EXCLUSIVE: Jillian Michaels Talks Meditation and Reducing Stress During The Coronavirus Pandemic

By Lee Hernandez
April 1, 2020

She may seem superhuman – from her global fitness empire to her New York Times best-selling books and successful, decade-long career in front of the camera – but when it comes to the current coronavirus pandemic, celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels admits she’s trying to get through this unpredictable time like everyone else. “It is flat-out insane and it’s got to be ok to say it,” Michaels tells Outlier Magazine. “It’s got to be ok to say it’s scary, it’s upsetting, it’s overwhelming, it’s unbelievable.”

The world-renowned fitness expert and mother-of-two (her kids are seven and nine) who came to national prominence in 2004 on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, adds that she considers herself to be one of the lucky ones, since she’s able to work on her projects from home, including working on her award-winning fitness app, My Fitness by Jillian Michaels, which offers more than 1,000 exercises, a variety of fitness programs and workout routines for people of all fitness levels.

“I have it easy,” says Michaels. “I’m able to feed my kids. I don’t have a hair salon with $40,000 a month of overhead, and it’s closed. I don’t run a medical practice, and it’s closed – everybody I know is going through that. I’m watching people drown, and there’s nothing I can do. It’s almost like having survivor’s guilt. I said to my girlfriend last night, ‘Baby, I feel like the Titanic has sunk and we’re on a life raft-like, we were literally on the Titanic. It sunk and in the boat are me, you, the kids, my parents, a few of my other family members, my employees – because I’m very fortunate to be able to hold on to my employees. I don’t have to lay anybody off.”

So what advice does Michaels have for people looking to reduce stress during this unpredictable time? For starters, she recommends people start a workout program at home. “I would say now is a great time for a program, whether it’s a 30-day program, a 60-day program, a 90-day program. It brings more of a purpose,” says the former Biggest Loser trainer. “Hopefully the program is solid and allows you to build toward something that is programmed appropriately so you’re getting the most out of your workout time and the most of your recovery time. People don’t really think about this, but as a trainer, when I build programs, I’m very specific about what muscles I train on what days and how much recovery time I program for each muscle and when I progress that person’s fitness level. That’s why I think mentally a program is great, because you’re like, “Ok, I’ve got 30 days of quarantine, I’m doing a 30-day program and I’m going to come out of this better than ever.”

In addition to building muscle or getting in shape, Michaels says working out also helps with mental health. “You’ve done something to care for yourself. You’ve made a statement that you are capable, valuable, worthy. You literally are improving your health so you will notice that aesthetically and athletically with time. There’s no way not to feel that accomplishment; it’s like you got an A on the test. The benefits are exponential.”

During this time of social distancing guidelines and quarantining at home, Michaels – who used to make Sunday a rest day after a week of working out – is inviting her followers to work out with her LIVE by hosting a weekly Instagram Live, 30-minute workout on Sundays at 10:30 am (PT)  — where she leads a class on stretching, cardio and strength training to help people get through this tough time. “Try some of these LIVE so that you’re getting a sense of community and you feel like you’re in it with people. I think that’s super duper important,” says Michaels.

The weekly Instagram LIVE class will also include Michaels leading viewers in a short meditation—something that Michaels, who authored the 2018 book, The 6 Keys: Unlock Your Genetic Potential for Ageless Strength, Health, and Beauty, does on a regular basis. “I find that {meditation} gives me perspective. When I can sort of quiet down and slow down, it allows me personally to see what comes up and what I’m feeling and what’s really going on. It brings clarity and it takes the emotion out of the thought process for me. And I often hear – not literally – but, like, the answer will come to me. It’s like, ‘Ok, here’s what you need.’

Adds Michaels: “And that’s just mentally what it does for me – who knows what it’s doing for me physically. Studies will tell you that it improves cognitive function, it improves cardiovascular health, digestive health – it’s pretty amazing, actually.”

Michaels also says she’s a fan of several meditation apps. “I love Calm. I use it all of the time. And I love Strava because when I get outside, I can connect and see what people are doing, where they’re at, what they’re up to. It tracks my bike rides and my runs and I like that it gets me outside a lot and Calm is just a good go-to. It’s an easy default for me and there’s sound apps and bedtime stories and all of that sh** in there. I like it a lot.”

As for the Coronavirus pandemic, Michaels says it’s important not to suppress your feelings. “It’s ok to feel like a victim right now, because you are. I’m not saying act like one. But it’s ok to feel like one because you are. This is out of your control, you’re paying an extraordinary price at no fault of your own, and it’s ok to feel all of those things. I think it needs to be acknowledged that it’s ok. And then the way forward, when you’re ready, is to say, ‘Ok, what can I take from this. How can I grow, what can I learn?”

Outlier Disclaimer

This site is for educational purposes and not a substitute for professional medical care by a doctor or otherwise qualified medical professional. The information provided by Outlier Magazine is on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services.

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