Monday, June 6, 2016

SPARTAN FIT! Book Review

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a full copy of SPARTAN FIT! by Joe DeSena so that I could write a review for this blog. Before you start thinking, "Oh, I get it, this is going to be one of those commercials to buy the book," let me tell you...

I'm a skeptic. A cynic. No one is going to buy my allegiance with free stuff. I was super excited to get this copy first and foremost because I'm a GIANT BOOKNERD, so the thought of getting my hands on a pre-published copy of anything makes me pretty giddy. But I was also excited to get the book because I read Spartan Up! and was hoping to get a little more meat. Spartan Up! is good, but it's more an inspirational, pre-race speech to get you fired up and wanting to live a better life. Spartan Fit! is a manual on living a healthier more active life.

Pre-Order your copy HERE
The book opens with a pretty incredible story of Jay Jackson. I don't want to give away too many details, but he survived a brutal home invasion using the unconventional training techniques he had been practicing to become a better wrestler. DeSena's point is that we never really know what could potentially happen to us in life, so we need to be ready for any situation that life throws at us.

I admit, I found myself rolling my eyes a little on this opening, thinking, "So, Joe, you're telling me I should begin training for a Spartan Race on the slim chance I could be held captive by intruders?" But the story is quite attention getting and completely makes the point that we never know what might happen.

DeSena then goes into the history of Spartan Race, including his own personal history and philosophy. What I found interesting is the history of the actual Spartan; he delves into their lifestyle and philosophy. And you just can't help but realize how far removed our society is today from that of ancient times. We've lost the art of moving for survival and for pleasure, and in reading these chapters, I found myself wanting to escape to a desolate place and spend some time in more natural settings.

The middle chapters contain the nuts and bolts of training and racing. DeSena explains typical obstacles that are found in a Spartan Race, including a description of successful completion of each and the penalty for failure, and he gives the basics for what a person needs to run a race.

My favorite chapter is the one on the Seven Pillars that Spartan SGX bases their training on-- Endurance, Strength, Athleticism, Recovery, Nutrition, the Mind, and Code. So many people lack a complete understanding of all the components of fitness. We often miss that training hard isn't the only factor in becoming healthy or fit. Nutrition, sleep and mental health are all vital ingredients that are often ignored. DeSena does an excellent job of emphasizing the importance of being truly fit.

Spartan Fit! contains a 30-day training plan with specifics on the types of exercises and even pictures of each to help those who might be unfamiliar. The plan is thorough and contains a "Day 0" fitness test for beginners and includes "Active Restoration" days, which emphasizes the importance of giving the body and the mind a break. There's a section for the Spartan Elite as well-- instructions and encouragement to increase the challenge when the typical training becomes too easy.

The book concludes with the inspiring story of Amanda Sullivan, a woman who's overcome great adversity and physical challenges to race and inspire others. Her story is a great reminder that whatever life situation you are in, you can always work to make yourself better in some way.

Honestly, I really did expect this to be a full length commercial to encourage you to register for a race. I was pleasantly surprised that the book contained some real "meat"-- solid information on the different aspects of fitness, why each aspect is important and how to train.

Everyone could benefit from reading this book--
  • beginners to find a basic understanding of fitness, nutrition and a training plan
  • intermediates to learn more details about the "why" of fitness and to discover some tougher challenges
  • elites to be reminded that it's more than just a medal

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