Thoughts After The Show

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Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images
Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images

While he didn’t call Michaels names as Cohen did on Watch What Happens Live, Roker apparently had more to say after the segment aired. After the show, he took to Twitter and tagged Michaels in his tweet.

“So @JillianMichaels says #Keto is a bad idea. This from a woman who promoted on camera bullying, deprivation, manipulation and more weekly in the name of weight loss. Now those sound like bad ideas.”

She Has A Soft Spot For Children

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David Livingston/Getty Images
David Livingston/Getty Images

Although you might not see it portrayed on TV very often, Michaels does have a softer side. She’s passionate about giving back to communities in need and is very compassionate about helping children who need a good home. She told E! News about her work with RaiseAChild, “I find it extremely concerning that there are over 100,000 kids in America who are in need of loving homes.”

In 2012, she adopted her daughter Lukensia from Haiti. That same month, her partner Heidi Rhoades gave birth to their son, Phoenix. Michaels enjoys sharing her parenting experiences and advice on her podcast.

After Nine Years Together, Jillian & Heidi Called It Quits

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Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Michaels and her long-time partner Heidi Rhoades began dating in 2009. The couple has two children together and were planning on getting married, but things didn’t work out. In June 2018, Michaels revealed that the couple was no longer together in an Instagram post.

She shared, “We’ve found we’re better friends and parents living apart than staying together. Life and people change but our love for one another and commitment to raising our two kids as an inseparable team remains.”

She Was Born And Raised In Los Angeles

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Desiree Navarro/WireImage
Desiree Navarro/WireImage

While many stars move to Los Angeles in hopes of kicking off their career, Jillian Michaels has been there all along. Michaels was born in LA, growing up in the neighborhood of Santa Monica. She also attended California State University Northridge nearby.

When it came to opening her first gym, the trainer wasn’t timid. She opened her first facility, Sky Sport & Spa, in the prestigious 90210 zip code of Beverly Hills. Currently, she lives in an expansive home on the beach in Malibu but is looking to make a move, as it’s been listed for sale twice, now listed at $8.795 million.

Wendy Williams Told Michaels She Fasts, And It Went Just As You’d Expect

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Santiago Felipe/Getty Images
Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

By now, everyone should know to avoid bringing up their own health and fitness routines in a discussion with Michaels unless they want to hear her two cents. When talk show host Wendy Williams welcomed Michaels to her show, she mentioned that she’s currently fasting twice a week.

Michaels then asks, “For two days?” To which Williams replied, “Not in a row, are you crazy?” Of course, Michaels fired back, “Are you?!” The conversation didn’t get heated, however. The two ladies continued to have a meaningful discussion on fasting and choices in diet. Williams even said she’d be happy to welcome her back to the show!

She Believes In “Healthy Love”

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Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

Although she had been in a relationship with a woman for nearly nine years, Michaels says that she’s open to a healthy relationship with either a woman or a man. In an interview, she explained, “Let’s just say I believe in healthy love. If I fall in love with a woman, that’s awesome. If I fall in love with a man, that’s awesome.”

She continued, “As long as you fall in love…I only eat healthy food, and I only want healthy love!” In 2019, Michaels confirmed her relationship with fashion designer Deshanna Marie Minuto.

“This Beauty”

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Jillian Michaels/Instagram
Jillian Michaels/Instagram

After her split from Rhoades, Michaels found love once again. The fitness trainer and fashion designer Deshanna Marie Minuto began sharing photos of them together in December 2018. In April 2019, it was clear that Michaels was smitten.

She shared one photo of the couple, wishing happy birthday to “this beauty” and posting another photo commenting, “She too beautiful.” Although things in her love life have heated up again, Michaels prioritizes co-parenting her two children with Rhoades.

Now She’s Helping People Feel And Look Younger

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Tom Cooper/Getty Images for Wellness Your Way Festival
Tom Cooper/Getty Images for Wellness Your Way Festival

Jillian Michaels’ latest focus is helping people feel “ageless.” The New York Times Best Selling author has released her latest book titled, The 6 Keys: Unlock Your Genetic Potential for Ageless Strength, Health, and Beauty.

The book outlines the six major age inciters and gives readers advice on how to address them. She’s authored a total of ten books in her career with eight of them making the New York Times Best Seller list.