November 9, 2010

My BFF Jillian's Wellness Cruise

I'm going to start off with a disclaimer - there are a lot of pictures and this is a huge ass post.  No apologies, just  a lot of great moments to share. There are other pics I haven't had time to scan and some revelations I wanted to share but at the rate I'm going it will take me til xmas.  So, I'll post what I've got and maybe get around to a second post one of these days.  

Most of you know I recently went on a Jillian Michaels Wellness cruise with a couple of my girlfriends Danielle and Karin. It went to two different Bahama Islands but who cares, we really just went to work out and have a girls weekend. We didn't even get off the ship at the second port. That's how we roll. I've gotten a lot of questions but figured it was easiest to write it all down vs. talking until I'm blue in the face, so here it is. (as I'm about to post this I realize I just interviewed myself, weirdo)

Was it awesome?  
Yes.  Totally empowering. 

Who was on the cruise?
Mostly women. Some fit, some not, some crazy fit. A few men, more than I thought.  A few kids.  It was a pretty good mix. JM was there, her business partner, girlfriend, mom, entourage, and a bunch of her trainers from her exercise videos, some doctors, etc.

Did you have fun?  
Yes.  But not in the get wasted and pig out ways that vacations turn into. It was more of a wow, look how f'in strong I was today kind of fun.

Did you meet Jillian?
Yes, twice. We're now BFF's for realz.

Did they have healthy food options?  
Yes.  JM tailored the ENTIRE menu.  A lot of the items were from her cook book.  All of the items had nutritional information on the menu.  Each of us had the same comment, if calorie information were on all menus, we would truly make different choices!  Steakhouse caesar salad for 750 calories or lighter version for 197?  Lighter version, hands down.  The chicken was free range, the beef was grass fed.  There was no soda, mayo, or butter available.  I mean NONE!  Those servers looked scared like they would be arrested if they brought over a pat of butter. There was a strange french fry incident on Saturday but then they must have thrown that cook overboard along with the fries. All of the bread was whole grain.  None of the food was cooked with butter or oil.  And the best part?  It was all good!  The portion sizes were a much needed reality check.  We kept a pretty busy schedule so we ate 3 squares and 1 snack each day.  Each night we had a glass of wine with dinner.  The last night we tried the desserts.  Healthy desserts of course, relatively speaking.  

How was the ship?
Not great. Service was poor. No great amenities. But that was all secondary.

Was Jillian on the cruise the entire time?
Totally!  We each got a pic with JM as we boarded the ship which made for a long boarding process. She led 6 group workouts.  3 speaking engagements.  A couple of private parties. We just missed her on the beach when she went to check in on some of the workouts. She went over the scheduled time on everything she did, workouts, speaking, etc. They had to drag her off the stage, she gave it everything. I guarantee she worked harder than any of us.

How was the meet and greet that Karin won?
It was one of the greater disappointments.  It was the final event and got pushed back due to other things being behind schedule. It ended up being at 10pm on Sunday night and JM was not feeling well after all the screaming. There was only about 20 of us and they gave us some books and she signed them but that was it. It was all very rushed and confusing. I went first and did talk to her despite security somehow trying to strong arm me into "SPELL YOUR NAME!" Whatev douche, you don't scare me. She seems really nice and she's super small. It might not have been so bad had we not heard about the private cocktail party on the first night when she made everyone do tequila shots and everyone had a crazy good time.

With all that healthy stuff, did you really have any fun?  
Hell ya!  The whole thing was fun, even the workouts.  And I got a mani/pedi, a massage, and a sun tan to boot! I know some people think that a healthy cruise would be the worst vacation ever but truly, it was a great experience.  

THURSDAY
Here she is, the Norwegian Star.
And here are my girls: Karin and Danielle
Jillian was there, and she was as hard core in her group workouts on the ship as she is on t.v. Let me tell ya, she aint no joke.  I didn't take this pic but it rocks just the same.
Here she is making someone's plank exceptionally hard
She took some super buff chics from the audience and kicked their asses on stage, I mean invited them to demonstrate behind her in the group workout, for an hour and a half.  It looks like she is helping but what you can't see is Jill (that's what I call her now) standing on their back legs during standing low lunges.  Hardcore.
These chicks were super ripped up
 Dinner the first night off the stern with a view of Miami.  After spending a crazy long time in line to get on the ship we somehow got pumped up to get in a cardio workout after dinner.  That's what we were there for right?
FRIDAY
First stop - NCL's private island in the Bahamas.  We got to sign up for two group workouts and I thought, why not a beach workout with Jillian's personal trainer Crazy Trainer Steve (Lee).  He kicked our asses up one end of the beach and down the other.  It was out of our comfort zone but I figured that was the point.  Plus, when do you get to do a beach workout with a world class trainer? She calls him Crazy but he seems really calm and centered so the crazy must come from how crazy hard his workouts are.
No offense to Bernie, but this dude's got it going on.  Totally hot.  When he was taking pics with everyone I asked him what it was like to kick JM's ass. No answer, just a sly smile. We were going to lay out in the sun after the workout but I couldn't seem to do anything else but get in the ocean with my clothes on.  I was so hot and sandy after that ass kicking. Danielle and Karin weren't far behind me.  When we went back to the ship we did an hour of weights led by moi.  And I put a pretty good hurt on our upper bodies if I do say so myself.
Other workout options: spinning on the deck
 Walking or running laps on the promenade
 SATURDAY
JM did 6 group workouts on the pool deck throughout the 4 day cruise, ours was Saturday evening.  Danielle, Karin, and I each did over an hour and a half of cardio that morning. I alternated my 1.5 hours between walking on the jogging track and riding the spin bike. This seemed like a good idea at the time until I realized my legs were totally burnt about 2 minutes into Jill's workout.  JM was on a stage with some assistants and a DJ.  We got there an hour and a half early so we got our choice of spots. Right up front I demanded!  Second row, right in the middle.  Ummmm, yeah.  That made us prime targets for getting a personal beating.  Good move?  Well, that's what we came for right? (note the theme). When do you get to get your ass kicked by a world class trainer?
 Here we are getting started, everything is still light and fluffy. We're center stage maybe 15' back.
 JM put one of the trainers (above in pink) up in the stands and brought down the guy that runs her website to be one of the assistants.  I was feeling pretty bad about myself not keeping up with the workout until this dude had to be helped off stage to sit down after 20 minutes.  She shamed him back up once she noticed he was gone but bottom line, it was a hard workout no matter your fitness level.
Seriously, she looks all nice and shit here but we hadn't even started yet.  I was right in her sight line.  We started and we never stopped.  No rest, not that I would expect any but everything was high cardio.  High knees, jumping jacks and butt kicks were resting moves.  Burpees, planks, push-ups, jump squats, lunges.  The whole thing is a blur.  All body weight exercises which proves that you need NOTHING to get a good workout in.  After 20 minutes I had serious doubts I could finish.  I remember thinking, did I really come all this way to walk off stage?  What if I puke?  What if I keep thinking what if? and have a full on panic attack?  And then she started yelling.  At everyone.  But also, At Me.  Directly. Something about higher, faster, stronger I have no clue.  At one point I heard, "YOU, IN THE HEADBAND, ...." I don't even remember what she said other than YOU, BLAH BLAH BLAH!  There were a few references to you bitches.  At one point she came down our row and I didn't think I could hold my plank for a second longer and I thought, this is it.  She's going to kill me.  Basically if you were in her sight line, there was no stopping, no quitting, no giving up.  As the sign behind her said, "If you don't faint or die, KEEP WALKING."
Our workout started at 6pm, we are just winding down here.  I think that poor website guy wants to puke.
Took a few snapshots during the cool down.
This wasn't my pic, but JM sat in the same spot during our workout and gave an inspirational talk during the cool down.  She sat right in front of us.  If I could get D's videos to work on my Mac I would share.
SUNDAY
 Me and Danielle.  I think I'm standing 2 full steps below her.  She makes me look like a giant.  Everyone should have a friend that makes them look so small.  Well, she is small, but it makes our race pics hilarious.
 
Group pic on the last day, same tiered area where we did our workouts.  Totally crazy but it was nearing sun down and the captain turned the ship so we had better light for our picture. I don't have any good pics but earlier in the day we did laps around the promenade followed by a second workout with Crazy Trainer Steve Lee.  He concentrated on isometric exercises with proper form. Simple moves, no weights, but man they were so hard.  Plus by then our muscles were burnt.  I learned a great technique for a better burpee and a cool new exercise similar to going back and forth between downward dog (but in a squat) and an upward facing dog. I think Danielle and Karin did a 5k while I got a massage.
I've been seeing a personal trainer, Heather, for years, on and off. She's a little spit fire and a huge Jillian fan. Ever since I've been home from this cruise Heather has been channeling Jillian and kicking our asses left and right.  I told her about some of our workouts and all of a sudden I'm dripping sweat all over her basement floor. I like it because the workouts are killer and you can just feel the weight coming off but I hate it because it's mother f'in hard yo.

Would I do this again next year? No doubt. We heard she lost a ton of money on the cruise so it would probably be held on solid ground next time. Either way, I'm there. I lost 1.5lbs after a 4 day cruise and 2 travel days. I lost 2+lbs the remainder of that week after I got home. I could see the difference before I even got off the ship. Two weeks later I'm down even further, lowest weight of the entire year. And it was a great girl's weekend. So yes, I would do it again in a heart beat. The question is, are you going to join me?

Photo Note: some of the pics I took off facebook but then later found they were from the cruise photographer. He is offering them for free download so I don't feel bad for snagging them, but to give credit where credit is due, some of the photos above are from Will Byington and can be found here.

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