It's been a week since I finished the 30-day torture known as Ripped in 30 by infamous trainer Jillian Michaels. And while I'll offer an extended review below, for those that want the Cliff Notes version, I can sum up the DVD in just a few two-word phrases: It sucked and it works.
If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know from my various posts on running that I am truly a weenie-girl at heart. My inner athlete is about as tough as Pee Wee Herman. I whine at most types of physical exertion, complain when exercise makes my muscles sore, and have been known to burst into tears during particuIarly difficult runs - yes, I'm THAT tough! So it should come as no surprise that Jillian kicked my ass. And I complained (loudly). And yelled obscenities at the tv. And scared small animals and children with my extreme lack of coordination. But just like with running, I stuck it out. Maybe because I saw results. Or maybe because Jillian made me want to be tougher. Or maybe, I just decided to kick that damn wussie-girl attitude to the curb for 30 days (cue Eye of the Tiger here).
What I Did. With swimsuit season on the horizon, I was looking for a workout to give me the tone and definition that running hadn't - most notably in the ab and arm area - and this DVD definitely delivered. Because I didn't want to lose my running conditioning, for five days a week, I continued to run 3-5 miles each day, and did the Ripped Workout post-run. One day a week, I just did Ripped, and one day a week, I just ran, doing a longer run (8-13 miles) on that day. So, yes, I was working out seven days a week. Which is probably not recommended, nor is it realistic that I'll continue at that intensity. But I had a bikini body in my sights, and I was one focused girl.
What I Got. At the end of 30 days, I had lost 8 pounds. I also dropped 1" from my waist, 1" from my hips, 1/2" from each thigh, and gained a 1/4" on each bicep. But what was more impressive was the fact that even after just two weeks, I didn't need the scale or measuring tape to tell me it was working - I could see and feel the results happening to my body. Well, hello ab muscles!
What I Liked. Obviously, the results were the biggest payoff with this workout regimen, but there were other positives:
- The compact 25-minute time frame. It didn't take a lot of effort to fit that into my schedule and when you're used to runs that can last several hours, 25 minutes seems pretty do-able.
- The included meal plan. This 30-day plan includes simple, easy-to-prepare meals, with most of the ingredients available at a regular grocery store. Prior to Ripped, I was eating less food, yet more calories (can you say carb-addict?). On Jillian's plan, I incorporated more protein into my meals and actually ate a real breakfast - not just my usual cappuccino. I was never hungry or felt deprived, though the first week I would have traded my arm for a Cadbury Creme Egg (which would have made the push-ups even more difficult.) On the weekends, I skipped one of the 200-calorie snacks and had an evening glass of wine instead. After all, I couldn't reasonably be expected to give up both sugar AND wine, right?!
- The variety of exercises. None of the moves in the four weeks of workouts are repeated, and I offer up my undying thanks to Jillian for not making me do reptile push-ups more than once. Having a new workout each week keeps things fresh. She also combines exercises that work several muscle groups at once (lunges with arm raises, squats with bicep curls) so the workouts are efficient and effective.
- The simplicity of the equipment. I only needed one set of weights (I used 3-pound handweights) for all four workouts. I'd also recommend keeping a towel handy, because you will sweat like a racehorse (or is it pee like a racehorse? sweat like a pig? sweat like a sweathog going to the races?)
- The price. As much as I'd like to spend hundreds of dollars on a personal trainer who will yell at me and make me work as hard as Jillian, I'm not willing to cut into my wine budget for that expenditure. A girl's gotta have her priorities. For $9.49, I can have almost the same experience, and still enjoy my favorite sauvignon blanc.
What I Hated. Um, besides the slightly sadistic reptile push ups and pendulum lunges?? Well I knew going in that Jillian wouldn't make it easy. But beyond some of the killer moves that made me feel uncoordinated and clumsy, here's what I didn't like:
- The high-impact nature of some of the cardio moves. I don't have knee or ankle issues, but by the end of week 2, I was feeling some pain in those joints from all the bouncing and jumping. She does offer some lower-impact modifiers, which I opted to do, but I would caution anyone with pre-existing joint problems to be careful.
- The boring background music. Granted, you pretty much only hear Jillian barking orders at you, which is simultaneously intimidating and inspiring, but when she's quiet enough to allow the music to be heard, it resembles what can only be described as Fitness Muzak - annoyingly bland and decidedly vanilla. Once you learn the moves, I'd suggest piping in your own soundtrack while you do the workout.
So if you're looking for a good way to tone up, slim down, and need a totally valid excuse for screaming expletives at a fitness icon, I'd highly recommend Ripped in 30. While the month-long experiment has not completely crushed my inner Pee Wee, it has given him some killer biceps: