Jillian Michaels doesn’t believe in doing things halfway. That’s true not just for exercise — she’s best known as the toughest trainer on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” — but also for motherhood. Last year, her partner, Heidi Rhoades, gave birth to a son the same month the couple adopted a 2-year-old girl from Haiti. So, naturally, Michaels can’t quit at only one speaking engagement. Instead, she’s taken on a 35-city “Maximize Your Life” tour, which arrives at D.C.’s Warner Theater at 8 p.m. April 24 ($58-$170, Jillianmichaels.com).
It sounds like you’re going to train the whole world on this tour.
I’m going to try. My goal with this is a selfish one. I enjoy that direct connection. With 35 stops, I can see 70,000 people. When you think about how many books you can sell and how many people see a TV show, it doesn’t compare. But this way I cut out the middleman. No one is editing me. I’m the one putting them through exercises and taking them on a journey.
The name of the tour is “Maximize Your Life,” not “Minimize Your Weight,” so what’s the focus here?
You’re of course going to understand the science of weight loss. But it doesn’t take me long to convey that. To me, health is about having a healthier life. This is an entry point for them to attack inhibitions, empower them to redefine how they see themselves, unleash their potential. People say, “You just need to think positive.” That’s not true. There are skills people need to use. It’s learning recovery behaviors that are affirming and not destructive, how to build a road map to success. It’s learning how to get feedback, correct what’s broken, create self-awareness, enhance willpower. There’s a lot to know. Action without information is a wrecking ball in your life.
What’s your life going to be like with your family on a two-month bus tour? And how are you going to exercise?
Two small children on a tour bus for hours and hours at a time — I feel like Chevy Chase in a remake. It’s going to be the ultimate road trip. And the way I train doesn’t require any equipment. I can do it nearly anywhere with a 6-by-6 open space. I’ll bring my road bike, so I can go for a ride.
Are there any exercises you always do in a workout?
It’s more about techniques. It’s free weights and body weight based, with a lot of combination lifts. I do high-intensity cardio intervals to condition my body as effectively as possible. Really, it’s just maintenance for me. I’m lucky to be in maintenance mode. Could I lose weight under these conditions? Yes, but it’d be hard.
You’ve said motherhood has made it tougher to exercise, but is anything about it making it easier — like, you can lift them instead of weights?
Motherhood has made nothing easier. Lifting them has thrown my hips off and messed up my shoulder. Easier is not a word I’d ever use. But it’s the best thing I’ve accomplished.
Don’t expect Jillian Michaels to be as gruff with her kids as she is with contestants on “The Biggest Loser.” Michaels interrupted this interview to talk to her daughter: “Poop? Did you poop? Oh, bird poop. I got it.” That’s because Michaels is pumping up her parenting skills. “I’ve read that when they walk into the room, you have to pay attention,” she said.