When I first received the invitation to review the The Gym-Free Journal, I thought it was going to be a notebook to keep track of workouts. I was cool with that because I thought there had to be a better system then my ratty old notebook full of routines.
I was wrong, and boy am I glad about it! This book is so much better than a notebook. It's so much better than a how-to fitness guide. It's a road map. An every day, this is what you do, and this is what you don't do road map that virtually everyone can do. Why can everyone do it? Because the only tool you "need" is your own body.
It also starts out quite mild (like only 3 push ups mild!!!,) progressing as the days go on to a tougher workout. It was actually eye-opening for me. I took a look through the entire book and was shocked at the small number of reps and exercises needed each day.
For years, I have been working out regularly, using body weight and heavy weight exercises. I would progress nicely, then halt, then reverse. So of course, I pushed myself harder. I would get injured or get sick. I would become disheartened. I was pushing myself every day. Why had I reached 30 pull-ups then regressed to 8!? Why was I hurting every day.
The obvious answer is overtraining, but it took looking at the workouts in this book for me to realize it. I didn't need to do so many reps or use so much weight. And I really needed to rest on my rest days, not ride bike for 20 miles or go out rollerblading or.....
For this alone, I am thankful that I read the book. But beyond this, I am seeing a workout plan that is specific - detailed - and easy to use at home, on vacation, anywhere.
That being said, I have had some difficulty with the book. There are only 3 workouts per week. The rest are for resting. I know it makes sense scientifically, but it is so hard for someone like me to implement. If you have a hard time starting exercise, take heart that you will have 4 exercise-free days per week!!
The other problem I had was the food tracking. Each day has a workout plan (so easy to use and written out clearly and effectively - with photos/demonstrations in the back if you are new to the moves) and a food journal. I do not like to track what I eat. Partly because it's annoying, partly because I am not overweight, and partly because I get obsessive enough about exercise, I don't need to micromanage any other parts of my life.
The information, however, is solid, and would be very beneficial to someone that actually needs to keep track of their eating. That being said, I have dutifully attempted to write down at least some of my meals because along with my tendency to overexercise, I tend to undereat and I am going to try and use this section to make sure I am properly fueling my body.
The last and probably most troublesome part of the book is the fact that it is not spiral bound. The first week or so, I held the book open with a weight or a gym shoe so I could keep open during my workouts. Then I broke the binding. It sucks to break a book, but I need it to lay flat and stay open while I'm using it.
I would have loved for this book to be only the workout routines Day 1 - 90 in a spiral bound book so you could take it with you and use it easily. That would have made it virtually perfect.
If you want a body that is healthy and strong for YOUR size, then this is a great book. Even with the "issues" described above, I would highly recommend it and I will continue to use it. If you want to be Arnold-big, then it's not going to do it for you. And if you want to be emaciated, then you're going to have a world of other health problems, so rethink your goals.
*I received a complimentary book for review purposes. No compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own.