On the popular show, she whipped obese contestants into shape with rigorous exercise and diet programs, displaying little sympathy and zero tolerance for excuses. But as loud and demanding as she was on the show, Michaels' tactic proved very effective as she routinely trained the season's winner. From that jumping off point, Michaels quickly carved out a successful one-woman empire that included best-selling cookbooks, fitness DVDs, and diet supplements. She branched out and starred in her own reality series "Losing it with Jillian" (NBC, 2010- ), where she helped families on the verge of collapse get their lives on track and back on the road to a healthy lifestyle. Throughout her long career, Michaels served as an inspiration to millions of people aspiring to win the fight against obesity, and proved without a doubt why she deserved the title, "America's Queen of Lean."
Jillian Michaels was born on Feb. 18, 1974 in Los Angeles. The future fitness guru endured a painful childhood; her parents divorced when she was 12 and she turned to food for comfort. At 13, she tipped the scales at 175 pounds. To help Michaels deal with her emotional issues, her mother signed her up for martial arts classes, which helped her shed the pounds and put her on track to a lifelong commitment to health and fitness. She attended California State University, Northridge and after graduation, worked briefly as a motion picture agent - a job that she despised - before she became a fitness trainer. In 2002, Michaels opened the Beverly Hills-based gym, Sky Sport & Spa, with Jackie Warner, who would later have her own reality TV show called "Work Out" (Bravo, 2006-08). The high-end gym catered to Los Angeles' elite and celebrities, and it was not long before Michaels would step into the limelight herself.In 2004, Michaels became one of the trainers on NBC's hit series "The Biggest Loser," on which overweight contestants vied for a hefty cash prize by losing the most weight over the course of a season. Along with celebrity fitness trainer Bob Harper, Michaels helped contestants lose weight with intense workouts and strict diets, coupled with a healthy dose of fear and intimidation. Unlike the more soft-spoken Harper, Williams yelled, cursed, and snarled at contestants who gave up on exercise or gave in to food temptations. But it was exactly her tough-love approach that helped hundreds of obese contestants - including a majority of the show's winners - shed the pounds.
The success of "The Biggest Loser" made Michaels one of America's most popular trainers and life coaches. She parlayed her success into a fitness empire that included bestsellers like Master Your Metabolism (2009) and Making the Cut (2008); top-selling DVDs such as "30-Day Shred" (2008) and "Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism" (2008); video games, and fitness cruises. Besides motivating millions of "The Biggest Loser" viewers, Michaels' website inspired a huge fan following with nearly 4 million subscribers. She was also a spokesperson for the footwear/sportswear brand, K-Swiss. In 2010, Michaels was sued by a woman who claimed that one of the trainer's diet products failed to help her lose weight or lessen her appetite as advertised. Michaels fired back, telling the Associated Press that the lawsuit was baseless and that she stood behind all her products. That same year, Michaels proved that she could carry her own show by starring in the network reality series, "Losing It with Jillian," where she played part trainer/part therapist to a different family every week and helping them deal with issues holding them back from committing to a healthy lifestyle.