side bar: review of The Great Fitness Experiment

True story: I have not been to the gym since Monday. I am a sick little duckling. Seems I may have caught Christina’s cold through the great big interweb. Or maybe the combination of being pretty run-down myself and spending all of my time at a school of 40,000+ finally caught up to me. In any case, I’m sick. Just a regular ol’ cold, but it still sucks. I’ve been taking it easy as I don’t want to prolong whatever this icky cold is. [Bonus: cold meds make me high.]

Now seems like as good a time as ever to give you my review of Charlotte Hilton Andersen’s The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything.

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To give you some background on the book, it’s pretty much exactly as the title says. Charlotte tries out one new fitness activity or fitness craze for every month of one year. So in total, she tries out 12 different fitness activities. From what I can tell, the book is either collections of her blog posts about it, or summarizations of her blog posts. The range of activities Charlotte tries include Functional Training, Crossfit, Jillian Michaels, Tracy Anderson’s celebrity workout, Primal Blueprint, Kettlebells (I too have a special affinity for kettlebells), Karate, and more. She recaps her experiences with ‘The Workout’, the ‘Results’ after one month, and also shares some ‘Best Moments’ and ‘Worst Moments’. The end of every chapter has a ‘Personal Essay’, most of which I really enjoyed.

What I liked: Since you’re into reading weight lifting blogs, you’re probably as avid a fitness-goer as I am, in which case you’ll love this book. I can completely relate to much of what Charlotte writes about, both in terms of her burning desire to try out just about every fitness activity under the sun, but also about her own insecurities, fears, and body issues. I found Charlotte to be totally endearing, the kind of person I’d want to hang out with in real life. She’s smart, funny, and best of all, says it like it is. She’s truthful and raw, both about her workouts and her life.

What I didn’t like: There aren’t too many critical things I can say about this book, because in my mind nothing took away from the things I liked about it. I should warn, however, that it doesn’t read like a novel – it reads like a blog, and the chapters are fairly fragmented and don’t go into too much detail. Also, Charlotte tends to go off on tangents, both little ones and big ones. Sometimes they were absolutely hilarious, but other times I basically just skimmed through them to get back to the meat of the book. I sometimes felt like she included them for comic effect, but I think the book would have done well with a few less.

Stars: ****

Would I recommend this book: Absolutely, especially if you’re a fitness blogger or read fitness blogs. I would caution anyone with eating disorders or exercise compulsion against reading it, though, as it could be triggering for some individuals.

In conclusion…this book is awesome. Charlotte is a rockstar. You should read this book.

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