Dreading “The Shred”: When Fitness Gets Irritating

I’d like to think I’m a fairly tolerant person. I’ve always been one to maintain an open mind, listen to all three sides of a story — his, hers and the truth (didn’t your mother ever tell you that one?) — and continue to stick to the “to each his own” mantra.

But there is one thing, a person actually, who I have no tolerance for. I mean, I do. But then I really, really don’t.

A few months ago, in the world of women’s fitness, there were two words that were all the rage: The Shred.

Not familiar with these words?

The Shred is a 20 minute workout DVD consisting of three circuits, each made up of three minutes of strength, three minutes of cardio and one minute of abdominal work.

Yes, it’s only 20 minutes. Yes, it’s very structured. No, it is not easy.

But then there’s the woman behind it all: Jillian Michaels.

Not familiar with Jillian Michaels?

Jillian Michaels is the heinous trainer from “The Biggest Loser”. She vaguely resembles a monkey, lacks a sensitivity chip (add her to your list, Jennifer Aniston) and loves to use her formerly fat self as motivation to get. You. In. Shape!

After snagging a copy at Target, I popped in the DVD and, like I always do, went in with an open mind. I began with Level One (out of Three) and after a few jumping jacks and windmills, was feeling myself getting cocky. “Cake,” I thought to myself. “Eat that, Jillian Michaels.” Pun (lamely) intended.

Now you see, here’s the thing about Jillian Michaels’ Shred. It’s a sneaky little bastard. Because it’s only 20 minutes and hello? An episode of Friends is longer than 20 minutes. Hard boiling an egg takes more than 20 minutes. A quick phone call to your mother takes much longer than 20 minutes. So I hope you’ll understand me when I say that I was feeling pretty good about this workout.

Then came the squats.

And the lunges.

And just when you think you actually can do this workout and do it well, you realize that this 20 minute workout is no joke.

Behind Jillian are Natalie and Anita who do the more advanced and beginner versions of each exercise, respectively. And they’re supposed to be there to make you feel more at ease. But to me? It’s quite the opposite. Because Natalie and Anita, they’ve got these perfect bodies that just makes you bitter. Or maybe that’s just me.

And then there’s Jillian. Oh, Jillian. The woman knows what she’s doing, sure. But did you know she’s a real pain in the ass? Because she is. I don’t know about you, but when I’m exercising I don’t like to be bothered. I’m there to do my thing, guzzle water and leave. But Jillian, she likes to talk. And while she may mean well with her motivating words (Push Yourself! Change is gonna happen! You don’t get a 20 minute workout for free, people!), I can’t lie; she makes my blood boil.

Before I knew it, I was dripping in sweat. Dripping in sweat, bitter of Natalie’s legs and Anita’s abs, and glaring at Jillian.

Where were those endorphins I was so used to feeling?

I finished, showered and vowed to develop a better attitude towards Jillian and her minions.

The next morning, my body was on fire. And if it’s one thing I love, it’s knowing that I did something right. It was a great feeling, and I had to stick with it.

But what to do about Jillian’s obnoxious talking?

It wasn’t until the next time I popped The Shred in my DVD player and saw the “music only” option on the menu that I realized that maybe, just maybe, Jillian and I actually could be friends.

It’s a love/hate relationship.

If you’ve tried The Shred, let me know! I’d love to hear your story.


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