Childhood & Early Life
She was born on February 18, 1974, in Los Angeles, California, US to lawyer Douglas McKarus and JoAnn and grew up in Santa Monica.
Jillian had a somewhat troubled childhood coping up with several issues including divorce of her parents, night terrors and of course her overweight that led her to face verbal abuse from classmates.
She later thrived in overcoming her obesity by losing those extra kilos and in course of time became a personal trainer herself. She supported her own studies while attending California State University, Northridge by working as personal trainer and bartender.
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A Black belt holder, this drop-dead gorgeous diva with an enviably toned body holds two personal training certificates since 1993, one from AFAA and the other from NESTA. She also has a certificate with the American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA) as a nutrition and wellness consultant; and is Kettlebell Concepts certified as well.
Her initial career saw her working for a while with talent and literary agency ‘International Creative Management’ in capacity of an agent.
Along with AFAA, Jillian has come up with an ongoing series for trainers. While training her clients, she applies a mix of strength training process that encompasses weight training, kickboxing, plyometrics, Pilates and yoga.
She came up with Sky Sport & Spa, a sports medicine facility, in Beverly Hills in 2002.
Jillian featured as a trainer of the American competition reality show ‘The Biggest Loser’ starting from its inception on NBC in October 2004. The show that features overweight participants contesting to lose maximum weight to win a cash prize saw Jillian featuring in its first two seasons as trainer of Red Team. She quit the show in 2006 with Kim Lyons taking her place.
From 2006 to 2009 she remained host of a Sunday talk radio show that aired on Los Angeles's KFI (640 AM). Meanwhile in 2007 she returned to the ‘The Biggest Loser’, this time as trainer of the Black Team. Jillian along with the show’s Blue Team trainer Bob Harper also featured in the show’s Australian version from 2006 to 2008.
She along with her business partner Giancarlo Chersich launched the company, Empowered Media, LLC in 2008. The wellness company catering to total-life solutions including fitness, lifestyle, nutrition and self-help has with time thrived in developing itself as a huge wellness empire and has also made investments in companies like Giggles N’ Hugs, AQUAHydrat and Thrive Market.
Meanwhile she launched a video game for the home video game console Wii on October 21, 2008 titled ‘Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2009’. Thereafter she launched the video games ‘Fitness Ultimatum 2010’ in 2009 and ‘Jillian Michaels Fitness Adventure’ and ‘Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2011’ in 2011.
Jillian has also upped her popularity quotient by penning down eight New York Times best-selling books including ‘Master Your Metabolism’ (2009) with Mariska Van Aalst and ‘Unlimited: A Three-Step Plan for Achieving Your Dreams’ (2011).
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A spin-off of ‘The Biggest Loser’ titled ‘Losing It With Jillian’ that premiered on NBC on June 1, 2010 and ran for eight episodes till July that year featured her visiting family members in both their residences and work places for a week.
She declared through Twitter on December 7, 2010 that she will quit ‘The Biggest Loser’ after its eleventh season and went on to make her final appearance on the show in May 2011. She however re-appeared on the show as trainer in its fourteenth and fifteenth seasons. The exposure she received through this popular show led her to garner widespread recognition.
Starting from February 2011, she hosts ‘The Jillian Michaels Show’, a weekly podcast, via iTunes. The show won in the category of Best New Audio Podcast in Apple’s App Store Rewind 2011 in December that year. She also went on to further her fame releasing several DVDs that became hugely popular bolstering her position as a fitness guru.
She signed a multi-year deal with CBS Television Distribution (CTD), the declaration of which was made by the American TV distribution company on May 6, 2011. With such deal she became a co-host of ‘The Doctors’, a panel-discussion show, where she started hosting a recurring segment ‘Ask Jillian’ that mainly dealt with subjects related to diet and nutrition. She however left the show after half a season in January 2012. She also featured on the American tabloid talk show by CTD titled ‘Dr. Phil’ as a special correspondent.
‘Body Revolution’, a 90-day weight loss program was released by her in January 2012. She also came up with the 30-minute workout class called ‘BODYSHRED’ at the GoodLife gyms in the US and Canada along with other clubs such as UFC Gyms and Lifetime fitness.
She came up with a new infomercial BODYSHRED encompassing a home workout program of 60 days in 2015.
Jillian once mentioned in a Pride Source interview with Chris Azzopardi that she realised she was bisexual at around 18 years of age and only later in her 20s she realised that she was gay. At present she is romantically associated with a woman called Heidi Rhoades. In May 2012 they adopted a two year old girl from Haiti while on the same month Rhoades gave birth to a boy.
She became part of controversy a few times including the one when some of her products were tagged as ineffective or dangerous leading to four separate lawsuits which were later dismissed. She also faced the wrath of law enforcement officers and their families after speaking her mind against police on the July 28, 2012 episode ‘Jillian Finds Gratefulness in a Personal Loss’ of her podcast. The episode was later removed from the iTunes feed of the show.
Jillian is associated with many charitable organisations like ‘Stand Up to Cancer’, ‘Hope for Haiti’, the Clinton Foundation's Alliance for a Healthier Generation and NFL's Play 60 among others. She took part in the inaugural ‘Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation’ conference of Clinton Foundation in January 2012.
She plays an advisory role in the organisation called ‘National Day of Dance for Heart Health’ that motivates all to exercise. She also works on animal welfare causes and aided PETA recently in rescuing a racehorse from a slaughterhouse.