Before Christmas I completed "Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred". I developed a strange love/hate relationship with it. I felt the benefits and was pleased to have done it although it really pushed me. I did however feel that I wanted to do it on the harder level.
The shred is really well designed, it is broken into 3 levels. Each level has 3 6-minute circuits which are broken down into 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs work. There is a decent warm up which is effective and gets your heart rate up without wasting time and then there's a good cool down afterwards that allows you to stretch. It is only 20 minutes but it really pushes you. Jillian demonstrates the moves and has two girls behind her, one doing the harder level and the second doing easier modifications. This is good as it allows you to do the full workout even at the beginning but also gives you something to work towards and keeps you motivated. Some of the moves require hand weights, and this allows a second level of challenge as you can increase the weight size. I am still using small weights but would consider increasing the size of them in the future.
I made the decision to complete 10 days at each level. I worry that I would struggle to consider myself happy enough to move up a level, so the 10 days made me push myself. I found the first circuit of level one the hardest. This was good as once that part was done I knew the rest would be better, however it was difficult to throw yourself into. I really struggled with full press-ups last year, so I did it on my knees but I was determined this time to do full press-ups. I had managed this by workout 6 but at the the detriment of the next move. It took until workout 10 to get all of the harder moves to come together. I think that the yoga helped my strength a lot and all of the chaturanga push ups have helped with the standard push ups.
I feel that the first level is a little 'jumping jack' heavy, saying that they are simple effective cardio and easy to follow. She explains that there is no easy modification for jumping jacks as she "has 400lb people who can do jumping jacks".
The music is nothing special but then I find that I am so involved with the workout I don't pay that much attention. Jillian is pushy and has some amazing sayings including "don't phone it in". She pushes you to exercise arms and legs together to burn more calories. Despite the fact that I often find myself muttering expletives she makes you complete the workout. She is strangely encouraging despite sayings such as "if you think you are going to die, follow Anita".
The frequent changes in exercise keep you on your toes and make the workouts go quicker. It is very hard and by the end I was sweating and shattered but it does start to feel good. You feel that your muscles have been worked and that you have gotten out of breath. She encourages you to work through the difficult parts as that is when change happens. This is a message that comes across in the couch to 5K podcasts as well.