Monday, June 10, 2013
Book Review: Paleo Fitness
Here is an example of why you should never judge a book by its cover. Or it's title, actually.
When I was asked to review Paleo Fitness, I agreed, but mostly because I thought it sounded absurd, and couldn't imagine what it was going to be about. After all, I have a hard enough time swallowing the philosophy behind the Paleo Diet. Sorry, but giving up whole grains and legumes and eating copious amounts of animal protein, just doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
So I am humbled to say that I absolutely loved this book!
I assumed it would pretty much be a CrossFit type workout guide, since the CrossFit community seems to have wholeheartedly embraced the Paleo Diet thing. But I was totally wrong.
There is a whole section on the Paleo Diet and even a 2 week meal plan and recipes, but the rest of the book is devoted to exercise. Overall, I have no major problem with the meal plan except I think there is too much red meat, and I could never survive the whole grain/legume-free thing.
There is a section which introduces the reader to the concept of fitness and different kinds of movement as well as a guide to goal setting. The philosophy behind Paleo Fitness is that exercise should be versatile and functional. This isn't necessarily a unique perspective, but what is unique is the method.
Edwards prescribes a 6-day/week plan that includes a mix of low intensity walking, high intensity interval training, 'play' and circuits. None of the workouts are more than 45 minutes long, which is good for people short on time. There are Level I, II and III workout schedules that are each 4 weeks long.
The book provides pictures and detailed descriptions of each exercise. It is the exercises themselves that make this program so unique. Some are the usual suspects including squats, lunges, pushups and triceps dips, etc. But Edwards puts some creative spins on even these moves with unusual variations and introduces some exercises that I'd never seen before, most of them based on mimicking animal movements. I love the idea of challenging my body in new ways, and can't wait to incorporate some of these into my own workout!
The best part is that - aside from a pull-up bar (which you can get for your home and easily hang in a door frame or head to the monkey bars are the nearest playground), you don't need any equipment or even much floor space. In addition, there are exercises that utilize another person as weight/resistance and the emphasis of the entire program is on FUN. I think this is an ideal family-friendly fitness program because you can get the kids doing it too and I think they'd love it, particularly because of the reference to animals.
I like that Edwards emphasizes that exercise should be performed for health, rather than appearance-related reasons, which I completely agree with, however, he also recommends taking photos of yourself to document your progress, which seems like a contradiction to me. I would focus on health indicators (blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.) and how you feel instead.
Overall, I think this is an excellent book and would recommend it for anyone looking to get fit without the need for a gym or expensive equipment. It's flexible, well-rounded and creative.