Jillian Michaels hid spine injury from public scrutiny
Jillian Michaels secretly spent a year recovering after fracturing her spine in a freak accident.
The former 'Biggest Loser' trainer slipped and fell at home in spring 2021, slamming her back into the bathtub, but despite her long road to recovery, the 49-year-old fitness expert kept posting old content on social media as she "disappeared off the grid" in order to keep the news from getting out because she wasn't sure if she'd make a full recovery.
She told People magazine: "I'm posting old videos from 20 years ago on social media.
"I'm not doing any press. I've disappeared off the grid. No one knows.
"Nobody has any idea as all of this is going on except my immediate circle. I'm like, 'I'm not telling this story until I know how this story ends.'"
Jillian - who is married to DeShana Marie Minuto and has children Lukensia, 13, and Phoenix, 10, from a previous relationship - initially thought she was fine but six weeks after the accident, her pain was worsened and she felt "a lightning bolt" down her leg, prompting her to finally seek treatment at hospital.
Doctors told her they could see a "nerve impingement" and sent her home with pain medication, but her condition continued to decline.
She recalled: "I couldn't sleep. The pain at night was so bad. I truly thought to myself, 'The only thing I think would be worse than this would be burns.'
" It was so crazy. I couldn't walk, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't stand. I was having to crawl on the ground. I'm like, 'My life is over.'"
Jillian eventually saw a spine expert, who found she had fractured a vertebrae and had "two disc bulges together with some joint height loss", so urged her to do very little.
She said: "What this guy basically has me doing is nothing. He literally is like, 'You're going to lay on your stomach. You're going to work on standing, you're going to walk as many steps as you can, you are going to lay back down and that's it.' That went on for a month."
And Jillian was horrified to realise the stretching she had been trying to do on her own had caused further damage.
She said: "I was hanging off the bed to do traction on my lower spine, and he's like, 'You've made this so much worse.'
"It went from a four millimetre herniation to a six millimetre herniation. He's like, 'And you destabilised the spine, which we need stabilised.' "
After a long road to recovery, Jillian is now feeling good and living her life almost as she did before.
She said: "Everybody's going to be different. Most important is the biofeedback, listening to your body. Even now when I jump rope, if I jump rope for longer than 10 minutes, it bothers me the next day.
"I'm riding horses. I'm riding jet skis, I'm snowboarding. I'm just super, super careful."