Known to many as “America’s Toughest Trainer,” Jillian Michaels has made an impact on people all over the world with her no-nonsense attitude toward fitness. From shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Losing It with Jillian,” to books including “Master Your Metabolism” and “Unlimited,” the mother of two believes that same approach can be used to get kids into exercise.

Perhaps most importantly, Michaels contends kids don’t need to feel like exercise is a chore.



The word play

“I actually wouldn’t use the word ‘exercise’ when it comes to kids,” says Michaels. “I much prefer the word ‘play.’ The way kids play naturally is exercise for them, swimming, riding their bikes, playing tag, basketball, soccer, etcetera.

“First and foremost,” she continues, “I think it’s important they develop a healthy relationship with activity so it has a positive connotation that is fun, social and empowering—as opposed to something that feels like work.”

“‘Find something they are good at that makes them feel good about themselves and they will automatically be drawn to it.’”

Strong foundations

Michaels believes it’s of utmost importance to set children up for better health throughout their lifetimes. With childhood obesity at a high, and given that early childhood habits turn into difficult-to-break adulthood habits, teaching kids to enjoy being active sets them up for success in the future.

And just as important as providing the tools to live healthy lives, Michaels says, is acknowledging the effect it has on their emotional well-being. “A healthy lifestyle improves their confidence,” she explains. “It helps them focus in school and it empowers them in other facets of their lives.”



For her own daughter and son, Michaels and her fiancée limit their screen time so the kids must entertain themselves in more active and creative ways. The kids are involved in activities like martial arts, dance, horseback riding and soccer and, as a family, they make an effort to participate in family activities like bike riding, hiking, snorkeling and skiing.

Healthy competition

They also make sure their daughter knows she can be just as active as the boys.

“Not always, but stereotypically, girls are on the sidelines cheering on the boys,” she says. “I believe the key is teaching your kids at a young age that strong is beautiful. Find something they are good at that makes them feel good about themselves and they will automatically be drawn to it. And,” adds Michaels, “It should be social. It’s important our young girls have healthy places and ways to socialize that empower them as opposed to making them feel ‘less than.’”