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Biggest Loser’s Jillian Michaels: ‘New Zealand is incredibly beautiful’

Jillian chats to the New Zealand Women's Weekly about her impressions of New Zealand, her docu-series and Biggest Loser fame.
Jillian Michaels

As you might imagine for the no-nonsense trainer who whipped the contestants of hit show The Biggest Loser into shape, Jillian Michaels is loud, intimidating and full of energy. She swears a heck of a lot, and is pretty scary when she yells. What might come as more of a surprise, though, is that she’s also sweet and funny.

Her new show, Just Jillian, reveals an entirely new side to the woman who was in the past labelled “merciless” and “inhumane”. The docu-series on E! takes us behind closed doors as she navigates life as a partner, mother, business mogul and friend.

Speaking to the New Zealand Women’s Weekly at the plush Westin hotel in Auckland’s viaduct harbour, during a quick visit, the pint-sized wellness expert is looking surprisingly upbeat for someone who has just got off a 14 hour flight.

“I’m hammering this jetlag stuff!” she laughs.

Describing New Zealand as “incredibly beautiful” she laments the short time she has to explore it and wishes her family were along for the ride. Her family comes up in conversations a lot these days, as she’s certainly become used to opening up her personal life for anyone to see. And Jillian says she was surprised how easy it has been to open up her life and world.

“It’s actually great. It’s been a struggle to get beyond that ‘Biggest Loser’ persona, so for people to see all sides of me now — the good, the bad, the soft, the hard, the funny, the sad — is very welcome.”

Biggest Loser gave me this tremendous platform, but it was also a prison of sorts, because I became like a cartoon character. I wasn’t a producer on the show – I had no control, so I became like ‘the evil one’ on the show. While I’m grateful for that platform, it was limiting because it’s not what I’m truly about or what I truly want to do. While I love fitness, I only love fitness because it’s a means to empower them and building a nice strong foundation for people’s career, relationships etc. This show is about building a better life – everyone is on this journey to try and be the best co-worker they can, the best parent, the best friend – and at times we may disappoint people – but this show is about normalising that.”

Jillian’s partner Heidi Rhoades, their kids Phoenix and Lu and her business partner Giancarlo Chersich all feature in the new show, as well as a few chickens and their “effing crazy” Chihuahua Richard (who takes quite a shine to Jillian’s elbow in one hilarious episode).

“This show is about learning how to build a better life – even though these life lessons are couched in humour, insanity and chaos, at the end of the day that’s really what it’s about,” she says adding, “I like to think it’s like hiding spinach in kids brownies – you want people to walk away and feel empowered but not know it’s happening at the time.”

Just Jillian screens Wednesdays at 9.30pm on E!

SKY domestic customers with a basic package can catch the episode online at SKY GO – www.skygo.co.nz

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