I bought this DVD without knowing who Jillian Michaels was; I bought it because of the reviews on Amazon. I also bought her book "Making the Cut". This makes a great companion to the DVD as it contains advice on moderating the diet according to body type etc as well as lots of inspiration and instruction as to the most effective circuits to totally cut the body (not started that process yet - will post review when followed the book's 30 day plan).Making the Cut: The 30-day Diet and Fitness Plan for the Strongest, Sexiest You
I was a little sceptical about exercising for only 20 minutes, but thought I would give it a go. Over the years, I have used fitness DVDs on occasion, but have never found them to be a true replacement for going to the gym or a class at the gym. I use a pilates machine at home so have no problem with strength in some areas, but wanted to raise my heart rate and really try to burn off any excess fat.
I am only halfway through the programme, so will update at the end of my programme, but I just wanted to say to anybody who is thinking about buying this DVD: JUST BUY IT AND GET STARTED!! It is amazing. As previous reviewers have said, the three levels of difficulty are set up so that you do 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes cardio and 1 minute abs per circuit and there are 3 circuits. Again, as stated elsewhere, Jillian has Natalie and Anita working out with her; Anita shows the beginners moves while Natalie really goes for it. The individual exercises are themselves fairly traditional moves that will be recognisable to anyone who has done a gym class, or even PE at school. But it is clear that Jillian has given a lot of thought as to how best to combine the exercises to get the maximum impact upon the body, which I suppose is the reason this programme works.
The idea is that you work out at 100% intensity non-stop through the whole 20 minutes. That means no pause for a sip of water and ideally no pause to catch your breath (although Jillian does grudgingly say that you can have a 5 second breather if you really really need it!). I found Level 1 very challenging for the first few days and then it started to get easier, although the aching muscles didn't seem to ease up. Level 2 has me absolutely dripping with sweat by the end - I have not progressed to Level 3 yet so will update at the end of that.
After the 20 minutes, it feels like I have worked out intensely and my muscles ache in a good way. I am not remotely overweight but my legs and arms feel so much firmer already and my clothing is a lot looser (yay!). The best thing for me is that I feel so much fitter in such a short space of time - only on day 12.
Finally, before I bought the DVD I noticed that some reviewers said that they did not like Jillian's style of instruction. I have to disagree - she might not be sweet and sappy but I like her rather blunt, witty and motivational style. As she says, if you want a 20 minute workout that gets results, you're going to have to work for it. And she's right...
Well, I said I would review when I had reached Level 3. In many respects, I found the move to Level 3 the least challenging, although that was probably because I was fitter and stronger and so the leap didn't seem as great. Level 3 will still have you dripping with sweat, though, don't worry! I have recommended this DVD to my friends, who have also bought it and are now working their way through it. At the end of the 30 day programme, I need a refund on the new jeans I bought...they are a size too big now!
I have moved on to Jillian's duo Banish Fat Boost Metabolism (Full) [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC
] and No More Trouble Zones (Full) [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC
] which is just amazing (will post a review in due course.) So to conclude, this workout is a brilliant way to get you motivated and toned up in a short space of time, but perhaps more importantly it will inspire you to carry on to the next level. Phenomenal.