As a personal trainer, Jillian Michaels made a name for herself by pushing contestants to succeed on The Biggest Loser. Some of her methods over the years have been questioned – is she a bully? Does she cheat by giving her team members caffeine pills? – but nobody has concerns over her dedication. She clearly cares about what she does and, perhaps her techniques are interesting, but she’s also shown empathy for contestants over the years. Why, then, after 10 years did she decide to leave the show? She finally opened up to People this week about the true reasons.
The 40-year-old cites “some fundamental differences” with the show’s producers which have “existed for a while” as a major cause for her departure. She stresses that she’s “grateful to the show and so sad to leave” and isn’t planning to seek “greener pastures” elsewhere.
One particularly frustrating aspect of being on the show was how she was portrayed to the public. Michaels says that “in the beginning of the show it was tough love. You saw the tough, and you saw the love” but in recent years, editing failed to show the relationships and bonds that she built with her clients. The fact that “millions of people have this warped perception” of her started to take its toll.
Now that she and her partner, Heidi Rhoades, are parents to 4-year-old daughter, Lukensia, and 2-year-old son, Phoenix, Michaels can see how her public image is affecting her personal life. She says that, at camp, someone told her daughter: “I know who your mom is – she’s a cheater. I saw it on TV.” Of course, as a mother, she wants to create a life that is less negative for her family.
Finally, she also addressed the controversy surrounding the extremely frail appearance of last season’s winner, Rachel Frederickson. Anyone who watched the clip of the reveal will see that both Michaels and fellow trainer, Bob Harper, looked shocked and upset. In the wake of that situation, Michaels says that she “had to take a hard look at [her] work” and “came to the conclusion that moving forward” she needs to be able to have an impact on the outcome of what she does.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Michaels. She has successful online programs, workout videos and books so she may simply choose to continue her mentoring work through those mediums rather than returning to personal training. Right now, she seems content to be focusing on her family but fans of The Biggest Loser will miss her.