Book Review: We’re Working Out: A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness

[I’m feeling a little sheepish about the stack of books and videos sent to me for review, so I’m making an effort to get those done and posted this month.]

The older I get, the more important it is to me to stay physically fit, and since I’m over 40 and was pretty sedentary in 2010 (due to a shattered ankle last January), I am currently focusing on getting my core fitness back, with the intent of ramping up to a challenging workout schedule again.

I imagine a lot of you are also thinking about making some changes in your health or fitness this month, so this book by a successful personal trainer just might be the piece you need. We’re Working Out: A Zen Approach to Everyday FitnessWe're Working Out, by Al Kavadlo, is deceptively simple at first glance: it’s only 100 pages long, with black and white photographs, and a few sample workout routines at the end.

But after reading the first few pages, it becomes clear that the point of this fitness book isn’t to just show you some exercises and workout routines. There are already hundreds of books like that, and knowing which exercises to do isn’t usually the issue holding most people back from a regular fitness program.

The biggest issue, speaking from personal experience, seems to be the mental game. Getting motivated and staying motivated, having fun while working out, and dedicating a small amount of time every day to your own fitness, are all pieces of the puzzle – and which may become stumbling blocks to trip us up if we’re not doing those things.

Al’s book addresses these aspects of everyday fitness with personal anecdotes and practical tips. His easy-to-read conversational style is a welcome change from the usual dry writing found in a lot of other books, and his down-to-earth philosophy doesn’t oversell any fitness promises just to pump up book sales.

“I’m not going to bullshit you: getting fit isn’t easy. We live in a society that relies on consumption and encourages abundance. People drive their cars to the end of the driveway to pick up their mail. We super-size our meal and then eat it in front of the TV. In short, we live in the FATTEST country in the world. Yet in spite of all this, millions of Americans are in fantastic shape. That’s right, millions of Americans are fit! Surprising, right? But it’s true – lots of us are lean and mean, and you can be, too. Seriously. That’s why you’re reading this, isn’t it?”

We’re Working Out has some great information for anyone wishing to start on the road to a healthier, fitter self, from dietary choices to breathing to mindfulness. Al also covers the pros and cons of gym memberships, workout buddies, and hiring a personal trainer, and includes some sample workouts with no equipment, just a jungle gym, and a full gym workout.

There is a lot to be said for the unique knowledge he’s gained by working as a personal trainer, and judging by the photos of him in the book, this guy knows what he’s talking about! On the last page is this little gem:

“Instead of doubting your potential, embrace it. This isn’t just about fitness; it’s about your life. Take control of it and mold it into what you wish it to be. Remember, the only thing holding you back is you. Grab on to that feeling, the urge that made you read this book and ride it for all it’s worth. Don’s hesitate, act. Don’t worry about the future, just concentrate on the now.”

Check out Al’s website, his Twitter feed, or his YouTube channel for more info.

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

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