Book Reviews

Onward

Onward is the story of Howard Schultz, CEO and Chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company. In this book, Shultz passionately and transparently talks about the wins and losses he incurred as the leader of the most recognized coffee company in the world during the global financial crisis that began in 2008, and how he was able to keep the company afloat amid naysayers, plummeting stock prices and high turnover. Read More

Money: Master the Game

Inspired by the Academy Award winning documentary, Inside Job, a documentary that explains the global financial crisis of 2008, Tony Robbins has written his first book in 20 years. Money: Master the Game, is packed full of over 600 pages of financial wisdom that is meant to help hardworking, everyday people “stop being the chess piece and become the chess player [in the game of money].” Read More

New Functional Training for Sports

New Functional Training for Sports is the most functional (purposeful) book I have ever read on strength and conditioning. Written by one of the most respected trainers/coaches in the world, Mike Boyle, this book easily explains why the exercises recommended in the book are of the utmost importance to athletes of all sports and ages. Read More

The Reality Check

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Dr. Heidi Haavik of New Zealand comes from a family of doctors. Her parents were doctors and her great-grandfather was one of the first graduates of Palmer College, which is Chiropractic’s founding college, in the early 1920’s. So, it is not surprising that Heidi has such an affinity for chiropractic care, and has spent her entire adult life as a chiropractor. In the last 15 years Heidi and her research team have been studying chiropractic care with an emphasis on neurology and their findings are the centerpiece of The Reality Check. Read More

Eating Animals

If you enjoyed Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, you will enjoy Eating Animals just as much or perhaps even more. Jonathan Foer challenges everything from his own grandmother to the fact that we eat pigs, chickens, and cows. He even challenges Michael Pollan, one of the 100 most influential people in the world. To do all that you must be clever, thoughtful, intelligent, witty and respectful. Foer is all of the above. Read More

The Wow Book

Todd Durkin has been called the Tony Robbins of the fitness industry. Wow!

And “wow” just happens to be in the title of his second book, The Wow Book. (The first was The Impact Body Plan.)

Before you go thinking Durkin doesn’t know fitness, think again. Read More

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Omnivore’s Dilemma has taught me more about the food I eat than any other book I have ever read. For this reason, I can say without a doubt that this book must be read by all personal trainers and healthcare practitioners alike. Read More

The Happiness Project

Ever since I read Better than Before, I have been saying to myself and others that its author, Gretchen Rubin and I are just alike. We both like to take action and if we feel strongly enough about something we ignore the advice of others. Having now read The Happiness Project, which was actually written before Better than Before, I still feel the same way.

The one thing I know for sure about Gretchen Rubin is this woman will do just about anything to become her best self. It is the #1 reason I resonate with her books so much. Big tasks. Little tasks. Meaningful tasks. Simple tasks. You name it she does it if it is going to make her life better. Read More

Good Foods, Bad Foods

Good Foods, Bad Foods by Judith A. De Cava is a book about the benefits of whole foods and the effect they can have on our lives compared to overly processed or synthetic foods that were “meant to be sold, not to be eaten.” Your health, your appearance and the length of your life can partially or in whole be traced back to the things you put into your mouth. Far too many people are choosing convenience over health, and consuming far too many calories from bagged, boxed and canned food options. Good Foods, Bad Foods takes an in-depth look at whole foods versus non-whole foods and carefully explains why whole foods are the only way to go because, quite frankly, you know what’s in them.

“If you are what you eat, and you don’t know what you eat, do you even know who you are?”

Whole foods are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, and have been processed very little. Read More

Angela Davis, An Autobiography

The Autobiography of Angela Davis is the story of a most intriguing little girl who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and went on to become an iconic revolutionary known worldwide for her unrelenting commitment to socioeconomic and political justice for African-Americans and working-class people of all races in America and abroad. During the 1960s, Angela sought to put an end to the discrimination of Black people by doing what she did best, trusting her intuition. Angela relocated so she could acquire the best education possible and arm herself for her cause. This lifestyle led to a scholarship to attend Brandeis University in Boston, and later an opportunity to study with some of the best philosophers in the world at the University of Frankfurt in Germany. She was a member of the Communist party and the Black Panther Political Party because of her disdain for racism and capitalism, which she unequivocally believed was responsible for the oppression of Black Americans and low-income Whites. This autobiography takes you deep into the mind and life of a woman who was willing to put her life on the line for change. Her story is one of intelligence, courage, strength, freedom and even death. And because Ms. Davis has such a gift for writing, I am able to relive and understand how it must have felt to live in a “Jim Crow” society that did all it could to prevent extending the inalienable social, economic, and political rights that were due to all African Americans living in the United States.
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Your Time is Now

“Confidence is shunned in our society. It is not popular to get up and say, ‘HELL YES! I’m good enough.’ It almost seems more appropriate to say, ‘I’m not deserving of it’ or ‘I don’t belong.’ This negative thinking is bullshit.”

These are the words of Josh “JB” Bowen, one of the best personal trainers in the US. In his new book, Your Time Is Now, Josh’s words have such energy and passion that you feel inspired just by reading it. After I put the book down, I felt empowered. My spirits were suddenly lifted and my negative way of thinking had been challenged. I no longer fear failure like I did before and I am going to work harder than before to achieve my goals. Read More

Whole Body Barefoot

What if I told you that I read an incredibly funny book that is sophisticatedly written, based on real scientific data, easy-to-understand, and practical enough for daily use? You’d probably think I was crazy, but I’m not! Whole Body Barefoot is such a book, and I would strongly encourage every bipedal human being on the planet to pick up a copy.

I am guessing that you might be wondering what this book is all about. As the title indicates, it’s about our feet, but it’s more than that. Whole Body Barefoot holistically describes the relationship between our feet, spinal column and several muscles in our body. Read More

How Winning Works

Teamwork as a topic might seem boring, but not when a world-class extreme race competitor like Robyn Benincasa writes about it. Her tales of teamwork while competing in an extreme race like the Eco-Challenge sometimes involve life or death situations and they are some of the most fascinating stories of strength, endurance and grit you will ever read. And, while her remarks on teamwork in business are nowhere as exciting as the ones on racing, they are just as valuable, and that’s what makes How Winning Works so compelling. This book really highlights how invaluable teamwork is to your success in life, business and sports. Read More

Can You Go?

Can You Go? Seems like a straightforward question, right? Well, that is why I am such a fan of this book and its author, Dan John. He is honest, straight to the point and easy to comprehend. Can You Go? is the third book I have read by John and his “kiss” (keep it simple silly) approach to health and wellness should be modeled by all trainers, in my opinion.

In this book you are going to learn how to qualify goals and quantify assessments. That’s it. The goal of John’s work is to enable you to identify who’s in front of you by finding out what they know and what they came to see you for, i.e., goals, and to be able to test where this person is currently, i.e., assessments. Only after you have done these steps well will you be able to design an effective program. And as a personal trainer, sometimes we are so excited to get started with a new client that we don’t take assessing seriously enough. According to John, you’re making a terrible mistake because “the first line of defense against injury is assessment.” Whoa, I never thought about assessments this way, but this statement could not be more true. Read More

The Power of Broke

Daymond John has accomplished a lot in his life. He founded a clothing line that ended up being worth 6 billion dollars. He helps hundreds of businesses grow each year on his hit TV show, Shark Tank. And, somehow, he even finds the time to mentor a separate set of small business owners on the side. How does he accomplish it all? By using the “Power of Broke” mindset.

Most people would not believe that there is power in being broke. How can having the odds stacked against you be a better hand for would-be-entrepreneurs than a favorable deck? Could it be the energy you need to drive to success is found in the struggle? The answers to your most sought after questions only come through adversity? And, if you are willing to stay in the game long enough, you will acquire the know-how to fulfill your dreams? Read More

Total Money Makeover

Total Money Makeover was a total money surprise for me. I thought that I understood debt and credit, but I was floored by the principles practiced and recommended by the book’s author, Dave Ramsey. In fact, I put the book down at page 48 with one thought on my mind:

“Man was I stupid.”

After this stark realization, I picked the book back up again and noticed the words: “always keep in mind that if you tell a lie often enough, loud enough and long enough, the myth becomes accepted as fact.” Read More

Barefoot Strong

My first introduction and fascination with barefoot running/training came from reading about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, who run hundreds of miles in the equivalent of espadrilles, light canvas shoes, in one of my favorite books of all time, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

Inspired by stories of the Tarahumara and other fantastic runners mentioned in the book, I purchased one of my favorite shoes of all time, Nike Free 5.0. I did so because they were extremely comfortable, “minimalist” or lower to the ground, and lots of people were wearing them. This was about 5 years ago, and since that time, my knowledge of the foot has stalled, at worst, and increased at a snail-like pace, at best. Read More

Journey Fitness

Travis Barnes had an unfortunate childhood. He was abandoned by his dad, and raised by a horrible stepdad, so it’s no wonder that he decided to leave his former life behind and move to Las Vegas, twice. The first visit he leaves before he even settles in and the second he plants roots and begins working at Gold’s Gym, a hangout spot for some of the world’s best bodybuilders. Having been fond of fitness, particularly body building, since he was a kid growing up in Sayre, PA. Travis is elated that on top of finding employment in Sin City that he is training alongside and befriending nationally recognized bodybuilders such as Eric Eckenrode, the 1991 North American Champion of Bodybuilding, who later becomes Travis’ roommate.  Life seems to be getting much better for Travis Barnes, or so he thinks.

Unfortunately, the twisted road ahead is filled with turns we never expect. For Travis this means that more people in his life disappoint him and he makes some very poor decisions. Turns out, his boss at Gold’s Gym is only out for money and doesn’t care about the members’ health. He refers to most of them as “sleeping giants,” or members who pay monthly dues, but never show up. Read More

Better Than Before

In her best-selling book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin has done a masterful job researching habits and defining personality types to find out the best methods for all of us to gain positive habits and lose negative ones. I found it quite interesting and pleasing to read that some of the things I often quote in my profession as a personal trainer were confirmed by this attorney, turned world class author.

I had only read the introduction to Better Than Before and I was already feeling a connection to the book’s author, Gretchen Rubin. Although our professions vary greatly, we are passionate, almost obsessed with the same thing, transformation.

Says Rubin, “the thought of a transformation — any kind of transformation — thrills me.” Read More

Treadside Manner

Is art or science more important when it comes to being a personal trainer? Are you better off knowing every muscle in the body and how it works? Or does getting along with people and good business skills trump exercise science?

According to 30-year fitness industry veteran Greg Justice, art and science are equally important. It’s just that the art side of things is too often neglected. Trainers can find information on squats and deadlifts just about anywhere, but where do we go to learn personal training etiquette?

For this reason, Greg decided to write Treadside Manner. A book that has nothing to do with exercise and everything to do with customer service. This book was designed to help fitness professionals succeed in business by understanding what it takes to motivate clients, retain clients and grow your business. Read More

League of Denial

League of Denial by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru is such a great book that you don’t have to be an avid football fan to appreciate it. I was blown away by the information provided on topics ranging from the first case of brain damage to be associated with playing football and the NFL’s denial of the facts. I was impressed and worried by the gritty stories of the men who played the game both knowingly and unknowingly, in spite of broken bones, bulging discs, and even multiple concussions that could occur during the same game. One minute you’re shaking your head in disbelief and the next you are almost in tears as you learn how severely these men suffer later in life. Some end their own lives but don’t shoot themselves in the head so their brains can be studied. As of 2012, there have been over 50 cases of death related to brain damage caused by playing football. I was saddened by this fact, but not overly surprised. I was surprised by how much effort the NFL put into covering it up. Read More

Kettlebell Simple & Sinister

If “God is in the details” is a way of expressing that details are important to any task one accomplishes, then Pavel Tsatsouline is God and his book, KB Simple and Sinister is the Bible. Inside this “Bible,” Pavel teaches you how to perform two of the kettlebells most popular and most empowering moves, “Get Up” and “Swing.” He also spends time discussing the correct number of sets and reps to do and the amount of weight to use for each exercise, as well as the reasons why these factors matter. The “why’s” are the real eye-openers for me because they reveal tips about strength that you will rarely hear in Western gyms, but will undoubtedly make any man or woman stronger faster. “Kettlebells are like weightlifting times ten,” said Dennis Koslowski, former Olympic Silver Medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. “If I could’ve met Pavel in the early 80’s, I might have won two gold medals.” Read More

The Inner Game of Tennis

Have you ever noticed that you talk to yourself when you practice or play most sports? Mostly on the inside, but sometimes externally as well. As I look back on the tens of thousands of hours I spent playing my favorite sport of basketball, I can clearly recall having a conversation with myself constantly in games and in practice. Unbeknownst to me, however, was that if this conversation had been one free of judgement, swearing, and other negative self-talk it would have strengthened my game. However, the conversations I was having with myself were anything but. “You can’t miss this shot.” “Why haven’t you scored more points? “You suck.” “Don’t embarrass yourself.” I was totally oblivious to the fact that this type of dialogue was undermining my progress until I read The Inner Game of Tennis by coach and author, W. Timothy Gallwey. One of the five best books I read in 2015, I was totally blown away by Gallwey’s ability to use tennis as a medium and put this behavior into context. He calls this phenomenon Self 1 and Self 2. The teller and the doer and it is the crux of this 134-page book that I love so much. Read More

The Way of the Champion

Mixing his personal experience as a sports psychologist with lessons from Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War, and Tao Wisdom, Jerry Lynch has written a thoughtful book on the mental side of sports, The Way of the Champion. Not just any old sports psychologist, Dr. Lynch has worked with over 33 Division I men’s and women’s national champions in tennis, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey and volleyball. He has also worked with a wide range of pro athletes in the NBA, NFL, and PGA. This is not surprising at all when you consider Lynch’s approach to the game. Similar to the Art of War, winning is broken down into four categories, self-awareness, strategic positioning, competitive advantage and leadership with team unity. Each of those categories is then divided into three bite-sized chunks of timeless information, guaranteed to help athletes and coaches alike. Read More

The Game of Life and How to Play

Written in 1925, The Game of Life and How to Play by Florence Scovel Shinn, is an old school book that urges us to speak to ourselves positively and to expect our heart’s desires to be fulfilled. Using several Biblical references such as “death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Florence Shovel Shinn makes sure we understand that what we say to ourselves and to others has a way of manifesting in our lives. If you are going to speak, speak only positive words and you can literally will the things you want into your life. Hocus pocus to many, but I am a firm believer in willing things into existence so the message is one of hope for me. One of power. Others may feel a little more skeptical and I totally understand. Read More

The Talent Code

As a personal trainer/coach, much of my work deals with helping people look better, feel better and move better. Lunges, squats, deadlifts, pushups, and pull-ups all involve various muscles of the body working together to resist force. However, our muscular system is not the only system responsible for resisting force, our skeletal and nervous system also resist force. Together, the three make up the kinetic chain. Understanding this, I decided it was time for me to learn more about the nervous system so that I could help myself and others move better. My curiosity led me to enroll in Z-Health, located in Tempe Arizona and run by Dr. Eric Cobb, who specializes in brain-based training. Cobb recommended reading The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle as a prerequisite to his courses, and so here I am today writing about this book. Read More

Drive

I love Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive because it provided me with some solid reasoning as to why my career change from corporate sales to Personal Trainer has changed my life. At the forefront is what psychologist Harry F. Harlow of the University of Wisconsin described as “intrinsic motivators.” Intrinsic motivators are the things we do because of the satisfaction we feel on the inside and have nothing to do with rewards. In 1949, in one of the first laboratories to ever study primates, Harlow created a puzzle that he put in front of 8 monkeys and without any assistance, they each solved the puzzle within 14 days. No rewards whatsoever for solving them. Read More

The Impact Body Plan

The Impact Body Plan by Todd Durkin, M.A., C.S.C.S.

“The Impact Body Plan” is a 10-week total body conditioning program designed by one of the world’s best and most successful fitness coaches, Todd Durkin. This is a comprehensive plan that is broken down day-by-day and week-by-week to make it easy to follow. It covers everything from mindset to nutrition and strength training. His formula is a 7-step approach to training called, “The Muscle Matrix,” and it includes the following: dynamic warm-up, joint integrity, core conditioning, strength training, plyometrics, movement training and flexibility. Each step of the matrix is discussed in full detail with pictures of each exercise and a full description on how to execute them properly. You will use several different pieces of exercise equipment including foam rollers, medicine balls, resistance bands, TRX, dumbbells, and barbells. Read More

Talk Like TED

“TED is where brilliant people go to hear brilliant people share their ideas” said Oprah Winfrey. Not only that, it is also the place where author, Carmine Gallo, discovered the 9 public speaking secrets used by some of the most brilliant presenters in TED’s history including: Amy Cuddy, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Bryan Stevenson. Each of whom has had his/her eighteen-minute presentation viewed over 2.5 million times. Since I had never seen a TED before, I watched all of the above as an indoctrination of sorts to acclimate myself to TED. I did so only after reading the entire book. I thoroughly enjoyed them all, but was upset at myself for being late to the party. A client told me about TED about five years ago and suggested I take a peak. I never took that peak. However, I think having read this book prior to watching a TED allowed me to identify the “9 secrets” Gallo discussed in his book and he was “spot-on.” Read More

Sh*t My Dad Says

“People are always trying to tell you how they feel. Some of them say it outright, and some of them, they tell you with their actions. And you have to listen….Listen and don’t ignore what you hear.” Sam Halpern

And this is exactly what you must do to fully understand the man behind the words, Sam Halpern. A man who is known for his humor, aggressive attitude, and swear words, Mr. Halpern says a lot of shit in ways that make you laugh out loud and shake your head. His words are so full of comic relief, his son, Justin, author of this book and often the butt of his dad’s jokes, started posting his old man’s statements on Twitter. 1 million followers later, Justin penned this book, which has now been written into a hit sitcom. Read More

Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney

As the largest single site employer in the world with 59,000 employees, 25,000 acres of land, 32 hotels with 31,000 rooms, and a 167 miles of roadway, Disney World Orlando VP of Operations, Lee Cockerell, understands leadership at its highest level. He shares his vast insight and know-how in “Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney.” Read More

Influence

Influence by Robert Cialdini

Having read many outstanding sales books during my 10-year corporate sales career, I never read one as interesting as “Influence,” by Robert Cialdini. A psychologist by trade, Cialdini brings to light the many ways in which we may be “influenced” by anyone looking to take advantage of our own “fixed-action” patterns of survival. Compliance techniques such as reciprocity, commitment, consistency, social proof, authority, partiality, and scarcity are all ones that have played a major role in human survival, and have practically been ingrained in our psyche since the beginning of time. All of these compliance techniques can be used by salesmen, marketing companies, or anyone looking to exploit our inability to turn off our psyche and think constructively. Read More

Every Day Is Game Day

Best suited for elite performers who want to take their athleticism to the highest level, “Every Day Is Game Day,” is the philosophy of world-class strength and conditioning coach, Mark Verstegen. Best known for his work with hundreds of National Football League players, he was also behind the scenes improving the skills of the German Men’s Soccer team, who won the World Cup in 2014. The U.S. Department of Defense also trusts him to shape-up their most highly touted strongmen, Special Operations. The philosophy deals with the daily requirements, some might say sacrifices, that must be met in order to be the best version of yourself. My list included afternoon naps, breathing practices, drinking less, strengthening my core more, and creating an “IT” statement. I had a weakness in all four “pillars” that must be mastered to be elite: Recovery, Mindset, Movement, and Nutrition. Read More

212: The Extra Degree

212: The Extra Degree by Sam Parker

I must admit that I was a little disappointed when 212, by Sam Parker, arrived at my home and I learned that it was nothing more than a very short story in a very small book. Three-by-three to be exact. I had heard such great things about it and I was hungry to sink my teeth into it, but I learned that this book didn’t offer much meat. Less than 100 pages in length, with quotes and statistics that take up an entire page or two, this motivational book is centered around one key phrase, “at 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train.” As powerful as this message is, I use it often with body composition/weight loss clients, I had heard it before. Since I had already spent my money on the book and it was a short read, I decided to continue reading to see what else I could learn. Read More

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

A highly touted book by The New York Times and Oprah Winfrey, “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace,” by Jeff Hobbs, details the life of a highly intelligent man who undervalued his talent and ability.
Born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Rob begins his life surrounded by poverty, drug dealers, and gangs. With the support of his family, mostly his mother, he bypasses the hardships of his childhood and eventually graduates from Yale University. This “Yalie” was very different from his college peers, though. Read More

Now, Discover Your Strengths

“Learn your top 5 mental strengths/talents and see what greatness is upon you.”

Today’s message is about how anyone is capable of learning how great they are. Go out and purchase the book, “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, and learn your top 5 mental strengths/talents and what kind of greatness is upon you. You are capable of more than you think possible. You just have to learn what your strengths mean you are capable of. Read More

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